Sunday, 29 December 2013


I live near Cheltenham, home to  eight out of 20 original Victorian Penfold pillar boxes still existing in the UK.

I mention this because I've recently discovered that when I take the trouble to write a letter and then stamp the envelope before trudging out of the house to post it, I could have been saving my energy.

It seems that P.G.Wodehouse, of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves fame, never bothered to go out to post his letters but merely tossed them out of the window. 

He trusted in his fellow citizens to take them to a post box and do the job for him which inevitably they did.

The Gloucestershire Echo has tried the method out in Cheltenham with great success - 83% of the letters being dutifully posted.

I can only say that it's a good job they didn't try it round here. 

My neighbours would have had a field day steaming off the stamps for re-use.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013


A few giggles for Christmas…

'Snowball' by Shel Silverstein

I made myself a snowball,
As perfect as could be,
I thought I'd keep it as a pet,
And let it sleep with me.
I made it some pyjamas,
And a pillow for its head,
Then last night it ran away,
But first - it wet the bed!


'Thank You' by William Church

For your Christmas presents,
I thank you one and all.
For the big ones many thanks,
And fewer for the small.


The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.
- George Carlin 


Let's be naughty and save Santa the trip.
- Gary Allan 


“Mail your parcels early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas.” – Johnny Carson


Why is Christmas just like a day at the office? You do all the work and the fat guy with the suit gets all the credit.


Anyone who believes that men are the equal of women has never seen a man trying to wrap a Christmas present.


Sunday, 22 December 2013


We are blessed with having two one-year olds with us for Christmas. 

All is ready. The tree is shining with lights and baubles. Decorations adorn the room. The kitchen is packed with festive food. 

Under the tree there are a large number of presents destined for the two tiddlers and this leaves the question - which will be the favourite present of all?

Will it be the brightly coloured wrapping paper which easily tears to shreds with lovely ripping noises? 

Perhaps it will be the lovely bubble wrap inside some of the parcels which waits patiently to be popped. That's if the adults don't all pop it first in a pretence of showing the kids how to do it.

Then there's the cardboard with shiny cellophane windows so you can see what's inside.

No - my vote is for the silver or gold foil which not only makes lovely crispy noises when you scrunch it but has the added bonus of being shiny too. 

Just such a shame that each of these things has some sort of junk inside it which you have to toss aside so as to get to the wrapping.

Sunday, 15 December 2013


This time the nutty news is literally 'nutty'. 

It seems that Her Majesty the Queen is rather partial to a crafty cashew or two. She has a very savoury tooth and enjoys the odd pick of the pistachios. Accordingly, bowls of nuts are distributed freely around Buck House in case the Queen wishes to partake of a pecan or two.

Imagine her disappointment when she discovered that her nibbles were being nicked. Just when she fancied a wallow in the walnuts she found that they had gone. 

Just to prove that she wasn't losing her marbles she began marking a line on the side of the bowl and soon had clear proof that they were being purloined.

The guilty party? Her own police force when on security duties, were pinching her peanuts which explained why she had to keep shelling out for more.

Perhaps the police should be given a pay rise - after all if you pay peanuts...

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Wise words spoken by who?

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.

A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.

There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.

Money won't create success, the freedom to make it will."

Nelson Mandela - (1918-2013)

Sunday, 8 December 2013


Usually when you pull a Christmas cracker, out pops a joke and a silly hat. However when I pulled one the other day I got a history lesson.

Luckily, I like history so was intrigued to discover how the Christmas cracker came to be and who invented it. These are the details:

The History of Tom Smith
 It was on a trip to Paris in 1840 that an adventurous and forward-thinking Tom Smith discovered the “bon-bon” sugared almond, wrapped in a twist of tissue paper.  Seven years later this simple idea evolved into the Christmas Cracker. 

By placing a small love motto in the tissue paper he created enormous interest in this product, especially at Christmas and it was during a search for inspiration to achieve even greater sales that he casually threw a log on the fire.  The crackle sound, made by the burning log, gave him the idea that would eventually lead to the crackers we know and love today.  After a great deal of hard work and experimentation, he came up with a  cracking mechanism that created a “pop” as the “bon-bon” wrapping was broken.  This eventually became the snap and the cracker was born.

Over the next few years his idea evolved and grew and he moved from his original premises in Clerkenwell, East London, to Finsbury Square in the City.  His sons, Tom, Walter and Henry took over the business when he died and later a drinking fountain was erected in Finsbury Square by Walter, in memory of his mother and to commemorate the man who invented the Christmas Cracker.

It was Walter who introduced the paper hats and he toured the world to find new and unusual ideas for the gifts.

The Company was very aware of current affairs and crackers  were created for Suffragettes, War Heroes, Charlie Chaplin, the Coronation and many other great occasions.  Exclusive crackers were also made for the Royal Family and still are to this day”

Care to pull my cracker your Majesty?

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


I used to pride myself on being able to read Chaucer in the old English with an accent which hopefully, our beloved Geoffrey would have recognised.

I had fun practising on the original of this phrase: 'Every little helps'. Still in common use today and the meaning is very clear but the origin?

Well as far as I can discover it was:

'Every little helps said the wren when she pissed in the sea.' 

A wren of course is a very tiny bird but her little contribution helped to keep up the sea levels.

But in 1623 the olde English version was:

'Euery thing helpes, quoth the Wren when she pist i' the sea.'

Even earlier in 1602 they seem to have been a little more reluctant to use the bawdy words so we had:

'The wrenn sayde all helpte when she — in the sea.'

See what a prudish nation we used to be.

Sunday, 1 December 2013


I found this story very touching and wanted to share - author unknown.

The story of the butterfly

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly.
One day a small opening appeared.
He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole.
Then it stopped, as if it couldn't go further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly.
He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon. The butterfly emerged easily but it had a swollen body and shrivelled wings.
The man continued to watch it,
expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge and expand enough to support the body.

Neither happened!
In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around. It was never able to fly.
What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand:
The restricting cocoon and the struggle required by the butterfly to get through the opening was a way of forcing the fluid from the body into the wings so that it would be ready for flight once that was achieved.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Going through life with no obstacles would cripple us. We will not be as strong as we could have been and we would never fly.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


I recognised a long time ago that although I have my moments, other people are usually funnier than I am.

With this in mind, let me offer you these items of evidence on the subject of old age:

Don't let ageing get you down. It's too hard to get back up. - John Wagner

Age mellows some people; others it makes rotten. - Anonymous

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age. - Lucille Ball

I'm 59 and people call me middle aged. How many 118 year old men do you know? - Barry Cryer

As you get older, three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can't remember the other two... - Sir Norman Wisdom

There is absolutely nothing to be said in favour of growing old. There ought to be legislation against it. - Patrick Moore

When I was young I was called a rugged individualist. When I was in my fifties I was considered eccentric. Here I am doing and saying the same things I did then and I'm labelled senile. - George Burns

As we grow older, our bodies get shorter and our anecdotes longer. - Robert Quillen

I refuse to admit I'm more than fifty-two, even if that does make my sons illegitimate. - Nancy Astor

A stockbroker urged me to buy a stock that would triple its value every year. I told him, 'At my age, I don't even buy green bananas'. - Claude Pepper

You know you're getting old when everything hurts. And what doesn't hurt doesn't work. - Hy Gardner

I'm so old they've canceled my blood type. - Bob Hope

I think age is a very high price to pay for maturity. - Tom Stoppard

Respect old people. They graduated from school without Google or Wikipedia. - Unknown

Sunday, 24 November 2013


Jingle jangle, jingle jangle - it does my head in. I'm talking about coins and all the shrapnel you collect in your pockets.

The traders try to make us feel things are cheap by pricing everything at £3.99 or £4.99 which means you keep getting a penny change.

Like most men, I drop my coins in a little tray at night and then stick it all back in my pocket the next morning and off I go, jingle jangling down the street.

Well not any more. Now I have two coin trays. I put all the small change in one and the serious stuff in the other. As soon as the small coins add up to 10p I take them out and spend them.

Why has it taken me over half a century to think of doing this?

I pay £1.30 to play table tennis so sometimes I pay with a £1 coin, a 20p coin and ten 1p coins. 

They must be so glad to have the small change from me occasionally don't you think?

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


I am very fond of cheese. My preference is for the milder but tasty varieties rather than the 'blow your head off' cheddar which my wife prefers. 

On my recent visit to Annecy I was introduced to Comté cheese, a local speciality, which suited me beautifully. I also love Raclette. Both have a lot of taste and yet are subtly delicious.

One cheese which I probably won't be trying though is a new creation called 'Christmas dinner cheese'. Who have thought it? Apparently it contains tastes of turkey flavouring, carrots, Brussels sprouts, festive fruit, candied cherries and apple in a block of Pilgrims Choice Cheddar cheese.

There is also a 'Christmas Pudding' cheese which includes brandy-soaked sultanas, raisins and currants, candied cherries and apple, cinnamon and a special Christmas liqueur.

Can you imagine the family's reaction when they sit down to Christmas dinner, pull their crackers and are then presented with a slice of cheese?

Sunday, 17 November 2013


In which I extract the poetry from popular song lyrics.

Warning: If you are easily offended by bad language please piss off.

I've already cited 'Passenger', a current favourite of mine, and this is another song which I've just discovered. The lyrics, by Michael David Rosenberg, are full of swearing, full of hate and full of brutal honesty. I love it.

I Hate

I hate racist blokes, telling tasteless jokes
And explaining where people belong
I hate ignorant folks, that pay money to see gigs
And then talk through every fucking song
I hate people in night clubs, snorting coke
And explaining where you're going wrong
And so if you agree, then come hating with me
And feel free to sing along


Well I hate pointless status updates on Facebook
FYI we were never "m8"s
We pretend to be friends on the internet
When in real life, we have nothing to say
To each other, oh brother I have love for my mother
For good times, for music and my mates
Yeah I laugh, and I live and I have love to give
But sometimes all you can do is hate


Well I hate them fussy eaters, you cook them fajitas
They only eat pizza and chips
I hate stepping outside, for a smoke and some guy
Coughs, like your lungs are his
And I hate queuing up, for festival toilets
Especially when you need a shit
And I hate the X-Factor, for murdering music
You bunch of money-grabbing pricks


And I hate them magazines, aimed at insecure teens
That make ten year old's race to grow up
Hey kids, let's all be anorexic or better
Eat chocolate until you throw up
Keep your Hollywood stars, and their stupid cars
And the Bo-tox, that makes them look fucked
Just grow old with grace, have you seen Cher's face
She looks like she's been hit by a truck

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


It was my birthday recently. Someone bought me socks.

They obviously don't know me very well because they are long socks. I always wear ankle length.

They are made from 71% Cotton, 26% Polyester and 3% Elastane. They clearly didn't know I always wear 100% Cotton.

Worse still, they are striped. Surely they realise I only ever wear plain.

They didn't buy them from Marks and Spencer. I always buy my socks from them.

When I say 'long socks' they are actually boot socks. I'm wearing boots and the new socks work well with them.

The material works perfectly to keep my feet feeling comfortable but not too hot.

As for the stripes. My wife said they look great. Then she said 'Wearing stripy socks is one way for older people to have fun'.

Perhaps the person who gave me them knows me so well that she felt I was stuck in my ways and needed livening up.

Anyway, I'm off out to flash my socks in public. I know how to have a good time. 

Sunday, 10 November 2013


I often tend to write about issues which have been on my mind for a while. Unfortunately for you dear reader, my current preoccupation has been with my bowels.

I've been laid low with food poisoning and the associated effects of this and because I am a person who likes to share, I wanted you to hear about 'The Official Diarrhea Song'. (U.S. spelling).

This is an ongoing creation to which you can contribute by submitting your own verse.

I've selected a few examples.

When you're on the seat for hours 
and it doesn't smell like flowers: 
Diarrhea, diarrhea.

When your stomach is in pain,
and you're making chocolate rain
Diarrhea, diarrhea

When you're riding in a sleigh
And you hear something spray
Diarrhea diarrhea 

When you think your friends are joking 
but your pants are brown and soaking: 
Diarrhea, diarrhea.

When you think it's chicken soup 
but it's really liquid poop. 
Diarrhea diarrhea

Oops - sorry have to rush!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


Its funny isn't it how things can change in a flash. One moment you're happily driving along the road and then suddenly you skid or an idiot driver collides with you and your life is turned upside down.

Many years ago when my wife was expecting our first child she lovingly prepared the nursery in readiness and then a burst pipe poured through the ceiling ruining all her efforts.

Recently I have experienced more trials and tribulations. Life was good. I'd taken a new interest in the garden and my efforts had paid off as it was attracting compliments. 

Grand-parenting was rewarding us richly and we had made a few home improvements which left us with a warm glow.

Then the weather started to deteriorate. Halloween arrived along with crashes and bangs as fireworks were let off. A relative died. A funeral had to be fitted into an already busy schedule. Another relative died. Another funeral to accommodate. 

Our health took a bad turn. The children's health, along with their babies also suffered. A treasured possession went missing. A couple of bulbs blew.

Then a minor disaster as strong winds took down our treasured pergola and devastated our lovely garden.

When will it ever end?  The answer is now. Listen here you fickle finger of fate - yes I'm pointing at you - is that the best you've got?

I shall repair the garden with renewed vigour. We will get healthy again. The weather will brighten up. I enjoyed the first funeral - bring on the next (as long as it's not mine).

Sunday, 3 November 2013


I came upon this little gem recently. It involves an Australian lady who was on a work trip and having coitus which was rudely interruptus when a light bulb (presumably screw-in) broke and fell on her nose.

She claimed compensation for her injuries - you have to admire her cheek - and though originally granted, after some deliberation her claim was reversed.

The poet in me couldn't resist this: 

A woman who hails from down under, 
Was at work when a light broke asunder.
She was having a bonk
When it fell on her conk
Ending her moment of sexual wonder.

Being filled with much indignation
She then sought to claim compensation
But when brought up in court,
The judge said he thought,
Sex was not in her job specification.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


In which I extract the poetry from popular songs.

The year was 1960. My parents, both salespeople with IBM had won themselves a trip to New York. It was the trip of their lifetimes and I was pleased for them.

Except that I had to stay with an Aunt and Uncle who I didn't care for and the feeling was mutual. I felt bitterly deserted like a dog left at the kennels, and found myself tearfully walking round the streets singing this lovely melody to myself. 

Written in 1955, the lyrics were by Hy Zaret.


Oh my love my darling 
I've hungered for your touch 
A long lonely time 
And time goes by so slowly 
And time can do so much 
Are you still mine? 
I need your love, 
I need your love, 
God speed your love to me 

Lonely rivers flow to the sea to the sea 
To the open arms of the sea 
Lonely rivers sigh 'wait for me, wait for me 
I'll be coming home wait for me.'

Oh my love my darling 
I've hungered hungered for your touch 
A long lonely time 
And time goes by so slowly 
And time can do so much 
Are you still mine? 
I need your love, 
I need your love, 
God speed your love to me.

Sunday, 27 October 2013


I'm a huge fan of the actor Idris Elba

He's just been parading round with his co-stars at the premiere of his latest film 'Thor' and I watched him being interviewed on the red carpet.

Now this was all at night so therefore in total darkness, well after the sun had gone down. 

He was wearing sunglasses. 

Now before you scoff, I've been considering the fact that there are several rational reasons for why he was wearing sunglasses at night. For instance -

1. He suffers with eye pain under bright lights.
2. It was his tribute to Stevie Wonder.
3. He'd forgotten he was wearing them.
4. He has a contractual agreement with his agent who insists that he wears them to look cool.
5. He was suffering from temporary blindness.
6. He was hoping no-one would notice him.

Whatever the reason, I absolutely do not accept that he was wearing them because he was being a twit.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Imagine for a moment that you are in polite company. Perhaps with an elderly female relative or someone who you need to impress.

You drop something or knock something over. Its only a minor mishap but a comment is needed. What is the first thing that comes to mind?

I suggest that it would be one of the variants of 'Whoops-a daisy'. Other versions are Upsidaisy, Upsa daesy, Upsy-daisy, Oops-a-daisy, Oopsy-daisy or Hoops-a-daisy. 

What on Earth are we saying this for? Where did it come from?

Well it seems that the original version was the 'Ups a daesy' type which was child-friendly language to assist them in jumping up in the air or over something. It goes back to the 1700's.

If the unfortunate child were to fall over then 'whoops-a daisy' is appropriate.

Of course, if the origin of 'whoops-a-daisy' is of little interest to you then you'll be feeling lackadaisical about it - but that's another story.

Sunday, 20 October 2013


Cat Burglar
A burglar who is especially skilled at stealthy or undetected entry of a premises.

They may also be feline judging by the case of Norris A.K.A. 'Naughty Norris', a thieving and apparently slightly kinky  cat who has been prowling the Bedminster area of Bristol.

He has stolen items such as sports bras and boxer shorts which he then takes home to his owner, Richard. Richard is not prepared to act as a fence however, and has shopped his cat by trying to return the loot to the rightful owners.

There is also a case of a cat who smuggled a mobile phone into a Russian jail.

Criminal cats are branching out into the drug dealer's territory too it seems. 

In Moldova, which as you will no doubt know was formerly Russian and declared its independence in 1991, a cat has been trafficking drugs in jail

At least it wont have far to travel after being paw-printed and then sentenced.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


'The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.' So said Lucille Ball.

However in my experience it doesn't pay to age well. 

You can eat the right foods, take regular exercise and do all the recommended things and they'll still say 'She looks young for her age - must have had Botox' or 'There's no way she could have a body like that without surgery'.

It used to be the case that these comments were reserved for celebrities who were desperately trying to keep their looks, but nowadays your friends and acquaintances can be the subject of these accusations.

Of course women are the worst. It's understandable I suppose since appearance matters so much to the fairer sex. 

I'm surprised that my wife succumbs to this though. After all, she knows perfectly well that my youthful appearance and George Clooney looks owe nothing whatsoever to the surgeon's knife.

Sunday, 13 October 2013


It seems that vandalism and littering pays. 

I found myself driving along behind a van this morning which advertised its services as belonging to a company whose business was to recover abandoned shopping trolleys. 

Seemingly, there is a whole industry related to this activity. Furthermore, there is a big demand for the service since every year over one and a half million shopping trolleys are abandoned in the UK alone. 

Another whole industry revolves around cleaning chewing gum off pavements. So by littering in this way you are creating jobs for someone.

Its a similar story for removing graffiti from walls, toilets, bus shelters and the like. So daub away you hooligans - you are fuelling the economy.

There was always a rumour that some rogue glaziers might go round breaking the odd window or two to drum up business. 

So you do have to wonder, whether the employees of the companies mentioned earlier are ever tempted to have a night out on the town dropping chewing gum around, racing trollies about or writing on toilet walls to let us know the size of their dingle dangles.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


I've bought three cars from new in my motoring life. The first two were in the 80's, the third was last year.

What I can't get my head around is that way back then, when you bought a new car, you had to 'run it in'. This meant driving it at snail's pace for the first 1000 miles or risk ruining the engine on your new-found love before you became properly acquainted. 

Then after the 'running in' period, you had to get it back to the garage pronto so that they could tighten up all the bolts which would have worked loose and check for leaks and other faults which would show up the bad workmanship in the first place.

One of those cars had to be collected from London and as I proudly drove it away, it stuttered to a standstill just down the road because - get this - they had forgotten to put a water pump in the car. Presumably there was no such thing as quality control.

Yet the car I bought last year needed none of this. When I collected it they were quite happy for me to drive away like Michael Schumacher. 

Then after giving it a good workout, I took it in for its first service after 15,000 miles.

Of course there is a simple explanation. My first two cars were man-made. The latest was made by robots. 

I wonder if you can get a robot to do the gardening?

Sunday, 6 October 2013


I spent today grand-parenting.

Emily is 16 months old. 

My duties involved amusing her, feeding her, reading to her, keeping her clean and tidy, changing her nappies and generally keeping her safe. I loved it all.

All this even though she isn't my child.

This was on the same day as a woman was found guilty of starving her own 4-year old son to death and then keeping his mummified body in a travel cot in her bedroom for almost two years.

Looking after dependant, defenceless children, nurturing them and loving them is a basic human instinct which we share with the entire animal kingdom.

I find it very difficult to understand when people are missing this characteristic - the more so when there are so many cases of it occurring.

If there is life after death I hope these children have the very best of it and remember nothing of their life with us.