Sunday, 31 March 2013


I found myself recently having a solitary pub lunch in London. Nothing too extravagant. Just good old bangers and mash in a large yorkshire pudding with peas and gravy.

As is usual for me in such situations, I was giving the food my full attention so no newspaper or phone to distract me.

I gradually became aware of the two women sitting to my left who were deeply engaged in a slightly overloud conversation. Of course it was impossible for me not to listen in. 

As I shovelled a forkfull of peas into my mouth I heard:
'Did you use to smoke pot?'
'Of course. Didn't you?'
'Oh yes - all the time.' 

Half a sausage later there was...
'...and the men were so attractive I was always jumping in and out of bed with somebody or other.'
'I was the same. The sex was very good.'

So I had fetched up sitting next to a couple of ex-junkie nymphomaniacs!

The thing I found most amusing was that their conversation also revealed that one of them was 81 and the other 78. Grannies aren't what they used to be.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


I have a friend or rather, an aquaintance, who is a lovely chap. His name is Richard. I see him at the bridge club quite often and because he looks like a slightly older version of me I jokingly call him 'Dad'.

He takes it in good spirit because he shares my sense of humour. Knowing this, he often sends me joke emails. They are usually very funny but to be honest, there are usually far too many of them filling my inbox. 

I had a cunning plan. I created a special inbox and instructed my computer to divert all emails from Richard into it. This way I could peruse them at leisure.

I did this recently and found seven joke emails plus one marked 'my illness' which was dated 10 days ago. Sadly this one informed me (and others) that Richard was diagnosed with cancer 3 weeks before.

Despite the sad news, Richard is upbeat about things and explains how he will be starting chemotherapy soon He also vows to fight it 'all the way'.

Last night at the bridge club, they announced that Richard had died. Today I deleted his special inbox. Then I went into my address book and pressed 'Delete contact'. 

If only there was a way to 'Undo'.  

Sunday, 24 March 2013


I was very impressed on my recent visit to London, with the 'Boris bikes'. So-called after the Mayor. 

I was pleased to see that they are well-used and was intrigued by the clever system for securing them safely to deter thieves. They are also very robust to counter vandalism.

It reminded me of Amsterdam, city of canals and bicycles. There is one bridge there festooned with old bikes which have been padlocked to the railings and then abandoned. Did the owners drop dead before they could collect them or simply forget their padlock keys?

As a child I cycled everywhere. In those days, the world was a more innocent place. Nobody padlocked their bike when they left it. You simply adjusted the pedals so that you balanced the bike against the kerb in an upright position and left it safely parked there. It was always still there when you returned. 

Truly a time of innocence.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Have you ever had an embarrassing meal with someone when for instance you suddenly notice that they've got spinach between their teeth and you don't know whether or not to tell them?

I recall that my wife was acutely aware on our first date that choosing the rack of ribs might not have been her best option in what was presumably an attempt to appear attractive to me as the grease dribbled down her chin.

Worse still, it might be the first time that you've dined together and you see that a friend's table manners leave a lot to be desired.  

I recall one such occasion when my 40 year-old friend Roger was eating an orange most of which was smeared round his mouth with the occasional squirt hitting my face or clothes.

Well I just had another such experience. Again, it was the very first time that she and I had been out for lunch together on our own. I soon discovered that she preferred using her fingers to any form of cutlery and like Roger, a great deal of it seemed to be settling around her mouth. I must admit to feeling a little embarrassed when I realised that some of her food had fallen on the floor. So much so that she was becoming the object of attention of other diners.

In the end though I made allowances for her. After all, she is only 9 months old. 

Sunday, 17 March 2013


I went to watch a football match today. My team lost.

I know how they feel. I've been losing my darts matches a lot lately. I'm getting better but often just when I think I might win the thought occurs to me 'But then again I might lose this'. And so I often do.

The trick is to believe. To be positive. To think:
 'I could win. I should win. I will win.'

Walter D. Wintle put it beautifully:

The Man Who Thinks He Can

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't;
If you'd like to win, but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you're lost,
For out in the word we find
Success begins with a fellow's will,
It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you're outcasted, you are;
You've got to think high to rise.
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can. 

We needed Walter playing on the pitch today.

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] /

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


As I've mentioned before - I'm a feeder. I get endless pleasure from watching the birds in my garden and sometimes the pleasure is doubled because my little granddaughter Emily sits quietly on my lap watching them with me.

What we've noticed is that the different types of birds display different characteristics.

There are the big fat bullying pigeons who strut about showing off and expecting the other birds to get out of their way but then flap off in alarm at the slightest noise because as we know, most bullies are cowards. 

The bossy blackbird thinks the garden belongs to him and chases off interlopers.

Then there's the thoughtful robin who bides his time, watching until a good moment comes to move in on the seed. He seems to know I'm a friend because he doesn't mind if I'm about.

The happy-go-lucky sparrows just go for it without a care.

Clever bluetits feed off the dangly bits which the larger birds aren't agile enough to reach

Collared doves strut their stuff as if they are on the catwalk modelling the latest feather fashions.

I rather hope Emily will grow up to be a robin. 

Sunday, 10 March 2013


I expect you know who won the oscar recently for best picture. Yes, it was Ben Affleck - who also starred in and directed the film Argo.

He is a hugely talented individual and I wish his film well. It tells the story of how the Canadian government and the CIA managed to rescue six American diplomats from the clutches of the Iranian students who occupied the U.S. embassy during the 1979 Islamic revolution.

I expect to go and see it and perhaps you will too.

One word of warning though. It is not a documentary. What it is is a good yarn and like all good yarns it distorts the truth. What you will see is not what happened

In the film six U.S. embassy staff were refused refuge by British diplomats - just the opposite of what happened. In reality we did give the U.S. staff sanctuary.

Ben Affleck has stated that the film casts us in a bad light. ‘But I was setting up a situation where you needed to get a sense that these six people had nowhere else to go. It does not mean to diminish anyone,’ he said.

So when you sit down to watch the film - especially if you're American, don't forget to remember that what you are about to see should begin with 'Once upon a time, in the land of make-believe...'

Image courtesy of [idea go] /

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


As I lead you dear reader, down the leafy avenue in which I am using the trees to represent my various medical conditions I hear you ask 'Why am I reading this drivel?' Yet you clearly are.

We pass the gnarled old oaks signifying those ailments which I have stoicly borne for a good many years, such as my reflux problem. Then those younger trees which stand for more recent issues such as my hurty knee or elbow. Finally, the young sprig which newly sprouts to show my newest problem. My cold hands. Usually toasty and warm, my hands have been like blocks of ice and I don't like this new experience.

When I trawl round my friends and family to find people who I haven't yet described my condition to, I find that the moment I say 'cold hands' they invariably break in with 'Cold hands, warm heart'. This poorly disguised attempt to bring my medical  dialogue to a halt or at least to change the subject rarely works but does get me wondering where the phrase comes from.

It is a proverb which means that a reserved exterior may disguise a kind hearted person or that people whose hands are usually cold have kind and loving personalities. 

The earliest known use of this proverb was in Collectanea edited by V.S. Lean - a collection of English and foreign proverbs published in Bristol, England in 1903. I might have known it started in my favourite city.

Scientists are as usual divided on the matter. They point out that in cold weather, blood goes away from the hands and feet to protect the brain and main part of the body so that your hands will be cold but your heart will be warm.

Yet in 2008, the Telegraph reported that 'The old adage that cold hands often conceal a warm heart has been dispelled by scientists, after they found how physically warm you are has a direct correlation to how nice you are to people.'

Guess which one I believe?


Sunday, 3 March 2013


I very much hope that you have caught up with 'The Last Leg', which bills itself as an offbeat commentary on recent news events. 

It is presented by Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker. It first came to our attention during the Paralympics the point being that these three guys have only four legs between them as two of them are amputees.

As you may know, there is a common phenomenon with amputees that they still feel the missing limb. A phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated limb (even an organ, such as the appendix) is still attached to the body and is moving appropriately with other body parts. Approximately 60 to 80% of individuals with an amputation experience phantom sensations in their amputated limb, and the majority of the sensations are painful.

I feel their pain. I too have undergone recent surgery and had a body part removed. I don't regard myself as disabled although the loss does make a significant difference. At the moment, I still feel the pain though the body part has gone and I'm having to use painkillers for relief. 

Though I have no plans to enter the next paralympics, I'm sure going to miss that tooth.