The Best Interview Questions





I was having a bit of a declutter and came across a few notebooks from my time working on local newspapers. In one of them were notes of interviews for a new trainee reporter.
All these earnest young men and women trooped through our doors, clutching their cuttings and nervously answered our questions - or, is some cases, cockily answered our questions. We would make a choice and hope we had made the right selection. 

Intelligence, writing ability, an inquiring mind, interviewing skill and network of contacts all helped but they were never the full story. You could still get lumbered with someone as pleasant to work with as a typhoid carrier. Unfortunately, rigorous though our interview procedure was, the candidates were never asked all the right questions. They should have been grilled on the following:

1. How often will you bring cake to work? What type of cake will it be? (Points added for chocolate and cream, deducted for plain.)

2. Do you have any unsocial habits? (Points deducted for crotch-scratching, nose-picking, farting and regular belching.)

3. Are you full of useless bits of information, like who won the FA Cup in 1992 or who sang Rhinestone Cowboy? It’s very important to be well-versed in trivia for random office conversations.

4. Can you listen to long and tedious stories from older colleagues without yawning or raising your eyes to heaven in that, “What’s the boring old fart on about now?” kind of a way? This would be important to me personally.

5. Similarly, can you simulate uproarious laughter when older colleagues tell what they perceive is a joke, even if it's as funny as having a bucket of cold custard thrown over you?

6. Do you know any celebrities about whom you can gossip? Exaggeration is perfectly acceptable, although there must be a glimmer of truth in the story. 

7. Are you a smart arse? Smart arses who always think they are right are certainly not acceptable colleague material. There's only one person in this office who is always right - and you're talking to her.










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Marriage - '60s Style




I was at secondary school in the '60s. In those days there wasn't much in the way of sex education. We were shown a video which mainly featured rabbits with some brief explanation of how this related to humans, which left most of us totally puzzled! (I wrote about this HERE.)

There was not even a nod towards equality between the sexes when it came to marriage. The man was in charge. End of.

This is an actual mind-boggling extract from a sex education school textbook for girls, printed in the early 60s in the UK:

When retiring to the bedroom, prepare yourself for bed as promptly as possible. Whilst feminine hygiene is of the utmost importance, your tired husband does not want to queue for the bathroom, as he would have to do for his train. But remember to look your best when going to bed. Try to achieve a look that is welcoming without being obvious. If you need to apply face-cream or hair-rollers wait until he is asleep as this can be shocking to a man last thing at night.

When it comes to the possibility of intimate relations with your husband it is important to remember your marriage vows and in particular your commitment to obey him. If he feels that he needs to sleep immediately then so be it. In all things be led by your husband's wishes; do not pressure him in any way to stimulate intimacy. 

Should your husband suggest congress then agree humbly all the while being mindful that a man's satisfaction is more important than a woman's. When he reaches his moment of fulfilment a small moan from yourself is encouraging to him and quite sufficient to indicate any enjoyment that you may have had.

Should your husband suggest any of the more unusual practices be obedient and uncomplaining but register any reluctance by remaining silent. It is likely that your husband will then fall promptly asleep so adjust your clothing, freshen up and apply your night-time face and hair care products. You may then set the alarm so that you can arise shortly before him in the morning. This will enable you to have his morning cup of tea ready when he awakes.


Now, ladies. I suspect you have been disobeying some of these rules after retiring to the bedroom. Time to get back on the straight and narrow. After all, should your husband suggest congress you should agree humbly. Start practising those small moans to encourage him - don't forget this: Should your husband suggest congress then agree humbly all the while being mindful that a man's satisfaction is more important than a woman's.

How times have changed. At least, I hope they have!




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How To Slow Down Old Age



I'm not particularly worried about getting old as I intend to spend the twilight of my years as disgracefully as I can. I say "getting old" but I'm afraid I have to admit to myself that I have "got old".

Even so, I have made sure daytime TV, milk puddings, elastic stockings and discussing my health with random strangers do not figure in my life. 

In fact, you could well see me out and about in an Afghan coat, platform shoes and bell bottom trousers. If you do, don't assume I have lost my few remaining marbles, I will be endeavouring to slow down my gallop into old age.

Let me explain, I recently read some research which found that recreating your heyday could trick your mind into thinking you were living in that era and your body would follow suit.



The subjects of this research began the study with varying degrees of immobility and ill health. They were taken back to the 1970s, spending a week in a house which  had all the trappings of that glorious era, complete with a Teasmade, fondue set, pineapple and cheese on sticks, swirly wallpaper and lurid carpets. They were cut off from contemporary television and newspapers.

They began to forget their aches and pains and get a new lease of life as they not only remembered their glory days but began to live them all over again. It was quite uplifting and showed how important a positive mental attitude is when it comes to ageing. The six went through a battery of physical tests when they started the experiment and again when they left the house. All of them showed a significant improvement.



The study was run by Professor Ellen Langer who passionately believes we can all be healthier in old age. As there are more people in the UK over 80 than there are under 16, it is vital to improve the health of the elderly.

I've decided to drift back to the 1970s too and wear those clothes I mentioned early. So I'm on the lookout for some "props". If anyone has an eight-track player, fondue set or Betamax video recorder tucked away in their attic, let me know - I'll be round on my Lambretta to pick them up.







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Desirable (?) Collections






There I was up in the attic looking for some Tupperware I stored away in the 1990s -  my young neighbour having shown some interest in the brightly coloured plastic containers - when I came across a box of what I can only describe as "sundry items". There were albums, ornaments and postcards in varying stages of deterioration.

Word of advice. Never admit to collecting anything. Not unless every birthday and Christmas you want to be given more of those ‘desirable’ objects long after your herd of elephant ornaments has packed its trunk and trundled off up to the attic.

I myself have been guilty of taking the easy way out, buying gifts with little thought, because what could be easier than to find a present for a collector? 

 I don’t suppose children these days collect stamps but everyone did when I was at primary school. It was quite exciting finding stamps for all the countries and sticking them in your album…exciting for about a week.

A couple of terms later with those albums consigned to the darkest reaches of a bedroom cupboard behind the jigsaw puzzles with one piece missing and the counter-less Ludo sets, fond elderly relatives were still giving me little packets of brightly-coloured stamps, from countries like Sverige, Ruandi Urundi or Helvetia.

In my 20s there was a brief period when I collected ornaments shaped like shoes and handbags. I still have them somewhere and harbour a hope that one day people will suddenly wake up and decide that all they want to make their life complete is a four-inch high pottery handbag with matching shoes and is willing to pay a ton of money for the privilege.

Dinky toys are another collectable and these little cars which cost a few pence in the 1950s are now worth hundreds if they are in good condition. My brothers had dozens of these when they were young - if only they had kept them, preferably in their original boxes. But like all normal children they threw away the packaging and played with the toys until they fell to pieces.

Then I came across a story on the internet about a Winnie The Pooh fan. Unlike most people, her passion for Pooh (ew!) never waned and over the years she spent $100,000 on Winnie the Pooh memorabilia.

Although no value has been put on this pile of Pooh, among her 8,900 items is a limited-edition bee worth $1,000 and bears dating back to 1960 which could also be worth hundreds of dollars each.

So I’m back up to the attic to look for my box of ornamental shoes and handbags. Maybe among them is a rare facsimile of a Christian Louboutin shoe which will make me enough money to go out and buy a whole wardrobe full of the real thing.

I live in hopes. 





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Don't Worry, Be Happy


Extreme ironing; Don't try this at home, folks!



It's a sad fact that the Covid pandemic has seen an increase in mental health problems, particularly in young people. It's heartbreaking that many teenagers, who should be embracing life, are struggling.


When I look back to my own teenage years, I can’t remember a lot of angst beyond worrying about whether my latest boyfriend was going to dump me and trying, usually in vain, to get my homework done on time. Exams were stressful but I was blessed with two parents who told me only to do my best and not that I was washed up for life should I fail Grade 2 in Underwater Basket-Weaving and Extreme Ironing.


I wasn't worried about my image. My father often shook his head in despair at what I was wearing - my purple maxi coat with the puffed sleeves springs to mind - but I carried blithely on. The only way I would have known if I had put on a few pounds would be if my school uniform got tighter – because I never weighed myself. Now experts warn that an epidemic of anorexia is sweeping through schools.


There is a huge list of things teenagers are worrying about including bullying, featuring negatively on social media, grades, getting into university or college, body image, family conflict, friends turning on them, sex and relationships and global warming to mention a few.


There was very little bullying in my school and social media wasn't in existence. In fact, there were no home computers in existence. Yes, I'm that old!


I don’t doubt that I am looking back through rose-tinted spectacles and I know there were times when I felt like the whole world was against me, but my friends and I never reached the stage where we required mental health treatment.


I don't know what the answer is but Unicef has given some advice in Four Things You Can Do To Support Your Teens Mental Health.


If you are worried about anything, listen to this little song - guaranteed to cheer anyone up!



And to cheer yourself up even more, read this book!



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Those No Hopers, Jokers and Rogues


No Hopers, Jokes and Rogues by the Fisherman's Friends

It's good to be good, of course, but it's the no hopers, jokers and rogues who make life interesting. Who doesn't love a joker to cheer up a grey day? Who hasn't laughed at the antics of the rogues in their life? Even the no hopers have their place, even if it's just to remind you that maybe your life isn't so bad after all.

When it comes to scoundrels, I must admit to a sneaking admiration for one Victor Lustig who in the early part of the last century sold the Eiffel Tower - twice.  As you might have guessed, it wasn't his to sell!

He read how difficult and expensive it was for the city to  repair and maintain the Eiffel Tower and some had called for its removal. This gave the ever inventive Lustig an idea for a scam. He hired a forger to make fake government stationery and invited a group of scrap metal dealers to a meeting. He introduced himself as  the deputy director-general of the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs and told them the French government wished to sell the Eiffel Tower for scrap.  



He singled out AndrĂ© Poisson, an insecure man who wanted to rise in the Parisian business community, as a likely mark. 

Lustig convinced Poisson that he was a corrupt official who wanted to make money from the deal and Poisson agreed to pay a large bribe to secure ownership. He handed over 70,000 francs, about $1m in today's money. Lustig ran away to Austria.

Lustig banked on the belief that Poisson would be too embarrassed to admit he had been conned. He was right so Lustig returned to Paris to pull off the scheme once more. This time, however, the group wasn't quite so gullible and the police were informed. Lustig fled to America, where he attempted to scam Al Capone - but that's another story!





Here are the lyrics to No Hopers, Jokers and Rogues, if you want to sing along:

Come all you no hopers, you jokers and rogues
We're on the road to nowhere, let's find out where it goes
It might be a ladder to the stars, who knows?
Come all you no hopers, you jokers and rogues
Leave all your furrows in the fields where they lie
Your factories and offices, kiss them all goodbye
Have a little faith in the dream maker in the sky
There's glory in believing in
And it's all in the beholder's eye
Come all you no hopers, you jokers and rogues
We're on the road to nowhere, let's find out where it goes
It might be a ladder to the stars, who knows?
Come all you no hopers, you jokers and rogues
Turn off your engines and slow down your wheels
Suddenly your master plan loses its appeal
Everybody knows that this reality's not real
So raise a glass to all things past
And celebrate how good it feels
Come all you no hopers, you jokers and rogues
We're on the road to nowhere, let's find out where it goes
It might be a ladder to the stars, who knows?
Come all you no hopers, you jokers and rogues
Wash in the sea of our own vanity
We should rejoice in our individuality
Though winds, gail force
Will stear our course to insanity
Come all you no hopers, you jokers and rogues
We're on the road to nowhere, let's find out where it goes
It might be a ladder to the stars, who knows?
Come all you no hopers, you jokers and rogues
Come all you no hopers, you jokers and rogues
We're on the road to nowhere, let's find out where it goes
It might be a ladder to the stars, who knows?
Come all you no hopers, you jokers and rogues

* In memory of tour manager Paul McMullen and singer Trevor Grills who died in a tragic accident in 2013 when a steel door fell on them while preparing for a show at Guildford. 





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Insta Icons



Before (right)  and after (left). I personally prefer the 'before'.


A quick look through Instagram and you may get the impression that the vast majority of people are fabulously flawless, living spectacular lives in their impressive homes. You may, as you sit there in your tatty cardy with hair that looks as if it's been chewed by rats, feel you have been judged and found sadly lacking.

The truth, of course, is that many of these Insta icons have been filtered, air-brushed, photo-shopped and painted to within an inch of their lives. 

I came across a website showing some before and after pictures. It must be my age because to my eyes, a lot of them looked better in the before pics - not least because many are appallingly inept at photo editing.

Don't believe me? Look at this one:



'Oo, my backside looks nice and pert in this picture. No one will ever know it's been photoshopped.' Oh no? Look at the background, girl - was there an earthquake in progress measuring 7 on the Richter Scale?

Some look as if they've had a nasty accident with a power tool which has whittled away vital parts of their anatomy.



Still, I can console myself with the thought that I am at least half way to being an Insta icon. I may not have a petite waist but I do have a humongous arse.




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A Hopefully Happy New Year




Happy New Year, everyone. 

Have you made your New Year resolutions? Last year I resolved to take up a raft of self-improvements including eating less, spending less and exercising more. But here I am a year later no thinner, richer or fitter. And seemingly no wiser as I have drawn up a new list for 2022.

This year my resolutions include the vow to make more lists. I have to, otherwise I forget what I’m supposed to be doing. I've got to that age where I forget what day it is, where I've left my car in the car park or why I've walked into rooms - usually to look for my glasses which I've put down but can't remember where. At least my friends know their secrets are safe with me. As soon as they've imparted some hush-hush piece of information, I've forgotten who is doing what with whom and where by the time I've ordered my second glass of wine. Which reminds me. I must add "drink less red wine" to that resolutions list.

I am the woman who prepared a delicious casserole for the slow cooker before going out for the day. I returned home anticipating the aroma of beef, red wine, garlic, mushrooms and onions wafting in the air, only to find I had forgotten to turn the darn thing on. At least the following day's tea was all prepared.

But it's not the forgetting that bothers me. It's the remembering that I've forgotten something but can't quite bring it to mind. I have a Bermuda Triangle of a brain with information going in never to be seen again.



So, where was I? Oh yes, New Year resolutions. I blame the failure of most of my resolutions on my sister-in-law. Every New Year's Eve we stay at her house for a bit of do, usually partying all night long and falling into bed somewhere around dawn. By the time the sun has risen on New Year's Day the resolution to stick to a diet, not to drink too much and not to bore people to tears with my "witty" anecdotes have all fallen by the wayside.

But, as one wag on Twitter wrote: "Forgot to make resolutions? Just write out everything you did last night and at the beginning add the word 'stop.'" Apt advice indeed.

This year, in a triumph of hope over experience, I am determined to get fit. One friend sighed when I told her my intention. She, skinny as a rake I should point out, said: "What for? It's not as if you have to outrun the law or anything." She paused, "You don't, do you?" It's true I'm not on the FBI's most wanted list, but there are other benefits of getting fit apart from being able to beat a policeman in a 100 metre dash. I want to be able to fit into nice clothes, go for long walks in the countryside without feeling as if I’m trying to climb Everest and to live to a 100, even if by then I have forgotten my name.

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Embiggen Your Vocabulary



There I was minding my own business, searching for decorating tips on the internet, when I came across these words:

24 EXTREMELY CREATIVE AND CLEVER SPACE SAVING
IDEAS THAT WILL ENLARGEN YOUR SPACE

I had a laugh to myself. After all, who wouldn't want their space "enlargened"? I think the writer has been watching too many episodes of The Simpsons. Written on the statue of Jebediah Springfield are the words: "A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man." 

When teacher Edna Krabappel questioned the word embiggen, fellow teacher Miss Hoover replied: "I don't know why; it's a perfectly cromulent word." Made me laugh - and as Ralph Wiggum said: "Me fail English? That's unpossible!"

Then I remembered William Shakespeare invented hundreds of words that have passed into common usage, so why shouldn't some wet-behind-the-ears copywriter? 

Maybe we all need to embiggen our vocabulary, just like Shakespeare did.






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