[HB - in dingbat font]
[a.k.a. The Daily Doolally Post]

The joy and the doolallyness of the passing parade, as embraced from the grassy knoll
♥ ♫

[A wolf-whistle - in
silent jazz mode,
i.e. a smile]

October 2019: The Book has landed ... Huw and Smile - see below ... one tiny step for humanity, one giant leap for me, HB
Available at ... Amazon Books: Huw and Smile ...
Also, off the shelf at:
Igam Ogam & Crown Stores, all at Llandeilo (or Llandampness to those of us in the know)


Self-published, with much thanks to www.publishandprint.co.uk

Shwmae, hello, welcome...

Children smile up to 400 times a day, adults - on a good day - up to 40 (the hassles and stresses of modern life, especially so here in the UK with its 5Bs - Brexit, Brussels, Bercow, Bollocks and Boris (coming up on the rails) - ruthlessly neuter humanity's default ode to joy mindset). My smileometer, according to a local jollyologist, currently registers some 200, so I must be halfway toward second childhood. Hm, perhaps I never left the first. Anyway, Huw and Smile - an antidote to the public commotion known as a hue and cry, see the aforementioned 5Bs - chronicles the squalls and passions of sex, greed, tribalism, rock'n'roll ... and much else besides ... a nod and a wink to a world gone bananas, a thousand days or so of the eye-rolling hysterics and doolallyness of flame-fanning topics such as Brexit, Trump, Social Media and Huawei (or Why-Why? as they say down the pub). Essentially it's B-Day plus 1,000 - that's B-Day as in Brexit-Day, but you may wish to put your own spin on B-Day! Whatever, Huw and Smile has a craic at doing so with its hat set firmly at a jaunty angle - and hopefully a little ball bouncing along above the words. Happy days.
Yours, in the best of bonds,
Huw Beynon

To waft some electronic smoke signals downwind, e-mail me at: look_you@hotmail.co.uk
In the meantime...
...a rolling register of embraceable joys and disposable doolallyness to help lift the spirits and boost the smile quotient...
(Point of order: both joy and doolallyness effortlessly embrace delight, irony and bonkersness)


Hammer the message home

Blue wall revisited ... "The blue wall will always be there because the system supports it." Frank Serpico, 85, a retired American detective ... serving with the New York City Police Department (NYPD), he is best known for whistleblowing on police corruption in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which led to a film, Serpico, released in 1973.

Following yesterday's knock-knock routine featuring Liberal Democrats leader Ed 'I-Have-A-Hammer' Davey knocking six bells out of a Tory blue wall, I searched online for any amusing observations about the incident ... and stumbled upon the above quotation by Frank Serpico, which of course has nothing to do with the blue of politics but everything to do with the blue of law and order.

But of course Serpico's line is also true about the blue of British politics.

Whatever, I did also stumble upon a good story linked to Ed 'I-Have-A-Hammer' Davey, a tale connected to the widely derided photo op in which he symbolically smashed a blue wall with a small orange mallet (see the picture feature, yesterday). And he came out swinging...

Davey denied claims from a party source that plans to have him smash the wall with a sledgehammer were abandoned amid fears "about Ed not being able to lift it". He responded: "That is a very inaccurate and ill-informed rumour." He refused to confirm whether party activists had expected to win and invested in some blue bricks in advance, laughing: "That's way above my pay grade."

Anyway, it's a thumpingly good story - and I must admit I hadn't noticed he was using such a small weapon of mass destruction, otherwise I'd have christened him Ed 'I-Have-A-Mallet' Davey, which doesn't hold quite the same menace.

Never a dull moment observing the passing parade.


Sunday is knock-knock day

's there?
Is that Mister Ed, the talking horse?
No, Boris, you buffoon, it's SIR Ed - Sir Ed 'I-Have-A-Hammer' Davey - and I am here to flatten your blue wall and turn it into a yellow brick road...

Yes, Thursday's shock Chesham and Amersham by-election result, where the expected also-ran Liberal Democrats overturned a Conservative majority of 16,233 in the 2019 general election to secure a stunning upset with a majority of 8,028. Truly hold-the-front-page stuff - and this is where Ed 'I-Have-A-Hammer' Davey comes in...

Image of the week

Ed 'I-Have-A-Hammer' Davey sets about turning
the blue wall into a yellow brick road

So, a hefty warning shot across the bows for Boris Johnson. You ignore those who traditionally worship at the foot of your totem pole at your peril.

And I can hear Lib Dem leader Ed 'I-Have-A-Hammer' Davey getting his backing group together to lead the nation in a rousing singalong of The Hammer Song (with apologies to the ghost of Trini Lopez)...

♪♪♪: Yes, I've GOT a hammer,
         And I'm going to hammer in the morning,
         And I'm going to hammer in the evening,
         All over this land.
         I'll hammer out danger,
         I'll hammer out a warning,
         I'll hammer out love between
         My brothers and my sisters, ah-ah,
         All over this land...


Woke watch - 3

Keir Starmer's woke on the wild side ... "Labour leader Keir Starmer dodges saying whether he is a 'woke bloke' amid fears he is out of step with Red Wall voters, claiming Britons 'haven't the faintest idea' what the term means." Starmer went on to point out that the latest poll confirms that 90% of people haven't got the faintest idea what we are talking about when we say "woke", adding: "And a good thing too."

I understand absolutely where Keir Starmer is coming from and why he sidestepped confirming whether he is a dreaded "woke bloke". It is one of those shapeshifter words that take on a different meaning every time you look behind the shop front.

Think of something like the letters BBC, which over the past 30 years have taken on a life all of their own as the Corporation's elite rulers became increasingly divorced from the real world - now be honest, does anyone really believe that the millions watching the Euros football tournament on the BBC do so because Garry Lineker - officially its highest paid "entertainer" by far - is the host? People tune in to watch the football, full stop.

And that is why these days we talk of nothing but the Bonkers Broadcasting Cohort.

"Woke" too has become a bit of a shapeshifter word. Originally it was defined as: "To be awake to sensitive social issues, such as racism." Or, the Urban Dictionary definition: "Being 'woke' means being aware ... knowing what's going on in the community (related to racism and social injustice)." A definition which puts it beyond criticism.

But the word has been hijacked by all sorts of people pushing their own personal agenda. So what best describes its current meaning? Well...

"Woke: holding an opinion that must never be challenged."

I guess that perfectly embraces the curious notion that, these days, anyone questioning others' thinking is instantly cancelled.

Unless, of course, someone out there has a better definition.


Woke watch - 2

Bojo goes all wishy-washy ... "Boris Johnson urges the world to be 'more gender-neutral, feminine and green' as it re-builds and recovers after Covid in bizarre opening remarks at the G7 summit in Cornwall." A curious clickbait spotted following last weekend's meeting of elbow-bumping world leaders.

Ah, the joy and the doolallyness of the passing parade, as spotted from the relative safety of the grassy knoll. But pray, what in God's name is a more "gender-neutral and feminine" recovery? As was amusingly pointed out, it "sounds like some kind of confused tampon commercial, presumably a Mrs Johnson-inspired word salad".

And anyway, how can something be both gender-neutral and feminine at the same time? It comes across as a load of glorious old bollocks.

Or more correctly, it doesn't, because it sounds as if Boris, hush my mouth, has mislaid his bollocks - for example, during the 2005 general election campaign he typically and famously/infamously said that "voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3".

Yes, clearly Boris has gone from a bloke's bloke to a woke on the wild side. Or more alarmingly, do you suppose he is suffering from some sort of Long Covid following his brush with death in April 2020?

This would help explain, I guess, the curious decisions and pronouncements he is putting his name to these days, indeed I submit the following as Exhibit A: "The world needs to be more gender-neutral and feminine."

Your witness!


Five-star letters from Middle-Britain - 4

Here's lookin' at you ... "Three glasses of wine can cut a woman's chances of pregnancy by almost a half [according to a study at the University of Louisville]? In my experience, they greatly increase the chances." Carol Bond of Ware, Hertfordshire, in a letter to the Daily Mail.

Wonderful. Now if only Carol had lived in a place called Beware.

And talking of honesty...

Truth said in jest ... "Regarding memorable sitcom lines, most pithy and appropriate is the remark of PM Jim Hacker in Yes, Prime Minister: "I don't want a fact-finding inquiry, I want to know what happened." John Fox of Edgware, Middlesex, in a letter to The Times.

Yes, I can hear Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying: "I don't want the enquiry into how the Government handled the pandemic to be a whitewash; I want the people to know what really happened, including how many critical errors of judgment I was responsible for."

Gosh, can you imagine?


The 'First Law of Holes'

Sorry to be a bore ... "Taken together, the total combined depth of Britain's 900,000 potholes [let's call it a million for a better echo] is roughly 20 miles ['roughly' being properly befitting]. To put that into perspective, were you to bore down into the Earth that far, you would find yourself three times deeper than the deepest point of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean." A report [marginally paraphrased] spotted in The Times newspaper.

But have you ever wondered how potholes get started?

Walking into town early morning, especially at this time of year, I am always surprised how many birds I encounter on the road, busily pecking away, particularly at the edges. This applies to both country lane and town road (especially so early morning when there is little traffic).

Indeed I remember reading that certain types of birds, usually those that feed on seeds that have a husk, need to eat some grit or gravel - let's call it a kind of roughage - which then sits in the crop to grind up the food and help digestion. The harder the food, the more grit the bird will need.

Most mornings I encounter pigeons busily pecking away, usually in the middle of the road, dodging traffic, see here...

How potholes begin their lives

Ferrero Roughage: "Mmm, you spoil us, Mr Ambassador..."

And as seen above, they are invariably pecking away where there is some rutting - spot the delight with eye closed in exceedingly good appreciation. Obviously pecking away at the edges makes it easier to dislodge the grit ... which eventually leads to a pothole further down the line.

So that's how potholes get started. Feed the birds, indeed.

PS: The 'First Law of Holes' - "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging" - first appeared in the Washington Post in 1911, in the form "Nor would a wise man, seeing that he was in a hole, go to work and blindly dig deeper... ", but made famous by the American humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935) compliments of his Eight Rules for Life (more of which at a later date, if spared).


Now you see it...

Now you don't ... "I have an extensive collection of invisible statues for sale for a few grand if anyone is interested." Phil North of Brigg, Lincolnshire, in a letter to the Daily Mail.

Yes, this follows news that Italian artist Salvatore Garau, 67, has just sold an invisible sculpture for 18,000 dollars (13,000 quid). The work, titled Io Sono, or I Can See A Sucker A Mile Off - actually, I lie, it translates as "I am [the one and only?]", but I prefer my translation because it asks you to "activate the power of the imagination", which is precisely what Salvatore Garau's sales pitch was for his invisible statue...

The life and times of an invisible sculpture ... see here

"I see trees of green, skies of blue, red roses too ... what a doolally world"

Well, that's something you don't see every day. It's a shame that it doesn't cast a shadow. I mean, that would really, um, confuse the punters.

Apparently, the sculpture doesn't exist except in the artist's imagination, but for those of little faith Salvatore provided a certificate to prove the art is real in his imagination. It has been suggested by those who can see between the lines that it's a sculpture of someone doing a spot of money laundering, tut-tut, naughty-naughty.

Reports circulating also reported another keen bidder, but that potential buyer pulled out at the last moment because he felt the sculpture was too big to sit comfortably inside his home.

Mind you, getting it insured would be a problem. There again, how would you know if it was nicked? Presumably you would only know if it was stolen if it is not seen at someone else's home.

Oh, and back with the Daily Mail, another letter, this time from R J Pickering of Leicester, hit the spot:

Artistic licence ... "Be very careful when buying an invisible sculpture. I bought one on eBay and it turned out to be fake. When I tried to return it to the vendor, the Post Office lost it. I don't hold out much hope of them finding it."

Ah, the Emperor's brand new statue. Yep, the joy and the doolallyness of the passing parade, alive and well and lurking around a corner near you.


Litter, litter, everywhere...* - 1
(with apologies to the ghost of Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

A rubbish show ... "Britain's a world leader in rubbish ... it's up to us to pick up the pieces." A Sunday Times headline from March 28, 2021.

This is a repeat of a quote I have deployed before. It came to mind yesterday morning, Sunday, walking into town, early-morning, to pick up a newspaper, and inside the built-up area, past the pub on my left, scattered over some twenty paces, I picked up the following off the pavement...

The morning after the night before

Items found discarded along a stretch of sidewalk at Dodgy City

Yes, a couple of plastic glasses, a sparkly facemask - and a shoe! Clearly there had to be a link, probably following a mega piss-up at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon.

A quick inspection indicated that the footwear was in perfect working order, but sadly stamped - boo, hiss! - 'Made in China'. But how drunk must one be not to realise that you only have one wheel left on your wagon. So a quick look about to see if I could find the other - someone could have been playing silly buggers and taken her shoes - but no, nothing.

Whilst I deposited facemask and plastic glasses in nearby bins, I left the shoe in a prominent position on the wall running alongside the pavement...

And yes, by this morning, Monday, it had gone.

Sometimes you just yearn to know the backstory.

* This is what Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), English poet, philosopher and theologian, wrote in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798):
     Water, water, everywhere,
     And all the boards did shrink;
     Water, water, everywhere,
     Nor any drop to drink...

So I guess my version will be:
     Litter, litter, everywhere,
     And all of life did suffer;
     Litter, litter, everywhere,
     Survival just got tougher, and tougher, and tougher...


Woke watch - 1

A grope in the dark ... "I was getting bullied into taking an anti-bullying course." Michael Heseltine, aka Lord Heseltine, 88, on being forced to take part in a compulsory two-hour anti-groping course by the House of Lords.

Perhaps they were attempting to stop him groping the European Union: "The campaign to rejoin the EU begins today," declared the Good Lord! back on the 1st of January 2021, the day Britain officially left the EU.

Or perhaps they were attempting to stop him groping inanimate objects - memories of 1976 and the infamous incident when he grabbed the House of Commons mace and waved it in frustration at the Labour opposition benches - an act which is considered gross disorderly conduct and is a contempt of the House, the naughty boy.

Whatever, there's something surreal and deliciously bonkers about an 88-year-old being forced to go on any sort of behavioural course. Prince Philip must count his blessings up there looking down on the madness of the passing parade.


Gathering nuts with May

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! ... "Are you kidding me? I'd pay a hundred grand not to hear her talk." Donald Trump's quip to journalist Piers Morgan after he told him how much Theresa May gets paid for corporate speeches.

Yes, a hundred-thousand-quid for dispensing wit and wisdom (sic) to the business world's movers and shakers. Do you suppose she struts onto the stage to the strains of Dancing Queen? Glorious bonkersness in extremis...

♪♪♪: The May and the Corporatists were all at sea,
                     In a beautiful pea-green boat;
          They took some honey, and oodles of money,
                     Wrapped up in fifty-pound notes...
(With apologies to the ghost of Edward Lear)

Oh yes, do you suppose the Corporatists sing "♪♪♪: O lovely Pussy! O Pussy our love, what a beautiful Pussy you are..."?

Staying with Mrs May and suggestions that she is well past her use-by date ... in the wake of reports that she has repeatedly barracked the Prime Minister about the effect of travel restrictions, as well as cuts to the overseas aid budget, a letter in The Daily Telegraph, from Alan Cumming of Stratford-upon-Avon, tickled my old funny bone:

Behind you! ... "It is not unusual for an incoming prime minister to have an active predecessor offering guidance. Tony Blair had Margaret Thatcher looking over his shoulder. But Boris Johnson has five predecessors available, all ready to offer him support and guidance (Mr Blair, Gordon Brown, Sir John Major, David Cameron and Mrs May). How lucky can you get?"

Yes, Boris was clearly born, not so much under a wandering star, but with Lady Luck perched on his shoulder.


Rites and rongs, a slip of the tongue, avoiding a smack, and superior footwork

Birth rite ... "Parent who has given birth." New term for mother, according to advice from gay rights charity Stonewall to employers seeking to boost their rankings in an equality index.

Birth rong ... "Parent who has not given birth." New term for father, according to those who have hit a stone wall (see above guideline).

Meanwhile, out on the tennis court...

Let's play! ... "You need to deal with it - you just got to man up here. Or woman up, I should say." Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, 64, just about avoids a 'tongue fault' after world No 2 Naomi Osaka, 23, withdrew from the French Open over her refusal to give press conferences - she claims she is suffering mental health issues from the media's need to skewer her by continually asking how she is feeling.

And staying in the sports arena...

Seconds out, first round ... "Everyone has a plan until they get smacked in the mouth." What boxer Mike Tyson said in 1996 when asked by a reporter whether he was worried about opponent Evander Holyfield and his fight plan. Holyfield won, and that despite the massive 15/2 odds against him, giving Holyfield one of the most famous upset victories in the history of boxing.

And that, I guess, signposts why you should follow with great caution - indeed never bet on - a two-horse race. I mean, it only takes one of them to throw the contest (unless, of course, you have inside information). I am not, I should add, suggesting that the Tyson-Holyfield bout was anything, um, but an honest contest...

Incidentally, Tyson's rather cautious response to the reporter is similar to the old saying "no plan survives first contact with the enemy", which is a reminder that you pick your battles with wisdom.

Oh, and confirmation that superior footwork is essential in any contest.


Memo to the planet's movers and shakers...

Freudian lift-off ... "Richard Branson, Elon Musk and now Jeff Bezos. What is it about men who have so much money they feel constantly compelled to launch large, pointy objects into space? I bet Freud would be able to explain it." Sarah Vine, 'Columnist of the year' at the Daily Mail, makes an intriguing point about the planet's movers and shakers' addiction to waving their, um, willies at the moon.

And then I saw a picture of the Blue Origin rocket Amazon's Jeff Bezos is going to strap between his legs in order to hitch a ride into space...

Blue [penis-substitute] rocket?

Freudian thoughts on Jeff Bezos' very Blue Origin

Not so much a Freudian slip, more a Freudian space ship. Yep, Jeff Bezos will ride a cock-horse to cross the Karman line into space (sort of).

And when I say quick ... the entire suborbital trip - the rocket isn't powerful enough to enter Earth's orbit - from launch to landing, is expected to last around 11 minutes. Only a small portion of that time is above the Karman line - the altitude at which space and weightlessness begins, about 62 miles above sea level.

Mind you, I'm undecided whether that Karman line reminds me of Kamikaze or Kama Sutra.

Given the shape of the rocket, and that the weightless experience will last but a few brief minutes, I guess it has to be Kama Sutra. The point being, it will really be just like sex. The pleasure lasts but a few brief minutes, and worst of all, it will be impossible to relive the pleasure. You have to do it over and over, which is why we become addicted to sex.

So the question is: will Jeff Bezos become addicted to his penis rocket and climaxing along the Karman line?

My advice to Jeff would be to keep his rocket firmly in his pocket.


Shaken not stirred, Dear Sir or Madam, and Oh Harry, do shut up!

Dancing on the ceiling ... "You can insert your own joke about whether we will be following you." The Chief Sitting Bull of British Security Service MI5 (Military Intelligence, Section 5), Ken McCallum, announces that the organisation is joining Instagram to improve transparency and counteract "martini-drinking stereotypes" about British spooks, hopefully in an effort to appeal to job applicants. And he promptly posted a photo of the ceiling where he works.

But should we really know who the Chief Sitting Bull of British Security Service MI5 is? Just askin', like. There again, Ken McCallum could be an alias, a pen name, or more correctly a post name, a pseudo name. Indeed, he could be a she, as in Chief Sitting Cow. Whatever, back on the job application front...

Dear Head of Spooks ... "I have experience in using walkie-talkies to secretly report back to my sister on what my dog is doing in the house." A ten-year-old's "private and confidential" letter to MI5 on the prospect of becoming a spy.

Now that's more like it. Over and out. Well, nearly...

Finally, a reminder to proceed with care...

Mum's the word ... "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt (Lincoln or Twain or someone smarter than Prince Harry)." American journalist, lawyer and former Fox News host Megyn Kelly after Harry criticised the US Constitution's First Amendment - the right to free speech - as "bonkers".

A Sun newspaper front page splash ... "Exclusive: Noel lets rip ... 'Harry's an effin woke snowflake!'" Oasis legend/wanker* Noel Gallagher has laid into Prince Harry following the latest instalment in his curious relationship with the royal family, adding: "This is what happens when you get involved with Americans."

I mean, you have to smile. Oh, and Noel fans should rest assured that he did not use the word "effin" but the proper Anglo Saxon, anti-snowflake, de-icer version.

Incidentally, what were Harry and Meghan thinking when they named their daughter "Lilibet". It's not even a proper name but a personal and private nickname, one that belongs uniquely to the Queen. Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice.

To repeat: whom the gods wish to make mad they first sprinkle with power, position, wealth and celebrity. And then, stand well back.

* Delete to taste.


Sunshiny flag

Blowing in the wind ... "I particularly like the Ukrainian flag. It always reminds me of a clear blue sky floating over a field of glorious sunflowers..." Carlton Kirby, Eurosport's principal cycling commentator, when Ukraine's previously unheralded Mark Padun, 24, takes the top step of the podium after winning Stage 7 of the Criterium du Dauphine road race run in the southeast of France - and doing so from a breakaway. A feat the amusingly agreeable Padun repeated, also winning Stage 8, and to great acclaim.

And just to prove Carlton's memorable observation about the flag...

The Ukraine national flag of blue skies and wheat fields, of calm and joy

And here is the most juxstaposable (I trust there is such a word - well there is now) image of a blue sky floating over yellow flowers I could find in my files...

A picture of blue and yellow, calm and joy, at Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo

Okay, it's not a field of sunflowers - but dandelions will do, and it makes the point beautifully. Oh, and I shall never again forget what the Ukraine flag looks like. Ever.

Officially, the blue of the flag represents the wide blue skies and the yellow represents the wheat fields that characterise the country's bread basket reputation for that corner of the world. The flag has its genesis in the 12th century, but was only officially adopted in the 20th century.

Psychologically, I learn that blue symbolises calm, whilst yellow symbolises joy - which in Ukraine's case is quite ironic, what with Putin's Russia a constant border threat.

Whatever, Mark Pavlovych Padun deserves a flag of blue skies and calm and joy smiling over him.

PS: Yesterday's picture of a golden chain against a crystal clear blue sky makes a rather wonderful point of joy and calm.


Chain reaction

Nature on repeat ... "The common hill-flowers wither, but they blossom again. The laburnum will be as yellow next June as now..." Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish poet and playwright, from his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890).

Along my walk into town I pass a newly-planted laburnum sapling - or golden chain as I prefer to think of it - and it has flowered with just the one dominant chain. I couldn't resist taking a photo of it against a cloudless blue sky...

Chain reaction

"A deer tethered with a golden chain can escape
 to the forest to eat grass." African proverb

How captivating an image is that? A chain reaction of joy.

Oh yes, to complete the Oscar Wilde quotation at the top, from his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray - Lord Henry Wotton is speaking to Dorian Gray:

"The common hill-flowers wither, but they blossom again. The laburnum will be as yellow next June as now. In a month there will be purple stars on the clematis, and year after year the green night of its leaves will hold its purple stars. But we never get back our youth. The pulse of joy that beats in us at twenty becomes sluggish. Our limbs fall, our senses rot. We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were too much afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!"

Fair enough, Lord Wotton. But, like the flowers, humanity's next generation will be as colourful and bright as we were when we were footloose and fancy-free and oh so easy on the eye.

So we should make a point of enjoying ourselves along every step of our walk through time and space.


The Sunday every-day-is-a-day-at-school lesson

Today, a different kind of knock-knock...

Duck a l'orange ... "Our favourite sitcom scene is Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses telling Rodney he loves roast duck served with an orange sauce - but doesn't know how to say it in French. Rodney says: 'It's canard', to which Del Boy replies: 'You can say that again!'" Annie Tavener of Ipswich, in a letter to The Times.

Ah, the joy of television BO - Before Obscenity - yes, you know, the days when writers worked hard at being creative, witty and amusing rather than merely declaring before every show: "The following programme features strong language."

Whilst I obviously got the exceedingly clever 'canard' joke, I wasn't familiar with the French connection, so searched its meaning ... the first listed was familiar, which is just another word for social media:

Canard: 1 a false or baseless, usually derogatory story, report, or rumour. 2 in cooking, a duck intended or used for food, from Old French caner, to quack...

Quack-quack indeed.


Afterthoughts on that marriage

Jane Seymour ahoy! ... "So, with his latest marriage, is Boris Johnson's model no longer Winston Churchill, but Henry VIII?" Joy Everington of Marshwood, Dorset, in a letter to The Guardian.

Yes, an excellent bit of lateral thinking there by Joy Everington. Oh, and many were puzzled by the absolute privacy of the ceremony, for example:

Shhh! ... "Why would a couple wanting to get married on the quiet choose to do it in an enormous cathedral?" Ron Todd of Yate, Gloucestershire, in a letter to the Daily Mail.

And here are three other letters that tickled my old funny bone, all spotted in The Daily Telegraph...

Superior footwork ... "When a Prime Minister is married for a third time, is it called a wedding or a reshuffle?" Neville Stangroom of Dereham, Norfolk.

Shades of you-know-who ... "No, that was a fake wedding. The real one took place three days earlier, conducted in the garden of No 10 by the Archbishop of Canterbury with Dilyn the dog as sole witness." Peter Thompson of Sutton, Surrey.

The last word ... "Apropos questions regarding confirmation of Boris Johnson as a Catholic for his church wedding ceremony, Oscar Wilde, when questioned about his late conversion to Catholicism, said that he was attracted to the faith because in this Church 'Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.'." Anna Mackay of Dublin

Ah, was it ever thus, always one cannon law for the somebody and one for the nobody.


What next?

Stumped! ... "When the inventor of the drawing board messed things up, what did he go back to?" Bob Monkhouse (1928-2003), the English entertainer and comedian famously known for his witty one-liners.

I saw the above listed in a newspaper under 'Quote for today' - and yes, it did make me smile. No answer was provided, but what instantly came to mind was 'back to square one' (or 'back at square one' - the original saying).

'Back to square one' derives from the birth of radio and live football commentaries back in the 1920s. The pitch would be divided into numbered grids and commentators would use the numbers to explain to listeners where the ball was at any given time. A visual guide was provided in the Radio Times...

"And Boris flicks the ball back to square one..."

Squares 1 and 2 were in front of the home team's goal, so when, say, a defender passed the ball back to the goalkeeper, the play was "back at square one" ... the goalkeeper would then distribute the ball to one of his own team (hopefully) and the action would start again - which I think is rather clever and paints a wonderful picture in the mind.

And, dare one suggest, even better than 'back to the drawing board'.


Note to Boris: keep rocket in pocket

Speak now or forever hold your piece ... "Interesting ... let's hope he keeps his trousers on and behaves himself." Christopher Goodyear, 64, a witness protection officer in the Metropolitan Police homicide division, and a member of the congregation at Westminster Cathedral last Saturday for the marriage of Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds, wishes the Prime Minister and his beloved well.

I repeat that quote from last Sunday's special knock-knock post in celebration of the wedding of Boris and Carrie, and bearing in mind that it was Boris's third marriage, I added, somewhat cynically, that if the events of history really do repeat themselves, we should keep an eagle eye on the Births, Deaths, Marriages, Civil Partnerships, Separations and Divorces corner of the newspapers...

It all came flooding back when I read about a new book, Cricketing Lives: A Characterful History from Page to Pitch, a collection of portraits of the sport's more colourful characters by Richard Thomas, where drunks, rogues, cads and bounders abound along the boundary.

One such character mentioned in dispatches is Englishman Bill Edrich (1916-1986), the postwar England batsman who married and divorced regularly.

At the fifth wedding his England team-mate John Warr (1927-2016) was asked if he was bride's side or groom's, replied: "I have a season ticket."

I wonder if Christopher Goodyear claims the same privilege.


A touch of class

Face mask majesty ... "The only person to wear a face mask with undiminished beauty is the Duchess of Cambridge, and none of us is she." As The Daily Telegraph pointed out back in April, face masks are never tasteful. They are always monstrous. Wellingtons can be tasteful. Masks can't. Masks are ugly. Unless of course, you are Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

In support of their assertion, the Telegraph featured that striking photograph of the Duchess arriving by car at the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh - and here it is, certainly worth a revisit...

The Duchess of Cambridge: a portrait of majesty

Undiminished beauty - embracing elegance and physical poise

The Duchess rarely looks directly at the camera (apparently on the advice of Prince Philip himself; the Queen doesn't, but Diana did), but there are moments when you will inadvertently catch the eye of the camera, and then it is up to the photographer to benefit from being in the right place at the right time.

The power of the above picture doesn't lie in Kate Middleton's jewels, eye-catching as they are. Above the mask, her eyes project calmness and unflinching resolve, framed in turn by the elegance of her funeral attire and her physical poise.

And then, just a few days ago, she again looked a picture of casual style and sophistication receiving her vaccination against the coronavirus...

Catherine: a portrait of magnificence

Endless elegance - even when receiving the jab

And, as the Telegraph noted last April, wearing a mask with undiminished beauty

Yes, I'm a fan. Kate is the perfect antidote to Meghan's curious behaviour and lack of natural-born class.


En Guardian!

Corrections and clarifications ... "We misquoted Les Dennis [English actor and comedian] describing his role in the forthcoming film Sideshow; he plays 'an ageing, past-his-prime psychic', not '...sidekick' as we had it (Dennis to make his opera debut, 25 May, page 9)." Spotted in The Guardian newspaper.

Yes, a memorable slip of the fingertip in fine Grauniad tradition - it tempts one to have a go at composing a limerick deploying psychic and sidekick as rhymes born to please - a blunder which juxtaposes just perfectly with the following letter published, again in The Guardian...

Man on the loose ... "On Saturday, you published a photo of the UK prime minister above the headline 'A dangerous cult now runs Britain' (Journal, 29 May). I was pleased to see that, despite the constant turmoil of the modern world, some things, such as the Guardian's famed penchant for typos, never change." Tony Mabbott of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, generates a wickedly wide smile of joy.

And talking of the cult known as Boris Johnson brings us to Dominic Cummings - and another fine mess highlighted in a letter to The Guardian...

A brief read ... "Isn't the headline on your article about Dominic Cummings eight words too long ('Dom, tosser of pretend hand grenades: you're no war hero', Journal, 26 May)?" Alan Pearson of Durham, generates a nod and a wink.

And talking of Dom (as the tabloids regularly refer to the fellow), this gives me the chance to share a letter of mine, published in the Western Mail...

Bit of a stink ... "'Dom' is the Welsh word for the stuff that bulls excrete after a long day in the field chewing the cud and sniffing the breeze. Yes, you know, that stuff that is collected into a heap called a 'domen', and which leaves a bit of a stink in its wake when spread about.
     "Yes, Dr Dom sounds just about right. But I am surprised that Boris Johnson
's instincts didn't warn him that Dr Dom had 'ambush' written all over him. But prime ministers - and first ministers - do have a track record of employing people that spell Trouble, with a capital T."

That was the best way of saying bullshit without saying bullshit I could come up with. Incidentally, 'domen', or more correctly 'tomen' (without the mutation), is the Welsh word for dung heap.


Here comes the sun

Come what May ... "So that's why they call it May - it may rain, it may be sunny, it may hail, it may be hot and it may be cold..." Writer and gardening expert Lynne Allbutt kicks off her regular Western Mail Green Scene column.

Yes, it's the last day of May - and what a strange month it has been weather wise here in the UK.

April - the frostiest, sunniest and driest on record - but May has more than made up for it with the weather stuck in an unsettled, turbulent pattern with troughs and drenching downpours sweeping endlessly across the country, indeed the month is set to be the wettest on record, especially so here in Wales.

Oh, and remaining unusually cold, reflected with the reluctance of the annual 50 shades of leaf burst to sweep onto the rural stage.

However, the month ended with sunshine and warmth as high pressure settled over the country. And on that score, walking into town on a beautiful morning, my eye caught the rising sun catching a tree on a private property...

The rising sun spins purple into scarlet

I don't know what the tree is with its copper/plum/burgundy/purple leaf* - some sort of Acer, perhaps - I mean, it's rude to stride onto someone's front lawn to inspect (obviously if I see the folk who live there I'll ask them).

Whatever, I was captivated by the way the sun streaming between the two properties captured just some of the leaves and gave them that vibrant scarlet tinge.

Every morning as I now walk past, and assuming the sun is shining, my eye is captured by the technicolour aspect of the tree. Astonishing how such a little thing can generate such huge delight.

* I never know which word best describes the colour - help yourself to whichever does it for you.


Sunday is knock-knock day

Who's there?
Father who?
Father Daniel Humphreys, the acting administrator of Westminster Cathedral, reminding you, Boris, that you're getting married at 2 o'clock, Saturday afternoon. Be smart, comb your hair - and be there in good time..."

The marvellous thing about this surprising tale of the unexpected is that the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg, she who has her finger on Downing Street's political G-spot, never tweeted the nation to keep it abreast of unfolding events. Neither did any other hack or paparazzo.

Goodness gracious me, perfectly kept privacy (rather than secrecy because it would quickly be made public) at No 10. How agreeably reassuring.

What I did learn today though, compliments of The Sunday Times, which only got hold of the story after the event, was that when Carrie Symonds, now Mrs Johnson, was first reported in 2018 to be romantically involved with Boris Johnson, she was swamped with unsolicited warnings about the supposed dangers of consorting with so notorious a scoundrel and bounder when it comes to the fairer sex and keeping his rocket in his pocket.

And then I read this: "From birth Carrie was no stranger to complicated romance. Her father was Mathew Symonds, one of The Daily Telegraph journalists who founded The Independent in 1986; her mother was Josephine McAffee, one of the paper's lawyers. Both were married to other people at the time Carrie was born, and they never lived together."

Wel-i-jiw-jiw, as we say down the Crazy Horsepower. Finally...

Speak now or forever hold your piece ... "...let's hope he keeps his trousers on and behaves himself." Christopher Goodyear, a member of the congregation at Westminster Cathedral for the marriage of Boris and Carrie, wishes the Prime Minister well.

Hm, if the events of history really do repeat themselves, we should keep an eagle eye on the Births, Deaths, Marriages, Civil Partnerships, Separations and Divorces corner of the newspapers...


Cummings and goings at Downing Street

MATT cartoon, The Daily Telegraph ... Two policemen on duty outside Number 10, and one is reading from a newspaper: "Oh yes, Mr Cummings does mention us - 'The two useless idiots standing on the doorstep...'."

Yes, Boris Johnson's former Director of Communications, Dominic Cummings, has broken his silence on his time in No 10, advising the world and its lover that everyone who disagreed with his solutions to life, poor eyesight, the coronavirus - and everything - were disastrously incompetent and should all have been fired during the course of the pandemic.

Oh, and at the same time subliminally confirming life's second greatest truth: Whom the gods wish to make mad, they first sprinkle with power, position, wealth and celebrity.

The whole Cummings circus drew loads of letters to the newspapers, and here are just a few that jostled the mind and tickled my old funny bone, all to The Daily Telegraph, as it happens. The first rather confirms what happens when individuals are sprinkled with power, position and celebrity...

Actuality ... "Is the man real?" Judith Barnes of St Ives, Huntingdonshire.

Let us pray ... "'Sir! Sir!' 'What is it, Cummings?' 'Please, Sir, Johnson had his eyes open during prayers.'" Richard Cutler of Newbury, Berkshire.

Soap Oprah ... "What next for Dominic Cummings? An interview with Oprah Winfrey, perhaps?" Jonathan Mann of Gunnislake, Cornwall.

Maximum points ... "If there were a Eurovision Whinge Contest, and we could field Prince Harry and Dominic Cummings, we would have a sure-fire winner." Sue Milne of Crick, Northamptonshire.

Indeed, Sue Milne. The moral of the tale is that rubbishing or railing against the institution you were once an essential cog of never elicits much sympathy and is likely to bite the biter back.

And on that thought, sweet dreams...


♪♪♪: Oh doctor, I'm in trouble...

Well, goodness gracious me ... "When I was a new GP my senior partner explained that I would often happen to see our patients in the street and in local shops: 'You will find it easier,' he said, 'if you wave a cheery 'Hello', keep walking and never say 'How are you?'." Dr Ruth Booker of Twickenham, Greater London Town, in a letter to The Times.

That drew this follow-up letter:

Say ahhh! ... "I am reminded by Dr Ruth Booker that my father, a small-town GP, when approached by patients at social events with a medical question, would simply ask them to remove their clothes. They soon understood." Hugh Cartwright of SW20, also of Greater London Town.

I presume Hugh's father said it with a smile.

I remember some years back walking into the local doctors' surgery, spotting a familiar character, and sitting next to him. "Long time no see," he said, "how are you?" "I'm fine, thanks." "What the hell are you doing here then, wasting the doctor's time?" It momentarily threw me: "Actually, I'm here to provide a blood sample prior to my annual MOT." And we both had a good laugh about it.

Talking of a small-town GP, living in such a place we would often mix socially with our local doctors in pubs, functions and such like, and I remember one occasion at the Crazy Horsepower when the gossip was of a well-known dignitary who had been hanky-pankying in his car atop a local mountain with a lady who was not his wife, had a heart attack - and died on the job.

The general consensus was that we all felt sorry for the poor lady involved - but if you had to go, well, that was the way to go.

Present was one of our characterful local doctors, sadly no longer with us, who said we'd be surprised how many men come to such a sticky end - but we only hear of those caught out in such an unfortunate situation as the aforementioned local dignitary.

Ever since I've always registered those who die in publicly awkward situations that draw wel-i-jiw-jiw attention: a massage parlour (nudge-nudge, wink-wink), being visited at home by a lady of the night (who understandably fled the scene in a panic and on full bore), or "youngish" men coming to a sudden and surprising cropper while on holiday (no pun intended).

Yep, every day a day at the Inspector Clouseau School of "I suspect everything, and I suspect nothing".


Beauty and the Beast

Don't be a tosser ... "Only we humans make waste that nature can't digest." Charles J. Moore, American oceanographer and racing boat captain, known for articles that recently brought attention to the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch', an area of the North Pacific Gyre, one of the most remote regions of the ocean, strewn with floating plastic debris and its devastating effects on sea life.

First things first: what's a 'Gyre', as in 'North Pacific Gyre'? I learn that it's a large system of circulating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements. Every day a day at school.

Yesterday, I celebrated the beauty of the bluebell. Today, I juxtapose beauty and the beast, in particular the huge amounts of face masks and plastic gloves that are being casually discarded and which eventually find their way into streams, rivers and eventually the oceans, the 'Great Planet Garbage Patch'.

First, the beauty...

About a month or so ago, a clump of wood anemone caught my eye alongside the country lane I walk every morning. It was so unusual to see this pretty spring flower of ancient woodland, belonging to the buttercup family, away from their default location where they play perfect bridesmaids to the bluebells...

Beauty ... a roadside clump of wood anemone...

and the Beast ... a roadside clump of plastic gloves

And then, just a few paces further on ... Unbelievably, eight plastic gloves dumped alongside the road. Their location suggested they had been tossed out of a passing vehicle. Having slipped on my own gloves, I picked them up and popped them into a rubbish bin when I reached town. Words fail me - except:

We truly are a species of tossers.


The Flower Moon

Beautiful bluebells ... "It's bluebell time. I think my year is always divided into 'flowering times' rather than months or weeks [or seasons?]. I always use whatever is flowering as a marker: snowdrop time, daffodil time, primrose time, cherry blossom time, bluebell time ... The bluebells are a little late flowering this year, the beautiful blue carpets are usually at their best at the beginning of May..." Writer and gardening expert Lynne Allbutt kicks off her regular Western Mail Green Scene column.

Tonight, the full moon will reach peak brightness. It's the second and final Super Blood Moon of 2021. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes (my soul brothers and sisters, the ap Ache - "son of the Apache") as the Flower Moon because this was the time of year when spring flowers appeared.

The Flower Moon sounds much more civilised than a Blood Moon, and tonight will see its closest approach to Earth - making it a supermoon, which equals big and super bright.

So how better to celebrate a Super Flower Moon than with a couple of bluebell photos...

Misty blues: a corner of a Towy Valley bluebell wood awaits the sunrise

And here comes the sun...

Spotlight on Bluebell: the rising sun breaks through the mist to shine a light

In the background of the above photo, the splashes of white are wild garlic flowers. Where bluebells and wild garlic flower together, it makes quite a striking image. I must have a peep what I have on file.

As I may have mentioned before, I do not rate myself a photographer - I have no interest in the technicalities of photography, but I always carry a little camera merely to capture the joy and the doolallyness of the passing parade, as featured above.

By the way, late tonight I open the front door - and there, directly in my view, just above the horizon, the Super Flower Moon, hanging in a crystal clear night sky. And a beautiful sight it was, too. Hallelujah!


Where did the time go?

RADIO PICK OF THE WEEK: Why Time Flies (And How to Slow it Down) ... (Tuesday, Radio 4, 11am) ... "The Scottish comedian and writer Armando Iannucci, 57, returns to radio with an examination of why time seems to go faster as he gets older. He talks to scientists and philosophers and asks if having lots of new, stimulating experiences can put the brakes on time zooming by." My eye caught this programme listed as a pick of the week, so decided to give it a listen.

I was particularly interested because, walking through town the other day, this also caught my eye...

Llandeilo Church, and time goes missing in action:
"Tell me not in mournful numbers..."

Yes, the radio programme was interesting - apparently our feet age at a different rate from our heads because they are nearer the earth's centre of gravity (basically your head ages faster than your feet), just as clocks in space move slower than clocks on Earth.

It does explain why, as I grow older, I continue to walk at a brisk pace, and that despite my brain telling my feet to slow down a bit (basically my feet are younger than my head and will insist on doing their own thing and must be given their head).

Whatever, and interesting as the programme was, it was bogged down with too much baffling science and philosophy.

This is how I have always understood it: time drags when young because we are always looking forward to things: Santa, birthdays, holidays, dating (and a promise of things to come on the dating front), driving licence, drinking in the pubs, a new job - and on and on. Time can't go fast enough.

But once we bridge middle-age at 40, it's all downhill. We become increasingly aware that time is running out to do all the things we want to experience and enjoy before we drop off the perch.

God, never mind the Llandeilo church clock, where does the time go?


Britain's a world leader in rubbish

What do you think of the show so far? Rubbish! ... "Although we enjoyed our time in your country, we are not recommending any further tours to the United Kingdom. This has nothing to do with Brexit [or the Eurovision Song Contest], but litter. Of all the countries in the world we visit, on a regular basis, Britain is by far the worst for litter, especially on roads." John Read, the founder of the Clean Up Britain charity, was forwarded an email from an American travel company based in Washington that organises tourist trips to the UK. The message ended with an abrupt apology: "I'm sorry to say, you've lost our business."

The above is a repeat of my post of the 6th of May (as featured further down this page), where I quoted an article in The Sunday Times published on March 28. Oh yes, I inserted the Eurovision Song Contest reference myself, of which more later.

Given my appreciation of irony, walking into town this morning, and always on the lookout to clear the endless rubbish disposed of along the country lane I daily navigate, this is what I discovered...

A disposed Union Jac (Welsh version) carton confirms Britain as a rubbish country

When I say irony ... yes, a Union Jack carton chucked out of a vehicle. I placed it on an adjacent gatepost to capture an image. Disgusting is the only word. Why do people do it?

The culprit was obviously sticking two fingers up at the American travel company quoted above. There again, and bearing in mind that the carton would have been disposed of the previous day, Sunday, perhaps the guilty party was pissed off with the UK's "nul points" performance in the Eurovision Song Contest the night before.

Indeed, and having given a bit more thought to my knock-knock post of yesterday about the song contest, I smile when Brexit is blamed for the UK's zero points. The decline began long before we left Europe. The previous occasion the UK finished last with no points was 2003, when we were a fully paid-up member and Brexit was just a twinkle in the eye of one Nigel Farage.

Whomsoever it is at today's BBC that selects the tunes for the Eurovision Song Contest, I would happily put in charge of the jukebox down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon, for it would surely remain eerily silent.

BBC Radio 2 is currently promoting "A Dance Through The Decades", a stream of music that begins with the Sixties. I appreciate that Radio 2 has morphed into the swinging parent of Radio 1 (yawn!), but why would it ignore the Fifties and the birth of rock and roll, the genre of music that inspired the Beatles, the Stones and everything that followed.

Has no one at Radio 2 seen those black and white films of young people dancing to Bill Haley's Rock Around The Clock, or seen on YouTube today's youngsters shuffle dancing to Elvis and His Latest Flame, a song from, er, the 50s?

Perhaps the Beeb's metropolitan elite and its focus groups should move, not just out of London, but to a parallel universe.


Sunday is knock-knock day


- - - - - - - - - [SILENCE!]

Knock-knock! Hello, hello, anybody there?

- - - - - - - - - [SILENCE!]

Hello, this is James Newman ... there must be someone at home who's prepared to vote for me...

Yes, the UK came last for the second year running in the Eurovision Song Contest proper (no contest in 2020), with singer-songwriter James Newman, 35, who performed his self-penned dance track, Embers, scoring the dreaded "nul points".

I happened to watch about 30 minutes or so of this annual musical circus, including the UK song ... my initial reaction was that it rated zero on the 'catchy and melodic' score, and even worst, to my ear anyway, occasionally out of tune, so stood no chance - as indeed confirmed on this morning's news.

Here's one reaction that made 'Quotes of the day':

"@piersmorgan: The UK didn't get 'nul points' in the Eurovision Song Contest because of some sinister revenge for Brexit. We got 'nul points' because we had a crap song, performed by a crap singer who gave a crap performance. End." Yes, the British broadcaster, journalist and meeja personality Piers Morgan, taking no prisoners.

However, the response that generated a smile was this:

"@innocent: If the UK getting zero in Eurovision isn't a sign of the world slowly returning to normal, we don't know what is."

Yes, bonkersness is reclaiming its default power of attorney over the nation.


50 shades of green

Amber gamblers ... "While I agree that holidays are essential, foreign holidays are not. The amber list is for essential foreign travel. Our country is glorious in all weathers and seasons. Enjoy it." Chris Long of Ivybridge, Devon, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.

Indeed, Chris Long. In fact, all this talk of traffic lights and applying common sense judgment to what is green, amber and red when deciding to go on holiday, brought to mind our glorious countryside here in the United Kingdom.

For example, we embrace the beauty of autumn leaves with great joy. Less well appreciated is the birthing process.

With spring running a little late this year due to an unseasonably cold and wet May, the trees are currently sprouting into leaf all over the shop, and in 50 shades of green, particularly eye-catching when caught by the rising sun...

50 shades as the green leaves of spring burst onto nature's glorious stage

The above I happened to catch the other morning, between the May showers and rainbows, as I walked home from Llandeilo.

However, be warned: just like autumn, the wonderful spectacle lasts but a few brief weeks before the green leaves of spring all morph into what I call the Sherwood green of summer, where Marion and Robin blend discreetly into their surroundings to do their thing.

Stop, stare and enjoy. Oh, and don't forget the bluebells beneath.


Awake but not awoke

Thou shalt / Thou shalt not ... "Ah lovely listener, it's that moment of the programme again where I pierce the carapace of your resistance and ask you a deep and personal question in order to get to know you even better than I do already." Yes, Vanessa Feltz on her morning Radio 2 show. She continues:
     "All week on Pause For Thought we've been asking what would be a suitable 11th Commandment. So today I am asking, what would be your 11th Commandment? You don't have to be religious to take part, just come up with an essential rule for life.
     "It can be something deep and profound about relationships, or saving the planet - or something trivial like 'Thou shalt always replace the loo roll when it runs out', which is quite a good one, actually..."

Vanessa went on to explain that a popular 11th Commandment is "Thou shalt not get caught", so she discouraged listeners submitting it because it wouldn't get a mention. Which was amusingly ironic given that the BBC has just been horribly caught with its pants around its ankles over the Princess Diana-Martin Bashir interview apropos all the faking and lying that went on to secure the interview.

Anyway, some great answers came in, but one that tickled my old funny bone, and particularly relevant here on Look You, is: "Thou shalt have fun." Great one that.

I wasn't sure what mine would be ... however, later in the day I was amused by a headline in the Daily Express: "Snowflake world where everyone takes offence."

Hm, a world where everything is now racist or sexist: statues (slave trade connections); blond hair (Hitler's Aryan master race); afternoon tea (both racist and sexist because women sit around eating cucumber sandwiches and scones with jam while white men get to rule and bully the world); trees (grown in the gardens of many a stately home that almost certainly had links to the slave trade); flags, especially the Union Jack (eh?).

And on and on, wokedom running rampant...

Regarding that flag business, there was a gloriously doolally protest from the pupils of Pimlico Academy secondary school, London, who forced the school to stop flying the Union Jack, arguing that it featured no black colour so didn't represent ethnic minorities - which drew this marvellous response:

Flying the flag ... "Students protesting against flying the flag of the Union Jack at Pimlico Academy may be interested to know that there is no black in 33 of the 57 mainland African countries either. The colour of a nation's flag does not indicate the colour of its population." Joyce Henry of Colby, Isle of Man, in a letter to The Times.

Watch it, Joyce, because the students at Pimlico Academy - who have just forced the head of the school to resign following a row over uniform policy which the pupils insisted was racist - will want your place of residence changed to the Isle of Somewhere (which reminds me of a beautiful song), or perhaps even the Isle of Ethnicity.

Like everything else in life, wokedom - which in its pure form, i.e. an awareness of issues that concern social and racial justice - is perfect, but has gone completely over the top (see above list of bonkersness).

So, my 11th Commandment? "Thou shalt not woke on the wild side."



Caught in the slips ... "Former BBC journalist and Royal Correspondent Michael Cole, 78, welcoming a memorial to pioneering female cricketer Rachael Heyhoe Flint, Baroness Heyhoe Flint (1939-2017), recalls asking her if it was true that she wore a box protector while playing - something men wear to protect their, um, Crown Jewels (note the Royal Correspondent connection). She replied: 'Oh, yes, I called it my man-hole cover.'" An extra-smiley tale spotted in the Daily Mail.

How funny. Oh, and you can't keep the coronavirus out of even cricket - here's a popular Indian joke:

"Why doesn't China have a cricket team? They eat bats and don't understand the concept of boundaries..."

Actually, China should have a cricket team because they can lay low the whole world with just one bat. Allegedly.


English as she is Pronounced

Name that drink in one ... "The chamber of the House of Commons often comes across as a playground for grown-ups. Yesterday, this spilt over into Portcullis House, an office building for members of parliament and their staff, when the MPs' coffee shop unveiled a new drink: the Choconuttynana. Hopefully they will have to ask for it by name." A smiley tale spotted in The Times Diary.

Running the risk that curiosity may kill the Carmarthenshire Cat, I searched online ... and compliments of 'la petite pie: Magpie Make & Do' - Choconuttynana Loaf, and I quote: "I love banana bread - it has that unmistakable taste of childhood nostalgia - and always tend to whip up a cheeky loaf if I have any bananas on the turn."

But more intriguing is the Choconuttynana drink: Chocolate syrup, Banana liqueur, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, Creme de Cacao chocolate liqueur, cream, and crushed ice. Tally ho!

I particularly enjoyed the link between the House of Commons coming across as a playground, Choconuttynana loaf having that unmistakable taste of childhood nostalgia - oh, and the drink is pronounced (I think) Choco-nutty-nana - na, na, na-nana being the key ingredient.

Here's lookin' at you, hic!


"Greetings!", G-Day celebrations, and revisiting English as she is Spelt

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys..." London North Eastern Railways conductor's announcement that prompted a complaint from a non-binary passenger - and a grovelling apology from the company.

Apparently, the revised greeting goes something like this: "Good afternoon, thems and theys."

And talking of a woke on the wild side...

"Blown sand and surface water too dangerous." Health-and-safety reasons why an annual D-Day re-enactment was axed at a Devon beach where American soldiers trained for the Omaha landings.

What I guess will become known as G-Day - Grounded Day, as opposed to Groundhog Day.

Apparently though, the heavy rains and storms of a turbulent winter and spring have impacted the beach at Saunton Sands, North Devon quite badly, especially so as it is in a particularly sensitive and protected area, and to avoid further damage the cancellation understandable. But it was a funny excuse.

Finally, a reminder to proceed with care...

"We misspelled the word misspelled twice, as mispelled, in the Corrections and Clarifications column." The Guardian in 2007, as the newspaper - famous for its misspelling mistakes - celebrates its bicentenary.

And fair play, The Guardian has been having a good laugh at itself and revisiting some of its more memorable errors. Well worth a future return for a good humoured smile or ten...


English as she is Spelt

Education is important, but opening the pubs is importanter [from yesterday's post] ... "Some universities claim it is now 'white, male and elitist' to expect students to have good English." Spelling and grammar are 'elitist' and a form of white supremacy, claims Hull University.

My goodness my Guinness, we truly live in a world of woke bonkersness. Yes, there's a noo set of speling rools so nobody gets anyfink rong and everyfink rite.

And on that theme, there was a wonderful question on BBC2's House of Games celebrity quiz show:

Why did the Royal Mail recall the promotional material issued with its Celebrating Glorious England stamp sets in 2007?
A)  They'd forgotten to put a football on there
B)  'Isle of Wight' was misspelled as 'Isle of White'
C)  They featured a Welsh bridge
D)  They used the wrong flag to represent England

I guess the answer is easy knowing what came before the question. Yes of course, B).

And there lies a funny thing. Shopping in my local supermarket, I notice something odd...

Never mind brown eggs, try these weight eggs - delicious!

Yes, they'd spelt 'White eggs' as 'Weight eggs'.

I know, I know, the eggs were perhaps being sold by weight. But were they? That's a new one on me, but I understand nothing about such things. Whatever, I liked my little yoke and it made me smile, bearing in mind the 'Isle of White' cock-up of course.


Dear friend ... "My internet security provider has warned me that emails with bad spelling and grammatical errors could be dangerous spam. Or from the University of Hull." Tony Stafford of Andover, Hants, in a letter to the Daily Mail.

And while we're at it, let's not stop at spelling, let's refresh jografee, too.


Sunday is knock-knock day


- - - - - - - - - [Silence!]

Knock-knock! Hello, hello, anybody there? I'm dying for a pint!

There's nobody here - come back tomorrow, we'll be open then...

Yes, pubs and restaurants are opening indoors from Monday, May 17 - and while you're waiting for the doors to open, here is your starter for ten (pints):

A Sunday Telegraph MATT cartoon ... A somewhat bewildered looking fellow is walking past a closed pub, and is glancing at a notice board outside:

5 --- 6 PM

6PM --- NEXT

Oh yes, sometimes fact is even funnier than fiction. I particularly like this actual notice spotted outside a pub in Taunton, Somerset:


So, here's lookin' at you - tomorrow obviously, when hopefully there will be someone there to respond to my knock-knock!


Yesterday's 'tomfoolery' is today's 'Rudeworks ahead!'

Look away now ... "Smart motorway staff 'blocked from activating signs over fears they looked like male genitalia', former worker claims." Christopher Challis, 41, who operated cameras and road signs at a CCTV centre on the M25, in a statement to MPs investigating the controversial introduction of smart motorways.

Smile! ... Smart erotica on the M25 to Heaven

Caution: Rudeworks ahead ... Strictly members only
"Here's another fine mess you've gotten us into, Boris!"

Yes, I rolled my eyes - and smiled - in tandem, something I do with alarming frequency these days.

Christopher Challis went on to explain: "Somebody in their wisdom, higher up in Highways England, had suggested it looked like a penis, because the two red Xs looked like balls. We were told 'you can test it but don't implement it'."

And what do you suppose they thought the '40' represents? Maximum strokes per minute?

I guess that reaction is what you would call a woke on the wild side in these strange times. Perhaps it was a nod and a wink (nearly wrote wank there, phew) to actor John Barrowman and his tomfoolery, in particular his tale of slapping his penis on the windscreen of someone's car (see yesterday's doolallyness).

The top rated comment on Mail Online was...
MissLolaRose21, LolaLand, UK: "Since when do a man
's balls resemble crosses?"

If they do, a quick visit to A&E is called for. Or perhaps the local election voting booth? But let's not go there, we don't want to encourage Boris and yet another fine mess.


Tomfoolery by the Barrow load

Just put it away, John ... "What, dear reader, does the word 'tomfoolery' mean to you? To this innocent flower it means starting a food fight or placing a whoopee cushion under Grandma. But I have much to learn..." Thus the opening challenge of an article in The Times by journalist and columnist Carol Midgley - shades of yesterday's slice of doolallyness and the world of the "shagologist" - but let's not jump the gun.

To me, tomfoolery means finding oneself alone in someone's kitchen, discovering a tray of eggs, but with enough time to hard-boil two or three and then place them back at random in the tray; or picking up the phone, dialling a random local number and asking to speak to Mydrim Tonk because you'd been given this number to call (endless pleasure in the unexpected confusion).

But no: Carol enlightens us that tomfoolery, apparently, also means "placing your penis on a colleague's shoulder", as if it were Long John Silver's 'Who's-a-pretty-boy-then' parrot. The British-American actor John Barrowman MBE, 54, who is accused of doing this on the sets of Doctor Who and Torchwood, as well as constantly exposing himself and "slapping" said penis on the windscreen of someone's car, has reportedly admitted to "tomfoolery", but insisted it was never intended to be sexual.

Carol added: "I just hope that when he slapped his manhood on the windscreen, the driver made haste with the wipers."

Oh dear, every day a day at reform school.

Gosh, if I indulged in that sort of tomfoolery I'd be told to stop messing around and put away my little pinkie. I guess Barrowman is well blessed in the Long John Silver stakes and could afford to flash it around somewhat flamboyantly.

Incidentally, what of the name Barrowman? Where does it come from? Do you suppose that back in his ancestors' day the family acquired that name because the males of said family were all generously blessed in the manhood department; so much so it was a joke that they needed a wheelbarrow to carry it around to ease the load?


Come again?

Woman's Hour gets down and dirty ... "On the BBC's Woman's Hour website there is a question: 'What do the terms angling, rocking, shallowing and pairing mean to you?' Clue: it is nothing to do with fishermen in Jersey where Boris sent two patrol vessels as parts of a thinly veiled headline-grabbing pre-election stunt." That opening shot across the bows compliments of an article in The Sunday Times - what can best be described as a teasy bit of foreplay, given what's to come ("Woman's Hour turns into a lads' world when talk gets dirty", May 9).

Following my finally catching up with yesteryear's news that Tracey Emin had married a rock of ages back in 2015 (see the post just a couple of days further down), I reasonably concluded that I haven't been spending enough time on the grassy knoll observing and embracing the joy and the doolallyness of the passing parade - and I promptly caught up with the above news item.

I duly learn that "angling, rocking, shallowing and pairing" are four hitherto "unnamed" ways women can bridge the "orgasm gap"; indeed, on the Woman's Hour website there followed a full-on discussion with a shagologist called Devon. She apparently provided an explicit guide of almost veterinarian detail: "Shallowing is probably my favourite," she cooed, much like a woodpigeon on a promise.

A producer later chirruped that "many men" had sought out the programme and were "thankful" for "information they didn't have before". As I write I have not sought out the opinion of the lads at the Asterix Bar down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon. All I can say is: Well-i-jiw-jiw, heaven's above.

Mind you, I am rather taken with the term "shagologist". I looked it up online ... what initially came up was "Sunday Times columnists". Honestly! Cross my heart... I did also try "shagology" ... all that came up though was "shakeology". I fleetingly wondered if it had anything to do with the Welsh singer/songwriter Shakin' Stevens.

But no, I learn that "shakeology" is a "nutrient-dense superfood protein shake - contains so much nutrition your body craves: digestive enzymes, prebiotics, adaptogens, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, all crucial to being healthy and feeling great - all formulated with globally harvested ingredients".

Hm, pass! I'll stick with a pint or two of Guinness.

PS: Spellchecker moment ... the computer, unsurprisingly, came to a sudden stop at shagologist - and suggested hagiologist, which means a writer on the lives of the saints. As I said: Heaven's above.

I know I'm repeating myself: my faithful old spellchecker never disappoints.


Peerless and priceless

Peerless wit ... "Former Prime Minister Lloyd George reportedly said of hereditary peers that their only qualification is to be first of the litter - and: 'You would not choose a spaniel on those principles.' Spot-on." Peter Bloomfield of Petworth, West Sussex, in a letter to The Sunday Times.

Spot-on, indeed - Spot of course being a one-time popular name for a dog, but not necessarily a spaniel.

Priceless words ... "@hattiepeverel: Vincent Price was taller than Katie Price and heavier than Alan Price. I only know this because I looked at a price comparison website." Now that's a perfect dawn chorus, i.e. a glorious tweet of the day.

Go compare, indeed - and as The Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Leader of the House of Commons, said: "I hate it when people compare Boris Johnson to God. I mean He's good, but He's no Boris Johnson."


Do you take this lump of granite...?

Rock of ages ... "How fares Tracey Emin's marriage to a Gallic boulder...?" A hold-that-thought moment spotted in the Daily Mail.

At first I'd read it as "Gallic bounder", which would of course make sense - but no, it did indeed say "boulder".

Clearly I am not spending enough time on the grassy knoll observing and embracing the joy and the doolallyness of the passing parade, so I had to do a bit of clickety-clicking ... and this is what I learnt:

In March 2016, Tracey Emin, 57, an English artist known for her autobiographical and confessional artwork - ah yes, I remember with dread, that unmade bed - announced that she had married a rock. She made the relationship public at the opening of an exhibition of her work in Hong Kong, telling the media that she had, the year before, exchanged vows with a sizeable stone in the garden of her home in the South of France...

"Be my rock, my shelter, my crazy lover, my best friend..."

Tracey Emin marries her Gallic bounder of a boulder in 2015
(and is she stepmother to that stepboulder?)

Obviously we are not talking about a 69-carat Cartier rock in the Liz Taylor/Richard Burton mould here, but literally a rock, the real thing (see above).

Asked about her 2015 wedding on a recent BBC 4's Woman's Hour, she replied: "I haven't seen him for quite some time and I might be looking elsewhere." Fingers crossed, the Daily Mail sympathised, they've just hit a rocky patch.

But what about all those little pebbles? After all, they must now be cobbles; indeed, the kids grow up so fast these days they will in no time be troublesome boulders. Oh, and is that a stepboulder in the photo?

Yep, whom the gods wish to make mad, they first sprinkle with creative ambition and loads more money than sense. But, how dull life would be without all this glorious doolallyness to keep us entertained?


Election footnotes

Downing Street refurbishment ... "Please, please, please, can we go back to talking about Brexit, or Covid, or statues, anything but who paid to decorate the Prime Minister's flat. Quite frankly I couldn't give a flattened sombrero." Philip Collison of Terrington St Clement, Norfolk, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.

That letter was actually published a week before the elections of last Thursday - I point that out because the electorate gave their verdict, agreeing with the flattened sombrero view of things, witness the Conservatives in the Hartlepool by-election, where Boris Johnson overturned a majority of 3,500 at the last general election to take the seat - which had been Labour held since it was formed in 1974 - with a majority of 6,940.

With a figure of 200k being bandied about for the refurbishment of the four-bedroom flat (including 840-quid-a-roll gold wallpaper and a 10 grand sofa), there is talk of an official inquiry, see here:

"We are now satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred." The Electoral Commission announces an investigation into the refurbishment of Boris Johnson's Downing Street flat.

The smart thinking suggests that the investigation will cost an awful lot more than the makeover itself, which is almost certainly true, and a sure sign of doolallyness on high.

What I don't quite understand about all the fuss though is this: no matter how much was spent, or who paid for it, neither Boris nor the Tories will financially gain anything further down the line because the flat and its contents belong to the nation.

Finally, a quick word on the Labour party and leader Sir Keir Starmer's disastrous performance in England's elections, a new phrase surfaced:

A Starmer: an affliction where you struggle to get out any words of interest to anyone.

Oh dear - but I know what they mean. Whenever I catch sight him on telly he does possess the power to make me nod off, which is something you can't say about Boris.

PS: Spellchecker moment ... the computer came to a stop at Starmer's - as in Sir Keir Starmer's - and suggested Starker's, which rather confirms that the Labour leader was caught with his pants down regarding the election disaster - followed by Stammer's, which follows on cleverly from the phrase 'A Starmer'.

I've said it afore, and I'll say it agin: the old spellchecker never lets me down.


Sunday is knock-knock day

- - - - - - - - -
Hello! ... Hello, anyone there?
- - - - - - - - -

Driverless disparity ... "I consider it utterly ludicrous that we should consider allowing self-driving cars on the roads when we still have drivers on trains ['Self-driving' cars to be allowed on UK roads in 2021]." Gerry Woods of Brigg, Hampshire, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.

Indeed, the government has confirmed that drivers will not be required to monitor the road or keep their hands on the wheel when the vehicle is driving itself.

However, the driver will need to stay alert and be able to take over when requested by the system within 10 seconds. If a driver fails to respond, the vehicle will automatically put on its hazard lights to warn nearby vehicles, slow down and eventually stop.

Given that drivers often struggle to stay awake when physically in charge of a vehicle, it suggests that there will be plenty of hazard lights and cars coming to a sudden halt. And what happens if the problem is the automatic system that puts on the hazard lights to warn nearby traffic, slow down the vehicle and make it stop?

It certainly helps explain why there was nobody at home to answer the knock-knock on the door.


Medical shorthand

One for the road ... "Further to the letters about medical abbreviations, working in A&E in Manchester in the 1980s, the commonest injury abbreviation was PFO (pissed, fell over)." Dr John Burscough of Brigg, Lincolnshire, in a letter to The Times.

And there were more missives deserving of a mention...

Sunbathe with care ... "When I was a medical student in the early 1980s on attachment to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, deckchair assistants on nearby Boscombe beach often found unwell elderly people at the end of the day and sent them to A&E. The two abbreviations used were FID (found in deckchair), and FDID (found dead in deckchair)." Dr Alison Otto of Overstone, Northants.

Practical medicine ... "Once upon a time Oxfordshire ambulance service used CMP for a sudden death at home: cancel milk and papers." Philip Spinks, retired paramedic, Stratford-upon-Avon.

And this, a 5* response:

Emergency over ... "As a junior doctor in A&E my favourite abbreviation was LOLINAD (little old lady in no apparent distress)." Dr Fiona Cornish of Cambridge.

Shame it wasn't Dr Fiona Cornish of Camborne. But that's just me. Anyway...

Whenever I next catch sight of Nicola Sturgeon working herself up into a right old lather over independence for Scotland, I shall think LOLINOB (little old lady in need of break), with emphasis on the LOL, obviously.

Where's Alex Salmond when you need him?


The British Broadcasting Conundrum

"The BBC is failing to hold ministers to account ... As the crony contracts kept coming, where were the media?" A clickbait compliments of The Guardian, a left-hand-drive newspaper, caught my eye on the 1st of May; a headline to an article by George Monbiot, 58, a British writer known for his environmental and political activism, putting the boot into the BBC for not calling the Government to account.

Meanwhile, on the sunny side of the street - or is it the shady side of the street? (Delete to taste.)

"It is the BBC's greatest single ambition to remove Boris Johnson from power ... The attacks on the PM are from the 'blob' - the people who lost the EU referendum and the 2019 general election." A clickbait compliments of The Daily Telegraph, a right-hand-drive newspaper, caught my eye on - yes, the 1st of May; a headline to an article by Charles Moore, aka Baron Moore of Etchingham, 64, a British journalist and a former editor of The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator, putting the boot into the BBC for inexcusable political prejudice.

So, the BBC? Sunny or shady? Shady or sunny? The BBC noes to the left? The BBC noes to the right? You pays your money...

I am no standard bearer for today's BBC - their whole light entertainment and comedy output has become excessively child-like for my taste, even if I am approaching my second childhood - but as a proper spectator sport, stood as I am on the grassy knoll observing the joy and the doolallyness of the passing parade, I do have some sympathy for our national broadcaster caught in a lose-lose / loose-loose situation, witness the above two clickbaits.

However, back with the politics: a stunning result by the Conservatives in yesterday's Hartlepool parliamentary by-election, where Boris Johnson's party overturned a majority of 3,500 at the last general election to take the seat - which had been Labour held since it was formed in 1974 - with a seismic majority of, gulp, 6,940.

For Labour it was not so much a by-election, more a bye-bye election. Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice.

Mind you, it has been suggested that Boris won so handsomely because he declared war on France - front pages and TV news bulletins yesterday morning, election day, were awash with images of gunboats off to Jersey to see off the French. And let's be honest, we all want to see off that Macron fellow and his bolshie fishermen.

I guess it all goes to prove that whatever the BBC, or any other arm of the media, declares, it will all be rendered irrelevant by the gut instinct of the Great British Public when it places its cross in the box. And declaring a fishy war on the Frenchies helps (British fish and French fries fried the order of the day).

This is wonderfully reassuring to a political ignoramus like me.


Politics and litter bugs

What do you think of the show so far? Rubbish! ... "Although we enjoyed our time in your country, we are not recommending any further tours to the United Kingdom. This has nothing to do with Brexit, but litter. Of all the countries in the world we visit, on a regular basis, Britain is by far the worst for litter, especially on roads." John Read, the founder of the Clean Up Britain charity, was forwarded an email from an American travel company based in Washington that organises tourist trips to the UK.

The message ended with an abrupt apology: "I'm sorry to say, you've lost our business."

The above appeared in The Sunday Times, back on March 28, under the headline "Britain's a world leader in rubbish ... it's up to us to pick up the pieces".

Walking into town early on a beautiful if frosty and cold Bank Holiday Monday morning to beat the incoming rain and collect the morning paper, I registered the following planted outside homes along the way: one impressive Welsh Dragon flag, three property-for-sale boards - and 10 election campaign boards, all for the same candidate.

With today, Thursday, being election day for the Senedd (Welsh Assembly), such an explosion of election boards indicates that Llandeilo, politically speaking, is a one-horse town - which does sort of make sense because the town, apart from the alternative handle of Llandampness, is also affectionately referred to as Dodgy City (well, apart from the cowboys, Boot Hill, or Bridge Street, does climb straight through the church graveyard).

Reflecting on those one-party boards, today's election suggests a one-horse race in Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, but I did ponder if this means the candidate involved will run the race wearing blinkers, oblivious to the views of other runners?

Back along my daily walk into town, and after an exceedingly social Sunday with the pubs now unlocked after lockdown (at least for drinks and food outside), I pick up for recycling - well, here's the evidence...

One day's discarded litter collected off a mile-and-a-half stretch of Welsh road

...eight plastic bottles and one glass bottle, two beer cans (one squashed), and four plastic glasses.

For disposal into a bin along the way, three face masks (one black, one blue and one pink, yuck), various food wrappers - and, curiously, an umbrella (which I had hung on a wall the day before, but someone, presumably after a visit to the pub, had used it as a lightsaber and it was now well broken).

Incidentally, within the town itself a council employee clears the streets and parks of rubbish every morning, and does a proper job, but the built-up roads and country lanes leading in and out of town tend to be left for the occasional clear, which is where I do my bit.

When one of our political parties, whether in Cardiff or London, comes up with a plan to rid the country of this dreadful curse of discarded rubbish, through both education and effort on the ground, I may well consider voting for them. But I'm not holding out any hopes.

Incidentally, after a wet and windy Bank Holiday Monday, I only picked up one Pepsi Max can on the morning after, which had probably been chucked out of a passing vehicle anyway.

Back to square one...

A corporate rebranding bravely dispenses with vowels

Absrd ... "The announcement by the financial services company Standard Life of Aberdeen that it would henceforth be known as Abrdn (pronounced 'Aberdeen') was greeted with widespread derision ... The company hailed its choice as a switch to an 'agile, digitally enabled brand'. What does this mean? Who can tell?" A grab from a lead article in The Times.

What does it mean? Well, someone out there has the answer...

Vowels missing in action ... "Abrdn - clearly run by wnkrs." Steve Fleming of Claygate, Surrey, in a letter to The Guardian.

Clvr nd fnny rspns. (Indeed, a) ld f ld bllcks frm nrth f th brdr.

Never mind missing vowels, English is a funny old language anyway. I mean, lots of silent consonants - knickers, mnemonic, psychology, wrong - or, where letters that don't appear are nonetheless pronounced, as in nu(l)clear, law(r) and order, good morning(k), evening(k), surprising(k), complaining(k) ... Yes, where does that annoying K come from?

Burdensome brand ... "Your article on Abrdn and the silent P in PG Wodehouse's hero Psmith [from the comic novel Leave it to Psmith] reminded me of an English class when a fellow pupil at my school pronounced the P in psychology during a recitation. 'No, no boy,' our popular English teacher announced, smiling. 'The P is silent, as in swimming.' The penny eventually dropped and the reminder has stuck with me ever since." Dale Lyons of Birmingham, in a letter to in The Times.

And that reminds me of a sign I once saw pinned to the wall when visiting the bathroom for a pee: "We aim to please - you aim too, please."


Lady Chatterley revisited, a BBC buck, and a big bun in the oven

"If this filth is to your liking may we suggest that you move to the cesspit that is Hebden Bridge." A sign put up in Cornholme, a village in West Yorkshire, after steamy novels and pornographic literature were secretly left at their free roadside library.

Hebden Bridge, a market town just up the road from Cornholme, I discover, compliments of a curiosity click, is known as the lesbian capital of the UK, and is said to have more lesbians per square foot than anywhere else in the country.

Wel-i-jiw-jiw, as they would say down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon. And shouldn't that be "more lesbians per square inch than anywhere else in the country"?

Meanwhile, back with the more mundane stuff, so to speak...

"I've a huge amount to earn." Amol Rajan, 37, Indian-born British journalist and broadcaster who has been the BBC's Media Editor since 2016, tweets after landing a job on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. He quickly corrected his typing error, adding the missing letter to the last word of his message: "I've a huge amount to learn."

Hm, a subliminal slip of the subconscious?

Next, a reminder that there definitely isn't one born every minute...

"Congratulations, you've had a toddler!" Maternity ward staff at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, to first time mum Amber Cumberland, 21, after she gave birth to 12lb 14oz daughter called Emilia, the second biggest in the UK.

And that drew this response...

Big birthday ... "On the subject of large deliveries, after I had arrived as a (wartime) Lammas Day baby, my mother sent a telegram to her mother-in-law: 'BOY BORN 1ST 7LBS 6OZ STOP BOTH WELL.' My grandmother is said to have exclaimed: 'My! He was a big baby." David Reid of Otford, Kent, in a letter to The Times.

Hm, Lammas Day? Another quick curiosity click ...  "Lammas Day, also known as Loaf Mass Day, is a Christian holiday celebrated in some English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere, on the 1st of August. The name originates from the word 'loaf' in reference to bread, and 'Mass' in reference to the primary Christian liturgy celebrating Holy Communion."

Every day a day at school, hence one 'big bun in the oven'.


Reflections (Dawn Chorus Day)

"A still, clear, frosty, cold, picture-perfect start and morning ... overcast by midday ... showers into afternoon ... brighter by evening, still cold." Thus the entry atop my diary for yesterday, Sunday the 2nd of May 2021, Dawn Chorus Day here in the UK.

Yesterday morning, as per my usual routine, I set off on my daily walk into town, just before 7 o'clock, to collect the morning paper. I was taken aback by how cold it was - I was suitable dressed because a look out of the kitchen window observed the hedge and lawn coated in frost.

Despite the cold, the birds along the country lane were singing away. When I arrived in town I passed a familiar face walking his dog and I remarked, with a smile, that I was dressed on this May morning as I was back in mid-winter, which was actually true.

Now I keep a daily diary, where I note three things: at the top the weather that day (a throwback to my flying days - I held a private pilot's licence and weather could literally be a matter of life or death); next down I simply note where I have been that day, and if I have seen or experienced something, or indeed met someone, worth making a note of for future reference; finally the one thing that day that made me smile the most (joy), or shake my head in disbelief (doolallyness).

My diaries are quite entertaining to look back through.

Anyway, I flick back through the diary to the beginning of this year ... and this, my weather entry for the 2nd of January 2021, precisely four months ago:

"A still, frosty, cold and clear start ... high cloud slowly moving in from early morning ... some snow late morning ... then an overcast, grey, cold day ... spits and spots of rain/sleet/snow by evening."

Talk about snap! The only difference being that the increased heat from the spring sun turned the sleet and snow of January into the rain of May. But what a cold spring we are having. Brrr!


Sunday is knock-knock day

Who's there?

Yes, today is Dawn Chorus Day here in the UK...

A Celtic dawn in May heralds a dawn chorus

First thing this morning, around 5 o'clock, I switch on the radio, and birds are singing like mad. Yes, radio stations across the UK and Ireland (with the occasional dip across the channel) join together to broadcast the dawn chorus in real time. Magnificent, uplifting and heart-warming.

Enigma code cracked: equals tweet, or tweet-tweet (♪♪), or tweet-tweet-tweet (♪♪♪)!


Perfection wrapped in small packages

"While hundreds of people celebrated the reopening of outdoor hospitality last Monday, newlyweds Ross and Sasha had more reasons to toast a drink than most. With just six guests, the groom having never met the bride's family, and a reception on one of Cardiff's busiest streets, the wedding was far from traditional.
     "But despite completely coincidentally arranging the ceremony for the same day hospitality reopened, Ross, 22, and Sasha Kahler, 21, said their day was 'perfect'..."
The opening paragraphs of a story in the Western Mail under the headline "Happy couple celebrate their 'perfect' day as pubs reopen".

That story rang a bell. Just a day or so before, Vanessa Feltz on her early-morning BBC Radio 2 show had a birthday conversation with a female listener who had married during lockdown with just a few guests, on a day she recalled as "perfection".

"Funny you should say that," said Vanessa. "Over the past year I have spoken to two women I personally know who got married under lockdown, and both said exactly what you said about it being a perfect day."

Hm, as someone who has never had to think about arranging a wedding ceremony, or indeed getting married, perhaps it is now time for couples to plump for smaller weddings. I mean, think of the reduced costs, not to mention guests feeling obliged to buy presents perhaps the couple don't really need and certainly won't quarrel over when they divorce.

I feel the same about funerals. They should be small, private and personal affairs. It has been a relief over the past year to avoid funerals and instead send a carefully composed brief note celebrating some fond or amusing moment about the deceased.

I am always struck how positively families respond to such a note because that is how they want to remember that individual. After all, why go to a funeral to pay your respects when someone is dead? Do that when the person is alive. And the family will know how you feel without having to turn up at the funeral to publicly endorse it.

And on the subject of the deceased, I presume that both Captain Sir Tom Moore and Prince Philip would have chosen a lockdown funeral out of choice.

I am still taken aback by how little we knew about Prince Philip's life, his achievements and his sense of fun. And what a 'perfect' funeral he had. That lone piper slow marching and fading out of the chapel still lingers...


Chaos theory, a quick snifter, and a bra, bra black sheep

"@pmgentry: A professor of mine went to hear [French philosopher] Derrida speak once. The entire talk was about cows: everyone was flummoxed but listened carefully, and took note about ... cows. There was a short break, and when Derrida came back, he was like, 'I'm told it is pronounced chaos'." A recent tweet of the month - which earned my smile of the day.

I'll tell you what though: there's an awful lot of cows spotted on Downing Street these days. Or bullshit as they call it down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon. And talking of Number 10...

"A man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry." Ecclesiastes 8.15 (King James Version). And Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons, endorses the Good Book thus: "As the pubs are now starting to reopen it is reassuring to have divine approval for visiting them."

And talking of dying for a quick snifter...

"I remember fellow athlete Brendan Foster asking one of our Russian handlers where was the nearest nightclub. He replied: 'Helsinki!'" Sebastian Coe, who won four Olympic medals, including the 1500 gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, recalls the deprivations faced by athletes at those Olympic Games.

Ah, those were the bad old days, before the Soviet Union morphed into the current bad new days called Russia and the Putin Club. Finally:

"I feel strongly that if we had more women scientists we would have fewer helicopters on Mars and more sports bras that don't require strong arm contortionist skills to get into." English journalist Jojo Moyes is unimpressed after Nasa celebrated the first controlled flight on another planet by its drone ingenuity.

I know nothing of sports bras, but I well remember from back in the day, when I was a trainee young buck about town in my TR3, that you needed contortionist skills to undo a common or garden bra.

Whatever, and back with that mini chopper, when the Mars helicopter success was announced by Nasa, there were quite a few women scientist present, so I don't think Jojo Moyes should be holding her breath for an easy-fit sports bra any day soon.

Back to square one...
Huw and Smile 2021: April
Huw and Smile 2021: March
Huw and Smile 2021: February
Huw and Smile 2021: January:
Huw and Smile 2020: December
Huw and Smile 2020: November
Huw and Smile 2020: October
Huw and Smile 2020: September
Huw and Smile 2020: August

Huw and Smile 2020: July
Huw and Smile 2020: June
Huw and Smile 2020: May
Huw and Smile 2020: April
Huw and Smile 2020: January to March
Huw and Smile 2019: October to December