Sunday, 30 September 2012


It is a well documented fact that house fires are often caused by faulty kitchen equipment such as dishwashers, washing machines and so on. 

A cursory internet search produced this item from America:

"CLEVELAND - Home appliances cause an estimated 150,000 fires a year, resulting in 150 deaths"

and this ...

"WASHINGTON – More than a million GE dishwashers are being recalled due to fire hazard."
 A few months ago, my wife was involved in a serious incident at work. She entered the canteen and quickly realised that there was a smell of smoke.

On further investigation, she traced the smell to the dishwasher and when she opened the door, flames leapt out. It had caught fire. 

She acted with a cool head, raised the alarm and in no time, the fire was extinguished. Within a few days, the machine had been replaced.

Ever since, she has been careful to ensure that she never puts our dishwasher on at home when we are going to leave the house empty. If the dishwasher catches fire, she wants to ensure that we are there to deal with it.

Imagine my thoughts then, when waking up an hour or so after my wife had left for work, to find that before leaving the house, she had - you've guessed it - turned on the dishwasher!

Was she tossing me on the barbecue because for her, the flames of love have died?

Was I to be roasted for my life assurance?

For now, I'll give her the benefit of the doubt but rest assured, I have carefully checked the smoke alarms. Also, just between you and me, I have hidden a pot of water under the bed.


Wednesday, 26 September 2012


As I write this short offering, poor old Britain is once again reeling under the effects of prolonged and heavy rain. Apparently, many areas have had a full month's rainfall in the space of just twenty-four hours.

When it rains this heavily, we often refer to it as 'raining cats and dogs'. 

The phrase is not in any sense literal in that it doesn't record an occasion when cats and dogs fell from the sky although some small creatures, such as frogs or fish do occasionally get lifted heaven-wards in freak weather. 

There are some who believe that the phrase derives from mythology. Dogs and wolves were attendants to Odin, the god of storms, and sailors often associated them with rain.

However, the much more likely source of 'raining cats and dogs' is the fact that, in the filthy streets of 17th/18th century England, heavy rain would occasionally carry along dead animals and the like. These animals didn't fall from the sky, but the sight of dead cats and dogs floating by in storms could well have led to the coining of this colourful phrase. 

Unless of course, I'm barking up the wrong tree.

Sunday, 23 September 2012


Those nice people at Apple have just upgraded the software on my iPhone for free. 

As if that wasn't enough, they have included a few extra freebies in the package like 'Passbook' where I can store tickets, coupons and so on to get good deals in cinemas and restaurants.

Then there's 'Podcasts' where I can view - well ... podcasts. 

'ItunesU' is an app where I can learn stuff to become even cleverer than I already think I am.

Also we have 'FindFriends' which will help me to - you guessed it.

The really useful extra though is 'Find iPhone'. It's brilliant. If ever I lose my phone or it gets stolen, all I have to do is to tap the app on the phone and it will show me where it is on a map. 

My only query is how do I do that if I've lost my phone or had it stolen? Or is it me?

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


They say that we learn something new every day.

They also say that we are never too old to learn.

As living proof of this, let me share with you a piece of knowledge which I acquired only today. 

Since said knowledge concerns lactation, there is a strong chance that many female readers will already know this. So let me begin by asking the gentlemen.

When a Mum wants to stop breast-feeding and move over to the bottle, what is she advised to stick in her bra? 

Perhaps post-it notes saying 'no milk today thankyou'? 

Sticky tape to seal them up? 

No, the answer is cabbage leaves straight from the fridge. It's no joke I promise you. Cold cabbage leaves in the bra help to dry up unwanted milk.

This is clearly why cabbages are called BRAssica. 

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Once upon a time it was hip, chic and witty but like all new phrases, it's surely had its day. 

I refer to 'who knew?' which is the fashionable replacement for 'guess what?' or 'fancy that!'

Sometimes 'who knew?' precedes the boring fact which the speaker is about to share with us as in:

"Who knew? Housework is good for your health?"

More commonly, it follows the boring bit - 

"Wine tastes even better with chocolate. Who knew?" 

The words have spawned a series of 'Who Knew?' books. There is also a 'Who Knew?' news trivia programme.

I can't swear to this but the likely origin of the phrase is from the lyrics of the Pink song of that name - so American then. Who knew?

Anyway, be warned, if you see the words 'who knew?' you can be sure that you are about to read something boring and dull.

Oh - with the exception of this little jotting of mine of course.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


The Paralympians have inspired us all with their courage and determination.

They have not shown us their disabilities, they have shown us their abilities.

They have swum stronger, jumped higher and run faster than most of us.

Now they have returned to their communities.

The eagles have landed.

They came, they soared, they conquered.

Now they once more shuffle awkwardly on their perches.

They have earned our admiration and our respect.

They have earned total equality.


Sunday, 9 September 2012


Over the last couple of weeks I've heaped praise on the paralympic games. Now that it's drawing to a close, I'll let some of the participants have the last word...

 "I'm just who I am and if I wasn't disabled then I wouldn't be Hannah and just not being me wouldn't be fun" - Hannah Cockcroft

"If someone asks me 'Would you like your legs back?' the answer would still always be 'No' because fifteen years later I'm probably in one of the best places I've been" - Nathan Stephens

"My parents didn't give me any scope to feel sorry for myself. They were just like 'go play with your brother, go climb a tree, go fall off your motorbike, do whatever you want. Don't come crying to us when you get scratched. You've got prosthetic legs - that's very nice.' " - Oscar Pistorius

"Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet"  - Stephen Hawking

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


In Victorian times, people would pay to see 'Freak Shows' where they would be horrified by the sight of other people with physical deformities such as dwarfism or the loss of a limb or limbs. 

Currently, people are once again paying to see these people not because they see them as freaks, but because they see them as heroes. How times have changed. This surely says a lot for the development of the human race.

Whilst some may have watched the first few days of the Paralympic games with a sense of fascination at the range of disabilities before them, it wasn't long before we were all simply spectators watching superb sporting prowess and cheering on our favourites.

I have found my emotions out of control as I have watched these athletes and in case anyone has missed these examples, I have categorised them for you.

BASIC - 'Amazing'.
In the basic category which I call 'amazing' we have  seen people with no legs riding horses and wheelchair users playing tennis. There is also an archer who holds the bow with his foot and pulls the string back with his teeth.

INTERMEDIATE - 'Astonishing'.
In the intermediate category which I define as 'astonishing' there have been swimmers winning races by powering through the water having only one arm stump. Blind cyclists raced round the velodrome on the back of a tandem. Visually impaired footballers raced round the pitch wearing blindfolds. Just think of that when you next see a defensive wall in the able-bodied version of the game as they nervously place hand in front of their crown jewels. How brave is it to stand there blindfold as someone shoots for goal?

SUPER-HUMAN - 'Unbelievable'.
Finally there are the ones you don't believe until you see them. There are competitors with one leg who perform the high jump. Try it yourself by holding one foot off the ground. Did you manage 6 inches? They jump around six feet. I thought the one stumped swimmer was good until I saw the swimmers with neither arms nor legs shooting along in the water. Likewise, I was in awe of the bravery of the blind footballers until I saw the blind long-jumpers launching themselves forward into the unknown.

'Inspirational' just isn't a big enough word to cover it.

Sunday, 2 September 2012


Having trouble sleeping?

Find yourself waking too early?

Mind races when you go to bed?

Fed up with being asked stupid questions?

Help is at hand. Of course reading my writings have a soporific effect of their own but as someone who can sleep the sleep of the dead I have some serious tips to offer if you often find yourself wide awake at night.

Make yourself comfortably tired.
Ensure you have the right amount of bedclothes to be comfortably warm. If you aren't tired when you go to bed, read until you are.

Separate yourself from reality.
Do not take a glass of water to bed. Drinking will wake you up. Ensure the room is very dark - fit black-out blinds if necessary. Never look at the time. This will start you thinking about the real world. If you go to the loo, the idea is to complete the process half-asleep so only open your eyes a fraction. 

When you want to go to sleep, start thinking about some sort of fantasy. For instance, pretend that you are a child again and  are going for a trip to the seaside. Or imagine you are an animal. Do not think about real-life situations. 

If you do find yourself awake when you want to be asleep, do not fret about it - remind yourself that you are still resting. 

Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite.