Sunday, 29 December 2013


I live near Cheltenham, home to  eight out of 20 original Victorian Penfold pillar boxes still existing in the UK.

I mention this because I've recently discovered that when I take the trouble to write a letter and then stamp the envelope before trudging out of the house to post it, I could have been saving my energy.

It seems that P.G.Wodehouse, of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves fame, never bothered to go out to post his letters but merely tossed them out of the window. 

He trusted in his fellow citizens to take them to a post box and do the job for him which inevitably they did.

The Gloucestershire Echo has tried the method out in Cheltenham with great success - 83% of the letters being dutifully posted.

I can only say that it's a good job they didn't try it round here. 

My neighbours would have had a field day steaming off the stamps for re-use.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013


A few giggles for Christmas…

'Snowball' by Shel Silverstein

I made myself a snowball,
As perfect as could be,
I thought I'd keep it as a pet,
And let it sleep with me.
I made it some pyjamas,
And a pillow for its head,
Then last night it ran away,
But first - it wet the bed!


'Thank You' by William Church

For your Christmas presents,
I thank you one and all.
For the big ones many thanks,
And fewer for the small.


The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.
- George Carlin 


Let's be naughty and save Santa the trip.
- Gary Allan 


“Mail your parcels early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas.” – Johnny Carson


Why is Christmas just like a day at the office? You do all the work and the fat guy with the suit gets all the credit.


Anyone who believes that men are the equal of women has never seen a man trying to wrap a Christmas present.


Sunday, 22 December 2013


We are blessed with having two one-year olds with us for Christmas. 

All is ready. The tree is shining with lights and baubles. Decorations adorn the room. The kitchen is packed with festive food. 

Under the tree there are a large number of presents destined for the two tiddlers and this leaves the question - which will be the favourite present of all?

Will it be the brightly coloured wrapping paper which easily tears to shreds with lovely ripping noises? 

Perhaps it will be the lovely bubble wrap inside some of the parcels which waits patiently to be popped. That's if the adults don't all pop it first in a pretence of showing the kids how to do it.

Then there's the cardboard with shiny cellophane windows so you can see what's inside.

No - my vote is for the silver or gold foil which not only makes lovely crispy noises when you scrunch it but has the added bonus of being shiny too. 

Just such a shame that each of these things has some sort of junk inside it which you have to toss aside so as to get to the wrapping.

Sunday, 15 December 2013


This time the nutty news is literally 'nutty'. 

It seems that Her Majesty the Queen is rather partial to a crafty cashew or two. She has a very savoury tooth and enjoys the odd pick of the pistachios. Accordingly, bowls of nuts are distributed freely around Buck House in case the Queen wishes to partake of a pecan or two.

Imagine her disappointment when she discovered that her nibbles were being nicked. Just when she fancied a wallow in the walnuts she found that they had gone. 

Just to prove that she wasn't losing her marbles she began marking a line on the side of the bowl and soon had clear proof that they were being purloined.

The guilty party? Her own police force when on security duties, were pinching her peanuts which explained why she had to keep shelling out for more.

Perhaps the police should be given a pay rise - after all if you pay peanuts...

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Wise words spoken by who?

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.

A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.

There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.

Money won't create success, the freedom to make it will."

Nelson Mandela - (1918-2013)

Sunday, 8 December 2013


Usually when you pull a Christmas cracker, out pops a joke and a silly hat. However when I pulled one the other day I got a history lesson.

Luckily, I like history so was intrigued to discover how the Christmas cracker came to be and who invented it. These are the details:

The History of Tom Smith
 It was on a trip to Paris in 1840 that an adventurous and forward-thinking Tom Smith discovered the “bon-bon” sugared almond, wrapped in a twist of tissue paper.  Seven years later this simple idea evolved into the Christmas Cracker. 

By placing a small love motto in the tissue paper he created enormous interest in this product, especially at Christmas and it was during a search for inspiration to achieve even greater sales that he casually threw a log on the fire.  The crackle sound, made by the burning log, gave him the idea that would eventually lead to the crackers we know and love today.  After a great deal of hard work and experimentation, he came up with a  cracking mechanism that created a “pop” as the “bon-bon” wrapping was broken.  This eventually became the snap and the cracker was born.

Over the next few years his idea evolved and grew and he moved from his original premises in Clerkenwell, East London, to Finsbury Square in the City.  His sons, Tom, Walter and Henry took over the business when he died and later a drinking fountain was erected in Finsbury Square by Walter, in memory of his mother and to commemorate the man who invented the Christmas Cracker.

It was Walter who introduced the paper hats and he toured the world to find new and unusual ideas for the gifts.

The Company was very aware of current affairs and crackers  were created for Suffragettes, War Heroes, Charlie Chaplin, the Coronation and many other great occasions.  Exclusive crackers were also made for the Royal Family and still are to this day”

Care to pull my cracker your Majesty?

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


I used to pride myself on being able to read Chaucer in the old English with an accent which hopefully, our beloved Geoffrey would have recognised.

I had fun practising on the original of this phrase: 'Every little helps'. Still in common use today and the meaning is very clear but the origin?

Well as far as I can discover it was:

'Every little helps said the wren when she pissed in the sea.' 

A wren of course is a very tiny bird but her little contribution helped to keep up the sea levels.

But in 1623 the olde English version was:

'Euery thing helpes, quoth the Wren when she pist i' the sea.'

Even earlier in 1602 they seem to have been a little more reluctant to use the bawdy words so we had:

'The wrenn sayde all helpte when she — in the sea.'

See what a prudish nation we used to be.

Sunday, 1 December 2013


I found this story very touching and wanted to share - author unknown.

The story of the butterfly

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly.
One day a small opening appeared.
He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole.
Then it stopped, as if it couldn't go further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly.
He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon. The butterfly emerged easily but it had a swollen body and shrivelled wings.
The man continued to watch it,
expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge and expand enough to support the body.

Neither happened!
In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around. It was never able to fly.
What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand:
The restricting cocoon and the struggle required by the butterfly to get through the opening was a way of forcing the fluid from the body into the wings so that it would be ready for flight once that was achieved.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Going through life with no obstacles would cripple us. We will not be as strong as we could have been and we would never fly.