Sunday, 29 January 2012


Have you ever entered a lift - you know, one of those things which our friends across the pond call an elevator - and pressed the 'close doors' button to speed up the process?

Worse still, have you ever done it because you remember seeing a big fat bloke wheezily running towards the lift doors but at a sufficient distance to mean that he won't quite make it as long as the doors close quickly? No doubt if he gets there and jams himself in the doors as they are closing you will have your line all ready...

"Oh sorry about that. I tried to press the 'open doors' button but I think I pressed the wrong one by mistake."

Well it turns out that most of the 'close doors' buttons don't work. In fact they are often not even wired up. They are known in the trade as 'placebo buttons' because they are only there to make you feel better when you press them.

I bet the guy who thought up that stunt is a big fat bloke who hated having to run to catch the lift doors before they close.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


We all know that if you sit an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of keyboards, they will eventually type out the complete words of Shakespeare. However, I very much doubt that they would ever have sufficient time to list the things that I do which drive my dear wife to distraction.

One example from the astronomically long list, is that I am prone to singing along to music in the car - worse still, I sometimes whistle. When this occurs, my aforementioned spouse says something like 'If you don't stop that whistling, I shall go completely doodlealley'.

I often use the phrase myself, but of course the true word is doolally. Somehow though, I find my wife's version rather endearing - so much so that I have been known to provoke it.

To go doolally means to go insane with utter boredom. The word comes from Deolali which was a British army camp north of Bombay (Mumbai) where troops who had finished their turn of duty before and during the second world war would be sent to await their passage home. Clearly they often had to wait a long time.

The full phrase is 'doolally tap'. 'Tap' was a Persian/Urdu word for malarial fever and so 'doolally tap' meant 'camp fever'. I imagine that those poor troops must have felt something like I do when sitting in the car waiting for my dearly beloved to finish getting ready to go out for the evening.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


I have a friend who lives in Northern Ireland. He comes over here to the UK regularly and does so by plane. Basically he uses planes like other people use buses. I could no more do that than stand on my head. I just hate flying.

Many of my intrepid aviator friends cannot understand this. Perhaps you are amongst them. Let me try to explain.

There was a well-known catch phrase from the cult sci-fi TV series 'Star Trek' which was 'Beam me up Scotty'. This was a command to be teleported back to the starship enterprise from whichever planet the crew were currently interfering with at the time.

Just think about teleportation for a moment. If you were offered to be teleported from say London to New York in ten seconds would you try it? Suppose we ask a for a few more details.

'Oh yes Sir. Teleportation is the quickest way to travel. The teleporter scans your body and records your personal cell pattern. It then disassembles your body, whisks you to your choice of destination and reassembles you exactly as you were.

Side effects? Well some people report a temporary dizziness and occasionally it may trigger a headache but that's it.

Accidents? Let me assure you that teleportation is statistically the safest way to travel compared to all other methods. True, a very few people have failed to reassemble and their cells are now drifting around the cosmos but the vast majority arrive safely.'

So will you be stepping into the teleportation chamber or hopping on the jumbo jet? Me - I'll be catching the bus.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


I was chatting to a lovely lady the other day who is still living life to the full despite being well into her eighties.

Physically, she gets around pretty well aided no doubt by the fact that she has been rejuvenated with two replacement hips and two replacement knees. Mentally she's as sharp as a fox and has a fine sense of humour which I suspect she inherited from her father judging from the following tale which she told me.

I learned that she was the youngest of three daughters each of whom had been given a shorter nickname by their father than those which they had been christened with.

The oldest daughter was known as I.I. Apparently this stood for 'Injured Innocence'.

He called the second daughter M.C. because her conception, clearly not intended, came about because of 'Misplaced Confidence'.

As for the lady in question, she was dubbed A.B.C. The reason? Well it appears that she was the result of 'Absolute Bloody Carelessness'.

Careless it may have been but I can assure you that the world is a richer place for it.

Sunday, 15 January 2012


I'm sitting in my kitchen doing a crossword. I glance outside and there is a pretty little sparrow perched on the fence.

I look at him. He looks right back at me. I know what he's thinking.

"It's all very well for you you featherless freak, sat there scratching about.

The feeder is empty. Why? Because you haven't got up off your featherless tail and put some seed out for me."

I consider breaking off from the crossword and going out to fill the bird feeder. I consider some more.

"I can't help but notice that you're still perched in there and that there's still no seed out here.

How about if I flew over and crapped on the washing that's hanging on the line? Would that get your tail up and moving?"

I go out and fill the feeder. I know who's boss.

Human 0 - Bird 1.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


The year is 1900. Only a very few people own a car and horse-drawn carriages are still favoured for getting about.

An American gentleman called Mr. John Watkins picks up his pen - probably the sort which you had to keep dipping into an inkwell - and begins to write.

"What may happen in the next hundred years..." Yes our Mr. Watkins is predicting the future. How well did he do? Judge for yourself as I list a few of the things which he jotted down way back then, one hundred and twelve years ago.

Colour photos:
"If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence, snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later.... photographs will reproduce all of nature's colors."

Mobile phones: "Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world. A husband in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago. We will be able to telephone to China quite as readily as we now talk from New York to Brooklyn."

Supermarkets selling pre-prepared meals: "Ready-cooked meals will be bought from establishment similar to our bakeries of today."

Television: "Man will see around the world. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span."

Express trains: "Trains will run two miles a minute normally. Express trains one hundred and fifty miles per hour."

He wasn't far off the mark was he?

How do you think the world will have changed a hundred years from now?

Sunday, 8 January 2012


I am worried. I am seriously concerned that my wife is having an affair.

All the tell-tale signs are there. She is frequently distracted and pays me very little attention. She spends a lot of time in a different room to me. She has that guilty look about her.

Sometimes if I enter the room unexpectedly, I find her in a state of near euphoria and yet she seems to be completely unaware of my presence.

But it is no mystery. I know who my rival is. In fact, I can give you a description. Black, smooth-faced and I have to admit it - cool. My rival's name? It is iPad 2.

It is newly acquired and I have only myself to blame. I helped set the thing up and now my wife spends practically all her time in its company. I even showed her how to use the thing and she's getting better at it all the time.

Now if I could just stop her using it as a mirror before she turns it on ...

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


Welcome. I mean to start the new year as I left the old one, by continuing my study of history. Do join me.

Let us take a moment to compare our knowledge, or perhaps I should say, our ignorance of atomic theory.

I would guess that like me, you are aware that matter, i.e. everything which we and our surroundings are made of is composed of atoms flying around in a space. These atoms are in turn are made up of a nucleus comprised of protons and neutrons and this nucleus is surrounded by a cloud of electrons. I would also guess that like me, that is about all you know.

Clever scientists have discovered these things using very expensive machines over the last 150 years or so and have shared their findings with the world. Given this, when do you suppose this quote was first spoken?

Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.

I am currently engaged in studying history as I mentioned and have discovered that these words were spoken by Democritus, a Greek philosopher, who lived between 460 and 370 B.C. This was when he first formulated his theory that everything was made up of atoms (from the Greek word 'atomos' which means indivisible).

I find it astonishing that someone could have conceived the idea of atoms that long ago. It is perhaps even more amazing that it was then over 2000 years before anyone picked up on the idea and developed it.

We can only hope that as far as knowledge is concerned, mankind now makes up for lost time - better late than never.

Sunday, 1 January 2012


As we approach the new year, there will be some who are fearful and others who look forward with great expectations.

Whichever you are you can embrace the future in the sure knowledge that there will be both good and bad times to enjoy or to endure.

I read these words today (author unknown).

Why is a car's windscreen so large and the rear view mirror so small?

Because our past is not as important as our future.

Whilst this may be true, I cannot help but reflect that when I taught my children to drive, I told them to ensure that they adopt the right driving position and keep a good view of the road ahead so they would have as much notice as possible for the moment when some idiot driver was hell bent on a car crash.

I told them that although the rear view mirror takes up a little of their forward view, they must never make the matter worse by hanging fluffy dice on the mirror to obstruct their view ahead still further.

I also taught them that when they were going to change their course, they must always check their rear view mirror first so they would know whether it was safe to turn.

So look forward to the new year and whatever it brings but remember what has passed and learn from it on your future course.

Me? I am to become a Grandad which I look forward to with great joy and with fond memories of how my own grandparents enriched my childhood.

Happy New Year.