Thursday, 28 November 2019

Business Class.

It has been a while since taking business class flights was part of the way that I travel. I haven't particularly missed it, or consciously even thought about it.

But recently, in my retired old age, it has cropped up in my thinking again. Just before I settle down for an afternoon nap in the cool of the reading room, I like to imagine that I am relaxing in a comfortable seat and that it will not be long before cocktails and a delectable meal will be served. 

Somehow this charade hastens a contented snooze. Upon awakening, afternoon tea and biscuits quickly brings a dose of reality. I come back to earth.

At least at home there is always plenty of leg room.

Noise Cancelling Headphones.

It has been made plain to me, that I am even less competent in understanding the complexities of modern technology than I had thought; and that is saying something.

In my innocence, I have been trying to source a pair of noise cancelling headphones, in the mistaken notion that when you wore them, they cancelled external noises and created a haven of peaceful silence within.

What I had not appreciated, was the fact that they create an internal cacophony of their own, as you have to use them to play some sounds of your choosing.

Sounds like a regime for future hearing problems.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Mosquito Bites.

It may be true that there is no evidence to prove that Tea Tree Oil acts as a deterrent for mosquitoes, but my experience is, that if the oil is applied to a mosquito bite, it is immediately soothed.

An application on a bite in the morning and another at night, helps to suppress the itch and the urge to scratch. The oil also helps to speed up the healing process.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019


If you are intending to make a journey by car, ensure that you are able to unlock the main gate padlock well before the expected time of departure.

It is an excellent idea to lubricate all padlocks regularly.

The fact that these obvious precautions are being mentioned, is evidence of the frailty of mankind to learn from experience.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

What The Sparrows Are Wearing.

It is hot here in the Philippines, and, as you can probably imagine, one of the ways to feel cooler is to wear less in the way of clothing.

Some Tree Sparrows had another idea in the garden this morning. They went for a good long splashing bathe in the water at the top of the waterfall.

These sparrows look much the same as those found the world over. Given the vast difference between air temperatures in the North and those in the Tropics, you would have thought that the feathers on the warm weather birds would be thinner and lighter.

They don't appear to be. All sparrow feathers seem to be similar, no matter the location. 

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Australian Soap.

This is my guilty secret. 
Despite being a critic of people watching TV soaps, especially such grainy and cheerless ones as East Enders and Coronation Street; I myself am a long term fan of Home and Away. At least it is filmed in the cheerful sunlight.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

The Greatest Novels of all Time.

Yesterday I was reading a list created by literary critics, which contained the names of what they considered to be the 100 greatest novels of all time. I had only read 31 of the books and I had not even heard of many of the titles.

So, just as a record of my own judgement about the greatest top five novels that I have read, I decided to compile my own list.

1. Shogun: by James Clavell. (1975)
This novel, which is set in Japan in 1600, appealed to me in many ways. It loosely follows actual events in history, when a shipwrecked English mariner became of use as an adviser to a powerful Shogun. It manages to capture just how much Japan was out of step with much of the world, due to its isolation policies. The intrigues, struggles and undercover romance are masterfully handled. To date I have read the book four times; and will try to read it again sometime.
I met the author once in the "Bottoms Up" club in Kowloon, but cannot quite claim a significant acquaintanceship. 

2. Cotillion: by Georgette Heyer. (1953)
Such a fuss has been made of the novels written by Jane Austen, but for pure delight, humour and escapism, the Regency novels by Georgette Heyer are hard to beat.
Cotillion is my particular favourite and I have read it three times. It contains a varied and zestful set of characters and the portrayal of them and their witty dialogues, makes you fly through the book much faster than you intend. You are loath to leave it and them as the end arrives.
My Mother was a fan of Georgette Heyer and introduced me to her novels when I was in my teens. I have enjoyed them ever since. Reading them will always give you a lift of spirits. 
My brother the Professor, did not read any of these books until he was in hospital in his late fifties. He thoroughly enjoyed them and corroborated the tonic effect.

3. Bambi: by Felix Saltern. (1928)
Many people have watched and loved Walt Disney's cartoon film Bambi, but few have ever read the book from which it was derived.
At primary school, I was slow to learn to read and lazy to attempt longer pieces. This book changed all that. I was entranced by the story and the sense of a human view of life within a forest, encompassing happiness and sadness; and life as it is delivered.
The chapter that remains most clearly in my memory,  dealt with the conversation between two leaves on a tree at the end of Autumn. By the end of the dialogue, Winter had come and their lives were over.
My own copy of this book was eaten by book worms in  Singapore. Years later l searched for a second hand copy on Abebooks and read it to my young son. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more.

4. Loss of Eden: by John Masters (1979 - 1981)
A bit of duplicity here, as this is actually a trilogy about the first world war, but the story is continuous throughout and involves descriptions of how British families adapted and dealt with the extreme changes that they met with. These powerful books go a long way towards capturing a close understanding of the social, physical and mental costs of war. I am surprised that they are not required reading in history lessons. Reading them left me with a profound respect for the generation which had to participate in and experience the devastating effects of the war. Above all, the story powerfully portrays the human tales which interlock to make an epic and spell binding tale.
The book tiles were: -
Now God be thanked (1979)
Heart of war (1980)
By the green of spring (1981)

5. Master and Commander: by Patrick O'Brian (1969)
As an ex-mariner, I have loved the Aubrey-Maturin series of 21 books, of which the above mentioned is the first.  They are set on board British naval vessels during the Napoleonic War. The breadth and accuracy of nautical knowledge from that era that is displayed by the author, is astounding. He is justly famous for the time he spent in historical research. These books are also notable for the depth in which the characters are portrayed and developed. The result is a splendid historical and personal saga, which grabs the imagination and holds it throughout the whole series. 
When I was about to read the first book, a friend remarked that I was lucky, as I still had the pleasure to come from reading all the other 20 books. He was right.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Next to Godliness.

When we were small, my Mother always made sure that we regularly changed our underwear, especially when we were going out. My brother and I could not understand the special significance of a change before going out of the house.

My Mother explained, that it in case we got run over on the road, she did not want the hospital to find us in soiled undergarments.

We pointed out that an accident would, perhaps, increase a soiling; blood, reflex excrement and what have you, but this argument did not curb her zeal. 

Her sons tried not to be disappointed that her reputation was more important to her than her worry about any injuries they might sustain.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Nothing to say.

Recently I updated my Blogger profile and noticed that it has been over three years since my last post. It made me pause a moment to reflect. There was never a reason to stop, it was just that suddenly, there was so much being written on various social media sites and it seemed that much of it was self important hot air.

My own musings also fitted that description and it occurred to me, that with so much instant wordage flying about, that visits to an inconsequential blog like this one, would be rare events.

A lot of things have happened during the intervening three years. I have strong opinions about many things, but I can't help but notice that free thinking ideas are suppressed and discouraged in these conformist and virtue signalling days. It is not a healthy trend.

So here is a post about nothing and another warmish cloud of gas.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Imported Night Worker.

As usual on a Saturday morning, I pulled into the Exmouth Shell station forecourt to buy petrol and a newspaper.

The regular cashier was not on duty and the replacement Asian caretaker said that she was off sick. Luckily she had informed him in sufficient time for him to take over.

I asked him if he was living locally and he told me that he had driven down from London and would return there after his night shift ended at 8 am.

Apparently, the outlet were unable to find a willing replacement near at hand; and as closing was not an option, this chap had made the three hour, 250 mile trip, to fill in; and would make the same journey in reverse, afterwards.

Just another example of why immigrants are often an employer's first preference, and deservedly so.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Milk Miles.

Our milk is still delivered the old fashioned way - on a milk float, in pint bottles, right to our doorstep. This service has not changed much since they did away with the horse drawn trap carrying milk churns.

As we were going away for a day, I had occasion to call the dairy to cancel a bottle of milk.

Imagine my surprise to find myself talking to a lady in a call centre in Manila. My request was handled efficiently, but rather slowly due accentual differences between the language as spoken in England and the Philippines.

A long range transaction for a simple task.

A pint of milk was still delivered on the day we were absent.

It is the way we are now.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

A Bum Outcome.

At the A&E department of a local hospital yesterday, surgeons were called to operate to remove a dead rat from the rectum of a male patient, who was gay.

One can only wonder what they thought, as they carried out this unusual task. 

Under hospital regulations, they were required to report the matter to the police.

The crime in question? Cruelty to animals. 

Monday, 14 September 2015

More Signs Of Old Age.

  • You are awoken from a solitary peaceful afternoon nap, by enthusiastic help-the-aged volunteers, who insist that you are lonely and press you to accompany them to a happy - clappy rave, for tea and biscuits.
  • Your contemporaries grinningly greet you by saying: -"Hello young man. "
  • What remains of your taste buds, demand stronger, more pungent food, so that they can at least experience something during a refuelling session.
  • To label you Thick Skinned, would be a misnomer. The layer in question, is as fragile as gossamer wings and tears even more easily. 
  • You are unable to hear much, because you're deaf as a post. However, you refuse to wear a hearing aid, on the grounds that it will make you look ancient.
  • You are against modern replica medical aids, which is why the set of false teeth that you sport, was reputedly part of a job lot obtained from the Waterloo battlefields.
  • If you have to provide a meal for guests at home, you pretend that you are not hungry and then serve them with some bread and cheese, carefully scraping off any mould from the latter.
  • If in hunger and desperation, they then take you out for a meal, you eat a hearty three and a half courses and wash it all down with a bottle of claret.  
  • It is your attempt to help save the Rain Forests and not meanness, that is the reason you no longer send any Christmas cards.
  • Your all time TV heroes were Jack Benny and Phil Silvers. 
  • Whilst driving, you are so slow, that when entering a 30 mph area, you have to speed up to get anywhere near that number.
  • Having done so, you get so wildly excited, that you experience an adrenaline dawdle. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Signs Of Old Age.

You know that you are getting there when: -

  • Bending down to tie your shoe laces, is one of the harder exercises in your workout routine.
  • You have forgotten the word for that medical condition where you forget things.
  • Statins are one of your five a day; and the other four are also medications. 
  • You are of an age to be positively sure that the word niggardly has absolutely nothing to do with racial stereotypes.   
  • You equate gay with being happy.
  • Feeding the birds is your major social activity.
  • You are afraid to visit your Doctor in case he finds something.
  • You can't complain about life, but you do.
  • Even doing mild exercise, you sound like someone giving birth and not delivering.
  • Your wife calls you Dad in the family context and people assume she actually is your daughter.
  • It is your belief that even your kids have more sense than the politicians.
  • You get quite tiddly after half a glass of lager. 
  • The combination of jowls and a turkey neck gives you a face a Shar Pei dog would be proud of.
  • Flabby lips mean that you drool at night and can't whistle by day.
  • You can only cope with porridge for breakfast and even that seems to be too crunchy. 
  • It takes you so long to have a pee, that by the time you have finished, you are ready for another one.
  • The memory hard drive in your brain, is so full that it takes you a long while to process things.
  • Your core values and cherished beliefs, are now so contentious, that you are afraid to mention them.
  • If you buy a new pair of shoes, you suspect that they may last you a lifetime.
  • You know that you are going, but can't believe that you will. 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

A Fan - (Gym Sips 16)

It was hot in the gym today and a chap on one of the exercise bikes, had disabled the ceiling fan swing, so that all the cool air was directed at him.

Arriving on the next cycle, I asked whether we could share the fan.

He indicated, (not at all politely,) that he did not wish to share.

I said "OK" and directed the fan fully at myself.

He looked bewildered and annoyed, but said nothing.

How cool was I.


Sunday, 19 April 2015

Learner Lovers.

Enthusiastic and youthful learner drivers, who may have passed their test, but who are not nearly as proficient as they fondly believe, pay a premium for their insurance as they are regarded as a poor risk. The statistics prove that this group of drivers suffer a disproportionate number of crashes.

It is equally understood, that young learner lovers are also unduly at risk, as testosterone and the pressure of the genes for procreation at any cost, produce a reckless feeling of certainty and invulnerability. 

We all have to go through the phases and if care is not taken, some of us get injured along the way.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A Bird For Britain.

Who are you voting for in the election? No, not the General Election, but the parallel one, being run to select a bird of the wild ornithological kind, as a symbol with which to represent Britain.

This kind of pigeon-holing, (excuse the pun,) is not the kind of thing the British normally go in for. We tend to regard such things as being the preserve of new nations, as they search for an image to project their identity.

It has been pointed out, that the French rugby team proudly wears their cock emblem on their kit. Well, the England team display the rose. Why should they need a bird as well?

If we have to have a national bird, why stop at that? Could we have a national insect too? And how about a national animal, fish and invertebrate. The list and elections could go on a long time.

Although I will not be voting, I found the selected bird candidates intriguing. It was surprising that Carrion Crow did not make it to the short-list.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Changing The Changing. (Gym Slips 15)

On going to the gym, I strode purposely into the men's dry changing room.
Inside was a middle aged lady completely in the nude.

My first thoughts were: "Shock. Amnesia? Alzheimer's?"

"I believe you are in the wrong changing room," I said with conviction.
"No, it is you who are in the wrong place," came the reply. "They are cleaning our room and as the  large sign on the door says, we are in here today."
"Gulp." Abject apology.

"I knew this would happen," continued the lady.
"If you knew this would happen," I thought, "Why are you standing here in the nude?"
I beat a scrambled and disorderly retreat.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Not So Smart.

In an era when more people of the age of 16 have a smart phone than have a father living with them; and getting on for 70% of the general UK population also have one, I thought that it was time that gave way to modernity and joined them.

In truth, I had not intended to buy a smart phone, but I had been talking about them with my son and was aware of just how pricey they could be. He did however, interest me by saying just how useful they were, quite apart from being used as a phone. It was New Year and I was in town to buy a litre of milk. The sales were on and out of idle interest I just checked how much a phone similar to my son's would cost. Fatal mistake. I discovered that I could save £210 on the prices quoted the day before, if I bought the last remaining phone of this model in the shop today. It actually proved to be a genuinely remarkable price and with this flimsy justification I went ahead with the purchase.

Now most people will not need for me to say anything about the functions of smart phones. They have had them for ever and would be seriously ill if forced to part with them, being unsure how to continue their everyday lives. But in my case, as a person who only spent 20p on mobile telephone calls in the whole of last year, the whole range of apps. and what they could achieve, came as an eye opener and a shock. The shock emanated from a realisation of just how much these functions would cost, if being used in a mainstream fashion.

After getting used to the device and living with it for two weeks, I have come to the conclusion that I am one of those people who really do not need such a phone. I can see that they are interesting and can do many things that must be useful to the majority of people leading busy lives. But that is just the point. I am retired. I am not a communicator and only my wife and son have my mobile number. I have nothing to do with Facebook, Tweets, Chats or anything of that nature. I don't carry a phone round with me and when I go out driving, I take my old basic mobile phone in case I need the roadside assistance provided by the RAC, (and in case I lose the new phone.)

With the smart phone I am a pay-as-you go customer, but connecting to the internet is cheaper when using my computer, as are most things that I require, all of which can be done from home. Meanwhile this new phone has already cost me £9.99 for a case and protective film for the screen, that equates to 49.95 years of usage at my previous usage rate!  I thought I could be modern, but it turns out I am not a suitable candidate for so much connectivity. No one will miss me.


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Gym Recognition. (Gym Slips 14)

If you are a member of a gym and attend it regularly, you get to see a lot of people over the course of a year. Some of them drift in and out. Some just make fleeting visits and some you see once and then never again.

There are of course, a batch of regulars and even if you don't know who they are, they are easily recognised and you get to see them more then most people that you interact with during the rest of the day.

After a while you get to exchange greetings, learn their first name and then gradually set up locker room friendships. New comers are always watched carefully to see how they behave and just how they fit in with the gym routines and whether they observe stated gym regulations. After a period of observation they are gradually accepted and spoken to, starting with just a brief word or two of acknowledgement.

It is strange, that when a member is talking about another member, they will often identify them, not by how they look or dress, but by their gym routine and just what items of equipment they use.

This is an interesting piece of human behaviour, in a group which meet each other regularly, but do not really know each other at all. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Ignoring The Rules. (Gym Slips 13)

A Dad and his two small sons were in the swimming pool early today. They were hotel guests and it was immediately obvious, that the father was of the opinion that his two children could do what ever they liked and that the clearly posted rules did not apply to him or his.

However, when one small lad went into the jacuzzi, one brave lady swimmer, told him that as he was under 14 years old, he was not allowed to do that. The father made a lot of noise about it, but she stuck firmly to her guns and said emphatically that "Rules were rules," and that they were there because of health and safety regulations.

The two small boys then started dive bomb jumping into the pool, splashing and discomforting another middle aged lady swimmer. She also told them this too was against the rules.

This was too much for the father, who let loose a tirade about how jumping into the pool was not mentioned in the rules, even though it was mentioned clearly on the nearby list in big letters. He was so angry, that I thought for a moment he was going to lash out. Luckily, one of the members of staff, arrived and also told the boys that jumping was prohibited.

I was really impressed with the two ladies who stuck up for what is right; no easy task in these days, when many people seem unable to be corrected without returning abuse and even violence. The incident did however, put paid to any enjoyment of their morning swim.

The man in question was teaching his children, that rules are meant to be ignored or bent and in doing so he was helping to propagate the trend towards a bent society. 


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Mee Goreng Recipe.

Ingredients: -

  • 4 Table spoons vegetable cooking oil
  • 1 Medium onion, sliced
  • 250 Grams minced lamb
  • Half jar (95 grams) "Woh Hup" Singapore Mee Goreng Paste
  • 4 piece fried bean curd, cut into small cubes
  • 1 Tomato, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 Green chillies, chopped after removing seeds
  • Quarter of 1 sweetheart cabbage, shredded
  • 2 Medium potatoes or sweet potatoes, boiled and cubed.
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 2 Cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 Packet fresh yellow egg noodles (375 grams.)
  • 2 Table spoons soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 lime, quartered.


  1. Heat the oil in wok and fry the minced lamb until cooked through.
  2. Add the onions and green chillies, cook for five minutes.
  3. Add Mee Goreng paste and fry for three minutes until fragrant.
  4. Add cabbage, tomatoes and bean sprouts. Stir fry about 5 minutes.
  5. Now add potatoes and fry briefly.
  6. Add noodles and sprinkle with soy sauce. Fry until hot.
  7. Move ingredients to one side of wok.
  8. In free space, cook thin layers of egg until dry and chopped.
  9. Stir egg into the noodles and add bean curd and seasoning.
  10. Continue to stir fry until hot and not too soggy.
  11. Sprinkle with lime juice for a taste burst and serve.

Makes 3 or 4 portions.


Monday, 11 August 2014


These days it is not the norm to wear swimming trunks and most chaps wear long shorts with flowery patterns on them, in a style thought to vaguely resemble Hawaiian surfing toggery.

But for me, the extra effort of dragging all that material weight through the water when going for a swim, is something I would prefer not to do.

The problem is, that it is now difficult to find suitable swimming trunks in the shops and it is even harder to find trunks that fit.

Not long ago, I bought a large pair, after reading that this waist size suited my measurements. Unfortunately, these were too large and if I was not careful, there was a danger of my coconuts dropping out of a leg hole.

Undaunted, I then bought a medium pair of a similar design. Alas, these were too small, to a degree which encouraged the aforementioned coconuts, to retract into the abdominal cavity.

Why is it so hard to find a suitable fit? I blame it on the trend for generalised sizing. If you are not exactly in the middle of a small, medium, large or extra large pattern, you are forced into a fringe fitting, barely suitable for your needs.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Bird Table Cage.

Because the larger birds like Wood Pigeons, Jackdaws and Magpies, have been monopolizing the bird table for months, gobbling up all the food put there in minutes, the smaller birds have been left with little to feed them on the table. Latterly, I stopped putting food out entirely. It was just too expensive for no good returns. 

Now however, the small birds are the chosen ones. This week I fitted the bird table with a protective cage, which effectively keeps out larger birds and even squirrels. 

To begin with I was sceptical that the birds would enter the enclosed space, after all, it does resemble a trap. I also thought that even the largest apertures, (30 mm square,) would not be big enough to allow Blackbirds entry.

It took only a day for the local birds to case the joint and add it to their go to zones. Now they are popping in an out in an unconcerned fashion. They are in fact much safer as they feed. Blackbirds have a bit of a squeeze, but nothing uncomfortable. Best of all, any food placed on the table, lasts them much longer than in the days of the pushy plunderers.

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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Lucky Coin.

On Sunday I went for an early swim. Afterwards, I had a leisurely shower and was feeling so relaxed, that I forgot to take back the pound coin that I had used in the changing room locker.

Like most people, I dislike losing anything, especially money. I was disgruntled with myself and that night I slept poorly.

I was at the gym again late on Monday afternoon. I used the same locker. Imagine my surprise to discover that my coin was still in the locking mechanism.

How lucky is that? 

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Audio Mismatches. (Gym Slips 12.)

They play canned music at the gym. Mostly it is loud. That's often the way in gyms.

But the management knows, that because their client base ranges in age from 16 to about 90, not everybody appreciates high decibel disco, so thoughtfully they have provided a period between 10:00 to 14:00 where the music is played very quietly or even, is off altogether. (Heavenly.)

You would have thought that the members themselves would accept this and fit in with the scheme, as dictated by their personal preferences.

Not a bit of it. One elderly lady will always try to get the music switched off, even outside the quiet period. She refuses to wear ear protectors and she does not care that other user's wish for and are within their rights to listen to some inspirational sound, while pumping iron and heart muscles.

Another chap just can't get enough volume. He does not ask to ramp up the volume, he just opens up the control box cabinet and ups the level himself, if none of the attendants are nearby.

Many people use their own headsets to listen to their own music on phones and iPod's,  whilst others use them to listen to the TV programs available on the screens attached to the exercise machines. If the ambient sound in the gym is too high, they often find it difficult to hear these other sounds.

It is hard to satisfy everyone. That is the sound-bite for today.


Saturday, 5 April 2014

Predictable Planning Permission.

In cases where planning permission is refused for projected house-building projects, the developers just keep on applying. They know that they only have to win once to achieve their aim. They also know that the government will favour them, because of the need for more houses, fuelled by the population explosion and the increase of single parent families.

We now find ourselves the predictable loser in such a weighted contest. The owners of a site, which abuts our property to the north, have already got permission to knock down their house and build a block of twelve flats.

In addition to this, they have been trying for the last four years, to get permission to build a bungalow in a small patch of back garden, in close proximity to our house. This has been refused three times by the district council, as the application violated a number of criteria, not least of which was, density of build footprint compared to site size; and the likelihood of causing privacy intrusion to a number of existing properties.

Not content with these refusals, the developers took the matter to appeal and were given approval.

You have to wonder how such a system can be fair. At a local level, planning permission was withheld on three separate occasions, for well documented reasons, but at governmental level, the same application is just waved through after appeal.

No wonder so much disgust is felt about such a system. In the climate of distrust which prevails in our nation at present, one wonders if coffee money has made a comeback.  

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Peanut Butter.

When I was growing up just after the end of the second world war, many things were still rationed. Butter was one of them. So it was with great interest that our family opened a food parcel sent to us from Canada, which contained a jar of peanut butter. 

This was not the smooth, well mixed product that we buy today, but a rather dry paste, measuring two thirds of the jar, topped by some peanut oil. To use it, it was necessary to mix it for quite a while with a knife.

My mother had no real notion of how to serve this spread, as she had never seen any during her lifetime.

However, she knew what butter was and she latched on to that word. Because it was butter, we were not allowed to spread our bread with dairy butter before applying the peanut butter. Consequently, the bread with peanut butter that we were given, tasted dry and sticky.

For many years after that, I was not at all partial to peanut butter. Only when, in later years, we discovered that it tasted great on bread on top of dairy butter, did I become a confirmed fan. 

My idiosyncrasy of also applying chilli sauce to peanut butter sandwiches, would have seemed mind-blowingly strange to my sheltered mother.


Sunday, 16 March 2014

Elderly Jeans.

At Cowick Barton during lunch yesterday, a troop of twelve elderly ladies arrived and took the next table to me.

They all appeared to be over eighty, but were sprightly enough with the aid of their sticks. I was struck by how well groomed and lively they seemed. They were organized and articulate and they were enjoying themselves.

Fashion trends go with age groups. Here were displayed neat permed and rinsed hair, sensible cardigans and large costume jewellery with silken scarves.

I must confess that I found the sight of three of them wearing neat, unfaded jeans, incongruous. Undoubtedly practical perhaps, but to me, it seemed like an unseemly repudiation of passing years and good dress sense.   

At least none of them were wearing trainers.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Visiting A Bakery.

Going to the bakery is a dangerous business.

If you are watching your weight, most of the items on sale will be off limits, or restricted, or so the experts tell us.

"But no!" say the bakers. "There is nothing in here which is fattening or unhealthy."

The staff behind the counters are all temptresses. They beguile the customers with honeyed words and alluring buns. 

Your wife may forbid you to visit. She knows the place is full of crumpet.

Despite all this, sales are brisk. You make a furtive purchase and escape with it wrapped in a brown paper bag. It is time to hide in an alley and lick the cream from a Danish split.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Chinese Year Of The Horse.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Key Disposal.

An elderly gentleman had parked his car near the glass recycling bin at the supermarket this morning.

He disposed of his bottles and jars and returned to his car.

He was then in a state of considerable agitation, panic even, as it seems that he had also recycled his car keys as well.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

A Bloke's Guide To Christmas Cooking. (1)

 Christmas lunch is over in our house today and I have heaved myself up from the festive board, to pen a few thoughts about us chaps cooking this meal and a few tips for any who would like to do it, (cook,) but feel daunted or intimidated by the plethora of written works on the subject.
The first thing to understand is, that it is actually very easy to prepare a fairly complete Christmas
lunch, with no fuss and not very much effort.

There are two major tips to learn before you start: -
  1. Don't read any cookery books on the subject
  2. Wash utensils as you go and you will have nothing to do later, but eat.

Cookery writers have to earn their keep and they have a vested interest in making things sound as difficult as possible. You will have seen articles about cooking the turkey, that promulgate complicated equations about weight, times and temperatures. You could send a turkey to the moon if you followed all their science.

We are going to take a more fool-proof approach. Let's face it, that will be more our style.

First off, don't buy a fresh turkey. A frozen turkey will be just as tasty, despite the "foodies" extolling the fresh ones. Honestly, there is very little difference in the taste and your family will be unable to detect anything subtle, especially after a few glasses of whatever libation you are serving.

What you will notice a huge difference in, is the price. Our 10 lb, (4.6 kg)
frozen bird bought in November and as solid as a rock, cost £14. I see them hawking the same sized fresh carcasses for $38 or more at the butchers this week, and get this, you actually have to queue to get them.

Now for the cooking: -
  1. Read the label.
  2. Defrost the bird in it's wrapping for about 24 hours.
  3. Before cooking, unwrap the bird and take out any spare parts, (neck, giblets and what have you,) that are stuffed into the body or neck cavities, Discard these. Giblet gravy is just an affectation.
  4. Dump the bird breast up in a suitable roasting tin.
  5. Loosely cover the legs and wings with aluminium foil and put a sheet loosely over the breast.
  6. Preheat the oven to whatever it says on the wrapping and when ready, put the tin and bird into the oven and set the timer for whatever it says. (Roughly 3 hours for a 4.6 kg bird at 190C.)
  7. 40 minutes before cooking end time, remove all the foil to allow those protected areas to brown.
  8. End time. Remove bird from oven. Place on plate. Done. 


Saturday, 21 December 2013

News Flash.

Have you noticed the long term trend in television news reporting?

In nearly every report which contains video footage, the presenter will warn us that the clip contains flash photography or flashing images.

It is true that some people might be affected by these, if they suffer from epilepsy for example; but do we need these constant safety reminders? Surely one announcement at the beginning of the program would suffice. 

Now that they are warming to warning themes, newscasters are increasingly starting to give notice that a report may contain images which some people might find distressing.

Listening to the news on a radio seems to be an obvious solution for a population too timid to witness life in the raw.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

No Room At The Gym. (Gym Slips 11)

The dry changing room at the gym is fairly small and although there are some lockers, there are not a lot of pegs for hanging clothes.

This being the case, I was astounded, (I think the word is not an exaggeration,) to see one chap arrive and use seven different pegs for his apparel, one peg for each item of clothing, except for his socks, which shared a peg.

Whether this was a display of total disregard for the convenience of others, or lateral vision gone mad, I could not be sure.

When someone behaves like this, it colours your view of them henceforth. 


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Showers For The Three Bears.

There are three shower cubicles in one of the changing rooms at the gym.
  • The first shower is at high pressure and is far too hot.
  • The second shower is tepid and counts as being too cold.
  • The third shower is just right, but you can never get into it.
Everybody knows the characteristics and makes for number three.
I'm not sure who did the pumbing, but it was surely done in-house.

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Saturday, 2 November 2013

Household Waste.

A report which featured in the newspapers the other day, claimed that an average family in the UK wasted and threw away almost £500 worth of food each year.
Just how do they come up with such a number? Obviously a limited survey has to be undertaken, but how realistic are the conclusions reached? If a family is really throwing away about £9.60 worth of food a week, is it at all likely that they have not noticed the deficit and made a suitable correction to their weekly shopping budget, especially as the recession has disadvantaged the standard of living of many people?
In our own case, all I can remember throwing away this year, was a packet of raspberries (£2.00) and an egg which was found to be bad. I just do not believe those figures represent family wastage. It is far more likely that the figure takes into account disposal of unwanted food from professional catering establishments and perhaps even spoilage in the retail trade.