Wednesday, 29 May 2013


Considering the rubbish Spring weather we've been having it was an unusually hot day. Probably one of three this year. 

Anyway, my dear wife, Sally, was transporting me to a nearby emporium of delights which we call Sainsburys. So, having checked my medical insurance (don't tell her this), I was sitting in the passenger seat and she was driving.

Like I said, it was warm. The car was warm. I was warm. So I opened the window. At least, I pressed the button but nothing happened. I pointed out my dilemma and my wife went into a despondent mood of doom and gloom. She explained that the window on my side had stopped working and she'd been meaning to visit the garage to get it fixed but was waiting until after payday in anticipation of a hefty bill.

Switching into hero mode in order to employ my damsel in distress skills I gently enquired whether she had tried pushing the big button on the driver's door armrest. "No" she replied "I don't know what it does". "Try it" I suggested. She did and I opened my window. 

"Now close it" she said. I did. "Now open it again". I did. "That's amazing! "How did you do that?". I explained about child locks.

"So I wont have to go to the garage and spend out on it. Brilliant!"

My brownie points total was instantly credited and with the minimum of effort. Before you ask, yes my wife is blonde.

Sunday, 26 May 2013


Perhaps predictably, having disclosed my personal ten favourite aromas, I now turn my attention to their opposites - those smells which make you heave with disgust.

Whilst your favourite smells are to a large extent a matter of personal taste, I suspect that there will be more general agreement where disgusting whiffs are concerned.

So in no particular order we have excrement or dung. That smell which suddenly fills your car causing you to look suspiciously at your passenger as you pass a field where muck-spreading has taken place. 

Continuing with the animal world we have wet dog, bad fish and skunk. I haven't personally experienced the latter but my American friends assure me it is to be avoided at all cost. 

The smell of vomit can cause you to produce more of the same of course. Not quite so bad but still awful is someone else's bad breath. Your own is never a problem somehow. Similarly, other peoples farts are always worse than your own. Though in our house the dog always gets the blame - even though we don't have one.

Have you ever smelled a bad egg? Quite revolting. As is the pong from rotten vegetables.

Last but not least there is B.O. which of course stands for body odour. Speaking of which, I must away to shower before I find myself figuring in the list.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


You'll be familiar with the idea of 'desert island discs'. I refer to those top ten songs which you would have to take with you were you about to be marooned on an island for an indefinite period.

Well I have been pondering on desert island smells. Those aromas which would be essential to life as a castaway.

This is obviously a very personal choice and no doubt your own list would differ from mine but wafting around in my selection we find the smell of a baby - almost any age will do. Another would be your favourite perfume whatever that might be. A very personal choice of mine which I doubt many would agree with is the smell of a car exhaust. I have loved that smell since I was a child. Newly mown grass figures in my list as does the smell after a fall of rain.

The rest of my list, no surprise to those who know me are 'foodie' smells. Newly baked bread is a must for me - which reminds me that I must bake a loaf today. Coffee beans or ground coffee would have to be there. Frying bacon is in the mix together with the smell of a roast dinner cooking. Rounding off the list would be the smell as you pass a fish and chip shop which is almost impossible to resist.

So there we have it. My ten favourite smells. As to what order I would put them in - who nose?

Sunday, 19 May 2013


Like many of my fellow men, I have the dubious pleasure to share a bathroom with a female. 

Now being of a certain age, I have my fair share of lotions and potions but let me tell you, these are as nothing compared to my dear wife's collection. Shelf space is not equally allotted as you might imagine. 

Over the years. I have discovered why my modest collection of grooming products is dwarfed by those of the female of the house. It is to do with advertising.

A new product is launched - 'guaranteed to slow down the ageing process of your skin' or 'thickens your hair in only four days' etc. etc.

My wife cannot resist such a declaration and I'm sure she isn't alone. As a result, the collection of half-used beauty products grows and grows until my few 'essentials' are crammed into a corner.

It is so complicated being female - I am very glad to be a mere male.

Now where did I put my moisturiser?

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


I've just returned from a most wonderful stay in Annecy, France. This event was part of the twinning between Cheltenham and Annecy and was an exchange between Annecy and Cheltenham bridge clubs. 

Our hosts had been over to stay with us last year and it was lovely to meet them again and be the recipients of their very generous hospitality. We English were a group of eleven.

There were bridge competitions of course, plus various excursions to see the sights both of the beautiful town of Annecy and also of the amazing Savoie region with its snow-capped mountains and stunning scenery.

Of course there were also numerous meals to enjoy and plenty of wine flowing freely. On these occasions, there were sometimes as many as ninety people present. We sang, we told stories, we made lots of new friends and had one hell of a good time.

I couldn't help feeling though, if the citizens of these two great countries could get on so well together, how come the politicians can't do the same?

Now, where did I leave my guillotine?

Sunday, 12 May 2013


At my time of life one finds oneself attending far too many funerals. Friends, family and acquaintances of advancing years all too frequently 'shrug off this mortal coil', 'drop off the perch' or in the idiom which I currently feature 'kick the bucket'.

'Kick the bucket' is a very commonly used phrase. The origins as so often are unclear but here are some of those which find greatest favour.

Theory 1 is that it comes from a method of execution such as hanging, while standing on an overturned bucket. When the bucket is kicked away, the victim is hanged.

Theory 2 relates to the alternate definition of a bucket as a beam or yoke that can be used to hang or carry things on.

Theory 3 states that the "bucket" may refer to the beam on which slaughtered pigs are suspended. The animals may struggle on the bucket, hence the expression.

Theory 4 suggests that the origin of the phrase comes from the Catholic custom of holy-water buckets. 

After death, when a body had been laid out, the holy-water bucket was brought from the church and put at the feet of the corpse. 
If the death is anticipated, the bucket is placed in readiness and at the moment of death a person stretches his legs and might kick the bucket placed there.

Anyway I for one will be steering well clear of buckets for a long time yet.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


Do you like reading? By this I mean reading books, newspapers and magazines. Of course you do. You doubtless do it every day. 

As a minimum, I read the paper in the morning, loads of stuff on the computer and a bedtime book at night.

Even if you do it on a kindle thingy it's still a massively pleasurable activity.

Reading a novel is for most, a better experience than seeing the same story as a film. The reason for this is that if you are reading the story, your imagination kicks in and you conjure up the characters and scenes creatively in your head instead of having them placed in front of you and being stuck with the film-maker's version.

Now that your imagination is in play, imagine for a moment not being able to read. I don't mean being illiterate, although this is indeed a sad state to be in. No, I refer to your situation if you are blind.

I was chatting to a blind man the other day and he was explaining how much he relied on 'talking' books, newspapers and magazines. If you were blind you would be just as reliant on these.

So perhaps you could consider volunteering to do some of the recorded reading. If so, the R.N.I.B. would love to hear from you.

Sunday, 5 May 2013


Since the Jimmy Savile situation opened the floodgates, we're going through a phase where child abusers are being caught on a regular basis.

These are historic examples which in most cases happened several years ago.

There have been the (mainly Catholic) priests who abused children in their care and also numerous celebrities. The common feature here is the abuse of power. It's not too dissimilar to the war crimes scenario where officers and soldiers who used their power to rape and torture are later held to account for their crimes against humanity.

There has been much discussion about these cases but my own interest is in other people's opinions on the matter. 

I have found in the case of elderly celebrities being accused of abuse decades earlier, that many take the view that one should 'let sleeping dogs lie'. Frequently female, thus often demonstrating a lack of sisterhood, they argue that the celebrity is too old and infirm to be hounded with abuse claims. A further suggestion that the claims may be spurious come in the form of 'why did they wait until now to come out of the woodwork?' 

If Savile had lived, I cannot imagine many people would have said 'let bygones be bygones'. If Hitler had escaped and been caught thirty years later would anyone have let him off because of his age?

I would imagine that being abused is not something you want aired in public and to do so is a brave thing. We have seen celebrities vehemently protest their innocence and then later confess their crimes. They need to be named  when accused so that others who may have been abused by them might come forward. Until they are found guilty, they are innocent in my eyes but if guilty they deserve the full weight of the law.

Equally, anyone found guilty of making false claims of abuse should be dealt with just as firmly.   

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


I've always tried to be a gentleman. You know - standing up for ladies on buses or on the tube.

Or perhaps letting women go through the door ahead of you - and holding it open. All that sort of stuff.

I suppose the archetypal example of being a gentleman was Sir Walter Raleigh.

The story goes that he once took off an expensive cloak and threw it over a mud puddle for Queen Elizabeth to walk across thus  illustrating his flamboyant manner — the event probably never happened, but everyone had come to expect that sort of thing from Raleigh, and Elizabeth always favoured that kind of showmanship. 

Others have their own view of what being a gentleman means:

"A gentleman is simply a patient wolf" - Lana Turner 

"A gentleman is any man who wouldn't hit a woman with his hat on." - Fred Allen

and my favourite - "A gentleman is someone who knows how to play an accordion but doesn't" - Al Cohn

Anyway, I shall continue to stand up for ladies even if they do look at me as if I'm weird when I do it.