Wednesday, 27 April 2011


A news item this morning reminded me of my first honeymoon which was spent in a small village about fifty miles outside of Rome. It was an idyllic place, perched on the top of a hill.

There was a scattering of houses, surrounding a square where everyone would congregate in the evening. Close by the square was an olive grove and sheep grazed beneath the trees.

As I strolled around the olive grove in my lovestruck state of bliss I noticed something curious. I love olives and was picking the occasional one off the tree. They were not quite ripe so I thought to pick some which had fallen to the ground. It was then that I came perilously close to being put off them when I noticed the amazing similarity between the fallen olives on the ground and the goat droppings next to them.

Oh and the news item which reminded me of this was the story of an expensive but apparently delicious Sumatran coffee called 'Kopi Luwak'. The coffee beans which are used to produce this coffee are apparently prised carefully from the droppings of the civet, an indigenous wild cat of the region.

I am happy to report that this has not put me off my beloved coffee but I shall be avoiding any which hails from Sumatra in future.

Sunday, 24 April 2011


This Easter (2011) looks set to be a very strange one. Those crowds of people who have set off for the coast with their expectations and hemlines raised will have something to contend with which is very rare for the Easter holiday - warm sunshine.

Indeed today is Good Friday and as I write this I am having to try to avoid letting sweat drip onto the keyboard. Oh sorry. Were you eating?

Good Friday is so called because it really means God's Friday and it has some rather strange superstitions attached to it. I will relate these to you in the form of a few Dos and Don'ts.

1. Do give birth if at all possible. Your child will have the gift of healing and this should see you right in your old age.
2. Do bake cakes and make bread. They won't go mouldy.
3. Do lay eggs (if you are a chicken that is), for they will never go bad.
4. Do keep a hot cross bun in your house until it goes hard. This will protect your house from fire and save on the cost of smoke alarms.
5. Do have your hair cut. Apparently, this will prevent you from having toothache for the rest of the year. Of course finding a barbershop open on Good Friday could be an issue.

1. Don't plant crops. Under no circumstances should iron be put in the ground or there will be dire consequences.
2. Don't do laundry or not only will you wash away your family but the clothes which you hang out to dry will be spotted with blood.
3. Don't set off in a fishing boat - you will have bad luck unless you have a stale hot cross bun with you in which case you will at least be protected from shipwreck.
4. Don't wear an entire outfit of old clothes because if you wear nothing new, dogs will spit on you and birds will peck your eyes out.
5. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


Chances are that you're Sesquipedalophobic. If you weren't before you might well be now because Sesquipedalophobia is the fear of long words.

Like me, you might well be surprised at just how many things people are afraid of. It is a very long list. There are some which aren't too surprising. Pentheraphobia for instance is fear of your mother-in-law and surely a great number of women are Parturiphobic - which means that they fear childbirth. In fact there are several words all of which mean fear of childbirth. Tokophobia (or Tocophobia), Maieusiophobia and Lockiophobia all mean the same thing.

Others baffle me. I mean, who on Earth would be Plutophobic? This apparently means that they are afraid of being too wealthy. I only wish I could count a rich Plutophobic amongst my friends.

Equally, some poor chap somewhere may be Venustraphobic. If so, he is frightened of beautiful women. Whatever brought that about?

My Foolish Fear award however goes to those who are Arachibutyrophobic. These poor souls are frightened that peanut butter might stick to the roof of their mouth. There is of course, a simple solution to this problem.

So whatever your fears, I hope you may face them with courage.

I'm afraid that's all I have space for.

Sunday, 17 April 2011


My dear Mum, rest her soul, wouldn't hurt a fly. I had my wicked moments as a child and was a real test of her parenting skills and yet I cannot remember her ever hitting or slapping me which of course was commonplace when reprimanding children in those days way back when Adam and Eve were toddlers.

However threats were another matter entirely. When I was sent on an errand for instance, in order to ensure my close attention to the matter in hand and my prompt return having accomplished the mission, all manner of hellfire and brimstone would apparently fall on my head if I failed in the task.

Her favourite and most frequently used threat was to disembowel me and make practical use of what she discovered within. A good example of this would be 'If you're not back by 10 o'clock I'll have your guts for garters'.

It seems that the first reference to 'guts for garters' appeared in Robert Greene's The Scottish Historie of James the Fourth, which was written around 1592:

"Ile make garters of thy guttes, Thou villaine."

I'm pleased to report that my intestines are not only complete but are also in reasonable worki
ng order.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Whatever your mental image of me might be as I sit here tapping at the keyboard for your benefit, please add a pair of sunglasses to it. You see, I'm feeling pretty cool.

Yesterday I bought my first pair of MBTs. This stands for 'Masai Barefoot Technology' for it was apparently watching Masai tribe people walking that gave them the bright idea that the sole of our shoe should be curved so that we feel unstable and have to work our muscles constantly - that's a good thing.

My brain being what it is, I keep telling people that I just bought a pair of MTBs which of course are Motor Torpedo Boats. Come to think of it, owning those would be pretty cool too.

So now, when I'm standing still, I'm not. I'm actually rocking gently back and forwards like a drunkard. In fact, I'm swaying like a big, burly, tall drunkard which has the added bonus that people seem to give me plenty of space.

When I'm walking, my foot now rolls from back to front so if I'm not rocking I'm rolling. Of course, my rock and roll days never ended. I can do Granddad dancing as well as anyone.

Which gives me an idea. I wonder if MBT make Granddad slippers?

Sunday, 10 April 2011


This poignant image by Luigi Diamanti represents the opposites of love and hate.

Somewhere in the world a baby just cried but somewhere else a baby laughed.

Someone died at the same time as a birth occurred elsewhere.

There are many wars taking place and someone just got killed in one while a surgeon saved another person's life across the globe.

As enemies curse each other there are places where lovers woo.

Dead leaves fall from a tree in the Autumnal part of the world as new buds open where Spring is in the air.

In the wild, a dead animal is a tasty meal to another creature.

As a bird falls from its perch an egg is hatching in another place.

For most negatives there are positives. The world is populated by pessimists for whom the glass is half empty and optimists like myself, who see it as half full.

"A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier."

I just touched you - you're 'it'.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


It may be possible that unlike me, you are not regular readers of the renowned diarist and historic Tweeter and blogger Samuel Pepys. If this is the case let me tell you that he was a naughty chap. Not only did he regularly fiddle with the maid when his wife was elsewhere, he also visited other ladies either because their husbands were out or because they were ladies of pleasure.

What is more, he wrote about it all in his diary which is how I come to know what he was up to. You might think that this was a little dangerous. What if his wife, whilst perhaps checking his pockets for loose change, happened upon said diaries and perused them?

Well our friend Samuel had a method for dealing with this possibility. He would write the naughty bits in French which his wife clearly didn't understand. An example should suffice.

"I by water to Westminster-hall and there did see Mrs. Lane, and de la, elle and I to a cabaret at the Cloche in the street du roy; and there, after some caresses, je l’ay foutee sous de la chaise deux times" the rough translation of 'je l'ay foutee' being 'had my wicked way with her - twice'.

Of course, the French were not our favourite continental neighbours since we were probably at war with them more often than not and this might explain why we used their language not only to conceal sexual transgressions as Pepys did but also for many other things which were dirty, rude or distasteful.

Toilets for instance were called 'garderobes' translating as 'guard your robes'. The word 'loo' had a similar origin having come from the cry of 'gardez l'eau' (look out for the water) as people jettisoned the contents of their chamber pots into the street below.

Well I for one, have always regarded French as the most beautiful language in the world. That being the case. I hereby apologise to our French amis for my ancestors' gross misuse of their words.

I also forgive them for calling us 'Rosbifs' (Roast Beefs), after all, they were only getting their own back for us calling them 'frogs'. But out of beef and frogs, I know which I prefer to see nestling next to the roast potatoes on my plate.

Sunday, 3 April 2011


Many years and a marriage or two ago, my waist measurement was 32 inches. My leg length was also 32 inches so were it possible, I could have used my leg as a belt.

In an effort to bolster the economy, my waist has expanded over the years and is now variable from one day to the next dependant largely on how much chocolate is in the cupboard. If the chocolate is in the cupboard I'm about 38 inches but if the chocolate is in me - well you get the idea.

In terms of trouser length, my legs are still 32 inches long. They were the same length yesterday. Experience tells me that they will probably be the same length tomorrow. So if I need a new pair of trousers I just go to the shop and search for 32 inch leg trousers right?

Wrong. As my male readers will know, some shops sell even length trousers 30, 32, 34, 36, 38 etc. whilst others sell theirs in 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39 inch lengths. This means that if I've picked the wrong shop, when the assistant asks what size trousers I would like my choice of reply is

a) I would like my trousers to be an inch too short please.
b) I would like my trousers to be an inch too long please.
c) I shall be going to a different shop which sells trousers in my size thank you.

Unsurprisingly, the clothing sector is currently struggling to make a profit. You could say that they are not well-trousered.