Sunday, 29 September 2013


My Gran was sometimes a bit of a curtain-twitcher, if truth be told, keeping a close eye on the neighbours and their activities.

One lady was frequently the object of her attention. When the said lady was going out somewhere special and wearing her best clothes, Gran would mutter about 'mutton dressed up as lamb'.

The meaning of the phrase is quite clear - that she was trying to appear younger than she actually was.

Originally it was not derogatory. The term is first found in print in 1811 in the journal of social gossip by Mrs Frances Calvert.

"Someone the other day asked the Prince of Wales at the Ancient Music whether he did not think some girl pretty. 'Girl!' answered he, 'Girls are not to my taste. I don't like lamb; but mutton dressed like lamb!'."

Nowadays though, it suggests that a woman is deluded and thinks herself attractive in clothes usually worn by much those much younger.

Of course, it doesn't need to apply exclusively to females. When I don my red trousers, perhaps I'm ram dressed up as lamb.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


The congregation had gathered for the marriage ceremony and the bride and groom stood at the altar in readiness.

The idea was that when the time came for the wedding rings to be handed over to the vicar, they would be delivered by an owl

The owl in question had tassels attached to its legs with the rings tied to them. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, unfortunately for the wedding couple, the owl didn't realise his importance in the ceremony and wasn't wearing a wristwatch. 

He was also a little tired, so as soon as he was released, instead of flying to the vicar he headed for the rafters for an hour's nap.

The vicar tried to coax him down but no divine intervention was forthcoming.

All was well though as there was a backup set of rings available which allowed the marriage to continue.

What a hoot!

Thanks to Paul martin Eldridge for the photo

Sunday, 22 September 2013


My good blogger friend Joe Todd who has the good fortune to live in Ohio, has occasionally borrowed from my scribblings and I'd like to return the favour.

This lovely short story has a lot to teach us. Joe doesn't know its origins. I've altered it a little.

"A young couple moves into a new neighbourhood. 

The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbour hanging the washing outside. 

'That laundry isn't very clean; she doesn't know how to wash properly. Perhaps she needs better soap powder.'

Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbour hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. 

A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: 

'Look, she's finally learned how to wash properly. I wonder who taught her this?'

The husband replies, 'No-one. I just got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.' 

And so it is with life... What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look."

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


In which I extract the poetry from well-known songs...

I'm delighted to recount the story of Fred Stobaugh. This spritely 96 year-old just lost his wife, Lorraine after 73 years of wedded bliss. He met her in 1938 and they married two years later.

He was so devastated by her loss that he wrote a love song in her memory and this has been adopted by a record company and has made the top ten downloads.

It is a most beautiful love poem and his story can easily reduce you to tears.

'Oh Sweet Lorraine,
I wish we could do the good times 
all over again

Oh sweet Lorraine,
life only goes around once
but never again

Oh sweet Lorraine,
I wish we could do all the good times 
all over again

My memories will always linger on
Oh sweet Lorraine,
the memories will always linger on'

Sunday, 15 September 2013


I don't consider myself to be particularly superstitious but am surprised at some of the daft things which some people believe.

Here are a few which, like a black cat, have crossed my path recently.

Breaking a mirror will bring you seven years of bad luck.
It's obviously unlucky, or at the least careless, to have broken a mirror but seven years of doom seems a tough price to pay. Luckily one can apparently take countermeasures. It is thought that either grinding the shards of broken mirror glass into powder, or touching a gravestone with a shard will undo the bad luck. Phew! That's OK then.

Touching wood will ward off bad luck.
Except that knowing my luck I'd get a splinter in my finger.

Opening an umbrella indoors will bring you bad luck.
This is a bit tough if you work as a tester in an umbrella factory. There are various myths surrounding this. One tells the tale of an ancient Roman woman who opened her umbrella indoors just before her house collapsed. I'll save the others for a rainy day.

To wrap this up, I'm grateful to Jamie Frater for this list of even dafter superstitions:

1. A bird in the house is a sign of a death.
2. A loaf of bread should never be turned upside down after a slice has been cut from it.
3. Never take a broom with you when you move. Throw it out and buy a new one.
4. If the first butterfly you see in the year is white, you will have good luck all year.
5. If a black cat walks towards you, it brings good fortune, but if it walks away, it takes the good luck with it.
6. An acorn at the window will keep lightning out.
7. A dog howling at night when someone in the house is sick is a bad omen.
8. It’s bad luck to leave a house through a different door than the one used to come into it.
9. A horseshoe hung in the bedroom will keep nightmares away.
10. If you catch a falling leaf on the first day of autumn you will not catch a cold all winter.
11. If a mirror in the house falls and breaks by itself, someone in the house will die soon.
12. Dropping an umbrella on the floor means that there will be a murder in the house.
13. All windows should be opened at the moment of death so that the soul can leave.
14. If the groom drops the wedding band during the ceremony, the marriage is doomed.
15. To dream of a lizard is a sign that you have a secret enemy.
16. If a friend gives you a knife, you should give him a coin, or your friendship will soon be broken.
17. You should never start a trip on Friday or you will meet misfortune.
18. Dream of running: a sign of a big change in your life.
19. If a clock which has not been working suddenly chimes, there will be a death in the family.
20. It is bad luck to light three cigarettes with the same match.

Well "fingers crossed" none of these happen to us.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


Let's be honest. Not all 'wise' old sayings are true. They don't necessarily have any wisdom within.

For instance - "You can't have your cake and eat it". How stupid is that? If I've just bought myself a tasty chocolate eclair what am I going to do with it other than eat it? I can promise you no-one else is going to eat it but me. The saying is trying to say 'you can't have it both ways' but this is a pretty daft way of phrasing it.

Then there's "Children should be seen and not heard". How Victorian is that? With most kids today the only way you're going to achieve this is by taping up their mouths.

Then you have the ones which disagree with each other like "Look before you leap" and "He who hesitates is lost". To dither or not to dither - that is the question.

Finally we have "An apple a day keeps the doctor away". Rubbish. I tried leaving an apple at the doctor's surgery every day for a month. He was round at my place complaining as soon as he discovered it was me who kept cluttering up his surgery with them.

Sunday, 8 September 2013


In which I extract the poetry from well-known songs.

Just to prove that I am alive to the current music scene I'd like to share the poignant words of a song by 'Passenger', a British singer/songwriter who wrote what is surely a piece of pure poetry.

Most of us have experienced the end of a love affair at some point in our lives. I used to play songs on repeat as I tortured my soul about the break-up. This song would have done the job admirably. 

Well you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go.

Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin' home
Only know you love her when you let her go
- and you let her go

Staring at the bottom of your glass
Hoping one day you'll make a dream last
But dreams come slow and they go so fast

You see her when you close your eyes
Maybe one day you'll understand why
Everything you touch surely dies

But you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missin' home
Only know you love her when you let her go

Staring at the ceiling in the dark
Same old empty feeling in your heart
'Cause love comes slow and it goes so fast

Well you see her when you fall asleep
But never to touch and never to keep
'Cause you loved her too much
And you dived too deep

Well you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go.

Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missin' home
Only know you love her when you let her go

And you let her go

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


Masking tape (noun): A roll of adhesive tape used as an aid when painting to cover areas where paint is not required.

I beg to differ.

I can assure you that the roll of masking tape which I purchased was merely masquerading as 'an aid to painting'. In reality it was a diabolical instrument of utter frustration which doubled the length of time which the job took and left us wishing we had employed a professional.

It was a small, simple task. My wife had decided that the blue garage door which she had happily looked upon for some seven years, had become offensive. The blue colour clashed with our garden palette of purples and pinks and as a result it had to go. 

The newly approved colour was a silvery grey to blend in with the mortar of the garage walls. It was duly purchased along with the 'tape' which dearly beloved applied in the appointed manner along the edges where the glass window met the wooden door.

Paint was liberally applied - an undercoat and two coats of gloss and some hours later we had reached the dénouement when the tape would be ripped away to reveal the perfect, clean lines of the newly refurbished door.

It was not to be. 

When we pulled the tape, it tore off in small, jagged strips which became ever smaller as we continued in our vain efforts to remove it. When the strips were removed, they left a thick film of gooey adhesive which had become so lovingly attached to the glass that they refused to be parted from it.

Suffice to say that it took us as long to remove all traces of the masking tape as it had done to paint the wretched door. 

In truth it would have been far easier and quicker to have painted the window along with the door and then cleaned off the paint.

Sunday, 1 September 2013


Rugby players have a reputation of being the hard men of sport. None more so than the New Zealand player Wayne 'Buck' Shelford.

It is commonplace to see rugby players leaving the pitch with blood pouring down their faces only to return shortly afterwards with a large bandage holding everything together. 

How do you suppose things would go however, if one of them had his scrotum ripped open? 

Enter Buck Shelford:

In a rugby match against France, Shelford found himself at the bottom of a ruck. He was struck in the groin by the boot of a player causing his scrotum to rip, leaving one testicle hanging free. 

He left the pitch and told the doctor to stitch him up so that he could return to play.

Unfortunately, Shelford still didn't finish the game, not because of his scrotum injury but because of a concussion from a blow to the head. He also lost four teeth and all recollection of the game." 

I am very grateful that I have never been called upon to play against him.