Wednesday, 28 December 2011


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


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


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.

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


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


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


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


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


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.