Wednesday, 28 November 2012


The other day, my wife was messing about with the iron while I was very busy in the next room with my newspaper keeping abreast of what was happening in the world, forming opinions about national issues and doing puzzles and crosswords to keep my brain in tip top condition. 

After a while, I heard her switch off the iron, pack up the ironing board and start putting the clothes away. This activity on her part didn't affect me so I was able to continue with my studies without any loss of concentration.

However, a short while later, I heard her swearing and presumed that she had made some sort of mistake - something which she is very prone to do. Once again I was careful not to let this interrupt my train of thought so all was well.

All was well that is until she came in and actually interrupted me to explain her circumstances. I showed no displeasure at this and prepared myself to feign an interest in whatever troubled her.

It seemed that there was one item of clothing which she had forgotten to iron and having packed everything away, she couldn't be bothered to get it all out again. 

Seeing the look of puzzlement on my face, since I could not for the life of me fathom why this situation could possibly have any bearing on me, she proceeded to explain her idea.

She folded the offending garment and asked me to raise my buttocks off the chair whilst she lay them down underneath. She then said I could sit down again and allow the heat from my posterior to iron the creases out of the clothing.

Happy to help, I did as she requested and continued my perusal of the newspaper. Yet again proving my ability to multi-task.  

I must say, there is nothing to this ironing lark.   

Sunday, 25 November 2012


Yesterday I met up with my second grandchild. My life is now enriched with the addition of Emily and Charlie.

I wish them both joy and happiness.

I wish for them to have good friends along with their already happy families.

I wish them both good health.

I wish them fun with more laughter than tears, more sunshine than rain.

I wish for them to attain their dreams and become what they seek in life.

I wish them both long and fulfilling lives with the joy of becoming parents if that is what they choose.

I wish that when they reach their second childhood like me, they will look back and feel proud to belong to the human race which they have just joined.

I wish them love. 


Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Firstly, here are a few things you might not have known about pigs ...

1. Pigs snuggle up and often sleep nose to nose. They dream too.

2. Newborn piglets learn to run to their mothers' voices and to recognize their own names. Mother pigs sing to their young while nursing.

3. Pigs are known to be cleverer than dogs which is why they are intelligent characters in literature such as 'Animal Farm' or 'Charlotte's Web'.

4.  Contrary to popular opinion, pigs prefer to eat slowly and savour their food.

5. Pigs are clean animals. If given enough room, they will be careful not to soil the area where they sleep or eat.

This being so, how can we humans justify the practice of army snipers shooting live pigs (with targets drawn over their internal organs) so that surgeons can then practice operating on them? This is barbaric in the extreme.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


If you are remotely competent with tools you are welcome to stay for the laughs but if reading about total ineptitude raises your blood pressure I would advise caution.

I have three tool kits. You're impressed I can tell.

The first I keep in the house. This contains the absolute basics such as screwdrivers, tape measure etc. 

The second is in the garage. This has larger items such as pliers, a Stanley knife and my magic hammer. I call it 'magic' because it usually finishes off the jobs which other tools cannot accomplish, at least when wielded by me.

The third is in the garage too - somewhere or other. It contains tools which I know neither the name nor the function of. It is there so that when someone skilled such as my stepson helps me out and asks whether I have a 'Circumgrade flange toggle' or whatever, I can say 'Probably - take a look in here' as I pass him the lot.

I recently had to fit a draught excluder to the bottom of the front door. I unwrapped it and tried the novel experience of reading the instructions. 'Screw to bottom of door using the four screws supplied' was the gist of it. I was slightly unnerved by the bit about cutting it to fit and crimping the ends of the brushes so they wouldn't unravel but pressed on.

Eureka! It fitted perfectly so no cutting or crimping would be necessary. My wife was going to be impressed on her return from the shops. Clearly this was only going to require tool kit number one. About half an hour later the draught excluder was still not attached. This was because after attempting to screw it in for the period of time forementioned, I had discovered that behind the innocent looking white paint on the door lurked a metal plate.

After a further ten minutes a brain cell awoke and informed me that I possessed a 60-piece rotary drill kit which I had bought about 15 years ago in case I needed it. Boy did I need it now. After only 20 more minutes searching, I found it and began to drill a small hole through the metal plate. At least I would have, except that the 'easily rechargeable' drill had inconveniently lost all its power at some stage over the last 15 years. I put it on charge and went off to practise my darts while I waited.

On my return half an hour later, I first checked the drill's instructions and found that charging took about 5 hours. Actually somewhat longer than that since although I was alone in the house, somebody had switched off the drill charger after I had carefully switched it on. I switched it back on and now had yet another Eureka moment when I found that it worked happily when plugged into the mains. Come to think of it, so do all the other rechargeable items which I possess. Thankful that there were no witnesses to my dimwittedness I began the drilling process. The quick task had taken about an hour and a half so far.

Next I soon found that my rotary drill kit was designed to drill any of 60 different types of hole into nothing more demanding than cheese. Though I suspect that a mature Cheddar would give it a strong challenge.

With a sigh, I went to fetch my magic hammer. I then used it to bang a masonry nail through the four clearly marked places. Just a couple of hours or so after I had started, there sat the draught excluder and in walked my wife. 'That's a neat job' she said with a note of undisguised  surprise. 'Was it
a tricky job?' 

'No problem at all' I replied.

Now you can see why I'm a Don't Do It Yourself enthusiast. 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


When I was a special needs teacher we would all dread the Ofsted inspections when a small army of people would invade our school, watch us all at work, ask the kids what they thought of us and then mark our school on how good or bad we were.

It's not that we had anything to be ashamed of. We were proud of our efforts and scored well on the inspections. The reason we dreaded them was because of the stress which they induced because we were all understandably worried in case anything went wrong and we let the school and our colleagues down.

Does your job involve people sitting with clipboards watching you at work and then grading you?

Following this process, the inspectors would then meet with us and give us the benefit of their advice. 

The latest advice from Ofsted is that toilet roll holders, which have been used in schools for model-making since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, should be microwaved for 10 seconds before use to kill any germs they might have on them.

I wonder how long you need to microwave an Ofsted inspector for until they become sensible? 

Sunday, 11 November 2012


It was Mark Twain who said 'Giving up smoking is easy. I've done it hundreds of times'.

I could say the same about dieting because yes you guessed it - I'm dieting - again. 

Of course my wife is delighted, but then I suspect that she thinks I'm on a Brad Pitt diet. When reality kicks in, if I'm in any way successful, she's going to be disappointed to discover that it will still be me, just a bit less of me than before.

I have a simple technique, some days I don't eat. Instead, I spend almost the entire 'fasting' day in planning what I'm going to eat tomorrow. 

Of course I realise that several bacon sandwiches interspersed with doughnuts might undo the good work of yesterday so I try to keep to healthy-ish foods in small quantities.

The other day I was tucking in to a small snack consisting of a tiny meat pie with a handful of fries when my wife entered the kitchen.

She was full of praise. 'Well done! You've followed my advice about portion control - excellent'.

Little does she know that seconds before she came in, I had just decided to have a second pie and chips to follow the first.

I fear I'm a lost cause.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Today is my birthday. Naturally I am celebrating it by opening cards and presents, eating a bit too much and drinking a lot too much. Birthdays are a time for celebration just about all over the world.

However this is in some ways a sad day. This is the one day of the year that I cannot celebrate another event. The only day of the entire year that you cannot wish me 'a very merry unbirthday'. 

In case you can't remember, an 'unbirthday' is celebrated on any day that is not the person's actual birthday. It was invented by Lewis Carroll in his 'Through the Looking Glass' and gave rise to "The Unbirthday Song" in the 1951 Disney film 'Alice in Wonderland. 

In the film, Alice encounters the Mad Hatter the March Hare and the dormouse having an unbirthday party and singing "The Unbirthday Song". Alice at first doesn't realise what an unbirthday is and when the Mad Hatter explains, she realises it is her unbirthday as well, and receives an unbirthday cake from the Mad Hatter. 

An 'unbirthday' is a neologism. This may be defined as a newly coined term, word, or phrase, which may be in the process of entering common use, but has not yet been accepted into mainstream language. 

You learn something every day, especially on your unbirthday - speaking of which, I can't wait for my birthday to be over so that I may celebrate my unbirthday.

Sunday, 4 November 2012


Halloween. So called because it is the e'en (evening) before All Hallows (or All Saints) day.

There is a common misconception that the 'trick or treat' custom is of American origin. It isn't. It was almost certainly a Celtic activity which was exported across the Atlantic where it was well received. The name for the custom in Scotland and Ireland is 'guising' because children go from door to door disguised in costumes to ask for a treat on threat of retribution if one isn't received.

It's a bit of fun and kids love it. The trouble is that many grown-ups don't - especially older ones who find it intrusive, annoying and in some cases genuinely frightening.

This can be problematic. Excited youngsters get all dressed up and roam the streets knocking on doors to ask for sweets but may find the door answered by a very cross adult shouting at them to go away.

There is a simple solution. If you are happy for the kids to call, put a sign up to tell them so, a pumpkin outside the door perhaps, or simply put on a welcoming outside light. Alternatively leave some sweets outside for them to help themselves to. 

If you don't want them to call, leave the front of your house in darkness. 

If you're the parents of the trick or treat kids, tell them only to call at the welcoming doors. Explain to them that the houses in darkness are where the witches and monsters live who turn children into black cats which they keep in cages and feed pieces of dead rats to.

That should do it.