[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]
landed ... Huw and Smile - see below ... one tiny step for
humanity, one giant leap for me, HB
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
a jaunty angle - and hopefully a little ball bouncing along above the words. Happy
To waft some electronic smoke signals downwind, e-mail me at:
In the meantime...
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)
Letter of the day
Home, home on the range ... "Covid? Work from home. Train strikes?
WFH. Wet weather warnings? WFH. Hot weather warnings? WFH. WTF
is going on?"
Ah yes, how to get readers to read the f-word without an asterisk in sight. Especially on a day Britain suffers record high temperatures.
On this day
Bottled Blitz Spirit ... Today, the 8th of June 2022, is the
40th anniversary of President Ronald Regan's address to the
British Parliament, when he predicted the Soviet Union would end
"on the ash-heap of history".
smiled and thought, now that's the sort of thing Ukrainian
president Volodymyr Zelensky would say...
Partygate - and another fine/fixed-penalty mess
Who guards the guard? ... "We seem to have got away with it." Martin Reynolds, Boris Johnson's former Principal Private Secretary (and acknowledged gatekeeper at No 10, reportedly a law unto himself), after 200 people were invited to a bring-your-own booze party in the Downing Street garden while gatherings of more than two were barred under strict Covid lockdown rules.
Sue Gray report into Partygate ... "Nine bombshell findings with 4am party, vomiting, a fight and wine on the walls..." A Mirror newspaper report headline - which continues: "Boris Johnson claims he's been 'vindicated' by the Sue Gray Partygate report. But the litany of findings about rule-breaking in Downing Street shows he's not exactly in the clear. Here are all the gory details explained..."
I found myself rolling my eyes and wishing everyone would move on to sort out the more serious events threatening my agreeable walk through time and space.
And then, this front page Daily Telegraph pocket cartoon summed it all up to perfection...
Whenever I now see No 10's front door on TV, with the media's self-appointed sheriffs challenging the Butch Cassidys and Calamity Janes swaggering in and out, all I will see is Matt's Crazy Horse Saloon swing doors...
Come again? ... "Did Boris Johnson say that he has been humbled by the Sue Gray report or rumbled?" Kevin Clayton of Bourne, Lincolnshire, in a letter to The Guardian.
Well, if you didn't smile you'd go mad.
Beware low flying circus
The Adventures of PC 69 ... "Are we sure Norfolk Constabulary's list of 37 sexual identities and genders is not a long-lost Monty Python script!" Ken Maxwell of Newtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland, in a letter to the Daily Mail.
Well, if it's in the paper, it must be true. But I googled it anyway ... "Norfolk Constabulary issues a list of sexual identities and genders to help officers deal with the public - with critics calling it a 'complete waste of taxpayers' money'. A guide listing 37 different gender terms and sexual identities has been issued to police officers and staff to help them when dealing with members of the public..."
Well I never. Sticking with the world of flying circuses...
And now for something completely different ... "Luckily for us we had Hitler." Eric Idle, 79, English comedian, singer, writer and a former member of the British surreal comedy group Monty Python, puts into perspective American actress and comedian Laraine Newman, 70, and her lament that things have never been so dire in her lifetime.
Indeed, and now we have Putin.
Game, set and jail
Quote of the week contender ... "Papa didn't listen to the law and now he's on the naughty step." Lilly Becker, 45, the estranged wife of Boris Becker, 54, tells their 12-year-old son Amadeus about the former tennis star's plight. He was jailed for two-and-a-half years over a 700,000 grand bankruptcy fraud because, according to the judge, "he showed no remorse".
Hold the front page! ... "Boris Johnson has spent his first night in jail." Oops! BBC Breakfast show host Naga Munchetty, 47, delivers an awkward blunder live on air the morning after the sentence before.
The whooping and hollering of at least half the audience rapidly abates as they realise what she meant to say.
New balls, please ... "After Boris Becker was jailed for two-and-a-half years, my wife asked: 'How many months is that?' I told her: 'It's 30, love!'" Colin Cross of Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, in a letter to the Daily Mail.
I guess Boris Becker would have enjoyed that jokey letter because the word on the street suggests he's a friendly, amusing and decent fellow who's addicted to being over generous towards family and friends, hence fiddling his finances.
After all, who
could dislike a man who, when told he'd been voted the "most
popular German", replied that he appreciated it was a very short list!
Rise and shine - or not
Sweet and sexless ... "You report on cannabidiol gummies to boost libido (News, last week). Are there also gummies to suppress it? I find I have become much happier since losing mine." Jeremy Walker of Old London Town, in a letter to The Sunday Times.
I caught myself smiling and nodding there.
Indeed, I am reminded of George Melly (1926-2007), the English
jazz and blues singer, critic, writer and lecturer, who had a
reputation for having a voracious sex drive that was always in,
er, overdrive. However, on finding himself impotent at 70, said:
"Upset? Certainly not. It's
wonderful, like being unchained from a lunatic."
New members welcome
The Icelandic Phallological Museum in Reykjavik ... "I opened the world's largest penis museum ... The collection is very large today, people from around the world having sent in specimens. The largest, from a sperm whale, is about 6ft [two metres], while the smallest, from a European mouse, is less that a millimetre [0.04 inches]." Sigurdur Hjartarson, as quoted in The Guardian newspaper's Experience column, explains how the interest sort of, er, grew on him.
And that article drew this letter in response:
Please put it away ... "The world's largest penis museum? Oh dear, are we really back to that hoary old question - does size really matter?" Max Perkins of Salisbury, Wiltshire.
Hm, Max ponders aloud if size still matters. Mega moons ago, in my local Crazy Horsepower Saloon, one of the lads was being good-humouredly teased by his pals that at the moment of conception he must have been at the back of the queue headed "manhood".
Pearl, the pub's wonderfully entertaining barmaid entered the fray: "Don't take any notice, Dai. It's not the length of the barrel but the power of the shot."
remember thinking at the time: how perfectly reassuring!
Having taken a longer break from observing and embracing the joy and the doolallyness of the passing parade than anticipated, here I am, ready, willing and able to take an occasional peep from my vantage point on the grassy knoll.
And my word, the rapture and rupture of humanity has been continuing apace - but first, a generous smile to restart things...
May Day Delight
Corrections and clarifications ... "We misnamed one of the contestants in Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr (BBC One); he is called Banjo, not Bingo (Television, 16 April, What's On, p4)." A House! of delight as spotted in The Guardian newspaper.
Well, you have to laugh. Somewhere out there, please God, there must be twins called Banjo and Bingo.
After all, as a youngster I fondly remember in my square mile
two adult twin men who were known to everyone simply as Snip and
Snap. I can't even remember what their proper names were.
I am now taking a break from observing and embracing the joy and the doolallyness of the passing parade. I shall carefully climb down from my vantage point on the grassy knoll, step off the ladder and put my feet up, sort of...
See you in about a month's time, if spared...
A colourful night on the tiles
Drunk and legless ... "The official Oxford English Dictionary (OED) website has made 'trousered' the latest addition to its long list of synonyms for being 'very drunk'." Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, 79, is credited with the first printed use of the term for being in a state of intoxication in a 1977 newspaper interview.
Now what was it Connolly's fellow Scot, Rod Stewart, 77, sang? "♪♪♪: I'm in the mood to get legless tonight."
Katie Wild, the OED's executive editor, said the new addition had joined an extensive selection of English synonyms for becoming drunk: "It expands what is already one of the largest categories, which contains over 200 words, from Old English through to late 20th century coinages such as wazzed, mullered, twatted, bollocksed, and - now - trousered.
She mentioned a few more: "Canned, as well as the more familiar wasted, smashed, hammered, wrecked and sloshed. And that's just the main category of drunk. If 200 or so synonyms aren't enough for your needs, there are many more specific terms in subcategories such as being partially drunk, riotously drunk, and completely or very drunk..."
I learn elsewhere that Barbados has a colourfully descriptive term - "cat-spraddled" - meaning that the legs and arms are splayed out like a cat, in different directions, so that the person cannot stand or walk properly.
Meanwhile, here in Welsh Wales - and never mind the excellent "popty ping" for microwave - we have an equally smiley word for the state of leglessness: "shacles" - clearly derived from the English word "shackled", meaning something that checks or prevents free action as if by fetters.
Except of course that here in Wakes, when it comes to pronunciation of shacles, we who speak the two spokes have added the all-important "s" to make it sound as if it's a naturally sounding Welsh word.
Yes, down the years I've had one or two nights when I've ended
up well and truly legless. Or, as we say down the Crazy
Horsepower Saloon, shacles.
Just horsing around
Equine amendment ... "I have a strong objection to Tim Stanley (Sketch, January 18) referring to the disgraced former health secretary Matt Hancock as a 'Suffolk stallion'. As a member of the Suffolk Horse Society, I doubt he would have passed a stallion inspection and is likely to have been gelded." David Chaplin of Horringer, Suffolk, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
In June 2021, Matt Hancock, the UK Health Secretary, resigned from his position after admitting that he had violated social distancing protocols following pictures being published of him having a cwtch (Welsh for cuddle-plus) with aide Gina Coladangelo, and sealing it with a kiss, in his office.
And the sky proceeded to fall on his head - from a great height - hence the resignation and then setting up an official love nest with Gina. (I don't think I have ever written "love nest" before; I wasn't sure whether there should be a hyphen ... apparently not.)
Whatever, the Suffolk stallion letter took me back a few years to a snap I captured in the Towy Valley...
The young stallion showing off his wares was instantly christened Randy Andy.
Mind you, if that image had been captured over the past six months, then I guess the stallion would have been blessed with the moniker Matt Hangcock.
Let it all hang out, Matt.
Boris goes defensive
What rules? ... "Nobody told me that what we were doing was against the rules." Prime Minister Boris Johnson denies lying to Parliament over the May 2020 Downing Street garden party.
I'm telling you, Boris is suffering long Covid, which is affecting his decision making. After all, he was the one endorsing the experts' terms and conditions and endlessly detailing them both in Parliament and on telly.
School report ... "Boris seems affronted when criticised for what amounts to a gross failure of responsibility." A 1982 letter to Stanley Johnson, Boris's father, from Martin Hammond, the classics master at Eton College, resurfaces, despairing about his 17-year-old pupil's "effortless superiority".
The scathing report rapped Boris for thinking he should be free of the obligations that bind others. It comes as the PM's future hangs in the balance over all those No 10 garden parties during lockdown, not to mention the PM's inherent trait of being economical with the truth.
Returning to the subject of school reports, a letter to The Daily Telegraph from Evelyn Hubbard quoted a report regarding her youngest daughter, Polly. I have marginally paraphrased it here, but all I have changed is daughter Polly's name to that of a son - curiously apt in these confusing days - oh, and the signatory...
"My son's form tutor once wrote on his report: 'I had high hopes for Boris ... but now realise that underneath the tinsel and glitter there is merely more tinsel and glitter.' Stanley Johnson."
Well, if you didn't laugh you really would go doolally.
"Thank you, Drive"
Driven to distraction ... "I was surprised to read your report about a former Royal Navy commander who drove the anti-submarine warfare frigate HMS St Albans. Surely the correct verb is 'to navigate'. In fact I can't think of any nautical context in which the use of the verb 'drove' would be correct, can you?" Jeremy White of High Peak, Derbyshire, registers a slice of nautical pedantry in a point of order to columnist Rose Wild who pilots the Feedback column in The Times.
Yes, the notion of driving a ship generates a smile. Oh, and Rose Wild responded: "Sadly, no." However...
Driving a ship ... "Captains of HM ships, past and present, will have had a wry smile reading your Feedback column as it has long been naval parlance to speak of 'driving a ship' when in command. Often a young commander, having driven a destroyer or frigate, would next join the naval staff ashore, 'driving a desk'." Lester May, Lieutenant Commander Royal Navy, of Old London Town, in a letter to The Times.
Hm, when I did my barman degree compliments of the University of Life, I guess I "drove a bar". I rather like that, especially as one or two of the locals regularly and effortlessly drove me to distraction.
Cruise control ... "Further to the discussion about driving ships, when my husband was a P&O ship's doctor, 50 years ago, the third mate would spend the early evening embracing many pink gins, then square his shoulders, put his cap on and announce: 'Well, 42,000 tons of rust and lust won't move itself ... I'd better go and drive this ship'." Suzie Marwood, also of Old London Town, in a letter to The Times.
"42,000 tons of rust and lust!" How wonderful is that? Oh, and I guess the ship, at 42,000 tons, would have been the Oriana, a ship I am vaguely familiar with.
Not that I have ever been cruising on the Oriana - I have on the Canberra though - but when, back in the day, I worked in Southampton I befriended a chap in my local pub who was an officer on the Oriana, and occasionally, when the ship was in dock for a few days between "drives", he would invite a few of us on board for a meal.
Oh yes, do you suppose the captain of the huge container ship
Ever Given, which crashed and blocked the Suez Canal in March
2021, was hoping to do a bit of off-road driving?
Boris confuses party line with party time
A hundred thousand apologies ... "Of course the Prime Minister is very sorry. He is very sorry that he has been caught." David Walters of Corbridge, Northumberland, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
The stand-out detail regarding the Downing Street party from last April is that a member of staff at No 10 was dispatched to the nearest supermarket to fill a suitcase with bottles of wine.
As The Times Diary reminded us, now that we are free of Brexit we are finally able to serve wine by the suitcase again.
With Boris recently identifying himself with Moses, it may mean an addition to the list of biblical wine measures: Jeroboam (standard bottle x 4), Methuselah (x 8), Salmanazar (x 12), Balthazar (x 16), Nebuchadnezzar (x 20), and now, Samsonite (x sky's the limit: "Great capacity suitcases. Perfect for a work jolly-up.").
Who pays the piper? ... "Who is paying for all this wine for Downing Street staff? If Boris Johnson cannot pay for his own wallpaper, it's probably not him. I sincerely hope it's not me." Christine Shaw, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
Mention of wine by the Samsonite ... it made me ponder if Boris also identifies with Samson. I mean, if he cut off that unruly hair of his, would he lose all his, um, hornyness?
The spellchecker stopped at, um, hornyness, and
suggested, er, thorniness. Hm, the spellchecker is
keeping one step ahead of the pack. I mean, you really could end
up receiving a nasty little prick.
And now for something completely different
The not so grand old Duke of York ... "I see that one of the few titles that Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, is to retain is that of Vice-Admiral. This is worthy of a Monty Python script." Hamish Watson of Marlborough, Wiltshire, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
Truth is often funnier than fiction. Yes, more amusing even than a Monty Python sketch.
"♪♪♪: Oh, the grand old Duke of York, / He had ten thousand legal eagle men; / He marched them up to the top of the brief, / And he marched them down again..."
Meanwhile, a point of order...
No sweat ... "The Ecuadorean Embassy is Prince Andrew's last hope now." British journalist and feature writer John Crace's tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the Duke could follow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's lead and hide from the US authorities following the Ghislaine Maxwell guilty verdicts.
Incidentally, there is much in the media that The Firm has unceremoniously thrown Prince Andrew under the bus. But isn't it more to the point that it's Prince Andrew who has thrown the Royal Family under the bus?
The spellchecker stopped at thrown - as in "The Firm
has unceremoniously thrown Prince Andrew under the bus"
suggested "throne". I kid you not, cross my heart, et
cetera, et cetera. Obviously my spellchecker is a frustrated
comedy script writer.
Sunday is knock-knock day
The Novak Djokovic road show came to a brutal end today, summed up rather forcefully here...
Djokovic a poor ambassador ... "The vast majority of tennis enthusiasts would be in favour of the Australians locking up Mr Djokovic and throwing away the key. He is a poor ambassador for the sport, but most people are too polite to say so." RD Ambrose of Old London Town, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph Sports section.
Yes, I know what he means. Novak is one of life's high-profile celebrities where it really is a challenge to feel any affection for. Just like Lewis Hamilton in the world of motor racing (mind you, how many sports stars have had the national anthem played on 103 occasions in their honour while standing on the top step of the podium).
Game, set and match for Australia ... "Novak Djokovic's deportation from Australia is a ghastly, ruinous drama of his own creation. High-profile dissenters, whether a wondrously successful athlete or attendees of a clandestine work event that looks suspiciously like a jolly-up, erode faith and the collective effort." Journalist Martin Samuel, writing in today's Mail Online.
Hm, Djokovic is a victim of nothing but his vanity. And on that score...
Common factor ... "Novak Djokovic, Boris Johnson and Prince Andrew have something in common. They believe they are so exceptional that rules applying to everyone else do not apply to them. They are getting or will get their comeuppance." Sandy Pratt of Storrington in West Sussex, in a letter to - no, not The Guardian - but today's Sunday Telegraph.
One down, two to go.
Party time at No 10
Daily Telegraph front page, a MATT pocket cartoon ... a man at home, in his dressing gown, looking out over central London in the night-time, a moon shining brightly in the sky, and he is on the phone ... "Hello, police? I live near the Downing St garden. It's eerily quiet tonight. Is everything okay?" Yes, MATT sums up the ever-growing shemozzle over endless "work and wine" parties held at No 10 during lockdown, in particular the one held the evening before the funeral of Prince Philip.
Yes, the curious case of all those parties in the night-time in the garden at No 10, especially so the BYOB gatherings (bring-your-own-booze). And the following a typical response...
Something beginning with, um, "p" ... "If Boris Johnson's intellect is so suboptimal that he cannot recognise a party when he encounters one, do we really want him in charge of the country? Or maybe he just needs glasses? Could he pop up to Barnard Castle [where Dominic Cummings famously drove 60 miles there and back to test his eyesight after experiencing loss of vision due to Covid-19] for an optician's appointment?" Virginia Withers of Chertsey, Surrey, in a letter to The Guardian.
What I find extraordinary about all these "industrial scale" garden parties held at No 10 during lockdown, is that not one single person, from the Prime Minister down, sensed the ambush that was lying in wait when the news inevitably leaked.
Whatever, with glorious tales of posties across the country successfully delivering mail that had the most minimal, vague and often inscrutable bits of information given as the address, it generated the following letters, also to The Guardian...
Postperson Pat ... "I wonder if a letter addressed to 'The Liar, London' would find its way to No 10?" Pete Bibby of Sheffield."
And it drew this response:
Special delivery ... "I'll wager that I'm not the only Guardian reader who has just posted a letter addressed to 'The Liar, London'." Stephen Rafferty of Buckland Brewer in Devon."
Boris only has himself to blame for coming across as just a lightweight Chief Sitting Bull. Mind you, it would be fascinating to know how many 'The Liar, London' letters have actually been posted. Oh, and were any sent Recorded Delivery?
PS: The spellchecker breezed past suboptimal - as in "if
Boris's intellect is so suboptimal...", but I came to a stop and had to look it up: "of
less than the highest standard or quality".
We knew you were coming...
Queen Elizabeth's Jubilee Baking Competition announced ... "To mark Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee, a nationwide baking competition sets out to find a brand new pudding dedicated to the Queen." A typical headline spotted over recent days.
You know me; I appreciate a good tangent, so I enjoyed the following missive following the above announcement...
Keep Jubilee Tidy ... "Parades, puddings and tree planting to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee all sound splendid. But could I also suggest something everyone could join in with: a nationwide year-long litter pick, to clean the country in thanks to the Queen for her life of service to it?" Jackie Lang of Old London Town, in a letter to The Times."
Well that made me smile, I can tell you. As regular visitors to Look You will know, I often feature photos of the recyclable stuff I pick up on my daily walk into town along a two mile stretch of a busy country lane.
And right on cue, here's a collection of stuff from a couple of days ago...
Yes, the usual suspects, but this time, a heavy-duty steel link that had clearly fallen off a vehicle or a piece of machinery; and, curiously, a torn, stick-on L-plate.
But why had it been torn. Had someone just passed their test and torn up the L-sticker in celebration? Or perhaps, had yet again failed and tore up the L-plate in frustration and chucked it out the window?
Whatever the reason for adding to the nation's rubbish problem, Jackie Long's splendid year-long litter pick suggestion seems but a pipe dream. Sadly.
Oh yes, the best pudding suggestion so far? Gin & Dubonnet cake.
It's said that the Queen has been advised to give up her daily
tipple of gin and Dubonnet, for health reasons, so what better
that a Gin and Dubonnet Jubilee cake. I'll drink to that.
More pithy school report put-downs
Brush off ... "At the end of my first year at grammar school, my art master told me: 'Fletcher, the only thing you will ever paint is a door.' He was absolutely correct. Now in my 71st year, I am an expert with a two-inch brush and a can of Dulux." Robert Fletcher of Taunton, Somerset, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
Yes, more correspondence on the honesty of school reports from yesteryear...
A high low ... "My art report was succinct and entirely accurate: 'Started abysmally and rose to a very low standard.'" Michael Coward of Clifton, Bedfordshire, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
Below bar ... "My own high point was: 'Jonathan sets himself very low standards, which he continually fails to achieve.'" Jonathan Ellis of Doncaster, in a letter to The Sunday Times.
And I liked these on the talent to cope with practical challenges...
Drill in bits ... "My woodwork teacher liked to (mis)quote Churchill. Hence my admittedly accurate report: 'Give him the job and he will finish the tools.'" Kelvin Hard of Worcester, in a letter to The Sunday Times.
Pearl one, Alison nil ... "My report for sewing in the 1950s stated: 'Alison must learn to talk less and stitch more.'" Alison Varney of Abingdon, Oxfordshire, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
By the by, why is sowing spelt sewing? All I can find online is
that the origin of the pronunciation is unknown, but may have
resulted from the similarity between "ooh" and "oh" (whatever
Heart to heart ... "In a medical first, US doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Centre have transplanted the heart of a pig into a patient in a last-ditch effort to save his life. The hospital said he is doing well three days after the highly experimental surgery. Patient David Bennett, 57, reported that his chief concern was whether he would oink." A story, unsurprisingly, all over the news shop over recent days.
Good for Mr Bennett to approach it all with a sense of humour. But do you suppose he will turn out to be an expert at sniffing out truffles?
Also, when he spots a pool of mud, will he be overtaken by the need to wallow while singing "♪♪♪: Mud, mud, glorious mud, nothing quite like it for cooling the blood. So follow me, follow, down to the hollow, and there let us wallow in glorious mud"?
And sticking with animals...
OVO and out ... "Britain's third largest energy supplier has apologised after it advised customers to 'have a cuddle with your pets' to stay warm and save on heating bills." According to the Financial Times, OVO Energy last week emailed customers a list of 10 "simple and cost-effective ways to keep warm this winter".
As well as cuddling pets for warmth, other tips included "challenging the kids to a hula hoop competition", "doing star jumps", and "cleaning the house".
And there you have it, joy and doolallyness encapsulated in two
Washed out ... "In 1976, I bought a Creda tumble dryer. It still works well. Since then I have replaced six washing machines, the latest recalled by Whirlpool." Rachel McCool of South Molton, Devon, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
Today, I thought it would be good to share a couple of reports by those who, yesteryear, may well have experienced some pithy school report put-downs...
Eternal beeping ... "My dishwasher beeps when its wash programme finishes - and then every 20 minutes. Forever. I know this because I once found it beeping when I returned from a fortnight's holiday." Shirley Horwich of Altrincham, Cheshire, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
What I like about the above is that we can all identify and relate to the comments made. Yes, things are not built to last these days. And at what cost to the planet isn't worth thinking about.
As for the continual beeping, everything that features electronics - washing machines, dishwashers, central heating boilers, computers, card readers, cars, et cetera, et cetera - will, sooner rather than later, let you down and drive you bonkers.
Finally, and keeping to the dishwasher theme, this letter in the wake of the much discussed jury decision to acquit in the trial about the toppling into Bristol harbour of the bronze statue of Bristol-born merchant Edward Colston (1636-1721).
Oh, and there really is a maker of washing machines and dishwashers called Colston...
Rest in relative peace ... "My old Colston dishwasher is now deemed to be tainted by racism. So I plan to dispose of it in Bristol harbour and am looking for volunteers to help. Refreshments will be served." Peter Cheshire of Limpsfield, Surrey, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
I wonder if Peter Cheshire is an acquaintance of the Cat? That
missive certainly made me grin.
School for further thought
Naughty and nice list ... "I am reminded of my brother's first term report at secondary school. Summarising all of the other subject reports, the form master wrote simply: 'It doesn't look like Iain will be getting a new bike for Christmas.' He didn't." Andy Brown of Nottingham, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
Yes, more Telegraph correspondence on the honesty of school reports from yesteryear...
Diversion ahead ... "'When Jane walks across the classroom without creating a disturbance, the entire class will benefit.' I didn't excel at school." Jane R Ludlow of Bridge in Kent.
And I particularly liked the following because it, er, bridges the above two school reports rather splendidly...
Drop anchor ... "The most memorable comment came from my son's housemaster: 'A ball and chain would make a very acceptable Christmas present for Mark.'" Dr John Holden of Farnborough in Hampshire.
Oh yes, this missive definitely made me ponder...
Thinks and thanks ... "The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was condemned to death for encouraging his pupils to think. My school taught me to think, but then disapproved when I did - for which I am eternally grateful." Alan Sears of Woking in Surrey.
Out of curiosity I Googled that death sentence business: "Socrates (469-399BC) was found guilty of 'impiety' and 'corrupting the young', sentenced to death, and then required to carry out his own execution by consuming a deadly potion of the poisonous plant hemlock. Politicians and historians have often used the trial to show how democracy can go rotten by descending into mob rule."
Goodness, 2,421 years later and humanity hasn't changed an iota. Think what many of today's world leaders are prepared to do to keep their hands on power and their citizens under the cosh.
Hello, anybody out there?
School for thought
Happy talk ... "My aunt's school report from the 1920s included the accurate comment: 'Generally speaking, Evelyn is generally speaking.'" Frances Atkinson of Newcastle, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
How wonderfully witty is that? Both The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times have been sharing correspondence from readers on the delightful honesty of school reports from yesteryear...
Lost in space ... "My geography report in the 1960s said: 'Does well to find her way home.'" Sue Davis of Blackwater, Surrey, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
Meanwhile, on the Latin front...
O me miserum? Not really ... "I still cherish the memory of my last Latin report. It read: 'Abysmal, yet remains cheerfully indifferent.'" Nick Bointon of Zoetermeer, the Netherlands, in a letter to The Sunday Times.
And this one earns top marks for the headline of the day...
Amo, amas, amazing ... "When I passed higher Latin, my teacher's words of congratulations were: 'Amazing, Hughes. Amazing!'" Roger Hughes of Lochearnhead, Perthshire, in a letter to The Sunday Times.
The spellchecker came to a sudden stop at the Latin miserum
as in "O me miserum", meaning "O wretched me"
(I had to look it up)
and suggested museum, followed by miser, and
To jab, or not to jab?
...Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the serves and returns of outrageous fortune... "I am opposed to vaccination. I would not want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel. If it becomes compulsory, what will happen? Then I will have to make a decision" Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, 34, makes headline news around the world as Australia grounds him because of his reluctance to take a Covid jab.
It is an absorbing tale of our times. So much so I had a letter published in today's Western Mail...
Djokovic Australia line call truly fascinating
HOW intriguing it would be to establish why one of the planet's
most talented, fittest and healthiest sportsmen - and arguably
the world's most famous antivaxxer - has been granted a medical
exemption from a Covid-19 vaccine for the Australian Open.
Hm, either Djokovic or Australia will have to retreat with tail
firmly between legs. It's
a balls up whichever way the decision goes.
Watch this space.
The Life of Peter
Peter, Paul and [the Virgin] Mary ... "Our young daughter asked: 'Why is God called Peter?' 'What do you mean?' came the reply. 'When they read the Bible we say, "Thanks Peter God,"' she said." Caroline Coleman of Halifax, West Yorkshire, in a letter to The Guardian.
Hm, given the Virgin Mary context, it does make one wonder who Paul was in that relationship. After all, hanky-panky is as old as life itself.
Anyway, enough of such diverting thoughts, the tale of Peter God reminded a fellow Guardian reader of the celebrated tale of the children burying their pet rabbit in the garden, and they were overheard reciting, as they lowered the shoebox coffin into the grave, the appropriate words: "In the name of the Father, the Son and in the hole he goes."
Amen and Awomen, as we must say these days.
The joy of a sunrise
"He who bends himself a Joy
Today, early-morning, coldish and brightish, with cloud cover moving in. Along my walk home from town, I couldn't help but notice the approaching sunrise, and a reminder of the weather-lore rhyme, so I pointed my camera and clicked:
Red sky at night; shepherd's delight.
And yes, within a few hours, wet and windy weather arrived to
deliver a miserable day. But I did kiss the Joy of the sunrise
as it flew by.
Sentence of the Year 2022
Nurse, the curtains ... "John O'Looney, 53, a funeral director and anti-vaxxer, had been due to speak at the 'Let the UK Live' anti-vaccine rally last week but is believed to be in hospital with Covid" A headline spotted online - Twitter, Times, Telegraph, Mail... therefore must be the truth, the whole truth, et cetera, et cetera - whatever, it generated a spontaneous rolling of eyes, shaking of head and much chortling, all coming together in unison in appreciation of a perfect combination of joy and doolallyness in one glorious headline.
Journalist Michael Deacon summed it up perfectly in his Way of the World column in The Daily Telegraph: "Reading the sentence, it's hard to avoid feeling a pang of sympathy for our comic novelists. Not even the most revered among them could hope to get a line like that past their editors."
Michael Deacon added that "it may be early days, but the Sentence of the Year contest already looks a foregone conclusion".
John O'Looney was due to attend the 'Let the UK Live' march - initially I read that as Live, as in a live music concert, instead of Live, as in Live and Let Die, all very confusing - anyway, our Mr O'Looney was due to attend the 'Let the UK Live and Let Die' march last week, along with Piers Corbyn (brother of Jeremy, ex-leader of the Labour Party, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more, know what I mean, chief).
Mr O'Looney, who runs Milton Keynes Family Funeral Services, added that he managed to "escape" hospital by discharging himself against doctors' advice - but said he still felt unwell.
It was interesting to note that other funeral directors agreed with John O'Looney's thoughts on the anti-vaccine front. But I think that was a joke along the lines "Well they would, wouldn't they?".
Yep, the whole world is mad, except for Mr O'Looney and me. And
I'm not too sure about Mr O'Looney. (As you will have noted, I
can't stop myself mentioning Mr O'Looney. It cheers me up just
The power of an awe walk
Stand and stare ... "What is this life if, full of care, / We have no time to stand and stare?" The opening lines of Leisure by Welsh poet and writer William Henry Davies (1871-1940), the poem that generates the perfect signature rhythm to an awe walk.
I offer no apology for repeating that glorious opening to the poem Leisure by W H Davies, for today I repeat a couple of photographs featured hereabouts in 2021.
A couple of days ago I returned to April 2021 to put in place a link to posts made following the death of Prince Philip.
What I noticed scrolling down was an eye-catching photo of a tree I pass every morning along my walk into town, a tree that at that time was in glorious full bloom against a picture-perfect blue sky, just across the road from the White Hart Inn, Llandeilo...
I had forgotten about the above because, back in November, I featured the same tree, but still eye-catching because the fallen leaves of autumn had formed a perfect carpet beneath...
To recap: in a typical Welsh autumn the leaves will blow away as they fall, but 2021, with its quiet and remarkably windless season, meant the leaves formed a perfect circle directly beneath the tree.
neat juxtaposition highlighting the glory of nature when we
bother to stand and stare at the beauty of it all. And well
worth a curtain call.
2022 and all that jazz
Zapping through the TV channels, as is my wont ... a programme on a station called TLC caught my eye: "NEW: 7 Little Johnsons."
Gosh, is this about Boris and his brood of seven (at least that number of Johnson offspring at the last count, the interweb informs me)? What to do but smile and gently roll my eyes. But wait: my brain then caught up with what my eyes had just seen: "NEW: 7 Little Johnstons."
D'oh! Out of curiosity I did a search of the 7 Little Johnstons ... and learnt that it's an American reality-documentary series. My interest evaporated right there.
Whatever, and back with Boris Johnson, he always projects the image that he is the very essence of a Cavalier. And on that score:
Cavaliers and Roundheads ... "When considering whether a prime minister is Royalist or Roundhead always remember the distinction by W C Sellar and R J Yeatman in their book 1066 and All That. While Royalists were 'Wrong but Wromantic', Roundheads were 'Right but Repulsive'." Joanne Aston of Thirsk, North Yorkshire, in a letter to The Times.
I have always secretly thought of myself as a bit of a Royalist, a Cavalier, as opposed to a Roundhead. Hm: "Wrong but Wromantic"? Yep, I can live with that.
Meanwhile, over on the Roundhead side of the fence...
Get Borix ... "Come on Tories. Take back control. Get Boris done." Dick Tuckey of Ipswich, in a letter to The Guardian.
Just like Johnsons and Johnstons, I initially read that as "Get Borix done", a play on Boris's election slogan "Get Brexit done".
The spellchecker came to a stop at Borix and suggested
Borax (used as a cleaner and other household products),
Boric (used in detergents, hand soaps and for control of,
er, cockroaches), and finally Boris (as in, well, the
least said the better).
Sunday is still a knock-knock day
The Times delved into the obituaries of famous people who passed away in 2021, quoting just a line or so to see if we had been paying attention at the time. One I instantly recognised...
"A gloomy Malthusianism surfaced repeatedly: 'In the event that I am reincarnated,' he said in 1988, long before Covid-19, 'I would like to return as a deadly virus, to contribute something to solving overpopulation.'"
Yes of course, Prince Philip, who died in April aged 99. And it took me back to what surfaced at the time - click here for a scroll through a few days of beguiling observations.
Looking back, it's fascinating that he was desperate for a no-fuss funeral, which of course he knew was out of the question - yet he died at the height of a major lockdown, which meant he had as low-profile a funeral as could be imagined (remember those images of the Queen sitting alone during the funeral service?).
So, do you suppose, given that he had succumbed to an illness during lockdown that something in his consciousness decided that this was the time to bow out and he simply switched himself off?
Ditto Captain Sir Tom Moore, who died in February aged 100, and he also made it clear that he wanted a no-fuss funeral: "March in, march out, move on!" were his final instructions for his funeral. He too died during lockdown, which meant a very simple family funeral service, just as he wanted.
As always, Shakespeare has a line to bring things into focus: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy..."
PS: For once the spellchecker wasn't confused, as I was, by "A gloomy Malthusianism". So a quick click: "...the view that without moral restraint the population will increase at a greater rate than its means of subsistence", as proposed by the English economist and clergyman Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834).
Every day a day at school.
Here's lookin' at you, 2022...
...hopefully though, not from behind the sofa, through slightly parted fingers and wearing a face mask.
A regular feature of my embrace of both the joy and the doolallyness of the passing parade (from the relative safety of the grassy knoll, it has to be said), is my 'PS: Spellchecker' feature, which continues to unearth some memorably surreal and often amusing alternatives to the words it does not recognise.
The month of December was a particularly rich experience, with the spellchecker grinding to a halt on eight separate days. I thought I would kick off 2022 with a missive that sums up a spellchecker's entertainment value quite splendidly...
With a flash of light ... "When I was a medical examiner for the Department for Work and Pensions, I wrote: 'This woman is capable of light housework.' The spellchecker then altered it to '...is capable of lighthouse work'." Giles Youngs of Drinkstone, Suffolk, in a letter to The Guardian.
That really is a proper cracker to start the New Year. Being that my computer is not a modern song-and-dance model, the spellchecker does not automatically alter something it does not recognise into something vaguely familiar, without my input.
It comes to a full stop and I have to decide what should pass. What is friend and what is foe? What is light housework and what is lighthouse work?
I rather like that way of doing things.
And on that note: Happy New Year to one and all. And that includes my entertaining spellchecker.
Yes, the spellchecker came to a full stop, but today it paused
over something rather straightforward: it decided that the
village of Drinkstone in Suffolk should either be
Drink stone, or Drinks tone.
As far as I can tell, Drinkstone is derived from Dremic's
homestead, the homestead by the pool.
Pulling a few 2021 crackers
Blunt advice ... "It wasn't all plain sailing. I was locked in with my mother-in-law for 16 days, 11 hours and 36 minutes." English singer-songwriter James Blunt, 47, amusingly insists there was a downside to spending so much time at his villa in Ibiza during lockdown.
And on to the next Old Year cracker...
Now you see 'em, now you don't ... "A non-visible style of community policing." Avon and Somerset Police's description in a review of its attendance at a BLM protest in Bristol in June 2020 which resulted in a statue of Bristol-born merchant, politician, philanthropist and slave trader Edward Colson being toppled.
That drew this response:
Light hand of the law ... "I note that Avon and Somerset Police has adopted a technique called 'non-visible policing'. I assume officers were trained in rural Suffolk, as the police have been invisible here for years." CW Vaudrey of Alderton, Suffolk, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
Meanwhile, on the Meghan and Harry front...
Spare us ... "Royal Editor Roya Nikkhah claims Prince Harry is 'privacy-obsessed'. Really? He seems to do nothing but give interviews." Wendy Abbott of Hull, in a letter to The Sunday Times.
Do you suppose the royal presenter, commentator and broadcaster Roya Nikkhah was really christened Royal - but someone forgot to add the letter 'l' on the birth certificate? Anyway, back with Prince Harry, who, despite being "privacy-obsessed", has spoken publicly about a few personal issues...
Tunnel vision ... "Harry says that after starting therapy he 'plucked his head out of the sand'. What a pity it didn't stop him sticking it somewhere else." Gordon Lethbridge of Sherborne, Dorset, in a letter to The Sunday Times.
Finally, my favourite quote/letter of the year: whenever Boris Johnson now appears on the television, or in the papers, I am reminded of his exceedingly odd and incoherent ramblings about Peppa Pig and Moses to a bewildered gathering of business people at the CBI.
Bad hair day ... "Boris Johnson compared himself to Moses in his 'pig's ear' of a speech to the CBI. Moses parted the Red Sea, while the PM cannot even part his own hair." Jonathan Mann of Gunnislake, Cornwall, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
Every time I now see him I think of that glorious observation.
Back to square one...
Huw and Smile 2021: December
Huw and Smile 2021: November
Huw and Smile 2021: October
Huw and Smile 2021: September
Huw and Smile 2021: August
Huw and Smile 2021: July
Huw and Smile 2021: June
Huw and Smile 2021: May
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