Wednesday, 28 December 2011

WHAT THE DICKENS?


Everyone deserves a second chance...

T'was the night before Christmas
- the weather was murky,
I'd peeled all the sprouts
and stuffed a small turkey.

The presents were wrapped
and lay under the tree.
Their labels all said
'Happy Christmas to me'.

Up until now,
my life's been a mess
but the truth of it is,
I've had a bad press.

I've really reformed -
I used to be mean
but I love Christmas now,
I'm really quite keen.

I've got my red suit on
with white beard and rouge.
Have you guessed who I am?
Yes that's right - Santa Scrooge.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

FISHY TALE


I'm sure that I have previously mentioned that my wife is blond. She frequently demonstrates the fact as witnessed by an amusing incident which occurred this afternoon during one of our regular ambles along the nearby canal path.

As we strolled alongside the water, we found ourselves approaching an angler who was using a fishing lure on the end of his line. This took the form of a very small rubber fish which had a moveable tail and with which he clearly hoped to catch something bigger. As we drew near, he pulled his line out of the water and reeled in his lure ready for the next cast.

My wife then proceeded to demonstrate her mastery of angling when clearly presuming that the lure was a real fish which the angler had caught, said 'Well done! What sort of fish is it?'

The angler replied 'It's a rubber fish' and to his credit he did so without a hint of amusement.

Clearly assuming that this was some type of fish which she had not heard of she replied 'Oh right. Are you going to keep it or throw it back in?'

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

HEAR TODAY GONE TOMORROW


Despite being happily married, I often feel that I live a life of solitude. The reason for this is that my wife suffers from CRSD or Carefully Refined Selective Deafness. This appears to be a condition for which there is no cure.

It usually occurs at times when she is concentrating on something, such as a crossword for instance, and is triggered when I begin to speak. Curiously she quickly recovers as soon as I am silent.

Over the years I have learned to understand the various responses which she emits and these in essence are as follows.

Given the scenario that she is reading and I begin to speak the options are

1. She makes 'mmm' noises as if she agrees with me.
Meaning: She hasn't taken in a word I've said.

2. She is silent.

Meaning:
a) She hasn't taken in a word I've said. In this case she remains silent after I finish speaking.

or very rarely
b) She is hearing every third word and will respond when I finish. In this case there is a one in three chance that her response will actually relate to what I was saying.

I have tested this on numerous occasions. Here are two examples of the resulting dialogue -

Me: 'Your hair is on fire dear'.
Her: 'Mmm'.

Me: 'My cough is worse today'.
Her: Yes please, two sugars.

Maybe one day medical science will find a cure, but I doubt it.




Sunday, 18 December 2011

NO BATTERIES REQUIRED


I recently caught a few glimpses of the truly awful 'I'm a celebrity, get me out of here'. This is the program in which so called 'slebs' live in primitive conditions in the jungle and are encouraged to humiliate themselves by doing scary or revolting things in order not to let their side down. This set me to thinking about the important things in life and these are my conclusions.

Imagine if you will that you are to spend a week on a desert island entirely alone. You are supplied with food and water plus the necessary and appropriate clothing so your task is simply to find a way to occupy your time without getting bored out of your skull whilst you are out of contact with the rest of the world.

In order to achieve this, you are allowed to take just five items along. There is no electricity and batteries are forbidden so that's the iPhone, Kindle and computer ruled out. What would you take?

Here are my choices.

1. A good book. I bet this is on your list too. I'd make mine a big non-fiction one, maybe a history book.
2. Puzzles. Something to keep the brain active and engaged.
3. Notebook and pen to record my experience and note down my thoughts since I'm not allowed a camera (batteries).
4. My guitar. Music is such a joy even when it's me playing and singing it.
5. My photo album to look at photos of my loved ones to remind me what really matters in life.

What was on your list? I'd really like to know.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

WE WISH YOU A DREARY CHRISTMAS


Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of Jesus all those years ago right? Of course not.

Nowadays it's about trudging round the shops with festive musak infecting your ears irrespective of which shop you enter. I asked one assistant how they put up with the constant loop of Christmas music which they have to endure for hours on end and the answer was 'Pardon?' then he took out his ear plugs. I jest.

Have you ever listened to the lyrics to these Christmas choons?

'Oh I wish it could be Christmas every day'. Yeah right. Just think about that for a second. What a nightmare that would be. In fact what a brilliant horror film. 'Harry Potter and the perpetual Wizzard'.

How about 'Christmas comes this time each year'. So glad they told me that. Takes a good one to get past the Beach Boys, who of course also gave us 'little Saint Nick' for goodness sake.

There's sleaze. I am reliably informed that 'baby it's cold outside' is also known as the 'date-rape song'.

There's tragedy. 'Grandma got run over by a reindeer'.

But if you really want a festive song to get you into the right mood for Christmas look no further than John Denver's offering.

'Please Daddy, don't get drunk this Christmas I don't wanna see my Mamma cry.'

Thanks John, and a very merry Christmas to you too.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

IT'S A DOG'S LIFE


I'm sure that you will have heard of 'Help for Heroes', the charity which supports our brave members of the armed forces who have been wounded in active service.

You may not have heard of 'Hounds for Heroes' however. It was founded by Allen Parton who suffered a serious head injury while serving with the Royal Navy and was left wheelchair-bound. Having formed an amazing relationship with a dog named Endal, he is now busy having puppies trained to help others like him.

But there's the thing. This dog is a very talented canine. These are just a few of his skills.

He can:
Collect the post and deliver it to his owner's hand.
Help in the kitchen by opening cupboards and fetching cans etc.
Load and empty the washing machine. (Not mastered ironing yet).
Insert and remove a card in a cashpoint machine. (He's not been told the pin number).
Get shopping off the shelves in the supermarket and load the basket.
Open electric doors by pressing the pad... and much more.

No wonder we call them man's best friend.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

DO THEY EAT TURKEY IN TURKEY?


Christmas is getting closer and that turkey we're planning on eating will be starting to get a bit worried. We like the traditional thing but I got to thinking, what do other people round the world like for their Christmas food?

Well turkey is pretty popular right round the world but in addition...

The Romanians enjoy sarmale which are rolls of cabbage pickled in brine and filled with meat and rice.

Perhaps you would prefer the German favourite 'Weisswurst' which are sausages with veal and bacon, often flavoured with parsley, lemon, mace, onions, ginger and cardamom.

By the way - yes they do eat turkey in Turkey - at least some do.

I would certainly be up for the Danish Christmas dish 'Flæskesteg' - roast pork steak with crackling - my favourite.


However, I'll pass on the Jamaican Christmas curried goat and also on the fish soup which seems popular at Christmas in a great many countries.

But spare a thought for the poor Japanese. Apparently, since turkey is pretty much unknown there, they go mad for Kentucky Fried Chicken and have to order it weeks in advance if they want it for Christmas.

Oh and finally, if you want to know what they have for Christmas dinner in space I am reliably informed that in the International space station
they will typically be tucking into smoked turkey, candied yams, green beans and freeze-dried cornbread dressing. Yum!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

DID YOU COPY THAT?

You can't always trust what you read on the internet. This may not come as a surprise to you but I confess it did to me, innocent that I am.

I've been doing a piece of research and I have discovered that much of the 'writing' in factual blogs and pseudo-reference sites is simply cut and pasted from elsewhere. This makes it pretty impossible to tell where it was originally written and whether or not it is true.

In case you don't believe me try this little experiment. I think you'll be as surprised as I was.

Type the following piece of text which defines what charcoal is into Google or your preferred search engine.

Charcoal is the dark grey residue consisting of carbon obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents

Now see how many totally different websites it appears in - either exactly as written or in a few cases very slightly altered.

Incredible isn't it?

Some of these sites are commercial, some of them are personal blogs but it is very obvious that they have been 'cut and pasted' over and over again.

Now try it again with the following text:

Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work

I rest my case.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

THE LIMIT OF THE LAW


I'm sure that like me, you're pleased when you read that through the advancement of forensic techniques, murderers and rapists are being prosecuted many years after the offence. No doubt they thought they had got away with their crimes after they went unsolved for so long but thankfully 'cold cases' are in the process of warming up.

Cases of child abuse are undergoing a similar process and the horrific stories which have emerged often reveal that the worst offenders frequently worked as professionals with children. So who can children trust?

You might think that a county judge would administer fair justice to his children but the recent viral video released by Hillary Adams of her father beating her in 2004 when she was 16 years old disproves this. The video is sickening and shows the father clearly losing self-control as he repeatedly lashes his daughter with a leather strap. At one point he shouts 'Lay down or I'll spank you in the f***ing face.'
Hillary had the forethought to set up the 'sting' when the beatings were forming a pattern, secretly filming the event and has now shared it with the world.

I shall leave you to form your own opinions about this case but the one thing which appals me is that because of the American 'statute of limitations', there is a good chance that this clear act of child abuse will go unpunished. Apparently cases have to be brought to court within five years. The argument is that as time passes, evidence becomes less reliable.

In this country we do not have such a view. We try the case and if the evidence is deemed unreliable so be it but if the case is proved then justice has been done.

Here ends the case for the prosecution.



Sunday, 27 November 2011

NO THANKS, I'VE GOT TOO MUCH ON MY PLATE


You will never believe this but it's my duty to tell you.

The NHS are to try out a new piece of kit. It costs about £1500 and it's called a Mandometer. It's a plate. Not a gold plate. Not a silver plate. Just a plate. A plate which you eat off.

It's made by those cunning Swedes but you won't find this plate in IKEA. So what makes it so expensive?

It talks to you. Yes, you read me right. You didn't realise you needed a plate which talks to you did you? Well perhaps you don't - unless you're overweight. Because to be frank it doesn't just talk to you, it nags you. It's the worst kind of nagging too because it takes no notice whatever of your replies.

It says things like 'Are you feeling full yet?' or 'Please eat more slowly'. So it's polite at least. I mean it might have said 'Slow down you fat bastard'.

Get this. It has a monitor with a screen on which you can watch how your food is disappearing off the plate. Sorry to state the obvious but I can just watch the plate to see that.

Anyway, once my mother stopped nagging me for being what she called 'a greedy little pig' it wasn't too long before I had a wife to do the job so that's £1500 I have saved myself.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

OH DEAR DIARY...

I've just been checking my diary and I may have a problem. I expect you're fully aware of the joys of having an electronic diary. The big advantage is when you have a regular recurring event and can just enter it once with the instruction to repeat the event every week or month or year.

I well remember when I used to have a traditional diary and spent ages writing in my weekly events fifty two times. Now I just tap it in and say repeat every week and there it is stretching off to infinity.

It's brilliant for birthdays too especially when I know the year my friend or relative was born because it not only tells me the date but also their age. As a result I shall have no excuse now for missing my wife's 150th birthday. The main problem will be finding a 150th card in the shops.

I have made no secret of the fact that I intend to live until at least 100. This gives me a problem though. I shall obviously be thrilled to recieve the Queen's (or King's) telegram. The problem is that I may be out when it is delivered because unfortunately, my diary informs me that I shall be playing badminton that morning.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

HOT AND COLD RUNNING ARGUMENT

I have said before that I love this time of year (November) which is the month in which my birthday falls. I also ventured to suggest that many people like the time of year when they were born.

However there is one little thing which I am not happy about at this late Autumn period. It is time to switch on the central heating. Don't misunderstand me. It's not that I begrudge the power companies their income. The reason why I don't enjoy switching on the heating is that it is a source of disagreement between my wife and I.

I sometimes think that I could be dressed like an Eskimo and need to chisel away the ice to find the heating switch below and she would still be saying 'You're surely not thinking of putting the heating on? It's sweltering in here'.

When the heating is on, I am usually in at least three layers of clothing while she is wearing a vest top and going round flapping her hand to cool her face. I once tried to raise the subject of hot flushes but I value my life too much to make the same mistake again.

We control the heating via the thermostat which is at the foot of the stairs. When she passes it she turns it down to 18 degrees and when I pass it I turn it up to 20. I wonder - can plumbers fix the central heating when it has a nervous breakdown?

I have warned her that if I die of hypothermia she will be arrested for involuntary manslaughter but then of course, there is always the chance that I might find myself in the dock should she expire due to heat exhaustion.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

TELL THE WORLD

Has this ever happened to you? There I was, bouncing along merrily, buoyant with the prospects of the day ahead when I turned the page of my newspaper (The Times) and read something so appalling that I could think of little else for a long time afterwards.

The incident I speak of took place in Afghanistan, that hotbed of calm, justice and serenity and concerns a lady named Gulnaz. When she was a married woman aged 19, she was brutally raped and became pregnant thereafter. She now has an infant daughter and the good news is that eventually, her attacker was caught and convicted.

The bad news? Despite being an innocent victim of this crime, Gulnaz was given a 12 year jail sentence for adultery along with her child and in order to secure herself an early release she has been made to marry the rapist.

Like me, I'm sure that your jaw just hit the floor. The only thing that we can do for people like Gulnaz is to keep talking about her. Tell the world that we find this type of inhumanity totally unacceptable.

If I have brought Gulnaz' story to just one person who hadn't heard about it before then I am content.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

I'LL TRY NOT TO BOAR YOU

My daughter has always been very fond of pigs which may be due to the fact that she appears to have been born on National Pig Day, which incidentally is on March 1st.

The pig is a much maligned animal I discover. In my constant quest to research old sayings I find that in 1732 it was said that
'A hog in armour is still but a hog'. This was recycled in 1887 when it appeared as 'A hog in a silk waistcoat is still a hog'. More recently of course we have have the American version 'you can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig'.

I have recently found that the modern equivalents of some of these old sayings are not necessarily as aesthetically pleasing to the ear. When my daughter and I were discussing a mutual acquaintance of mature years who let us say, has overestimated her attractiveness I quoted 'You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear'. My daughter readily agreed adding 'Yes, you can't polish a turd'.

I suppose I could have said that our friend was 'mutton dressed up as lamb' but then that's a whole different animal.





Wednesday, 9 November 2011

FEELING WET

Look, I'm bright me. I passed all my exams, got all the qualifications, even joined Mensa for a while. OK my memory isn't the best but otherwise my brain stands me in pretty good stead.

You will understand then why I'm a bit puzzled and pretty embarrassed to report the following event which took place earlier today.

I was in the gents toilet. Well somehow I find the gents caters better for my needs than the ladies and there isn't usually a queue. Anyway, having done my thing, I dutifully washed my hands and then held them under the electric air drier. We've all been there. You wave your hands around like a demented traffic policeman but nothing happens. Nothing.

So I applied a bit of logic. First I searched for a power switch. In the past I have often located this and found that it was switched off. No joy. Then I searched for a paper towel alternative but this was the only option.

Now in the past, I would usually give up at this point and dry my hands on the portable towel which I always carry with me also known as jeans. However, I thought I'd have one more attempt.

I'm not very technically minded but I know enough to be aware that these hand driers have a sensor underneath which detects the presence of your hands and then switches on the power. So I thought I'd try holding my hands really close to the hot air aperture to try to wake the sensor up.

It was while doing this that I felt the paper towel slightly protruding from underneath for yes, this was actually a paper towel dispenser and there was no hand drier in the room.

I dried my hands and walked out feeling rather sheepish but very pleased that it was a single cubicle and no-one had witnessed my senior moment.

Let it be our secret.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

THE DREAM TEAM

Today is my 65th birthday and last night I held a celebratory dinner in my own honour. There were 16 of us and we were in a private dining room in one of my favourite restaurants.

I had prepared a short speech despite my family's groans ('Oh no not another speech') and decided to deliver it after the main course before the wine had reached tsunami proportions.

The theme of my little chat was about the importance, having achieved the grand old age of 65, of having a good team behind you and in my case, I was looking at them. Between them, my friends and family present at the dinner are able to provide all of the useful support services I might need. The guests included

A Cordon Bleu chef to satisfy the inner man.
An Accountant to nurture my newly acquired pension.
A magistrate to get me off with a caution when I am hauled up for driving the wrong way up the motorway.
A Pharmacist to advise me how best to use my free medicine prescriptions.
A sports coach to keep me fit.
A weather expert to ensure my life's autumn days are sunny.
An advisor for vehicles for the disabled should my fitness expert let me down.
A home entertainment advisor who boasts one of the largest DVD collections in the area.
A brilliant teacher (you're never too old to learn) and fashion advisor who keeps me looking trendy.
A bodyguard - who is an army sergeant (don't mess with me).
A fully qualified life coach - sadly too late for a mid-life crisis.
A home improvements expert.
A marketing manager to help me publish my book.
A master stonemason who will be able to make me a bespoke gravestone of the finest quality when my luck runs out.
The love in my life and the love of my life who also serves as the other half of my brain (I lack the common sense gene).

All in all, the dream team.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

OPEN ALL HOURS

My wife and I have had a 'Duh' moment. You know - when you've been a bit slow to catch on. In our case, 'slow' was four years.

Let me explain.

We've lived in our lovely house for five years or so and like everything about it. The first thing we had done was to get a gas fire fitted - the sort that looks like a real coal fire. We love it. We also get to use it a bit more often than we'd like because we have always found the living room to be a bit draughty.

Of course this is fine during the warmer months of the year but when the chillier ones come around we sit there shivering until we light the fire.

So it continued until about a year ago when my wife had her eureka moment. 'Why don't we try shutting the door?' she said. So we did. Ever since then, our living room has been 'toasty' and we have been able to warm it up by just lighting a few candles instead of the expensive gas fire.

How stupid is that?

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe.” - Albert Einstein

Sunday, 30 October 2011

IT'S A STEAL

I was reading recently about local crime in my area where it seems that the theft of metal is on the increase. This got me to thinking about what other things get stolen and there were quite a few oddities.

For instance, there was the case of Piotr Gorski, a Polish burglar, who stole twelve jars of gherkins. When he was a few streets away, he started to gorge himself on his ill gotten gains but began to choke on them so not only got arrested but had to be life-saved too.

Then how about Felicidad Noriega, former first lady of Panama, who was charged with stealing twenty seven buttons off jackets at a local store.

They usually say 'everything but the kitchen sink' but in the case of poor James Elstub from Dewsbury, the thieves took that too along with the rest of his new kitchen.

One of the weirdest crimes though must be the theft of human hair from hair salons in America. Apparently it sells for as much as $100 a bundle.

Next time I go to the hairdresser, I think I'll take my hair clippings back home with me!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILICON LINING

I've been outside looking at the clouds. Well, not just any cloud, my own personal cloud. I'm not totally sure, but I think I spotted it. It's a white fluffy one just above my house.

You see since I updated my computer and my phone they now use something called iCloud. As I understand it I have signed up for my own personal cloud which has my email address on it. It also stores all of my data - you know - stuff like diary entries, contacts addresses and phone numbers, that sort of thing.

Let me explain how it works. When I type in a new diary entry on my phone, the information is whisked up to my fluffy little cloud and kept all safe and snuggly there. The cloud, realising that it has a new bit of data, sends it straight to my computer so that as I type on my phone, I see the result appear on my computer within a few seconds. Amazing isn't it? It means that I no longer have to plug my phone into my computer to 'sync' it.

My only concern is that on sunny, cloudless days, I'll have to return to the old method.


Sunday, 23 October 2011

FEEL THE LOVE

I suppose if one thinks of love poetry, then Keats or Shelley come to mind. But they are long gone. Who would you say has taken their place?

Just like the daisy which goes unnoticed as it is trampled on, sometimes beauty is found right under our feet. I give you the words of Don Black:


Tell me on a Sunday

"Don't write a letter when you want to leave
Don't call me at 3 a.m. from a friend's apartment
I'd like to choose how I hear the news.
Take me to a park that's covered with trees
Tell me on a Sunday - please

Let me down easy, n
o big song and dance
No long faces, no long looks
No deep conversation.
I know the way we should spend that day
Take me to a zoo that's got chimpanzees.
Tell me on a
Sunday - please

Don't want to know who's to blame
It won't help knowing.
Don't want to fight day and night
Bad enough you're going.

Don't leave in silence with no word at all
Don't get drunk and slam the door.
That's no way to end this.
I know how I want you to say goodbye
Find a circus ring with a flying trapeze.
Tell me on a Sunday - please

Don't run off in the pouring rain
Don't call me as they call your plane.
Take the hurt out of all the pain.
Take me to a park that's covered with trees.
Tell me on a Sunday - please"

In my humble opinion this is one of the greatest of modern love poems and when you add Lloyd Webber's music it simply transports the senses. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

I COME IN PEACE

Have you ever wondered why we shake somebody's hand when we meet them? No of course you haven't. Me neither until recently.

It is a little odd though don't you think to take a person's hand in yours and then pump it up and down as if you were hoping they might produce a fountain of water from their mouths?

Historians differ on their explanation for the phenomenon but do tend to agree that the ritual began before documented and recorded history which means they have to best guess. Their best guess then is that men when encountering each other would show their empty right hand as a gesture that they come in peace. This may have led to a mutual grasp of the forearm to check for hidden weapons.

The thing is that if the virologists have their way it will become defunct. It spreads disease too easily. They recommend touching elbows instead.

So obviously kissing will also be outlawed. What are the alternatives?

Well we could bow like the Japanese of course.

Maybe we could rub noses like the Eskimoses.

No, my suggestion is that we both turn around and bump bottoms. It's fun, it's healthy and it would begin the meeting with a laugh.
Let's shake on it.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

IT'S THE NEXT BIG THING

I've seen the future and it's scary.

We've just witnessed the start of the technological revolution. It began about thirty years ago with the advent of home computers and shortly afterwards came the mobile phones which soon incorporated computers and thereby became essential to our daily needs.

Look how fast it's taken off. Twitter, iPads, Androids, Skype, Facebook - all words which were unknown just a few years ago.

We didn't see it coming. When I first pressed the wobbly rubber keys on my ZX Spectrum back in 1981, I had no idea it would be the first step on a path which would allow me to tweet in real time with somebody in war-torn Afghanistan about how things were going for them.

When I first put the mobile brick to my ear to call somebody, little did I know that it would lead to a Skype conference allowing me to sit in my Gloucester home to see and hear a friend's new born baby in Belgium.

So what is the next big thing? Robots.

The techno-geeks are working round the clock to produce lifelike robots which will look and act like humans. They will be servants in our homes performing the menial tasks and thereby allowing us to spend more time on things we choose to do rather than things we have to do.

It doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to foresee a time when disease, warfare or climate change wipes out mankind leaving the robots largely untouched. The Earth will then belong to the insect world who will no doubt find it curious to be allowed to crawl over the hard-working household robots' faces without being swatted.

Frightening.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

SHOW'S OVER FOLKS

I didn't really understand why the make-up girl spent so long sprucing up my face in readiness for such a brief TV appearance. What's so wrong with my face that it should need such prolonged efforts on her behalf?

I'd been told that it would be five minutes at most. A short introduction from my interviewer highlighting the peaks and troughs of my life followed by a few searching questions to elicit my views on certain issues.

I'd been carefully primed and knew the questions beforehand so that I wouldn't need to strain the memory banks or produce the dreaded long silences which I'm sure, are the main thing which TV producers most fear on a life show.

So I was ready and watching for the red light on top of the camera to turn green to signify the start of the programme.

Then the alarm bells started ringing - no I mean literally. It was just my recurring minor celebrity dream again. I turned off the alarm, got out of bed and headed for the bathroom to prepare for the day.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

CROSS YOUR HEART AND HOPE TO DIE

Remember when you were told a secret in the playground and had to cross your heart and hope to die? The full version was 'cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye'. It was mostly the thought of the needle in my eye which kept me from ever revealing that my mate Roger secretly loved Lucy Granger or whatever the secret was.

I have a few secrets at the moment which I have sworn not to tell though not with such a bloodthirsty oath as the playground version. My lips are sealed until such time as they are revealed by someone else.

Of course in time the need for secrets to be kept disappears. This can follow the death of a key person involved or simply the passing of sufficient time.

Some secrets are therefore eventually de-classified and revealed to the world. For instance, apparently, if we had ever captured Hitler, Winston Churchill was determined to have him executed in the electric chair - to hell with war crime trials.

Of course there are also secrets which are still shrouded in mystery, like the crashed UFO recovered at Roswell, New Mexico. The material which the craft was made from was listed simply as 'unknown' - spooky.

Can you keep a secret? Or are you a blabbermouth?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

AIMING TO PLEASE

I was amused by a line in 'Outnumbered' recently, when long-suffering Mum Sue came downstairs sporting a pair of rubber gloves having been cleaning the toilets. She complained to anyone who would listen that there appeared to have been a urine tsunami in the toilet and could the male members of the household please take better care with their aim.

To be honest they haven't got a leg to stand on since, none of them having reached their fifties, their *ahem 'equipment' would be fully functional and accurate. Unlike mine.

You see, with age comes a lessening of pressure like a garden hose which is so feeble that you need to stand much closer to the flowers if they are to get remotely wet.

I am always embarrassed by a particular public toilet in a Bristol shopping centre which has targets painted in each urinal position. They are about waist height and the chances of my weakly wee stream getting anywhere near the mark are nil.

My poor wife often finds that the tsunami has struck in our house too. I have tried to explain that it's very difficult when you adopt a careful position with your man's bits above the bowl so as to avoid dripping onto your toes, pointing your third leg carefully at the middle of the loo and having checked that all is set, letting loose only to find that the stream which emerges adopts the shape of a divining rod and goes to left and right missing the toilet completely. Quickly adjusting the aim to bring the right-hand stream back into line only means that the left-hand stream is now missing the mark by about a metre.

I suppose I could always forego my macho stance and sit on the loo but this is difficult when you have 'morning wood' - then again, that's a whole different problem.

This reminds me of the old joke:

A Harrow man and an Eton man are at the urinal. They finish and zip up. The Harrow man proceeds to the sink to wash his hands, while the Eton man immediately makes for the exit.

The Harrow man says, "At Harrow they teach us to wash our hands after we urinate."

The Eton man replies, "At Eton they teach us not to piss on our hands."

Sunday, 2 October 2011

CHEERS!

Talk about a good news day!

The first story my eyes alight upon hungrily is that it appears that drinking coffee helps to prevent you from getting depressed. I think that we coffee drinkers were ahead of the game here. I mean, if you're anything like me, that first cup of coffee of the day makes you feel like you could leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Next I spotted that another of my vices, red wine, can help me to lose weight. Yes, it's official - you can drink yourself slim. Who knew?

So now I know that it's all the coffee and red wine which I quaff regularly which has helped me to be the slim, happy person I see in the mirror each day. I suspect that it also explains why I am totally delusional.

Now I'm off to search the internet for the beneficial effects of cream cakes - wish me luck.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

WHO CARES?

I have great admiration for the nursing profession having been involved with health care workers professionally for most of my working career. In the main they do a wonderful job in poor conditions and for inadequate pay.

However, there have been tales recently of such poor nursing care in some of our hospitals, that thousands of patients have been starving and left to soil themselves in their beds.

I therefore read with interest that the NHS and nursing unions have reacted to this criticism by explaining that there are too few nurses to cope, especially at busy periods like mealtimes and therefore, they urge relatives to help in caring for the everyday needs of their hospitalised loved ones by assisting with feeding or by taking them to the toilet.

My brother, who went into hospital for an operation which was anticipated to involve a two week stay on the ward, has so far been in for four months.

I have assisted as best I can but have found this difficult since I am limited by visiting times of an hour in the afternoon and an hour and a half in the evening.

As for helping with meals, there are signs on the (often locked) door saying that meal times are 'protected'. It seems an odd idea that patients should need protection from their relatives at meal-times.

If the hospital staff would like the assistance of patients' relatives, might I suggest that we are allowed in a little more often? Perhaps also, we could be treated as an asset rather than as a nuisance.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

THIS COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE

I find it truly amazing that with all my years of experience, I still learn new things every day which though simple in themselves can be quite life-changing in their effect.

For instance, it's taken me a long, long time to discover the secret of how to prolong one's pleasure but I have finally achieved it and am willing to share it with you dear reader.

I have found that the climactic moment, which bursts so joyously upon the senses can be extended so as to last and last thus prolonging the pleasure over and over again.

The result is completely amazing and can work not only to provide much enhanced enjoyment for oneself but prolonged pleasure and satisfaction for your partner as well.

That is, if you choose to share your bag of crisps with them.

Yes, eating crisps will never be the same for me since I discovered that by biting just a small amount off each separate crisp, I get all the same delightful mix of crunchiness and taste but the packet lasts for ages and ages.

I hope this handy tip will bring you as much satisfaction as it has for me.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

THE REUNION DINNER

Couldn't resist telling this one...

A group of four friends who went to the same girls school reach their fiftieth birthdays within a few days of each other and decide to mark the occasion by dining out in style.

"Let's go to the Jubilee Restaurant" says Daphne - "I've heard that the waiters there are really good looking." They all agree and have such a fine time eyeing up the waiters that they decide to meet up again when they reach their 60th birthdays.

A decade later they have to decide a venue once more.

"Let's go to the Jubilee Restaurant again" Susan suggests - "the food and wine there were so good last time." So the Jubilee it was and they had a great meal.

Ten years later they are faced with the same decision. "Let's go to the Jubilee Restaurant" says Bridget - "the wheelchair access is excellent there."

Finally they reach their 80's. "This time let's go to the Jubilee Restaurant" says Maureen - "It will be so nice to go somewhere we've never been before."


Sunday, 18 September 2011

SCAREDY CAT?

As far as I know I'm not a coward. But then of course it's hard to know until you are faced with a scary situation and have to decide whether 'fight or flight' is the best course of action.

The only moment in my life which comes to mind is when I returned home one day to find my wife and daughter outside the house in a terrified state because the front door had been forced and they were sure there was an intruder inside the house. On that occasion, the red mist descended and I ran indoors and raced round with murderous intent to try and find the burglar. Thankfully he had already run off.

In times of war, men who were branded cowards were vilified and often abused or imprisoned but I can't help feeling sorry for them. Cowardice is not a matter of choice. It is just the way you react in a crisis. Bravery is admirable but cowardice, though not a flattering quality, should invoke our sympathy not our anger.

Eek!!! There's a spider crossing my desk!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

OPEN ALL HOURS?

I recently paid a visit to the Black Country Living Museum near Dudley. I can heartily recommend this as a fascinating glimpse into a recent but bygone age. Among other things, it seeks to recreate streets just as they were fifty to eighty years ago when the corner shop ruled supreme.

It struck me as I entered an old fashioned grocer's or hardware shop that I was not so much viewing the past as glimpsing the future.

There is nothing quite so sad as seeing the demise of our shops as one by one they succumb to the relentless advance of the supermarket and megastores. Unable to compete with the buying power of these huge establishments, the greengrocer and the butcher sadly close their doors for the last time and likely as not, end up working on the vegetable or meat departments at Tesco or Asda.

It is sad but also completely inevitable. The sweet shop where I spent my pocket money will no doubt be consigned to the museum in future. I can only hope that Joni Mitchell was wrong when she sang 'they took all the trees and put 'em in a tree museum'.

Nostalgia just isn't what it used to be *sigh.