Wednesday, 28 July 2010


The hills are alive with the sound of "Ash - leeeeeeee!". This poor, wretched child named Ashley lives in our street and hears his name frequently bawled out by one or other parent. Unfortunately, this means that so do my neighbours and I.

There are some names which do not stand up to the 'being shouted down the street' test. "Shar-leeeen!", "Kay-leeeeeee!", "Char-dun-ayyyyyyy!" are further examples of this.

As Juliet said to Romeo:
"What's in name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet"

Memo to future parents: You will surely love your baby just as much if you call them by a name which passes the street screaming test - Joe, Ann, Tom or Jill for instance.

My tip is to name your baby after something which will endure the test of time and ensure your undying future love for them - how about "Chocolate" or maybe "Peanut Butter"?

Sunday, 25 July 2010


I have recently enjoyed a wonderful day out courtesy of a local classic car club. It is a club for Triumph 'TR' (Triumph Roadster) owners and was provided as a fun day for the Dads of children who are involved with the hospice I work at. This was a brilliant idea and was thoroughly enjoyed by the Dads who attended.

After coffee and a chance to peer into the many cars on show, we each chose which car to travel in and were driven off to a lovely country pub in the Cotswolds where we were all treated royally to food and drink and then driven back again.

There were a wide range of TR models to choose to ride in plus the rare treat of a rogue Jaguar E-type. I picked a Triumph 'Peerless'. It was a truly amazing experience.
I was very impressed when I was told that it has actually competed at Le Mans.

On the way back, I selected a Triumph TR3A which was navy blue with a luscious tan leather interior. The most notable design feature of this car is the drop down doors which you can see in the photo just under the elbow of the pink poser who needless to say was only allowed to sit in the drivers seat after the ignition key was safely removed.

All in all a truly memorable day for which many thanks to the Cotswold Vale TR Register.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


My wife Sally is heavily interested in fashion. She often tells me that her ideal job would be to act as someone's personal shopper, assisting them to find clothes which best suit them.

She of course, needs no assistance to find clothes which best suit her and the groaning wardrobes attest to that fact. When I first met her I was amused to discover that she would regularly come home with £200 worth of clothes, try them all on, then take £120 worth back to Marks & Spencers.

She treats each day as a challenge. In fact the day begins the night before as she plans her wardrobe for tomorrow's work day. Having carefully checked the weather forecast, various potential outfits are strewn over the bed until she comes up with the perfect combination to suit the weather and to catch the eye as she strolls down the catwalk office corridor.

Imagine my surprise then as having waved her off to work as normal, she came flying back into the house half an hour later all of a lather. As she raced upstairs, the hurried, breathless explanation cascaded down behind her.

It transpires that there is another woman at Sally's work called Jane who is totally different from Sally in that she cares not a jot what she wears to work. Her everyday outfit is the company fleece, blue jeans and trainers which she consistently wears as a comfortable 'uniform'. On this day however, the managers were having a special event and Jane wanted to make a special effort for it. She had therefore shed the fleece, jeans and trainers and had donned her high heels, a pencil skirt and as you may have guessed, the identical top to Sally - every woman's worst nightmare!

Of course the men in the office thought this was hilarious and proceeded to call Sally and Jane by each others names. This drove Jane to don her fleece to cover up and she slipped quickly into the grumps. Sally therefore proceeded to save the day by rushing home and changing her top. So my Wonder-woman saved the day.

I'm betting that Jane will be back in her fleece tomorrow.

Sunday, 18 July 2010


OK ladies - move along please, nothing to see here. I need a word with my male reader(s) about secret stuff I'd rather you didn't know about.

Right guys, now that they're gone..... I need some help with my wife. That is to say, I'm having a problem with her.

Don't get me wrong. I think she's very satisfied with me and I seem to be meeting her needs a little too well to the extent that... well to the extent that she's becoming a little too demanding.

To put it simply, it seems that I do too good a job. She is so satisfied with my standard of washing up that she's leaving me far too much. Well whatever did you think I was talking about?

When she cooks, she cooks like there's a prize for using as many pans as possible. Now in the days before dishwashers it was much easier. I could just drop the odd glass or plate and she would ban me from washing up because of my clumsiness. Now though, the breakables are in the machine and I'm left with the pans.

Don't get me wrong. I'm happy to do my fair share as I indicated when I wrote 'Fair enough'. Now though, its beginning to interfere with my 98% of leisure time.

So I need some ideas for pan washing avoidance. On the few occasions when she has washed them, I tried complimenting her on how much better she does it than me. I've thought of giving the pans a light spray of olive oil before putting them back in the cupboard. I've thought of buying a finger splint so I can feign a sprain. (Sorry its the poet in me). Somehow I don't think I've hit on the best solution.

So please. What's your way out of it?

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


I'm sure that I wasn't alone in fearing for our Prime Minister David Cameron's safety when he was regularly seen walking to work following the election. He must have presented his 'minders' with an immense problem trying to monitor every face in the crowd and look for threats from above. Clearly, V.I.P.'s need to be well protected when in public situations.

Now we all know that there is only £4.85 left in the treasury and that Mr. Cameron is on a thrift drive urging us to tighten our belts. He will therefore be as pleased as I am to learn that the royal family only cost us 62 pence each this year compared to 69 pence the year before. I await my cheque for 7 pence with great excitement.

One of the items under scrutiny is the security costs of the royals and others. It is revealed that the Queen's granddaughter Bea, has a police bodyguard who costs a staggering £250,000 per year. In stark contrast, the Queen's other grandchildren Peter & Zara Phillips have no bodyguard at all. What is to be done?

Well I have a suggestion. If royals like Bea are undertaking official duties I shall be happy to help pay for their security. However, if they are going out clubbing or off for a game of tennis, might I respectfully propose that they pay for their own personal protection. That way, the Treasury will soon reach the grand total of £5 and my pensioners' bus pass won't be under threat.

Sunday, 11 July 2010


England have crashed out of the world cup, Murray is out of Wimbledon despite giving it his best shot and it's raining. Could there be a better time to write about funerals?

At my age I've attended many of them. I've seen off all my Grandparents - although one Grandad only succumbed at the ripe old age of 96. Various Uncles and Aunts have dropped off their perches. Thankfully a few remain though some look a little grey around the temples. Notably, my Uncle Roy stipulated that when we saw him off, nobody was to wear black - in fact he requested that everyone wore hunting pink and so we did. I spoke at both my parents' funerals - not a dry eye in the house. I know how to milk a situation!

The worst by far of course, are the funerals of children. It's just not meant to be like that. The small coffin is hard to bear (excuse the pun). It is also usually the case that when the deceased is young, there is standing room only in the chapel. Sadly, as a teacher of special needs children many of whom were life-limited, I attended many such events.

Now that I am in my sixties, I face a new challenge - attending the funerals of my own peer group. As the actor Ray Winstone said in a recent interview in the Times, "Losing elders is tough but it's losing mates and contemporaries that makes you realise you're a man and not a kid anymore". The trouble is, they are dropping off the same perch as the one that my claws are tightly gripping.

It does make you think though. I mean, have you ever considered what you would like written on your tombstone? There are many examples of 'Tombstone Humour'. One I rather like is

"Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake, stepped on the gas instead of the brake".

Then of course there is Spike Milligan's well-known gaelic epitaph "I told you I was ill" - though it had been used before his demise, he seems to get the credit for it. Maybe I'll go for "I don't suppose we could we make it best of three?"

My Grandad is my inspiration. My aim is to pass his 96 years and receive the royal telegram when I make it to 100. If that fails, I shall follow in the claw steps of the Monty Python 'Dead Parrot' sketch. My feet will be firmly nailed to the perch with no chance of my dropping off.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Following the dismal performance of the England football team in the World Cup, I read with interest that defender Jamie Carragher has once again announced his retirement from international football. Rumour has it that some of the rest of the team will follow suit. They are not the first. Other England players in the past have done the same, notably Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Wayne Bridge among others.

Well I'm sorry but I don't think it should be like that. IF you are good enough and IF you are lucky enough you MIGHT have the HONOUR of being chosen to play for your country. Isn't that how it's supposed to be?

Players might well declare themselves unfit for selection and conceivably they might have deep personal reasons which prevent them from playing for their country but stating that they don't want to be chosen because they want to concentrate on their club football just doesn't hack it.

Time was when players felt a sense of great pride to play for England and it really mattered to them if things didn't go well. Who will ever forget Gazza's tears in Italy 1990? We remember too, the huge effort and professionalism shown by our 1966 team when we won the ultimate trophy.

Sir Tom Finney, a football legend of the 1950's, once spoke of his immense pride in playing for England in the World cup "When you think about all the great players never to have played in one, George Best for example, I'm very humbled by the fact that I've taken part in three".

Anyway, if this is the way things are, I hereby announce that I will be unavailable for England selection for the next world cup. Sorry about that but I have a hair appointment.

Sunday, 4 July 2010


The next time you find yourself stuck waiting at traffic lights you might like to amuse yourself by taking a look at the central reservation. You will be amazed at what you find there.

Obviously there's the expected litter, bottles, cans, cigarette packets and so on but there's usually a few surprises. Recently I spotted a deflated football for instance. Now who is playing football in the middle of a main road I ask myself? I also saw a ladies handbag. What is that about? There are often items of clothing to be seen and there is always a single shoe - have you noticed that?

A friend of mine works as a Traffic control officer. He loves his job even though he frequently encounters gory scenes at accident sites. It is also part of their job to clear litter from the wayside if it might be a danger.

It was he who told me about 'Spanish Tizer'. In case you are not familiar with this phenomenon, let me explain. 'Tizer' is a well known brand of fizzy orange drink. Apparently, foreign lorry drivers carry empty plastic bottles in their cabs to pee in if they get taken short with no toilet around. They then lob the full bottle out of the window onto the verge where it resembles a discarded bottle of Tizer.

Now I'm sure that it isn't only our Iberian cousins who do this so instead of Spanish Tizer I am naming it 'Street Soda'. Either way - don't ever drink it - you've been warned!