Sunday, 29 April 2012


Amsterdam. Sex capital of Europe right? Well maybe but it's also a wonderful, beautiful, laid back city which my wife and I decided would be the one place we would consider living if we didn't live in England. 

The red light district makes for a great tourist attraction even if you don't use its services. However it seems that for the ladies of pleasure who currently adorn the window displays there, time may be running out.

Two New Zealand researchers have theorised that by 2050, the ladies of the red light district will be replaced by robots. 

Council-owned android sexbots are the guilt-free future of the sex industry it seems. We gentlemen can pop round to the local robrothel manned, (or is it womanned?) by robots made of bacteria resistant fibre (what a turn-on) for a spot of rumpy-pumpy secure in the knowledge that we are not breaking our marriage vows.

One thing occurs to me. Given my advanced years and the fact that my ermm 'drive' is not what it was in my youth, would it be alright if I send my own robot round to do the job for me?

 thanks to Sippacorn for the image

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


It is 2012. 

Mankind has come a long way but it was a rough road. There were wars, cruelty, torture. There was a lot of man's inhumanity to man. Plenty of injustice, crime and downright wickedness. A lot of it was done in the name of religion.

But now it's 2012. We have the internet, space exploration, robotics, amazing breakthroughs in medical science and hand-held gadgets which can allow you to see and talk to people on the other side of the world.

So why do we still have wars, cruelty, torture, injustice, crime and wickedness? Are we really that stupid? Are we really that evil?

I was recently reminded about the brave people back in the mid-1950's who fought against segregation on the basis of the colour of one's skin.  Now I find that in India, in 2012, women have to pay to use the toilets whilst men can use the services without paying. 

This is such an easy matter to put right. Either they all pay or they all pee for free. If only Gandhi were handy ... 

Sunday, 22 April 2012


I'm a history lover. In fact I am passionate about it. One of the great things about history is that it reminds us of events which teach us a great deal about ourselves. 

I have recently been reminded of Rosa Parks. If this name means nothing to you I urge you to read on. 

She was born in 1913 and died in 2005. This means that in the year she became famous, she was about 42. Back then in 1955, as unbelievable as it sounds, the law in places like Alabama stated that black people must give up their seats on buses to white people.

Rosa refused. She was arrested for her action and lost her job because of it but what she did sparked a protest movement called the Montgomery bus boycott and for a year, black people refused to use the buses in Montgomery which crippled the system since they were the main passengers.

The successful protest led to the U.S. supreme court ruling that segregated buses were unconstitutional. 

She was a very brave lady. She famously said that

"When that white driver stepped back toward us, when he waved his hand and ordered us up and out of our seats, I felt a determination cover my body like a quilt on a winter night."

We should never forget her and should tell our children about her. 

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


My lifetime career was as a special needs teacher but my first job was as a pottery teacher. This wasn't because I was a pottery teacher. It was because I had a vague idea about pottery from a college lesson or two and the only job I could find in a special school was for a potter.

 The funny thing was that I found that I really enjoyed it - and so did the children.

Now that I'm retired, I am currently helping out in a centre for kids and young adults with learning disability. I mentioned to them that amongst other things, I could teach pottery and was immediately bombarded with questions like 'Great - what do we need to buy? When can you start?'

So it came to pass that I found myself jumping back a few decades and teaching a group of a dozen or so young adults with their staff how to model with clay. They learned how to make pots, figures, name plaques and so on and they relished it. Before long they had lined up a whole batch of completed artefacts ready for drying and painting. 

The trouble was, I had to say (with a big grin)  'Those are amazing and you clearly all have some wonderful talent but now could you stop making things for a while and help the young adults with their work?' 

Yes, the staff loved it and once they got involved, so did the students. If you've never tried modelling I can heartily recommend going to your nearest pottery class - you'll love it - just like the staff at the centre. 

Sunday, 15 April 2012


I love wine and I find that it improves with age - the older I get the more I like it.

I also love cooking with wine and sometimes even put it in the food. The next best thing to drinking wine is reading and writing about it - so here I go.

Although, as someone pointed out, wine is like opera in that you can enjoy it even though you don't understand it, it is even better if you do have some understanding. Accordingly, having recently completed a course about appreciating wines, I now know my Merlot from my Malbec or if you prefer, I now know my Arsac from my Elba.

I next turned my attention to my own modest collection of wines. In all I have about 50 bottles or so. There are reds, whites, ros├ęs, still wines and sparkling wines of different vintages. Wine tasting notes are available for these wines which tell me among other things when the wine should be drunk by. The point is that I need to drink the wine which is at its drinkable best by the end of this year before I drink the one which could wait another five years.

All I needed to do to have this information at my fingertips was to switch into anorak mode and complile a database of my wines with this info included and have the database available on my phone via iCloud. Seemples.

So now that I have the knowledge I'm ready to put my new mat outside in front of my door. It reads 'We only serve the finest vintage wines. Did you bring any?'

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


...and the tyre and the steering wheel and the ...

The Jaguabore is a little known creature who, like me, has toured the Jaguar factory in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham and been so impressed by what he saw that he spouts random facts to anyone who'll listen and sometimes to those who won't.

Their management style is so efficient that they are regularly visited by the management of companies such as Tesco to see how they do it. A couple of examples ...

The production line area is spotlessly clean. Given that they employ around 3000 workers on the site, how many cleaners are employed in the production area? The answer is none since all production workers have to keep their work stations clean. This means no need to employ cleaners for the area and also that no-one throws rubbish on the floor for others to pick up because they will be picking it up themselves.

A new Jaguar car comes off the end of the line every 2 and a half minutes which is the same time that the human workers have to perform their job as the part-built cars come past. A car takes about 35 production hours to make from scratch. All cars being built are already ordered so already belong to someone somewhere in the world.

Obviously each worker is dependant on the part which he or she is about to fit being there. How do Jaguar ensure that their suppliers deliver those parts so they will be available when needed? They fine their suppliers £10,000 per minute that the production line is stopped because of lack of parts. This gets their attention!

I could go on but I'll spare you. As you can tell, my gob is utterly smacked.

Image courtesy of Paul Martin Eldridge

Sunday, 8 April 2012


I get laughed at for the way I tie my shoelaces. It's a bad case of Lace Discrimination and an even worse joke.

No doubt, like me, you tie your laces the way you were taught to when you were knee high to a grasshopper. The thing is, when I was that size it was so long ago that we kept a pet dinosaur.

In those days, we were told to make a loop with each lace ('bunny ears') and then tie the rabbit's ears together in a normal knot. No-one I know does it like that. They seem to make one loop and then perform some sort of magic trick in a blurred flurry of hands which leaves me mystified.

I was reminded of this when I came to put on a rugby shirt this morning. No of course I wasn't going off to play rugby I was just looking cool. Anyway, the shirt had buttons at the top.

Now I'm sure that you and I button our buttons in exactly the same way - again just as we were taught when we were toddlers. I'm equally sure that you, like me, would have had a problem buttoning this shirt. We are like those robots who assemble cars. We open the hole and insert the button without needing to think about it. Unless that is, they move the goal posts, or in this case the rugby posts.

They only went and made the buttonholes horizontal! Don't you dare laugh. Just you wait until you have to button up with horizontal holes. You'll see.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


It's the 1st of April - 'April Fools Day'. Traditionally this is a time to play jokes on each other.

In France and Italy for instance, they pin paper fish on each other's backs and then shout 'April Fish'. What jolly fun.

Incidentally, the original joke day was the Roman festival of Hilaria but they held it on March 25th hilariously enough.

I always pride myself on being able to spot the April Fool story in the papers. Today, the Mirror and Express offer the Queen boarding an EasyJet flight to save money. The Sun says it has flavoured its paper and urges its readers to lick a page to guess the flavour with the warning 'may contain nuts'. The Telegraph informs us that the cable TV company Virgin Media uses ferrets to help lay its cables with a photo of a ferret dressed in a work suit .

My own paper however has me stumped. The reason for this is that so many of its stories sound unbelievable. Take your pick from these offerings:

Government to snoop on emails. They want to read all our emails? Will they create a new Department for being bored witless?

Help! No-one's in that car. Oxford University is to put a driverless car on the roads controlled by computer with lasers and cameras. I can't wait for the first instance of road rage between two computer driven cars.

Wingman aims for cardboard box at 60 m.p.h. A man is to jump out of a helicopter at 2400 feet wearing a wingsuit and aim to land on a runway made of cardboard boxes. Is this a new budget venture by EasyJet?

Able-bodied grab a granny scooter to beat road tax. Apparently people are buying motability scooters because there is no tax or insurance to pay. With a top speed of 8 m.p.h. this means my commute to work would have taken 3 hours. Can't see it catching on.

I'll leave you to decide which if any of these is a hoax.

Sunday, 1 April 2012


I mentioned elsewhere that having tattoos on your person, also known as body art, is the fourth most common addiction.

Sometimes I think that my city must be the tattoo centre for England as we have at least half a dozen studios and new ones seem to open regularly.

I now discover that we Brits are the most tattooed nation in Europe. What's more, our very name 'Great Britain' is derived from our love of being tattooed.

Apparently 'Britons' means 'people of the designs'. Also, the name of the northern British clan known as the 'Picts' means 'the painted people'.

So it seems that I belong to the tattoo nation and perhaps I am in a minority in not wanting one.

Why do I not have a tattoo? Well as someone once said:

"When people ask me why I don't have any tattoos I ask them 'Would you put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari' ".

photo art by Katie Lane