Sunday, 29 May 2011


With my daughter's wedding now looming large on the horizon next month I thought it was a good time to try to slim down to fit into my waistcoat.

I make no secret of the fact that I am a foodie so the task here was to find a way to continue to eat loads of food, have fun preparing it and lose a lot of weight in the process. Suffice to say that I found the answer and so have far managed to shed over half a stone.

Me: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
You: Yes, sir.
Me: Are you listening?
You: Yes, I am.
Me: Melons.
You: Exactly how do you mean?

Trust me it works. Buy the melons of your choice. Slice one in half. Cover one half in cling-film and put in the fridge for next time.

Slice and chop your remaining half melon discarding the seeds. Add a couple of chopped glacé cherries to taste. Arrange in a dish like a small mountain. Enjoy.

Of course, you are free to think of other things to put with your melon. How about a gentle drizzle of vodka for instance?

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


I suppose there is a chance that I'm going through a mid-life crisis. My family certainly seem to think so.

With women it often manifests itself by having Botox or a facelift. I had a male friend who demonstrated his by digging a huge hole in the garden, filling it with water and then tipping a bag full of coy carp into it. His wife just gazes out at it every day with a bemused and puzzled expression.

More representative of the male midlife crisis is the sudden purchase of a Harley Davidson. In my own case, I am about to swap my beloved Jaguar (the one on wheels rather than the jungle version) for a brand new mini (the one on wheels not the short skirt which I keep for fancy dress parties).

The deed was done following a short period of drooling with desire over the brochures. An hour and a half test drive followed during which I could be seen as a senior go-karter whizzing up and down the motorway with a grinning expression all over my face akin to that of Jack Nicholson's in 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest'.

I could tell you of a few thousand reasons why I get a buzz out of the mini but I will limit myself to one - 'Dynamic Music'. When I get my new car, I shall be able to plug in my beloved i-Phone and my mini will then proceed to play a selected music track based on the way I am driving the car.

I can picture it now. 'Oh yes, sorry I was speeding officer. I was just trying to get the mini to play a track by Led Zeppelin'.

Sunday, 22 May 2011


Having recently posted a first class letter which took four working days to arrive at it's destination some fifteen miles away, I have been musing over whether to find an entrepreneur who might be interested in reviving the now long extinct 'Pony Express'.

The Pony Express you may recall, was a fast mail service from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, which operated from April 1860 to October 1861. Before the advent of the telegraph, it was the most direct means of east-west communication and was no doubt pretty useful in this period shortly before the American Civil War.

By my estimation, my letter would have been delivered some three days and twenty three hours earlier had it been sent via the pony's saddlebag.

One gentleman in Wrexham, North Wales, seems to have misunderstood the concept of the pony express having recently attempted to buy two train tickets, one for himself and one for his pony. When he was refused a ticket for the animal, he and the pony got into the lift and went down to the platform where they tried unsuccessfully to board the train.

Apparently, he later took the pony to hospital where he was again refused admittance. Presumably the pony was feeling a little hoarse.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


The year was 1994. I was sitting in the doctor's surgery waiting for his verdict on my nagging cough. Having identified the cause as bronchitis he said he had something he could give me for it. He duly ripped a sheet off his prescription pad and passed it across the desk.

When I looked at the prescription, I realised why he had not written on it. It was pre-printed and said simply, 'Stop Smoking'. He added that my lungs were showing the first sign of damage but that if I gave up smoking they would be back to normal within ten years.

Smoking had been part of my life for some thirty four years, the first twenty smoking cigarettes and the last fourteen puffing a pipe. It was going to be hard to give up but necessary.

I began by phoning my wife and asking her to remove everything from the house which was pipe-smoking related before I got home. There followed a period of months which were occasionally excruciating as my body readjusted to normality but then I became a smug ex-smoker.

Tell me, when dining in a pleasant, cosy restaurant do you ever look out of the window at the small gaggle of smokers huddling together to shelter from the chill wind and rain and think 'I wish that was me?' I'm guessing not. If however, you would like to try the experience without risk, you can now purchase an 'e-cigarette' which looks like a cigarette, glows like a cigarette, gives off wisps of smoke like a cigarette but contains no tobacco.

Alternatively, you can 'light up' in the middle of the restaurant and annoy everyone totally legally since e-cigarettes are not subject to the smoking ban. What a jolly wheeze! I must check if they make an e-pipe version.

Sunday, 15 May 2011


It has been a while since I had a good old-fashioned rant so should you be carrying a hard hat about your person, this might be a good time to put it to use.

Pretend for a moment that you own a dog, all the better if you actually do. It doesn't matter what type it is but since the royal wedding is still keeping us buoyant let's go for a corgi. Your much loved corgi needs regular exercise and the fact that it is sitting there looking at you with the lead in its mouth is a clue here. So off the pair of you trot for a brisk walk.

Your corgi is very creative and takes an early opportunity to produce a small work of art on the pavement in a carefully chosen spot. Having completed its masterpiece, it sniffs it and satisfied with its achievement is ready to continue.

Being well aware that the local council do not share your corgi's opinion of its latest production, you produce a plastic bag from your pocket and dutifully scoop up the poop so as not to fall foul of the law. However, as you are doing so, a horse and rider pass by and said horse chooses this moment to deposit a massive smelly, steaming pile of dung in the road which puts Fido's small effort to shame.

Unlike the contents of your plastic bag this is completely legal excrement. The horse can if it wishes, prance around the road depositing small dollops wherever it likes and then ride on leaving steaming heaps in its wake. What madness is this?

Of course, horse riders pay no tax to use the road whereas the poor motorist, that will be you and me, pay an extortionate amount of road tax, part of which is used to pay people to clean up the horse shit. This is plainly unfair. We even have to stop, or slow down to let these free-riders pass.

My vision is that horse's bridles be slightly modified with a small circular pocket to display a tax disc. They should in future, pay for the use of their road toilets.

Alternatively, how about horse nappies? I commend the idea to the house.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


During my formative years, a common expression in our house to describe a chilly day was 'it's cold as charity and that's pretty chilly' but there was an alternative.

My mother wasn't normally vulgar in her remarks so during that rather short period of innocence which I went through as a child, I was somewhat taken aback when hearing her complain about the cold temperature during a particularly severe winter as being 'cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey'. Sounds very rude doesn't it? I certainly thought it was at the time but it seems that I did my Mother an injustice. It is in fact a very innocent expression with no reference to bodily parts whatsoever. Let me enlighten you, should you require enlightening that is.

Our seafaring ancestors needed to keep a good supply of cannon balls near the cannons on old war ships without them rolling about the deck. They were stacked with sixteen balls at the bottom, nine on top of those, then four and finally one on the top of the pyramid totalling thirty in all but if the bottom sixteen rolled about ... disaster.

The solution was a metal plate with sixteen round dents in it to hold the bottom layer in place. For some reason the plate was called a Monkey. To prevent rusting, this needed to be made from brass so they were known as 'Brass Monkeys'.

However, if the temperature dropped dramatically, the brass dents would shrink and the cannon balls would roll off the monkey.
So it was 'cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey'.

Sorry for doubting you Mum.

Sunday, 8 May 2011


Man has always sought to be remembered after his death.

Some achieve this through writing, their books being read decades after their demise, perhaps even centuries later.

Some achieve it through painting or sculpture. Works of art are treasured and kept in museums and galleries as a constant memory of their creators' talent. Cave paintings provide a lasting memorial to our ancestors.

Some extend their mortality through invention and are remembered for as long as their inventions serve a useful purpose.

Others live in our memory through notoriety. The famous are often remembered through having a statue erected in their honour, or at the very least, by being in the history books.

Celebrities of course, leave their hand prints in Hollywood's walk of fame as well as being remembered through the legacy of their films.

How jealous they would all be of the humble snail which I found in my garden this evening, for this snail is a perfect fossil, so lifelike as to fool a blackbird. He is many thousands of years old.

All the snail had to do to achieve man's dream was to be in the right place at the right time when he (or she) died.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


Let's face it, it is a problem. If you were in charge of scheduling television programs for Channel PQR to be screened at the same time as the royal wedding that is.

At the last count it was expected that well over 30 million people would be watching Kate say 'I do' so you can knock them off your viewing figures before you start. Presumably the first question to ask yourself is 'What is my target audience?'

If my wife is anything to go by one of the main interests in THE wedding is to see the ladies' fashions and to catch up with the social gossip so it's a safe bet that your channel's audience will be predominantly males. That being the case, you could play safe with some sort of testosterone laden sport such as Sumo wrestling or ladies beach volleyball I suppose.

I thought to cast my eye over the actual television options available to the three people not watching Westminster and discovered that if you wished you were on a different planet you could boldly go into outer space with 'Star Trek' to avoid the royal nuptials.

There was a reminder that those who don't marry can remain 'Just Good Friends'.

'Partners in crime' was an option or thinking ahead to Kate's future after the great day there was 'Desperate Housewives'.

But on balance I hereby give my TWAT award (The Wedding Alternative Television) to Channel 4. They had clearly put serious thought into their TV option. So if the royal wedding wasn't for you you could watch 'Wife Swap' - just brilliant.

Sunday, 1 May 2011


Even though I fully expected to be invited to the big wedding, it was a delight to actually receive the official invitation and even though they knew full well that we would be attending, I did the correct thing and sent an official reply to reassure them that my wife and I would be very pleased to attend.

After all, I've known the bride for a great many years and she has always been a princess in my eyes. Because I know her so well, I was even privileged to see the wedding dress in advance. This did come with many caveats though. It was made clear that the version I was shown was not identical to the final one but very close to it. I was also sworn to total secrecy being warned not to tell a living soul about what has of course, been a very closely guarded secret.

Although she has waited a long time for this happy day the 'Princess' has chosen well and they will make a lovely couple. My one disappointment was in not getting to meet the bridegroom's family prior to the event but this is entirely understandable given their circumstances.

It is a shame that not everyone can be admitted to the wedding service but of course numbers are limited and well wishers who were not lucky enough to receive an invitation will no doubt be waiting outside to greet the newlyweds as they emerge afterwards.

All I know, is that as I walk my daughter down the aisle in June, I shall be as proud as Kate Middleton's father must have been as he gave his daughter away.