Monday, 29 June 2009

New clothes required

I'm slightly worried about Colin the model. He's got through two locked doors into my garage while I was at work today and when I went for my constitutional this evening, I found him... on the treadmill! What is going on? I know he's like me, hitherto not very active - in fact positively comatose, but wooden artists models are NOT supposed to need exercise. I wonder what he's up to and I wonder which of my three lads he's conspiring with? No-one is admitting anything despite bright lights and the threat of crisps deprivation.
Anyway, while I'm worrying about what Colin will get up to next, I think it's time to divulge the latest diet update. The diet has been going well, nothing's changed - intake is the same, more exercise now and clothes decidedly too large. I can't remember if I ever told you that at the beginning of the diet, you start with a strict week, really low fat, very few points (and mine as a matter of interest was 28). The points refer to certain foods which are allotted points and 28 was the maximum I could have per day.

After the end of the week, the weighing was done and points should have been recalculated according to weight. Problem was my dearest never recalculated hence why my weight fell off, she should have increased it to 37 and never did (by mistake) - I stuck to 28 - but none the wiser!

But dramatic though it has been, thank goodness it's been okay - the diet has really given me hope and impetus to keep it going for good even after my body tells me it's reached the weight it should. After 20 weeks, I have now lost a grand total of ('weight' for it...)

57 pounds! (just over four stones)

The question I am asked is how much do I want to lose and I have never revealed that for two reasons: firstly I am embarrassed about how obese I had become (and still are although at a lower category); and secondly, I didn't want to set myself up to fail. I guess that at some stage, the body will come to a level of weight where it is happy and despite sensible diet, will lose no more. That's the point I no longer say I am on a diet, but I carry on with my healthier eating lifestyle (with gentle exercise) as a norm - and do you know what? I don't miss the chips, crisps, chocolate, pints of milk, cheese etc., etc., at all. I don't nibble at any of them because if I did, I reckon I'd be tempted back - so I just don't have it.

Easy? No and I can understand those who struggle with the psychological battle on a daily if not hourly basis. I don't have any answers save to say it was the shock of seeing myself in a glass wall one day on my way to work and suddenly realising in an instant what I had become without ever realising I had reached the point of being grossly overweight. Sheer shock.

Today's story is food related. A man and a woman were sitting at a table in a restaurant when the waitress noticed the man slide down his chair and under the table. The woman he was sat with looked remarkably unconcerned. The waitress thought she had better mention it.
"Excuse me," the waitress said, "I think your husband has just slid under the table."
"No," replied the woman coldly, "He's just walked in the door."


Chat soon


Sunday, 28 June 2009

Hello followers...

Welcome today to a new registered follower, although Val (Magnumlady) has been following my blog for a while and if anyone wants to read a hugely enjoyable blog with wonderful pictures, visit Magnumlady from Ireland - guaranteed common sense and a giggle. Welcome.

If you are not a registered follower and just logged in at random - welcome to you too.

I am blessed with only a few but quality followers to the blog like Val, for example Josie from a Yorkshire lass with that quality of having the ability and skill to create great items from leftover fabric - something really interesting and I admire. Always loads of quality photographs and concisely written - always an advantage in any blog.

Middle Aged Gapper, a fellow Yorkshireman who is coming to a turning point in his life, retiring from an honourable profession and embarking on a journey of intrest and personal discovery (including getting his first tattoo at 50.) His writing style is a joy to read and never fails to make you think and again with subtle observational humour.

Barry, another Yorkshire person has just begun writing a blog and because he is so busy with his work life with long days he hasn't had time to get into the routine, but as a well qualified Emotional Freedom Therapist, (EFT) he has lots to give when his blog starts in earnest as I am sure it will.

Well it's been a fine, warm, balmy and cloudy weekend in the East Riding of Yorkshire and we have only seen anything of the sun until this Sunday late afternoon; too little to get a tan here although my lad has just come back from Alton Towers in Staffordshire with sun-burn!

Yet again all the weather forecasts and Met Office severe weather warnings of heavy rain and thunderstorms have proved inaccurate as we haven't had a drop. There's certainly a trend for forecasting the absolute worst case scenario at all times so presumably they are covered, but it doesn't help us mere mortals who still rely on pine cones and seaweed to plan a days activity. If they get it right only 20% of the time, why don't they forcast what they don't think will happen and they'll get a 80% success rate in forecasting - if only it were that simple? I know it's not an exact science yet and they do their best.

You probably know from previous blogs, I like words and how they work, well today's story just shows how how quick witted you can be to make the best use of words:

Two married men Bill and Fred were sat having a beer after work. Bill said, "Have you ever said one thing when you meant to say something else?"
"What do you mean?" Enquired Fred.
"Well the other day I was getting a train ticket and instead of saying 'two tickets to Pitsford', I said 'Two pickets to Titsford.'"
"Ah, I see what you mean," said Fred. "Last week, I was having breakfast with my wife and I meant to say, 'Pass the sugar' and instead I said, 'You've ruined my life you bitch.'"


Chat soon


Saturday, 27 June 2009

The mystery of Colin

Being half asleep this morning (and every other morning) I trudged past the bookcase carefully balancing my bowl of Weetabix and sultanas and the glass of orange juice and plonked myself on the chair. I don't have a lot of time during the week but on Saturday mornings when I get up early to take my lad to his Saturday job, I have the luxury of watching the news on the BBC for ten minutes as I wake up. This morning however, I didn't do that. I stared at the bookcase realising something was slightly different and then I spotted it. Colin the model was holding the bookshelf up!
Now Colin I have to tell you, and I am comfortable telling you, because I can trust you and in any case Colin can't read, that Colin is not a great conversationalist. He usually stands quite quietly, doesn't move around much and watches the world go by. He doesn't offer opinions or have any loans with the bank (as far as I am aware.) He does like to be the centre of attention when I have pencil and paper in my hand and use him in drawing practise. He's cheap to have around and he only needs cleaning with a fluffy duster now and then.

So how he came to be holding the shelf up is a bit of a mystery. As models go (size minus 42) he's not that good looking if I were honest and I won't be getting any calls from Cosmopolitan I shouldn't think, but I never imagined for one minute that I had a DIY expert in the house. This could be useful particularly because I need some painting doing soon and some hooks putting in the wall. The problem is he's only 12 inches tall and not strong enough to carry ladders so I'll have to do most of the work in any case - no good there then.

I'll have to wait and see if he demonstrates any other useful functions before I can take him on (as long as he doesn't want paying).

As it's the weekend, its list time. This is what would happen if men got pregnant:
  • Morning sickness would be the nation's top ranked illness needing a cure;
  • Maternity leave would be two years with full pay;
  • Children would stay in the maternity ward until they are toilet trained;
  • Natural childbirth would be a thing of the past;
  • There WOULD be a cure for stretch marks;
  • Sons would have to home from dates at 10 pm sharp;
  • Men would be eager to talk about commitment.
Chat soon


Thursday, 25 June 2009

Preserve nature - pickle a squirrel

I'm easily excited, living in rural East Yorkshire, if the milkman goes by with a smile on his face it's a talking point. Today two things tested my imagination. The first was the fantastic story via the BBC from Australia where wallabies have been eating the poppies in a field used for legal drug production and have become so high that they are wandering round in circles making 'crop circles' in the crops - fantastic. Apparently this is not new and sheep have been known to do the same thing.

What do get if you cross LSD with a birth control pill? A trip without the kids.

Well that answers a few questions and perhaps solves the mystery of British crop circles; I always thought they were the result of mad artists with planks making patterns in fields in the dead of night. Now we know that it's simply mad artists who have been eating poppies - same result but much more enjoyable process.

The second piece of news, unverified as yet, is that the planet Mars is due to come the closest that man has ever seen it to the Earth, just over 34, 600, 000 miles away starting around August 27th and will be the brightest object in the sky. It won't be like that again for over 60,000 years and its all due to the gravity tug from Jupiter.

Just as a matter of interest, Mars is the fourth planet in the solar system, with two moons, Phobos and Deimos and is half the radius of the Earth. Its red tint come from the iron oxide on its surface. The red planet is named after the Roman god of war and the astrological symbol for Mars is the circle with an arrow coming from it pointing at 2 'clock, the same symbol as 'male'.

I'm not big into astronomy and don't know how it all works, but I am interested - does that make sense? If the USS Enterprise was available today, I'd be one of the first passengers on board. It's a cliche to look up to the stars and dream and think of what's out there - but what is out there? I often sit on the patio at night with a drink looking up and pondering the possibilities and sometimes the thought is too stupendous and enormous even to contemplate; and the shame is, I'll never see it or experience it in this life.

Well to sign off tonight, there's a slightly sad note. The squirrels have decimated all the flowers I have planted this year including destroying 6 out of seven begonias I had put in an ornamental planter. Although I will miss the flowers, I have decided that for next year, the pots will all be planted with ornamental shrubs. The only alternative is to get someone to catch the squirrels and take them to the countryside and let them loose near a forest of some sort which I don't really think is wise in case it creates an imbalance. Disappointed that I have been beaten (unless you have a solution dear bloggers), but I can't get wound up about it anymore - I used to get angry, but now - so what.

Here's some handy excuses to get out of a date...
  • I have to worm my dog.
  • I'm teaching my ferret to yodel.
  • I have to check the sell by dates on all my dairy products.
  • I'm going to count the bristles on my toothbrush.
  • I have to study for my blood test.
  • I'm so busy, my plot to take over the world is gathering pace.
  • I never go out on days that end with a 'y'.
  • My gerbil is about to give birth.
  • I'm sandblasting my oven.
  • The Pope might drop by.
Chat soon,


Monday, 22 June 2009

Pearl? Who's Pearl?

Above, the Chinese character for love consisting of a heart (middle) inside 'accept,' 'feel,' or 'perceive,' which shows a graceful emotion.
Courtesy Wikipedia

Tueday 23rd June is my 30th Wedding Anniversary. I can just think of all the music hall jokes coming out, "I remember it like it was yesterday, and that was a bad day too!" "If I'd done her in thirty years ago, I'd have been out ten years ago," "I take my wife everywhere but she keeps finding her way back," "My wife made me join a bridge club. I jump off next Tuesday!"and so on and so forth.

"I am," is said to be the shortest sentence in the English language. "I do" is the longest.

Our Pearl Anniversary (I don't feel old enough for Pearl - a vision of old dears with pearl necklaces springs to mind) brings around thoughts of our thirty years together: wondering where the next penny was coming from; how do we pay for the petrol to get us to work; can't afford to mend the leaky ceiling; new house, not enough cash to decorate and live! What I've described is mainly finance and making ends meet. There was also not talking to each other, arguing, (we've never fought) and annoying habits. There are of course positives like it's all been worth it, three great kids, decent house, reasonable car, still working hard and our good health. Can't complain really.

But what about our relationship?
It's been hard work but we're still very much together despite having different interests and differing beliefs. I can't define love - I've tried, even debated it among friends and I have no idea what it is. Try looking for 'love' in Wikipedia - full of gobbledegook. There is no chemical formula, no text book which gives chapter and verse how one should feel and what you should be doing to maintain it. My guess is that it's an enigma. We're not supposed to know what it is save to say that it's about feeling different I suppose about one person. Something more 'special,' getting to know someone very well and learning to laugh and cry together. Sharing, learning, using experience to get you through bad times and knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel to bring you both through. Sounds like a text book explanation? A working living partnership, a close team perhaps; I give up.

There's no formula for success (or failure for that matter) to marriage - 75% of it is luck, 20% of it is good judgement and the last five percent is down to the unknown factors such as intuition and turning left instead of right, making the call instead of prevarication and having that little bit of courage when needed to face your fears together. It's also about individual partners being tough enough to make bold decisions when needed for both of you and the other accepting in good grace and often, I suspect with great relief.

That's not scientific at all - just gut feeling - that word 'feeling' again and perhaps that's the answer. Love is a personal feeling that the individual gets that affects us all very differently, and where does that come from? Goodness knows, but thank God for it - quite a creation.

So, here's to the next thirty years (at least). Cheers!

Today's story has a marital theme. A young couple who were having a rocky time went to see a counsellor. The male counsellor listened to the wife first who was complaining about her husband neglecting her. She moaned, "We've only been married two years, but he never takes me anywhere, he never shows affection or shows any interest in me, it's as if he was bored with me already."

The husband simply shrugged his shoulders and said nothing. The counsellor went over to the wife and kissed her passionately. As the wife slumped back into her chair amazed and in shock the counsellor said to the husband, "Your wife needs that at least twice a week."

The husband replied, "Well, I can get her here Tuesdays and Thursdays."

Chat soon


Sunday, 21 June 2009

Happy Father's Day

To all you guys who are fathers and for some of you who don't realise you are fathers, happy Father's Day!

52 countries celebrate the day on the third Sunday in June which compliments Mothering Sunday and was first celebrated in the USA back in 1908. There's even a debate over how to spell it - is it Fathers' Day (plural posessive - day belonging to fathers) or Father's Day - a singular possesive. Common sense prevails and makes it easier for those of us who rely on spellcheckers!

These are the top fifteen things that every dad says, at least once in his lifetime as a father:

1 Don't ask me, ask your mother.
2 You didn't beat me, I let you win.
3 Call that a haircut?
4 Of course I'm not lost, I'm just not sure where we are.
5 I'll tell you why, because I said so that's why.
6 You're going out dressed like THAT?
7 Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about.
8 Careful you'll have someones eye out with that.
9 What do you think I am, a bank?
10 Now, in my day...
11 I'm not going to sleep, I'm just resting my eyes.
12 For God's sake, where are my @£$>$@ car keys? Oh, thanks love...
13 Oi, that's my chair, shift yer butt.
14 What part of NO don't you understand?
15 Call that music? more like rubbish.
Emotional Rescue Ltd.

Have a great day

Chat soon


Saturday, 20 June 2009

Will the real Sherlock Holmes please stand up...

Hello bloggers. The domestic routine has taken over and life has become pretty unremarkable as life plods on. There's no sign here of the sustained summer that we've all been promised although the BBC weather forecasters seem to indicate as soon as we get back to work, it will start getting warmer. Cheers.

The squirrels in the garden are digging the plants up out of the tubs looking for buried peanuts - the squirrels will be joining them soon if they carry on! Nice to look at the furry little darlings but very destructive. There was a baby squirrel in the garden recently which is unusual, but I guess its parents have been killed because we've seen a couple squashed on the road recently. When it saw me, it didn't know what to do (a normal reaction) so it ran up the wall and just clung on nervously, so much so that I was able to stroke it for a few seconds before it scampered off. It comes back occasionally and is starting to grow. The picture above is the baby squirrel on the bird table.

Now the weekend's here, it's time for the debate and this week, only because I have a weakness for him, it's 'Who's the best Sherlock Holmes?'

There's been many fine film and television Sherlocks thanks to the creative genius of one of the most fascinating men of Victorian and Edwardian times, Arthur Conan Doyle - whose life in itself is fascinating reading. Doyle was a writer, poet, novelist, doctor of medicine, spiritualist. His epitaph on his gravestone was an indication that he would rather have been remembered for his interest in eye surgery and other more serious writings as in later life he tried to minimise the success of the very work that had given him fame; ironically in truth the world in general only remembered him for the quick witted, logical, untidy, less than desirable drug addicted tenant yet remarkable amateur detective creation of Sherlock Holmes.

Ably supported by Doctor John Watson, physician, Holmes operated his business from an apartment at 221B Baker Street, London and in London today, there is a very good Holmes Museum which I have visited with my children.

Basil Rathbone, dashing Englishman with a clipped accent more noted for his swashbuckling swordsman skills in villain roles portrayed Holmes in a number of films in the war years supported by a rotund Nigel Bruce who played Watson with far less intelligence than he deserved.

The superb and definitive Holmes played by the late Jeremy Brett shone on our television screens after a creative creation by John Hawkesworth and I am fortunate to own the box set of all the Brett appearances as Holmes. His success is in no small way due to exceptional television production and support by first David Burke and then the intelligent portrayal by Edward Hardwicke, surely the best of all Watsons. There is something about Brett that I can't quite put my finger on, a unique interpretation, eccentric, emotional, fiercely loyal to his good friend Watson, the very antithesis of the straight character portrayed by Rathbone and shows sympathetically a man walking the line between genius and madness at times.

Another favourite of mine, the late Peter Cushing was a more than acceptable public face of Holmes. 'The Hounds of the Baskervilles' was his triumph, again not really showing the flaws of Holmes, but someone you would imagine was in the mind of Doyle.

There have been others who have played Holmes, let down by directors and writers who were far more interested in the plot than the character; for now I'll stick to Brett and Hardwicke, Holmes and Watson.

It's my thirtieth wedding anniversary next week, more on that later but here's a little toast to women I found:

Here's to our wives,
They keep our hives
In little bees and honey.
They darn our sock
And sooth our shocks,
And don't they spend our money!

Chat soon


Monday, 15 June 2009


I don't know if the storm has got anything to do with this, but my computer is so slow, it's painful. My fellow blogger Middle Aged Gapper asked me what the film Valkyrie was like which I recently bought on DVD, so I thought I would devote a little time to it here for a wider audience (he hopes!)

I wanted to see this at the cinema and never got round to it so I took advantage when it arrived in the shops in pretty quick time which I always think is never a measure of a good film if the DVD follows the film very shortly after the general release. The best way to attack this is to separate the performances against the production and story.

The production values of this film were fairly high with some good quality CGI in the beginning as we see Tom Cruise playing Colonel Claus von Stauffenburg writing a diary during the desert war expressing his dislike the way the country is being ruined by Hitler and his cronies. Stauffenburg then loses his hand and most of the fingers from the other hand and his left eye when his armoured vehicle is hit by an allied air strike. This sets the scene. He becomes a trusted war hero among his peers.

Cruise underplays the role unlike the action hero we are used to; this is played with measured control and understated but his need to keep his plans secret is the tension in his character, this family man who knows he could lose everything if things don't go well in removing Hitler.

He is approached to join a clan of high ranking officers and civilian politicians who want to wrest power and so the story moves on with planning which materialises in Operation Valkyrie, the plan, authorised by Hitler for the reserve army to take control should Hitler die. Stauffenburg sees this as his opportunity and... well I won't spoil it.

He is ably supported by some well known, largely British actors all of whom play their characters in an understated way as well which increases the tension felt by this inward looking army, bearing in mind there have already been 14 attempts on Hitler's life. Bill Nighy is General Olbricht the prime military mover at Headquarters who doesn't quite show the courage and fortitude he should and brilliant Kenneth Brannagh is career officer Major-General Henning von Tresckow, Cruise's recruiter. Nighy is reunited with actor Kevin McNally (who starred with Nighy in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy) as the civilian would-be chancellor Dr. Goerdeler. Terence Stamp plays General Beck, again quiet and reserved and the role of General Fellgiebel is well played by Eddie Izzard who shows what an accomplished actor he has become.

The scenery and sets are what you would expect in 1944 Berlin albeit a little pristine in condition although the uniforms do display a strange variety of coloured jackets, which I suspect was realistic in that Generals and men of wealth would buy their own uniforms. The atmosphere created was tense enough if you watched the characters closely and the film moved apace in what was a short time frame. It was pleasing not to have to endure flashes, bangs and unnecessary and gratuitous violence which is always a danger in war films, instead this one concentrated on the story. The photography was naive and did not assist the audience feel on the edge of their seats - take the classic 'Third Man' - all photographic technique which this film needed to take it to a higher level. I would have even considered this fair game if they had filmed this in high contrast black and white with night scenes and sharp lighting - it would have improved it a lot - shades of cold war thrillers!

The strange thing is, because there was no real building of the characters, getting to know them or their foibles, the film was rather like a well acted documentary and the end left you wanting a little bit more - 'is this all there is to it?' The story of Hitler's attempted assassination at the Wolf's Lair is well known and well documented and the film does bring the characters forward to identify their roles but overall it just lacked some passion, deliberately driven by the director because the actors are capable of so much more as we know.

Borrow the DVD or wait for it to appear on television, don't spend £15 on the disc. Enjoyable but glad I didn't see it at the cinema. The Internet Movie Database gives it 7 out of 10 and that's okay because of the historical accuracy and the clever way Stauffenburg cons Hitler. Not a disaster by any means but left me a tadge disappointed. I wonder if Cruise had directed this how different it might have been.

Adam Sandler tell this story about fame as an actor:

I was in New Hampshire with my family at a pizza place. The kid working there goes, "Hey, you look like Adam Sandler." I said, "Yeah, I know." The kid goes, "What's your name?" I replied, "Adam Sandler." And he goes, "Whoa, that's a coincidence!"

Chat soon


Sunday, 14 June 2009

Stuffing good meal...

Accompanied by the sound of robins gently twittering in the cherry tree over our patio on the merry go round of feeding their young in a bird box sited in the ivy on the fence, I have enjoyed a warm balmy day under the dappled shade of a tree. A good book, Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (well a good start anyway) and a young family of squabbling squirrels have provided the distraction this afternoon and made it an enjoyable, relaxing and stress free day.

A friend of mine drowned in a bowl of muesli. A strong currant pulled him in."
Tommy Cooper

I thought I would do something different for tea tonight so I did a simple recipe of mushroom stuffed chicken breast with a seasonal light salad. It was a bit of an experiment; I have seen stuffed chicken recipes before, so I gave it ago with a more simple method than you find in the books and the result was delicious - even the kids ate it.

Stuffed Chicken Breast
(serves four)
Cost around £6.75.

4 medium sized skinned chicken breasts;
200g of button mushrooms, washed and chopped;

1 box of sage and onion stuffing made as per the instructions on the box;

10g ready to eat sunflower seeds.


Make up one box of sage and onion stuffing and put to one side.

Using a sharp knife and pressing down on the chicken breast with the flat of your hand (to stop you getting your fingers sliced) cut into t
he centre of the breast from the side until you have created a pocket in the side of the breast. Stuff the breast with the chopped mushrooms, fold the chicken breast back up again to contain the mushrooms and place them in an ovenproof dish.

With a fork, spread the sage and onion stuffing over the surface of the chicken covering as much as you can until you can't see the chicken meat. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds on the stuffing and press in with your fingers.

Cover the dish with the lid or foil.
Preheat an oven to around 200 degrees and place the chicken in the top of the oven for 45 minutes. Take the chicken out of the oven and remove the foil. Place back in the oven for 15 minutes to brown the stuffing and reduce the liquid from the chicken.

Serve with seasonal salad in the summer or roast vegetables in a winter. Enjoy! Little boy: "Are caterpillars good to eat?"
Father: "I've told you before; don't talk about such things at the dinner table."
Mother: "
Why do you ask son?"
Little boy: "
Cos I saw one on daddy's lettuce and now it's gone."

Chat soon


Friday, 12 June 2009

"The Conscience of an Editor is Purely Decorative"

What a week! Exhausted with being out every night except one and that night was spent preparing for a meeting the following night. I've run an admin course for new managers and secretaries for the local football league; been out with friends to see psychic medium Colin Fry at the Grimsby Auditorium (good performance) and my works social meal.

Phew, time to relax at last having just come in from having a nice meal in the good company of a few work colleagues at a local hostelry. Being on a diet I was very good (honest) and only had two pints of Guinness shandy with a dash of orange in the top.

There has been a small family milestone today: my youngest son has just had his last 'A' level exam and can now sit and relax having worked damned hard after disappointing 'AS' level results this time last year. Hopefully, his results will be good enough for him to get into Liverpool University to study archaeology and classics.

I am really proud of his achievements and proud of my other two lads for what they have achieved: my eldest found work after not wanting to finish his 'A' levels and has a full time permanent job in a health centre; my middle son has just finished his three year BA Honours degree at Nottingham University and all this from kids created by parents who were not academically minded at all at their age and with few formal qualifications (I had one O' Level - the equivalent of today's GCSE.) Although my wife and I have done well with our professional qualifications since, I am so pleased that our kids have taken the opportunities that exist today that never existed for me. The word 'university' was never mentioned to me at school and I can only remember a handful of very clever boys and girls who went to university.

I loved school and rarely missed a day and participated in all sorts of activities: sport, drama, after school clubs, art, but I never really had the technique to understand how exams were passed. I didn't class myself as a dimwit, just not clever. I have matured (I hope) as life has moved on and today have a position in a multi million pound organisation (unless the political parties decide to slash public spending as they are certain to do then I might be looking for another job - all because the Government, private sector and banks made a total f*ck up of the economy - not exactly my fault is it Mr Arse right wing Newspaper Editor?)

An editor should have a pimp for a brother so he'd have someone to look up to."
Gene Fowler, journalist, author and dramatist

What the experience of my kids has taught me is that they don't get 'owt for nowt.' Both my youngest and middle lads have had to graft hard and not without sweat and tears to achieve academically and these arse newspaper editors who witter and whine that kids sail through exams without doing any work and exams are too easy need to go back to the home for the eternally bewildered because they are not in the real world of kids (of all social classes) from state schools working often through adversity to try and better their chances through the exams system and frankly end up doing okay.

An editor is a person employed by a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed."
Elbert Hubbard, writer and publisher

Anyway - off my soap box because the weekend is upon us and we have lots of domestic jobs planned - going to the tip, shopping, washing the conservatory roof with the power washer and watching the newly released DVD of Valkyrie starring Tom Cruise and a host of other great actors.
Have a good one.

Chat Soon


(Today's title is a quotation by Oscar Wilde)

Monday, 8 June 2009

There was an Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman...

It's silly day. I can't take anything too seriously today so I thought we'd have some fun to cheer ourselves up. By the way, there is no Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman joke! No analysis, no explanations, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the giggle muscle trainer...'

The World's Biggest Lies:

This will hurt me more than it'll hurt you.
Don't worry madam, we'll be with you first thing in the morning.
You don't need it in writing - you have my word.
Please tell me, I promise I won't get angry.
Of course I love you.
The cheque is in the post.
Size doesn't matter.
Don't worry he's never bitten anyone.
Trust me.
It'll be as good as new.

The defence solicitor said to his client, "I've got some bad news and good news. The bad news is that your DNA sample matches that found on the victim's dress."
"Oh no, I'm finished; what's the good news?"
"Your cholesterol's down to 3.2"

Remember these?

Doctor doctor, I've swallowed the film from my camera...
Doctor: We'll just have to see what develops.

Doctor doctor, I keep thinking I'm a clock...
Doctor: Try not to get wound up.

Doctor doctor, I've got a cricket ball stuck in my ear...
Doctor: How's that?
Patient: Don't you start...

Doctor doctor, I have a serious memory problem...
Doctor: How long have you had this?
Patient: Had what?

Nurse: Doctor doctor, the Invisible Man is in the waiting room...
Doctor: Tell him I can't see him.

A White Horse went into a bar. The barman said, "We have a whiskey named after you."
"What?" The horse replied, "Eric?"

A few Collective Nouns:

A screech of mothers-in-law.
A mass of Catholics.
A galaxy of chocaholics.
A hug of teddy bears (awwwww).
A shortage of dwarfs.
A wave of surfers.
An attitude of teenagers.

How does Michael Jackson pick his nose?
Through a catalogue.

The REAL Dictionary (with just one or two letters missing):

Accountant - A man hired to tell you you didn't earn the money you did.
Bookmaker - A pickpocket who allows you to use your own hands.
Consultant - Someone who steals the watch off your wrist and charges you to tell you the time.
Divorce - The transition between duet and duel.
Experience - The name men give their mistakes.
Fisherman - A jerk on one end of the line waiting for a jerk on the other end.
Gentleman - A man who knows how to play the bagpipes but doesn't.
Honesty - A fear of being caught.
Impotence - Nature's way of saying, "No hard feelings?"
Jazz - Five men on a stage all playing a different tune.
Liar - A lawyer with a roving commission.
Marriage - A knot tied by a vicar, untied by a lawyer.
Negligent - The condition where you absent mindedly answer the door in your nightie.
Oblivion - Fame's dumping ground.
Philosopher - A person who confuses you sufficiently to make you believe he knows what he is talking about.
Raisin - A worried looking grape.
Show-off - A child more talented than your own.
Toothache - A pain that drives you to extraction.
Undertaker - The last bloke to let you down.
Vacuum cleaner - A broom with a stomach.
Wedding ring - The worlds smallest handcuffs.
Yawn - An honest opinion expressed openly.

What goes cluck, cluck, cluck, boom?
A chicken in a minefield.

Chat up Line Rejections:

Hey beautiful, what you doing tonight?
Sorry, I don't date outside of my species.

So how about you and I go away somewhere?
I couldn't, it would be like depriving the village of its idiot.

Wanna go back to my place?
I dunno, can two people fit under a stone?

Haven't we met before?
Probably, I'm a receptionist in an STD clinic.

Do you mind if I kiss you?
What am I, flypaper for freaks?

I really like you.
You remind me of when I was young and stupid.

And finally... This man had a parrot that was always swearing, even in front of visitors and nothing he did could stop the parrot using some really disgusting language. In the end, the man grabbed the parrot and said, "I'm going to put you in the freezer for an hour and I'm going to keep doing that until you've learned your lesson."

After an hour in the freezer, the shivering parrot came out meekly and said the the man, "Okay, I promise never to swear again. What the hell did that turkey do?"

Chat soon


Sunday, 7 June 2009

What's your epitaph...

My wife is in tidying up mode this morning and despite me trying to read a book and relax on this Sunday morning on the settee, I've admitted defeat and retire to the room in which my computer and books sit, comfortably if a little untidily - but at least I know where everything is.

"Housework is what a woman does that nobody notices unless she hasn't done it."
Evan Esar

With a fresh cup of tea and the prose of Bill Bryson from his interesting and witty 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' wandering through my head, being in a reflective mood, I thought I would concentrate on another favourite subject, epitaphs. According to Wikipedia, the definition of an epitaph is "a short text honouring a deceased person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque, but also used figuratively. Some are specified by the dead person beforehand, others chosen by those responsible for the burial."

Almost certainly as I am not to be buried, where would I write an epitaph? The witty ones and those about the famous are captured in books for the likes of me and you to marvel at and have a giggle where it's appropriate and dignified to do so (where no-one is looking and can ask the awkward question.) Many councils don't allow anything witty or controversial on headstones, so there's nothing too interesting to read on headstones in the ancient and vast graveyards - or cemeteries to be polite - around Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Spike Milligan, genius and madman had the foresight to have a laugh at his own impending death by writing the inscription for his headstone, in Gaelic, "I told you I was ill." That must take some courage, to write your own words, trying to sum up in a few words what your life has meant, how it's been lived, opportunities lost or missed as well your attitude to a thousand subjects and influences. The lighthearted joke in Milligan's case shows perhaps the depth of what he was, a natural humourist - something he knew a lot about using the laconic wry observation even in the depths of his oft experienced despair.

If you had the freedom to have one sentence, created by you written on your gravestone, what would you put; would you be funny, reflective, critical or philosophic?

Here are one or two epitaphs, some well known, some not so, some funny, some worthy of reflection, but all memorable:

Sacred To The Memory Of
Captain Maurice James Butler,
Royal Irish Rifles
Accidentally Shot Dead By His
Batman On The Fourth Day Of
April, 1882
'Well Done, Thou Good And
Faithful Servant

Rupert Brookes: "If I should die, think only this of me: That there's some corner of a foreign field that is forever England." Written on his grave in Lemnos in the Aegean.

Cecil John Rhodes: "So little done; so much to do." On his grave in his beloved 'Rhodesia.'

Dean Martin's gravestone: "Everybody loves somebody sometime."

John Starkwether in Wisconsin had this epitaph inscribed presumably not by a good friend:
"Here is where friend Starkwether lies,
Nobody laughs, nobody cries,
Where he goes, how he fares,
Nobody knows, nobody cares."

Mel Blanc, the voice of many cartoon characters including Porky Pig had this on his headstone: "That's all folk's"

John Laird McCaffery, buried in Montreal in 1995 had this acrostic poem style epitaph inscribed, according to the engraver at the behest of his friends, mistress and ex-wife. Hmmm.

Free your body and soul
Unfold your powerful wings
Climb up the highest mountains
Kick your feet up in the air
You may now live forever
Or return to this earth
Unless you feel good where you are!
---Missed by your friends"

And finally, some fictitious and unsourced epitaphs:

Edmund Blackadder: "Here lies Edmund Blackadder; and he's bloody annoyed." (You can just imagine him saying that!)

From Tasmania, Australia:
"Stop ye travellers as you pass by
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, soon you shall be -
Prepare yourself to follow me."
Some wag wrote the following graffiti underneath:
"To follow you I am not content --
How do I know which way you went?"

Chat Soon


Friday, 5 June 2009

Barack Hussein Obama II

I like to keep an eye on politics and whilst not being an expert on party politics, in my job you have to keep your ear to the ground for what's going on in politics with a small 'p'. The elections in the UK for some Members of the European Parliament have concluded although we haven't got the results yet and the council elections have sent an overwhelming message to the Labour Party.

"Governments are like underwear. They need to be changed - often - and for the same reason."
Italian Proverb

What makes all this small country politics pale into insignificance was the statesman-like performance of the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama II.

He made a groundbreaking speech of major significance this week in Cairo Eygpt with a view to reinvigorating the Middle East peace process and giving a strong message to the Muslim world.

Why does this affect me sat here in rural East Yorkshire on the other side of the world? Firstly Obama showed that he is a clever speech maker and although he tripped up a couple of times, his 55 minute speech was consummately delivered, with passion and with substance. Contrast that with our current political leaders who lack confidence and concentrate on preventing self-destruction rather than issues that are affecting our country.

Secondly he was clearly not afraid to tell some home truths to an audience of an Arab nation. Criticising the Israelis, traditional and cultural friends of the USA as well as criticising the Palestinians, he unswervingly stuck to his overtures of the need to work together to solve differences and perceptions of differences - he said he was not at war with Islam. This means that he starts a dialogue of peace and thinking which may mean that the threat of terrorism and the threat to my freedom and my children's future is a little less dangerous than it was - only by a wafer thin margin, but it's a start.

He used words like 'tolerance, justice and mutual respect.' He talked passionately about democracy and religious freedom. He warned about the threat of nuclear weapons and how violence never achieved its desired result. Finally he talked about the rights of women, economic development and opportunity.

It was all very high level and strategic, no detail to talk of, but the message was clear that this man wants peace but not at a price and he is clear that the USA will continue to confront extremism.

I like him. He appears straight forward, open, on an even keel and knowledgeable with desire to succeed while being realistic enough that things don't change overnight. He's not a rabble-rouser, but I suspect he is to be ignored at your peril. Good luck to him and for what he wants to achieve.

I'm sure that his parents are mistaken - he was clearly born a Yorkshireman, forthright, intelligent and a stylish dresser (not sure I can get away with that one!)

"Mr Speaker, I withdraw my statement that half the Cabinet are asses - half the Cabinet are not asses."
Benjamin Disraeli (British politician, 1804 - 1881)

Have a great weekend.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Nah then, ows tha doin?

Yorkshire born,
Yorkshire bred;
Strong in th' arm,
Thick in t' 'ead.

A old saying, generally quoted by people from outside Yorkshire, indicating perhaps a certain physical prowess among Yorkshire gentlemen yet at the same time lacking attributes in so far as their mental capacity for reasonable thought is concerned.

Comics of a certain age would get away with this along with the stereotypical description of the average Yorkshireman wearing a cloth cap and having whippets. There are and have been for a long time professional Yorkshiremen and some of those you might consider for example as Michael Parkinson, cricketer Geoffrey Boycott, cricket umpire Dickie Bird and the late Freddy Trueman. What have they in common? A very distinct drawling accent and the ability to say what they think and in some cases say it before they think what they are saying making them often controversial figures for their no nonsense, forthright but tactless approach particularly about other people.

In some parts of Yorkshire, thanks to film, television, books and history, brass bands, wrinkled stockings, bread and dripping, fish and chips and of course, the world famous Yorkshire Pudding are what people think it's like in this part of the world with isolated places like Hull being at the end of a 120 mile cul-de-sac (M62). Fishermen and fishermen's wives were famous or infamous icons now of a bygone age; whippets are largely confined to more rural or isolated areas of the north and only a diminishing generation now wear flat caps. The reality is that Yorkshire, with its fair share of deprivation like any other area has quietly slipped into into the modern world and no-one has really noticed. My personal view is that it should stay that way too.

Here's how John Brennan thinks a Yorkshireman with his broad accent might describe making a cup of tea:

Nah then, tha wants t'empty t'owd watter aht o' kettle and fill 'er up wi' fresh watter afoor tha puts it on t' ob. Get taypot reet nicely warmed and dry insahd, and then get thi tay in. Nah, as soon as t'kettle comes reet on t' boil an' not a second afoor or aftah, get watter pooared in t' pot.

Dooan't furget! Allus tek t' pot to t' kettle and not t' kettle to t'pot. Lerrit mash a fair wahl an' then girrit a stir afoor tha pooars it aht. Nah, thez summas puts milk in fust an' summas put tay in fust . To oor way o' thinkin', t'impooartant thing is to mek certain tha's med plenty fooar seconf 'elpin's!

This is my loose interpretation, forgive me for any mistakes:

Hello. You want to empty the old water out of the kettle and fill it up with fresh water before you put it on the gas ring. Get your teapot nicely warmed and dry inside and then put the tea in. Now, as the kettle comes to the boil, and not a second before or after, pour the water into the pot.

Don't forget, Always take the pot to the kettle and not the kettle to the pot. Let it mash a fair while then stir it before you pour it out. Now, there are those that put milk in first and some people put the tea in first. In our opinion, the important thing is to make certain that you've made enough before you have a second helping.

It's not only Yorkshiremen that put their foot in it when they speak, but another valiant band of our fine countrymen could do to sticking to what they do best - playing football. Here are some classic moments from broadcast or published interviews or commentary on the great game:

Paul Gascoigne famously said, "I never make predictions and I never will."

John Greig allegedly said, "The manager still has a fresh pair of legs up his sleeve."

Tom Ferrie came out with the classic, " Steve McCahill has limped off with a badly cut forehead."

Good old David Coleman from the BBC said, "If that had gone in, it would have been a goal."

John Lyall mixed his metaphors with, "On the Richter Scale, this defeat was a force eight gale."

Chat soon


Only 205 Shopping Days to Christmas...

I celebrated my birthday yesterday in grand style, working all day followed by an hour at home and then my psychic circle on the evening time, so not much time with the family, but just enough to spend time having a brief meal with my three lads. My wife doesn't celebrate birthday's or Christmas so birthdays for me are no longer a big deal; as long as the family are around - it's just fine.

My mother-in-law has been round to our house for Christmas several years running. This year were going to have a change and let her in!"
Les Dawson

I bought myself a couple of DVDs on cricket for my birthday, England's victory over the Aussies in the last test in 1981 and the whole of the 2005 England/Australia test series victory, both of which regained us the infamous 'Ashes'. I have had bought for me the complete comedy series from Channel 4 Black Books with the talented Bill Bailey, Dylan Moran and Tasmin Greig and the complete series of Rising Damp from the ITV programme of the 1970s - it ran from 1974 to 1978 - can you believe it - 35 years ago and some of the comedy is as good today as it was then with the much missed Leonard Rossiter, Don Warrington, the late Richard Beckinsale and Frances De La Tour. Lots of nights in exercising the chuckle muscles methinks.

Birthdays and Christmas prezzies are a great time to buy pragmatic presents, things that people will use and enjoy having rather than something that will be put in a cupboard and rot away through neglect and disinterest. We've started to
de-clutter, if that's the phrase as cupboards become fewer and fewer and there has been a danger that the house becomes untidy with things lying about because there's nowhere to put them. Those bits we cannot bring ourselves to get rid of are being placed in plastic storage boxes and placed in the garage, our current dumping room (it's never seen a car!) It's been quite exciting emptying some boxes and cupboards, amazed at what you find.

There are old photographs, long lost and almost forgotten which I have enjoyed looking at again even though I'm not a big fan of trawling through old pics just for something to pass the time. I'm going to scan some of the pics for my family history programme and come next winter, I might spend some time on my family history web-site when I will have more quality time to myself.

I've even found a good collection of Christmas cards I bought a couple of years ago in the January sales which I had completely forgotten about. For a long time I've been thinking about making a donation to a charity for what it costs me and letting people know that this will be the last year they'll get a card from me. I spent £60 in cards and stamps for 2008 Christmas which I could give to a good cause, but I can't make my mind up. Receiving a card from friends and relatives is nice and it's a chance to pop a note in for those I send cards to who I haven't seen for years to report on the progress of the family and any other news, but are people bothered? I suspect it's a generational thing.

I just need to buy myself some trainers
(which I don't normally wear) for my final birthday gift with a contribution from my mother and father for use on the newly acquired treadmill. A friend suggested a shop in Beverley, a local market town where the owner is an experienced runner (not that I'm going to be running God forbid) but I thought I would look after my feet and back etc., by walking in something more comfortable than I have now.

Finally a note on a new blog I have read run by a Malaysian philosophy student Lulu_Ma, which is very interesting and
thoughtful and has some delightful music playing while you read - have a look, you might like it:

And to finish today, here's a bit of more modern philosophy:

To do is to be - Rousseau

To be is to do - Sartre

Dobedobedo - Sinatra

Chat soon