Sunday, 30 December 2012


It will soon be time to take down your decorations and throw away your Christmas cards - that is if you received any in the first place.

Apparently the first Christmas cards were illustrated by a certain John Horsley in London on the 1st of May 1843. The picture, which was of a family with a small child drinking wine together, was controversial, but the idea of creating and then sending Christmas cards to friends and family caught on.

Sadly the tradition seems to have run its course. No doubt the continued rise in postage costs has taken its toll. At 50p per card, £1 for sending a pair is a considerable outlay and although I have resisted for years I finally succumbed to handing some of mine out to people as I encounter them.

The next generation are avoiding the cost in a different way. It seems that e-cards are the thing today. To my Neolithic mind, nothing says that you couldn't really give a damn more than sending someone an e-card. 

When we decorate the house, we stick the cards onto the doors which has a very pleasing effect on an otherwise barren space. If the future is e-cards, does that mean I shall have to print them off to cover the doors with?

Wednesday, 26 December 2012


OK so you've presented your presents, pulled a cracker, gobbled the turkey and stuffed yourself with stuffing. I'm guessing that the cracker jokes weren't too good.

Help is at hand - try this small selection from The Guardian which were printed in 2009 ...

What's the slogan for the Eskimo lottery?
'You've got to be Inuit to win you it!' 
- Alistair McGowan

A French Cat, Un Deux Trois, and an English cat, One Two Three, went for a swimming race round a lake. Who won?
One Two Three, because Un Deux Trois Quatre Cinque. 
- Jo Brand

A woman walks into a bar and asks for a double entendre…
So the barman gives her one. 
- Meera Syal

What's pink and wrinkly and hangs out your pyjamas?
Your mum. 
- Jeremy Dyson, The League Of Gentlemen

Why did the turkey cross the road?
Are you kidding? It's Christmas – he should run a bloody mile. 
- Stephen K Amos

Sunday, 23 December 2012

OLLY WREATH (Oliver with a twist)

T'was the night before Christmas
and in the workhouse,
Little Olly was chatting
To his favourite mouse.
As he told him his dreams
and ridiculous schemes,
the mouse caught a passing woodlouse.

The mouse had heard it all before
and had to stifle a yawn
as Olly coughed his lungs up
and spoke 'til the first light of dawn.
He was wracked with consumption
and I'm sorry to mention
was doomed from the day he'd been born.

T'was Christmas day in the workhouse,
little Olly was sweeping the floor.
Of all the jobs they gave him,
this was his favourite chore.
As he pushed the broom
round the echoing room,
his coughing sounds bounced off the door.

He dreamed he was up in Heaven
where brushing the floors was a treat,
and was pushing his gold-plated broomstick
asking angels to please lift their feet.
There were chocolates galore
in piles on the floor
and he could have all he could eat.

T'was now the day after Christmas
and Olly had finished his coughing.
A pauper's grave was his destiny -
no hearse to carry him off in.
His broom lay at rest,
he was dressed in his best,
laid out in a rather small coffin.

In heaven the angels were singing.
Their prayers had been answered it seems.
Little Olly was sweeping around them
having finally realised his dreams.
He flew round the room
with a gilt-covered broom
and his mouth full of strawberry creams.


Wednesday, 19 December 2012


I know I'm not alone in being a great fan of 'Strictly Come Dancing'. Apart from the delight of the actual competition, I also watch it in order to augment my Granddad dancing skills.

However, while watching the other night there was an added benefit. Head judge Len used a phrase which rang a huge bell in my head and took me back to my childhood days. The phrase was 'Yum, yum, pig's bum'.

Sadly I can find nothing about it's origin. The version which I knew was

'Yum, yum, pig's bum,
All wrapped up in chewing gum -
Take a slice, very nice.'

There appears to be an Irish form which goes:
'Yum, yum, pig's bum,
Cabbage and potatoes.'

It clearly refers to the meal consisting of that part of the pig's anatomy.

Of course there is a dirtier version which I'm happy to share with you. Look away now if you are of a delicate disposition.

'Yum yum bubble gum
stick it up the teachers bum
if it sticks
pull her tits
and turn it into weetabix'.

Boys will be boys ...

Sunday, 16 December 2012


Oh no I've done it again! I swore I wouldn't repeat the mistake but there I was in the supermarket wearing something which I'd bought there. 

You do feel such a plonker standing there by a rack of the same item you're wearing as if you were somehow modelling it. 

Worse still they might think I'd slipped it on and whipped off the labels so I could do a runner without paying. Though I suppose I could point out the wine stain on the front of my item in mitigation.

In this case I was wearing the same baggy sweater as the row of them before me which mercifully hadn't gone down in price - that would have been even more galling. Actually, come to think of it, the ones on the rack weren't baggy-looking - funny that.

Anyway, I really won't do this again. Far from offering me a job as a male model for their clothes, I think it far more likely that they would call me quietly to the side and politely ask if I wouldn't mind standing well away from the sweater rack since they hoped to sell some.

I know my limitations.  

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


I don't know about you but I find that 'one man's meat is another man's poison'. However, in the context of the phrase which is the subject of this piece, this should read 'One man's roquefort is another man's road kill'.

There is an archetypally British phrase used when someone has a piece of bad luck. The words of commiseration which I refer to are to say 'Hard Cheese'. 

Now I must confess that the phrase is heard less and less nowadays and perhaps only dinosaurs like me ever use it. Obviously the suggestion is that hard cheese is unpalatable and that presumably soft cheese is preferable but I know a number of people who would prefer some shavings of parmesan to a runny brie - one man's meat etc.

The earliest reference to the phrase appears to be from 1837 in a play called The Tiger at Large, which was printed in a collection of plays called The Acting National Drama, edited by Benjamin Webster.
"Jem. His wages was too low. Don't you think a pound a month, and find one's self is hard cheese?"

There is a more modern version in the form of 'hard cheddar' which has the same meaning and which dates back to 1931.

I hope you've enjoyed this little trip down the dusty  alleyways of our glorious language and if you didn't - 'hard cheese'.


Sunday, 2 December 2012


Not for the first time and certainly not for the last time, I discover that my aged brain is lacking in knowledge

In case your own brain has a similar problem let me enlighten you.

I have discovered that when I was recently enjoying hugs and cuddles with my granddaughter, I was actually making oxytocin.

Furthermore, we can also make it by shaking hands with a friend, stroking a pet or even thinking about a loved one.

It is known as the 'love molecule' and is basically a love potion which is released from our brains when we feel kindly and loving. 

Scientists claim that it greatly helps with mother-child bonding, assists with healing and pain-relief, fights obesity, is an antidepressant and reduces stress levels...and its free!

You could also try to impress your partner by suggesting 'let's make oxytocin' before they have time to develop a headache.