Locked Down





We here in the UK are on "lockdown" at the moment, which means we can't go out except for essential tasks like shopping for basic necessities, a medical need and one form of exercise a day like walking, running or cycling. Everyone has been told to work from home if at all possible. Only people in essential occupations are allowed to go to work. Pubs, clubs, gyms etc have all closed.

As a consequence many people are stuck at home with kids and partners. These people they love but suddenly feel like throttling on a regular basis! 

The better half and I are muddling along quite happily. He's got a workshop so works there most days all on his own. But I get the impression from some of my friends that all is not well in paradise!  

Here's a video that is very British and is from 2010 so some of the issues are a bit obscure - but I think it's still relevant for everyone from all countries whose partner is driving them mad at the moment! For my non-British readers, Pam Ayres writes humorous poems and is something of a national treasure in the UK.



To all my readers, stay safe and stay strong. If you are ill, please get well soon. We will get through this.

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If you are a cat lover - especially a lover of the grumpier members of the species, this is the book for you. Written by Toffee who, despite her name, is the least sweet cat you can imagine. The world according to Toffee exists to serve her and woe betide anyone who forgets it. Paperback on left, Kindle version on right.


            


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Life On The Ocean Wave




(This is updated, adapted and abridged from my regular column in Devon Life magazine)


Before this coronavirus thingy frightened the world half to death, the better half and I were turning our thoughts to holidays in sunny climes. Now our lives are to a certain extent on hold before the virus burns itself out and we can all get back to normal - but there's no harm in dreaming.

We don’t get abroad that often because of the ties of work but there he was enthusiastically reading out the details of a cruise advertised in the Sunday papers.

This trip went half way round the world and lasted over three months. The best cabins were a snip at around £50,000 ($60,000) per person. The word "cabin" is a bit misleading. It was in fact a 700sq ft suite and included, among a host of other facilities, a private veranda, a fully-stocked bar (ah, now I see why he was so interested), heated bathroom floor, personalised stationery and a butler and concierge on hand.

To be fair, if you were one of the cruising plebs you could get an inside cabin, a snip at about £15,000 ($18,000) per person. As the better half works full time and is self-employed I'm not sure how he thought he would be able to take three months off for this life on the ocean wave. And I refrained from raining on his parade, currently taking place in la-la land, to point out that we had slightly less than £60,000 to spend on a holiday, Slightly? I mean considerably, take two noughts off and you would be nearer the mark.




 In any case I'm not sure I'm cut out for the high life. I showed little interest as he read out all the amenities on board this deluxe liner - 10 bars, casino, two theatres, restaurants, swimming pool, spa, nightly top class entertainment. Library.

 My ears pricked up. "A library? How brilliant!"

 "You sad person," the man said witheringly. "You may as well buy a tent and spend three months camping in Exeter Library." Sounds like heaven to me.

 Maybe I am a sad person. I'm sure a high falutin' cruise would be just dandy. I have friends and family who have been on cruises and they have all loved the experience.  Had I several thousand to spare, I might consider it. But, if truth were told, I don't think I could get that excited about being stuck on a floating hotel, no matter how plush, although I'd love the opportunity to be proved wrong.

 I'm not sure what I expect of a posh cruise, my ideas of life on the high seas having been gleaned solely from films like Titanic, the Poseidon Adventure, Doctor at Sea and Carry On Cruising. I half expect to hit a iceberg upside down while shouting, "Oooo, matron!"

 I imagine some nubile young lovely's bra pinging off as she plays quoits on deck while a Leslie Phillips-alike says: "I say, ding, dong ..." in a suggestive voice and I, with my rug tucked firmly around my legs, sit in a deckchair reading War and Peace which I have borrowed from the library, tut-tutting at the antics of the younger generation.




 I imagine dinner at the captain's table, dressed up to the nines, kicking the better half under the table as he slurps his soup and saying things like, "Of course, at home we dine off Royal Doulton china every day and outside we have room for a pony."

Afterwards I expect to be herded with cattle prods to the ship's cabaret to listen to a balding man on an organ singing My Way very badly while a group of former members of Hot Gossip twirl and bedazzle us with their glittery costumes, sequins flying off at every angle.

 In steerage will be the "common people" who are all living it up doing Irish jigs and drinking copious amounts of whisky while we posh people are treated to a lecture on The Danger of Streptococci In Pea Soup by James Robertson Justice.

 I fear having to make a stampede for insufficient lifeboats while a man with a gun shouts, "Women and children first!" At least I know my better half wouldn't slip into my best frock and high heels in an attempt to jump the queue - not unless he was already in them..... (that was a joke, by the way. Cerise is just not his colour).

No, I'm not really bothered about a posh cruise.

 Not unless there's a library.

*     *     *     *     *     *    *
If you are a cat lover - especially a lover of the grumpier members of the species, this is the book for you. Written by Toffee who, despite her name, is the least sweet cat you can imagine. The world according to Toffee exists to serve her and woe betide anyone who forgets it. Paperback on left, Kindle version on right.


            


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I'm Surveying The Situation



I think I must be caught up in some strange "cookie" world. I don't mean those rather nice sweet things we Brits call biscuits but those nefarious internet things that ensure I keep seeing adverts for weight loss products and wrinkle creams. I can cope with those by convincing myself they must have got me muddled up with someone else much older and fatter. Yes, that would be it...

But I also get links to lots of surveys. I'm not sure why. Maybe if I ignored them they wouldn't keep appearing but I can't resist seeing what piece of daft research has been occupying the best brains in society.

Ninety-nine per cent of them tell you something you already knew or something so obscure that you pray to get the five minutes of life back that you wasted on reading them. This week the ones that have been appearing have been mind-blowingly inconsequential.

First, there was the astonishing news that rock stars, on average, die younger than, say, chartered surveyors. You don't say.

Then I had one that told me that people tend to put on weight while on holiday. Really? And there was me under the impression that copious amounts of sangria or tequila slammers washing down five course dinners after a day spark out on the beach was slimming.

Then there was one that has discovered that if you feed kids crap, they'll feel like shit. Shovel vast quantities of additive-filled sugary or salty snacks into their ever-open little gobs, and they are going to behave badly.Well, I'll go the foot of our stairs. There's a surprise.

What I want to know is how much someone was paid to find out these blindingly obvious facts. They could have saved their money and come and asked me.

I'm going to write to Oxford University and suggest they set up a Stating The Bleeding Obvious research chair for me. I can envisage my day's work. Start at 9am with a brainstorming session with three comatose students.

"Well, guys and gals, what shall we research this week?"

"Duh, dunno."

"Thank you for that input, Wayne. Anyone else?"

"How 'bout finding out wevah if you drive blindfolded, right, you have, right, y'know, more accidents or sumfink?"

"Good idea, Chardonnay, but Cambridge University has already done that one."

Alfaromeo wipes the sleep from his eyes and pipes up: "Hey, I have a wizard idea. Let's find out, OK?, if you lie in the sun in Barbados, OK?, you get a tan quicker than if you, like, lie in the sun in Alaska in the winter. Yah?"

"Brilliant, Alf. You and I can do our research in Barbados for three months and Wayne and Chardonnay can hop over to Alaska."

Now that's sorted, I must go out and buy a new swimming cozzie in "large". I've heard you can put on weight while you're on holiday.

*      *      *      *      *
If you are a cat lover - especially a lover of the grumpier members of the species, this is the book for you. Written by Toffee who, despite her name, is the least sweet cat you can imagine. The world according to Toffee exists to serve her and woe betide anyone who forgets it. Paperback on left, Kindle version on right.


            

Before you leave:

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Valentine's Day Commandments



[This is a republished post from some years ago now. Sadly, NOTHING HAS CHANGED. 😂😂😂]

THIS evening my friends and I talked about Valentine's Day and how unromantic most of our "better" halves were. So here are my 10 commandments for my very own dearly beloved.

1. Thou shalt worship no other woman except me, even if she is 18 with the body of an athlete and her father owns a brewery.

2. Thou shalt not take my name in vain and will lie through your teeth in the pub to give the impression I am a softly-spoken goddess with the milk of human kindness running through my veins.

3. Thou shalt remember it's Valentine's Day and keep it holy with a multitude of sacrifices including chocolates, flowers, champagne and expensive jewellery.

4. Thou shalt honour my family and ignore the fact that half of them are barking mad.

5. Thou shalt remember the Sabbath and take me out to Sunday lunch so that I do not have to have to do unspeakable things to you with a roast parsnip.

6. Thou shalt not commit adultery unless thou desirest to spend the rest of your life talking in a high voice and wearing women's clothes.

7. Thou shalt not murder multitude pints of beer on a Saturday night and then come home and try to convince me you are sex on legs.

8. Thou shalt not steal my chocolate unless thou desirest to spend the rest of your life without hands.

9.Thou shalt not covet our neighbour's ass, even if it is half the size of mine and perched on top of endless legs

10. Thou shalt realise that even if I change my mind from one second to the next, I am always right and you are always wrong.

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Food Glorious Food



Something unrecognisable in aspic

My friend and I were reminiscing about eating out when we were kids. Many moons ago when I was a child, the height of sophistication was a pub meal of chicken or scampi in a basket followed by rum baba. Does anyone these days serve anything in a basket? I've eaten food on slates and wooden slabs but I am no longer served anything in a basket. 

Later every meal seemed to consist of prawn cocktail, rump steak and apple pie. Actually, I still love all those things!

The men downed beer, stout or whisky and the women drank port and lemon, Babycham or schooners of sherry. We kids had bottles of pop with straws.  Few people drank wine then but by the end of the 1960s we were feeling very up-market, quaffing our Blue Nun, Chianti and Mateus Rosé in its distinctively-shaped bottle. I lost count of the number of parties I went to in the early 70s with candles stuck in the top of Mateus Rosé bottles.


The ubiquitous prawn cocktail

If we were taken to the big city of Exeter (big to us, smallish in anyone else's eyes)  for a shopping trip, we visited a restaurant called Watty's. The waitresses were all impeccably dressed in black with white aprons and hats and there was strange cutlery like fish knives and soup spoons. It was the first place I ever saw, to my complete astonishment, chefs wearing those tall white hats called toques.  I remember the shock as if it were yesterday. We always had whatever the roast dinner of the day was with thick slices of meat and even thicker gravy – hardly the “jus” of modern chefs.

Much later we visited a Chinese restaurant. Just the once because my father was appalled that they had the temerity to put some kind of spicy sauce on his pork chop. SPICY SAUCE! Everyone knew you only had pork chop with chips and peas and maybe a very plain gravy if Mum was pushing the boat out. 


Mateus rosé bottles used as candleholders

In the 1970s, when we were feeling posh, we visited a Berni Inn where the meal was invariably rump steak with salad and chips or jacket potato, followed by cheese, ice cream or apple pie. In more upmarket restaurants chefs overdosed on aspic or set fire to the food.

Takeaways soon became a thing. There is now an endless variety of takeaway food from a Thai curry to a Turkish kebab...we never wavered from fish and chips. 

Then in the 1980s there was nouvelle cuisine with its big plates and tiny portions, not exactly to the liking of our farming family. When the waiter removed the huge cloche covering the food, we expected to see a big slab of meat and oodles of sauce, not a few shreds and a smear. We looked around in vain for the rest of the food and ate cheese on toast when we got home.

All this talk of food is making me feel hungry so I'll finish now and go to the kitchen to make myself a nice prawn cocktail. I'm feeling nostalgic.


Amazon's Best Kept Secret - Thousands of discounted items





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Doctor, Doctor




"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming: "Woo-hoo, what a ride!"  (Anon)

I AGREE with the above so I when it comes to my health I'm taking the advice of a Chinese internet doctor (let the word "internet" tip you off about the validity of this advice…but oh how I wish it was true)!

On exercise:  Your heart only good for so many beats, and that is it... Don't waste on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster.  Want to live longer?  Take nap.

On alcohol:  There is no need to reduce alcohol consumption. Wine made from fruit.  Brandy is distilled wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way. Beer also made of grain.  Bottom up!

On fried food:  Food are fried these day in vegetable oil.  In fact, they permeated by it.  How could getting more vegetable be bad for you?!?

On sit-ups: When you exercise muscle, it get bigger.  You should only be doing sit-up if you want bigger stomach.

On chocolate:  Are you crazy?!?  HEL-LO-O!!  Cocoa bean!  Another vegetable!  It best feel-good food around!

On swimming:  If swimming good for your figure, explain whale to me..

Getting in shape: Hey!  'Round' is shape!

That sounds like a diet and exercise regime I can cope with!

Before you leave:

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Amazon's Best Kept Secret

There, They're, Their





I spent most of my working life as a newspaper sub-editor so people think I'm a grammar and spelling Nazi, but I'm not. I couldn't care less if you don't know the difference between your and you're or its and it's - unless it's (not its) your (not you're) job to know.

My partner is a cabinet-maker. He's not brilliant at spelling but then, I couldn't knock up a beautiful Welsh dresser if you gave me all the state-of-the-art tools in the world and a year to finish it. Each to his own.

However… if you're (not your) a person who makes their (not there) living with the written word then you should be able to spell the damn word. It's a part of the skill-set. I don't expect a brain surgeon to tell me they are  darn good at their job, well, apart from the slight matter of being an alcoholic with the shakes.

I don't want my bankers to be innumerate, my roofer to be afraid of heights or my gardener to be allergic to plants.




This principle doesn't seem to hold true in the world of the media. I can forgive the odd error - it might just be a typo and we all make mistakes when we're rushed or tired. But some of the media is littered with ungrammatical, badly spelled articles and postings. Even the Daily Mail website was wittering on about Jada Pinkett Smith getting a "desert" thrown in her face on a TV show. Which desert would that be; the Sahara, the Gobi, the Kalahari?




So what has brought on this rant? Two things. There is, as I write, someone on the Linkedin website who is advertising their services as an EDITER. I go to the foot of our stairs. Then I read that The Apostrophe Protection Society had been shut down because, said its chairman “ignorance and laziness” had won.



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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle



Who remembers August 2007? That was the month the big recession began, caused by the banking crisis. It was a worrying time. Lots of people were being made redundant and I feared for my job. The better half, who runs his own firm, was, rather nervously, telling this joke:  “How do you start a small business?” The reply,  “Buy a big one. And wait.”

I spent days with my calculator, number-crunching, to see if I could manage if I were made redundant. I worked out that if only I could live a frugal life and the dearly beloved would shove a few quid into my piggy bank every week, I could just about keep my head above water. Unfortunately, he was rather relying on my pension to keep him in his old age. I knew I should have married a rich man.

In the event, I kept my job. So, despite my dreams of living the frugal life at home tending my vegetable plot in my patchwork skirt, I was still on the work treadmill for the next few years. Even now, although officially retired, I still do a lot of paid writing work. And that patchwork skirt is still in the concept stage and on not on my body, which if you could see my body you would realise was a blessing.

During all that number-crunching, I was forced to confront the fact that I was a wasteful individual. Our house-keeping bill for two people (and one cat) was huge. I was a dreadful shopper, a sucker for a bargain or a buy-one-get-one-free offer (BOGOF). This sounds like a saving but in reality I bought too much of something I didn’t particularly want in the first place and either ended up giving it away or throwing it away.

Since then I have rather reformed my spending habits and have tried to embrace the "reuse, reduce, recycle" philosophy.

Even so, I am never going to produce a seven-course banquet for 12 with last night’s left-overs and a tin of peas. I could spend £50 a head and it would still taste like an average meal from a back street cafe. And I’m just not the type of person who is any good at knitting jumpers out of llama hair plucked from barbed wire or making furniture out of cans and discarded cardboard boxes.

I'm trying, though, and the other day for the first time in 20 years, I darned a pair of socks. I’m ashamed to say, I hardly knew how to begin. As you’ve probably guessed, my socks somehow metamorphosed into a pig’s ear,

I haven't given up, though. I am really trying to be more fiscally responsible and to embrace the "make do and mend" ethos. Now I have got to grips with darning (kind of) I will no longer throw away a pair of socks because they have one small hole. Good grief, last week I even mended a hem that was coming down. Not that everything has been a rip-roaring success. My attempt to make soup out of a chicken carcase and left-over vegetables tasted just like.... some tasteless concoction made out of a chicken carcase and left-over vegetables.


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Amazon's Best Kept Secret

Catwoman v Cat Lady


We caught the old Batman Returns film last night with Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. Of course I wasn't at all jealous of the svelte, beautiful, lithe, charismatic Ms Pfeiffer even though my dearly beloved sat there all evening with his tongue hanging out saying things like, "She can scratch my back any day," and "Is it wrong to be lusting after a cat?"
Oh no, not jealous at all…
What compounded his felony was his comment, "You're more of a cat lady than Catwoman," followed by guffaws of laughter as if he had said something funny. He had not.
 I wanted to argue but as I currently had a ginger cat draped around my neck purring loudly in my ear, I didn't feel it was quite the right time to utter a crushing rejoinder.



But his comment got me thinking about the differences between Catwoman and Cat Lady and came up with these:

  • Catwoman looks stunning in leather outfits with sexy boots and towering stiletto heels. Cat Lady has trousers with pulled threads where the cat has scratched her leg to try to get her attention. Every item she owns has a liberal covering of cat hair.
  • Catwoman wears expensive perfume that floats around her in a gentle sensual aroma. Cat Lady smells of stale prawns and Febreze.
  • Catwoman behaves like an animal in the bedroom. Cat Lady says, "Don't move around too much or you'll disturb Mittens."
  • Catwoman purrs her words in a seductive growl. Cat Lady is either shouting, "Get down from there, you'll break the vase Aunt Winnie gave us," screaming, "Get that mouse out of my house!" or yelling, "Ew, I've just stepped in a pile of cat sick."
  • Catwoman's house is state-of-the-art with every gadget imaginable. Cat Lady's house has scratched furniture, cat toys strewn around the floor, the occasional pile of cat sick (see above) and sometimes smells of pee.
I'm sure there must be many more, but I haven't got time to think of them now, I must go and feed the cat, she's sitting by her bowl giving me a very straight look. She doesn't like waiting. 

The Cat Lady picture, by the way, is Robert De Niro in a Saturday Night Live sketch. It is not me. I repeat, IT IS NOT ME. 

Before you leave:

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Amazon's Best Kept Secret

Careering Along



The only careers advice I received as a teenager was to be a teacher or a nurse.

“But I can’t stand the sight of blood!” I squealed.

“Well, you can still be a teacher,” said the bored careers woman. And that was that. I was tempted to suggest that maybe she would have been better suited to being a cleaner, cook or cockle-gatherer, anything rather than a careers advisor but, uncharacteristically, I held my tongue.

Teaching and nursing are vocations,(i.e. a “calling”), something more noble than a half-formed idea that it might be something you could possibly do.

It transpired that nearly all the girls were advised to be teachers, nurses, secretaries or sales assistants. Yet the options for the boys covered the full spectrum of professions, from marine biologist to meteorologist and policeman to pilot.

This was just as bad for the boys as it was for the girls. There was never a suggestion that a young lad might be suited for a caring profession – they were advised to aim for the high-flying “manly ” jobs.




Confession time: I trained to be a teacher but after applying for dozens of jobs and not even getting an interview, I started a holiday job copytaking in my local newspaper – and realised that a newspaper office was exactly where I wanted to be. This means that generations of children have had a lucky escape.

My careers advice, which I should never have listened to, was over 40 years ago so I assumed times had changed.  I was, therefore, surprised to read that according to the OECD,  the international economics think tank, by  the age of SEVEN, children are already facing limits on their future aspirations in work because of ingrained stereotyping about social background, gender and race.

I was at a grammar school so at least my careers advice was for something aspirational. According to the OECD findings, girls in primary school from deprived backgrounds are expecting to go into hairdressing or shop work while boys from wealthier homes are more likely to expect to become lawyers or managers. Not that there's anything at all wrong with hairdressing or shop work, but young children should at least be aware that there are other occupations available.



The OECD says too often young people consider only the jobs that are already familiar to them, from friends and family.

"You can't be what you can't see. We're not saying seven-year-olds have to choose their careers now but we must fight to keep their horizons open," says Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's director of education and skills.

The OECD has announced plans to double to 100,000 the network of people who go into schools and talk about their jobs and career paths. At present there are more than 50,000 volunteers, representing jobs from "app designers to zoologists".

I wish the OECD had come into my school. Who knows I might now be the Prime Minister of Great Britain and none of our present political problems would exist. You never know...

Before you leave:

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Help! His Bank Account Is Frozen




 Another of those begging emails has slipped through my spam filter. You know the ones, from someone who has a couple million dollars in the bank and needs my help to get their hands on it.

This one's money was in a frozen account in Dubai. I read the email three times but couldn't quite fathom out how my British bank account was going to unlock it. But all I had to do was click a link and all would be revealed. I declined and deleted. Somehow I don't think I have passed up the chance of making myself a few million quid!

It reminded me of a post I wrote many moons ago - depressing that it's still going on. I repeat it below just in case it passed you by. It was written 10 years ago so I'm not surprised if it has!

***

I had an email from someone whose father was a tribal king who had died in some wartorn African country. The nasty, nasty military junta has somehow managed to cock up the financial system – who’d have thought it? – and dead king’s beloved son and heir cannot get his inheritance out of the country.

Life’s such a bitch sometimes, isn't it?

This is where I come in. He can transfer the money out of the country to my bank account. What a stroke of luck. So could I possibly see my way clear to send all my bank details to a complete stranger called Prince Nkomo of Gaberone? I would be handsomely paid for my trouble.

Serve the poor bastard right if I'd replied and given him my bank account number. I reckon, given the parlous state of my finances, he'd feel so sorry for me he'd bung me a few thousand.

But I didn't bother. I mean, you don't want to lay that kind of guilt trip on an African prince who's just lost his dad to beri-beri, do you?

I wrote and suggested that maybe he could commit a little identity fraud and collect the money himself. That might sound a tad unethical but there are thousands of people here in Britain whose identities have been stolen and they probably don't even know it.

It's slightly worrying to think there may an Albanian gangster's moll with bright blue eyeshadow, spangly boob tube and dodgy perm claiming to be me. But good luck to her. I wouldn't want to be in her white stilettos for all the illegal immigrants in the Channel Tunnel.

Slightly more worrying is the thought that some eastern European called Boris, not au fait with British names, has stolen my identity. So if you see some barrel-chested Bulgarian minus his front teeth and with his hair Brylcreemed over his bald spot claiming he is called Patricia and lives in a little Devon village, let me know, will you?

Banks want us to believe they are vigilant. Have you seen those adverts where the bank is supposed to be suspicious because an elderly woman has bought tickets to a heavy metal concert on her credit card? Like no doting gran has ever bought anything for her grandson. But I digress.

Would my bank be suspicious if my credit card was used to buy a couple of thousand pounds worth of second hand plumbing equipment, a moustache comb and a year's supply of tinned cabbage soup and dumplings? Would it buggery.

However, I'd have some spotty graduate with a poorer grasp of English than any immigrant on the phone quicker than you could say "education, education, education" if my card had been used to buy a year's subscription to a gym and a crate of bottled water.

Even so, I was quite taken with this identity theft idea. Let some other poor bastard grapple with my bills, overdraft and standing order for See Which Celebrities Have Gained Half An Ounce This Week magazine. So I parcelled up all my bank details and passport, addressed them to The Most Recent Admission and posted them to an immigration centre.

A few days later, back they came in the post neatly folded and with a note: "Thank you for your donation. However, I have just been offered a job as Chief Executive Officer with British Aerospace and I feel taking on the identity of a provincial sub-editor would definitely be a retrograde step. Sincerely, Dr Asajabian."

There's just no helping some people.


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The Secret Of Happiness




You may not have noticed it but at the top of this blog is my motto: The secret of happiness: be nice and have a laugh.

I am a firm believer in that. It goes on to say: "and in the words of Miss Piggy, never eat more than you can lift". But that's another story, we'll ignore that for now.

The vitriol that passes for reasoned argument these days is frightening. Some of the trolls on social media are vicious, cruel and often, it seems, mentally certifiable. What happened to the phrase "agree to disagree"? I live with a man who has strong views on just about everything, from climate change and Brexit to how Manchester United will fare under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. But he likes to be challenged, to hear the other point of view, to have a reasoned discussion.

I have worked with people from all walks of life and many of them are my Facebook friends. They have differing views on politics and global issues. Unfortunately, a few of them will not tolerate a difference of opinion. Occasionally they "unfriend" people who disagree with them. I've got to a stage where I refuse to engage. I won't comment on political posts. Maybe it's cowardice on my part but it makes for a much more peaceful life.

So what made me write this post? I happened across the following Mark Twain excerpt from his Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings. It really struck a chord with me.


“Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal... In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.

Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh--not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.” 

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Strictly Boring


Anne Widdecombe in Strictly Come Dancing


On Wednesday morning I had to haul my sorry ass out of bed at the ungodly hour of 5.30am.

But it was OK, I’m more of a morning person than an evening person, unlike the dearly beloved who, I swear, would still be in bed when I get home in the evening if he didn’t have my tender ministrations to start his day - a few kicks to the leg and loud swearing in his ear. What would he do without me?

Conversely, if we go out I’m ready for bed almost before I’ve put on my party harvest festivals (all is safely gathered in) while he’s flexing his muscles to prop up a bar until dawn.

I’m fine until midnight then, like Cinderella minus the youth, beauty and glam frock, I’m ready to flee.

So I was more than a little miffed to read that evening people tend to be more creative, intelligent, humorous and extroverted.

Morning people, on the other hand, are more optimistic, proactive and conscientious. Conscientious? How bloody boring is that? Sounds like the class swot – the one who can reel off the causes of the First World War without drawing breath.

I’m sure Anne Widdecombe was conscientious at school but you wouldn’t want her behind you in a conga line at a drunken New Year’s Eve party, would you? [For all my non-Brit friends, Anne Widdecombe is an ex-politician not noted for her sparkling wit and repartee but IS noted for making an absolute prat of herself on Strictly Come Dancing, which is like your Dancing With The Stars.]

So I’m going to strive to be an evening person. I’ll add a few more brushstrokes to my masterpiece before going to a party where I dazzle everyone with my scintillating conversation and provoke gales of laughter with my witty bon mots.

Then again, I could do the housework before going to work and in the evening fall asleep in front of the television with a book in one hand, a bar of chocolate in the other and a gin and tonic on the coffee table.

Come to think of it, I think I’ll stay a morning person. Don’t wake me when you come in.


How do you see your future? Here's mine.

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I Have Seen The Future - And I Like It



LEFT to my own devices without the steadying hand of the dearly beloved I think I would rapidly turn into one of those mad women who live on their own in a tumbledown cottage on the edge of the village, surrounded by books and animals.

I can imagine it now.

I will be the one about whom mothers warn their children. "Don't hit your brother or Mad Woman will come and get you."

"If you carry on eating so much junk food you'll end up looking like Mad Woman."

Then the children will start teasing each other at school: "You love that Mad Woman, you do. She's your girlfriend, she is. You kiss her, you do."

I'll be the one walking down the street wearing a moving and purring "fur coat", pushing a pram full of cats and 'useful' items I have foraged from dustbins, dogs following at my heels.

Underneath my "fur coat" I will wear every single stitch of clothing I possess. I will laugh out loud for no apparent reason and talk to trees and walls. No one apart from the most intrepid social worker will ever visit me because my house will smell of cat pee and wild garlic with a subtle aroma of boiled cabbage and mould.

Legends will spring up about me having "treasure" buried in my garden and hordes of small boys with spades will dig big holes in the night and I'll never even notice because the garden is in such a state.

No one will dare hurt me because they'll be afraid I'll put a curse on them. I'll spend my days sitting in front of the fire reading, stopping only to eat stew made from roadkill and wild plants.

I'll never need buy another scrap of make-up or stitch of clothing, making do with what I already have until the end of my days.

Then when night falls I'll be kept warm in bed by four collie dogs and 25 cats who will eat me when I die.

Can't wait.

NEXT POST: Strictly Boring


Before you leave:

You can follow me on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. As you can see, I have far too much to say for myself.
  • Please feel free to leave a comment. I love to hear from you and will reply and visit your blog, if you have one, if I can. 
  • You really don't want to miss my next post. It could be my best one ever (or not... who knows)! Enter your email address top right and FeedBurner will tell you every time there's an update.