Saturday, 30 January 2010

200 Posts and 100 Travel Snippets

This is my 200th post and in order to celebrate it I am going to give you a few snippets and thoughts from my weird mind about some of the places I have visited. I have travelled to quite a few places in the world; most of them were great (though some were strange).

I haven’t finished travelling by a long way – this year alone I am going to Iceland, Spain, America and Canada. There may even be a business trip to China too.

Anyway, without further ado, here are some of the places I have been to and a few opinions and tiny adventures in those places.

(1) Johannesburg, South Africa – One of the weirdest things I have seen is a man welding and using only a piece of cardboard to protect his eyes.

(2) Guangzhou, China – One of the delicacies on offer in a restaurant in Guangzhou was “cat, snake and chicken soup”. Alternatively there was “fried insect in pot”. I ate something else.

(3) Porec, Yugoslavia (now Croatia) – I entered a Mr Universe contest in the hotel we were staying at (or was quite literally dragged up by an over-enthusiastic holiday rep). I was eliminated when I lost an arm-wrestling contest to the eventual winner. The sight of me posing like Arnold Schwarzenegger still fills me with colossal embarrassment.

(4) Xi’an, China – The terracotta warriors discovered in the 70’s are a sight to behold. I actually met one of the men who discovered them (though all I did was smile at him).

(5) Cleveland, Ohio, USA – The most stupid question I have ever been asked was: “Do they have microwave ovens in England?” I resisted the urge to answer “No – we still live in caves!”.

(6) Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada – I have seen this beautiful natural sight from above, below in a boat called Maid in the Mist and behind. Truly spectacular.

(7) Sorrento, Italy – Sorrento is a fabulous place with fantastic restaurants and bars. The scenery is stunning, even with Vesuvius looming in the distance.

(8) Phuket, Thailand – I stood on the beach that Roger Moore stood on, playing James Bond in “The Man with the Golden Gun”. It is a spectacular place.

(9) Sydney, Australia – In order to conquer my fear of heights I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge – it failed. I am still scared of heights.

(10) Paris, France – The first time I had a steak in Paris, it was still alive – I swear it moved when I cut it. Blood was everywhere.

(11) Bangkok, Thailand – I laughed and mocked when I saw that a Thai Beatles tribute band were going to perform in a bar. The shock was that they were one of the best Beatles tributes I have ever seen and I simply ate my words.

(12) Guilin, China – I saw a woman on a bus with a kitten tightly wrapped in a bag, howling. I think it was dinner.

(13) Cleveland, Ohio, USA – The second most stupid question I have been asked is “Wow! You’re from England! Do you know the Queen?” I resisted the urge to answer, “Yes – she’s my mother.”

(14) San Sebastian, Spain – The waves here were so huge that I almost drowned. I recall seeing the wave that hit me towering above before thinking “I’m screwed!”. Next thing I know I was on the beach with my trunks down to me knees and full of sand. Most embarrassing.

(15) Port Douglas, Australia – In Australia I discovered that you can be injured by trees. So if the crocs, spiders and snakes don’t get you, the foliage will.

(16) Prague, Czech Republic – Prague is like a fairy tale city full of picturesque buildings. I loved the place and the beer is absolutely wonderful.

(17) Porec, Yugoslavia (now Croatia) – With rampant inflation bearing down on Yugoslavia, we changed our cash on a daily basis because every day we got more local currency. Beer and food got cheaper and cheaper by the day, in the end costing something ridiculous like 10p a bottle.

(18) Brisbane, Australia – Australians are fabulous people but all the ex-pats I met in Brisbane were taxi drivers who did nothing but slag off Britain. It’s okay to move to Australia – just remember your roots.

(19) Amsterdam, Holland – On a weekend in Amsterdam, two friends of mine were thrown out of a peep show. What they were doing in there that warranted ejection is beyond me but it was funny and we have never let them forget it.

(20) Yangshuo, China – The limestone peaks in Yangshuo are one of the most incredible natural sights I have seen. They are truly beautiful.

(21) Chongqing, China – The scariest taxi ride I ever had was in this smog-filled city. The lunatic driver took his hands off the wheel and turned around to negotiate the price with us. He was doing 60 mph on the motorway at the time.

(22) Bangkok, Thailand – Bangkok is the only city I have ever been to where you can see an elephant walking on the pavement.

(23) Los Angeles, California – Nobody walks – anywhere! I walked to the supermarket about 200 yards away to get some milk and when I returned, our hostess said “You WALKED to the supermarket? Why didn’t you drive?” She simply didn’t believe that I walked.

(24) Washington DC – I had a taste of fame when I caught a limousine from the hotel to the airport. I thought I was going to be ripped off but it cost about the same price as a taxi. And the number of people who tried to stare inside was incredible.

(25) Beijing, China – Beijing is one of the finest cities I have ever been too. There is so much to see: Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City and, best of all, The Great Wall. If you can avoid touts you will love it. One trick – pretend to be French – it works a treat.

(26) Rome, Italy – I have only spent six hours in Rome (on the way to Thailand) and somehow managed to see most of the sights. The Colosseum and the Vatican were the highlights.

(27) Port Douglas, Australia – I was too scared to snorkel around the Great Barrier reef because there was all manner of wildlife that could injure or kill me. If not the box jellyfish then definitely the irukandji, a tiny jellyfish that you can barely see.

(28) Kuranda, Australia – I held a koala in Kuranda. I would have said “cuddled” but it stank.

(29) Nassau, Bahamas – I snorkelled for the first time in the Bahamas on a booze cruise. I was slightly merry but ended up spending more time in the water, marvelling at the fish than drinking free cocktails on the boat.

(30) San Francisco, California – The hills in this city are amazing. I walked up one of them and by the time I got to the top my calves were aching.

(31) Magalluf, Majorca – Is this place really Spanish? Why are there places where fish are imported from England for the fish and chip shops? Why would you want to watch British soap operas in a British pub full of British people drinking British beer in a Spain?

(32) Bordeaux, France – Mrs PM speaks fluent French and is a keen photographer. In a café, she somehow gave the impression to a local woman that she was a journalist and that I was somebody famous. When the woman learned the truth she simply laughed.

(33) San Francisco, California – Alcatrazz is an incredible place. I can’t begin to imagine what it was like being imprisoned there and escape would have been a nightmare.

(34) Singapore – I bought a round of drinks for ten people in Singapore and it cost me several limbs. It is the most expensive place I have been to for alcohol.

(35) Orlando, Florida – Have you ever stroked a dolphin? It’s weird – I can tell you.

(36) Venice, Italy – At a café in St Mark’s Square I saw an American order the most expensive cup of coffee in Europe. It is legitimate robbery.

(37) Bangkok, Thailand – I was shown a menu for a girly bar consisting of various acts performed by the staff. “I’m with my mother-in-law” I cried, pointing to Mrs PM’s Mum. “It’s OK,” came the reply. “She can come too!”. I never knew a ping pong ball had so many applications.

(38) Port Douglas, Australia – I read in a local newspaper that a Brit had been eaten by a “salty” while I was there. There was definitely no way I was going to step into the sea when there was a chance of having my foot taken off by a bloody croc.

(39) Pompeii, Italy – The ruins of Pompeii are incredible and Vesuvius looms like a dormant monster. It is an incredible place.

(40) Funchal, Madeira - In order to conquer my fear of heights I rode on a chair lift up a mountain. It failed. I am still scared of heights.

(41) Boston, Massachusetts, USA – Touring the USS Constitution, I was asked where I came from. “England,” I replied. The rest of the group were all Americans and immediately became somehow fiercely patriotic. “You’re outnumbered, my friend,” said one old guy with a smile. “We kicked your ass,” said another. My reply? “We let you win. It’s nice to know that you are still doing a good job looking after the colonies for us.” My sense of humour went down quite well – or maybe it was my accent that helped. Good banter though.

(42) Yangshuo, China – “Where are you from?” “I’m from Manchester!” “AAAHH!!! MANCHESTER UNITED!!!” “GRRR!!!!!!!!”

(43) Los Angeles, California – “Can you give me four quarters for a dollar”? “WOW!!! For an Englishman I’ll do ANYTHING!!” Sadly, she was old enough to me my mother so I simply took the quarters.

(44) Split, Yugoslavia (now Croatia) – My one attempt at water skiing saw me being dragged around a bay by a sadistic speedboat driver. I will never attempt water skiing again.

(45) Bridgetown, Barbados – Barbados is one of the most laid back countries I have ever visited. Pink sand and fine food. No better place to de-stress.

(46) Port of Spain, Trinidad – I worked here after a coup attempt in 1990. There was still a curfew in place and on my first night I heard a gunshot directly outside my hotel window.

(47) New Orleans, USA – There is nothing better than sitting in a bar just across the way from Preservation Hall and listening to old-style jazz whilst drinking local beer and chatting to a very attractive barmaid who thinks my accent is sexy. Bliss!

(48) San Francisco California - In order to conquer my fear of heights I took a lift halfway up the Transamerica Pyramid – it failed. I am still scared of heights.

(49) Paris, France – Parisians are an unfriendly bunch who do not like to speak English, even though I suspect they can. I have had to buy hay fever pills and travel sickness pills armed only with my memory for words and a barrel load of desperation. I succeeded thanks to some good use of sign language; I excelled at miming puking – Marcel Marceau would have been proud.

(50) Hong Kong – I love Hong Kong – I would move there tomorrow if I could. It is the city where I got together with Mrs PM. I have spent over a year of my life there on various travels.

(51) Key Largo, Florida – Never go out on a rough sea in a glass bottomed boat if you suffer from sea-sickness. My ex-wife and well over half of the other tourists ended up throwing up. Strangely I was okay.

(52) Guangzhou, China - “Where are you from?” “I’m from Manchester!” “AAAHH!!! MANCHESTER UNITED!!!” “GRRR!!!!!!!!”

(53) Los Angeles, California – I met KITT, the Knight Rider car. While I was waiting to have my picture taken I was reprimanded for putting my dirty fingerprints all over KITT’s bodywork. My ex-wife, who was a distance away, thought I had gone mad. “The car’s talking to me,” I wailed. “Yeah, right!” she said. I was definitely not drunk.

(54) Yangtze River, China – A first class cruise to see the three gorges was a nightmare and a total disaster. We were robbed and a rat ate all of our toilet paper. The room was a toilet and stank of urine. We were stuck on it for three days.

(55) Guangzhou, China – Mrs PM and I spent twenty minutes stuck in a railway station trying to find our way out.

(56) Atlanta, Georgia, USA – I decided to go for a “snack” at lunchtime and ordered what I thought would be a small burger and fries. What arrived would have fed ten people. As I struggled through the mountain of food I noticed a colossally fat person. I could have used his T-shirt as a four man tent. No wonder people think Americans are obese – given the huge portions served.

(57) Yichang, China - “Where are you from?” “I’m from Manchester!” “AAAHH!!! MANCHESTER UNITED!!!” “GRRR!!!!!!!!”

(58) Split, Yugoslavia (now Croatia) – I was in Split, just a few months before Yugoslavia self-destructed.

(59) Washington DC – The museums in this city are amazing. We planned to spend two hours in the Natural History Museum and spent the whole day there.

(60) Faro, Portugal – The only place I have asked for a Sloe Comfortable Screw without being battered.

(61) Toronto, Canada – In order to conquer my fear of heights, I climbed the CN Tower. It failed – I am still scared of heights.

(62) Moscow, Russia – Upon returning to my hotel room at the end of a busy day’s sight-seeing, the telephone rang and a female voice said “Hello! Would you like a Russian girl for sex?”

(63) Port of Spain, Trinidad – I had a chance to play steel drums and have a photo of me (somewhere) fronting a superb band as they practiced.

(64) Dublin, Ireland – A lovely Irish lady, with an accent to die for, tried to chat me up too. It doesn’t happen very often to me so I had to boast to Mrs PM when she returned from the bar – except I discovered that at precisely the same time an older man had been chatting her up too. Don’t you just love Ireland?

(65) Johannesburg, South Africa – There are metal detectors to stop you taking a gun into the casino area of a hotel I stayed at – but not to stop you taking a gun into the hotel itself.

(66) Boston, Massachussetts, USA – Sam Adams – America’s tastiest beer. And the bars in this city are absolutely great, particularly the one that is a shrine to the Boston Red Sox. You can’t help but feel the enthusiasm for the baseball team while in a bar like this.

(67) Washington DC – I was quite surprised at how small the White House was.

(68) Yangtze River – Fengdu, China – We were the only Westerners on the cruise from hell. The rat had eaten our toilet paper so we had to buy some more. In the sleepy Chinese town of Fengdu, the locals had never seen a foreigner, let alone a blonde pillock with a wispy ginger beard. We were followed by a crowd of Chinese people who simply gawped at us with mouths wide open. I felt like an alien (and probably looked like one too).

(69) Seville, Spain – If you want just about every red-blooded Spanish man to gawp at you in the streets of Seville, simply befriend a beautiful blonde haired scantily clad Scandanavian woman and let her wander around the city with you. Works a treat! Phew! I can still picture her.

(70) Bordeaux, France – How about this for English/French relations? An English style pub, staffed with bi-lingual bar staff, serving English and French beer and cuisine and called “The Frog & Rosbif”? A wonderful place.

(71) Munich, Germany – At the Oktoberfest, I got involved in a race drinking a stein of German beer. I was young and totally foolish.

(72) Singapore – The cleanest city I have visited is Singapore – it is a “fine” city, in that you can be fined for throwing litter, being gay, failing to flush a public toilet, spitting and jaywalking – or so I’ve been told.

(73) Bordeaux, France – The best way to enjoy French wine is to go to the best place that produces it. Bordeaux has the finest wine in France and it is like nectar in a glass.

(74) Xi’an, China “Where are you from?” “I’m from Manchester!” “AAAHH!!! MANCHESTER UNITED!!!” “GRRR!!!!!!!!”

(75) Venice, Italy – Venice is a wonderful and unique place – but, boy, do the canals stink.

(76) New York, USA - In order to conquer my fear of heights I went to the top of the Empire State Building – it failed. I am still scared of heights.

(77) Port of Spain, Trinidad – I suffered the worst sunburn ever in Trinidad. My skin was peeling for months and I got sunstroke for the first time. I couldn’t sleep because the pain was so unbearable.

(78) Moscow, Russia – I checked into the hotel at the same time as Jarvis Cocker – but was too cowardly to speak to him.

(79) Miami Beach, Florida, USA – Americans clearly aren’t used to seeing Europeans sunbathing topless on a beach. Some Scandinavian beauties decided to whip off their tops and caused quite a stir I can tell you. Of course, I looked at their faces.

(80) Lisbon, Portugal – the worst toilet in the world in 1984 was won by a toilet in a youth hostel in Lisbon. It was blocked, completely. I tried to flush it but the hellish contents rose as if to attack me. Thankfully I got out of there before the inevitable happened.

(81) Samaria Gorge, Crete, Greece – on an exceedingly hot day, my ex-wife and I did the small version of this hike – and promptly got lost, walking miles and miles before eventually finding our party.

(82) Munich, Germany – Always find a place to stay before going to a beer festival. Having drunk an unfeasibly large amount of German beer at the Oktoberfest, my mate and I slept rough at Munich station and were woken up at 6am by a very irate policeman. I have never needed a bed so much in my life. I was young and very stupid.

(83) New York, USA – I welcomed in the year 1999 in Times Square in freezing temperatures. It was bloody cold but worth it.

(84) Amsterdam, Holland – The first words ever spoken to me in the city of Amsterdam in 1984 were “Do you want to buy some crack?”

(85) Johannesburg, South Africa – The driver taking me to work decided it would be a good idea to drive me through a township; a week later that very township hit international headlines because of rioting. Thanks, driver!!

(86) Lefkas, Greece – I had my one and only attempt at wind-surfing. I spent the entire time falling in the water – but I did manage to get a photograph taken looking as if I knew what I was doing – a split second before I crashed into the water for the umpteenth time.

(87) Chiang Mai, Thailand – I unwillingly got involved in a tuk-tuk race and thought I was going to die. Our tuk-tuk won and when it dropped us off at the hotel, I almost murdered the driver as he boasted about his achievement.

(88) Singapore – Drinking a Singapore Sling in Raffles is the height of sophistication – but bloody expensive. I cried as I paid for the drinks.

(89) Paris, France - In order to conquer my fear of heights I climbed the Eiffel Tower – it failed. I am still scared of heights.

(90) Miami, Florida – I read about British tourists being shot after they inadvertently drove into a bad neighbourhood. Two days later, I was driving around and got lost, ending up in a rather dodgy place. Thankfully I somehow managed to find my way out.

(91) Amsterdam, Holland – I was told by a bunch of Scientologists in 1984 that I was a suicidal maniac who needs to become a Scientologist in order to be saved. Being young and impressionable I believed them for a time – until my mate was told the same thing. Thank goodness for common sense.

(92) Capri, Italy – Capri is a wonderful and very expensive place. In order to get a great view of the place and to conquer my fear of heights I rode a simple chairlift to the peak of the island. It didn’t work. I am still scared of heights.

(93) Portimao, Portugal – What wondrous places mixed youth hostels are, particularly when the women sharing your dorm are not shy.

(94) Koh Samui, Thailand – a beach holiday turned into a disaster as Mrs PM booked us in the rainy season. We had a continuous thunderstorm for days and I spent most of my time in a bar drowning my sorrows.

(95) Port of Spain, Trinidad – I heard about curfew parties, here. Basically the curfew was from 11pm to 6am so parties would take place between those times in locked bars. Sadly, people got drunk and spilled onto the streets, where they were promptly arrested.

(96) Beijing, China - “Where are you from?” “I’m from Manchester!” “AAAHH!!! MANCHESTER UNITED!!!” “GRRR!!!!!!!!”

(97) Shanghai, China - In order to conquer my fear of heights I climbed the Pearl Tower. It failed - I am still scared of heights.

(98) Parga, Greece - In order to conquer my fear of heights I had a go at paragliding. Thankfully, I didn’t wear my glasses so I couldn’t see enough to be scared. I am still scared of heights.

(99) Las Vegas, Nevada, USA – The hottest place I have ever been to is Las Vegas. The temperature was 45 degrees Centigrade and I could barely stand outside for more than five minutes without melting.

(100) Moscow, Russia – The coldest place I have ever been to is Moscow where the temperature was a cool – 25 degrees Centigrade.

I think 100 is more than enough – so I’ll stop there. However, I have loads of other little snippets about those and other places I’ve been too. One for a future post I think.

Have you ever been to the places mentioned above? Do you live in one of the places mentioned above? If so, I’d love to hear what you think.

And once more, I would like to thank everybody who has commented so far. Feel free to comment in future – I always try to reply.



Saturday, 23 January 2010

Sunday Stealing: The Negativity Meme

Regular readers will know that I can be a grumpy old so and so. However, I do try to be positive about life and see the best in everything. Yet sometimes there are times when I simply love to dive into negativity and let rip. It is good for the soul.

This week’s Sunday Stealing Meme is the “Negativity Meme” and I want to take the opportunity to have a good grump.

I apologise in advance for the negativity but, as I said, it can be therapeutic.

Feel free to have a go here.

Foods which disgust the crap out of me:

Surprisingly there aren’t many. I am adventurous when it comes to food. However, there are foodstuffs that make me feel physically ill.

Top of the pile is rhubarb. This foodstuff, in my opinion, is not meant to be eaten. It should be buried alive.

Other things that turn my stomach are:

Apricots, prunes, damsons, parsnips, liver, Angel Delight, lemon grass, celery, figs, dates, caviar (don’t be fooled – it tastes like crap).

TV show I loathe:

Where to begin:

Soap operas, most reality TV shows, anything created by Simon Cowell, totally unfunny situation comedies, any shows involving psychics, Saturday night light entertainment, daytime talk shows, any confrontational shows like the Jeremy Kyle show, anything involving a stupid studio audience.

Movie I loathe:

I particularly hate movies that are overrated and lead me to see them out of curiosity only to discover that they are in fact dreadful. “Dead Poet’s Society” is a prime example of this.

I am sick to death of endless romantic comedy after endless romantic comedy.

“Legally Blonde” is possibly the worst movie I have seen and it was a long time before I dared watch anything with Reese Witherspoon in it again.

I hate those “High School Musical” type movies and anything that is a “period drama” that travels along at the pace of a snail with no point to it whatsoever.

I love a good horror film but those gory plot-less slash movies bore me senseless.

A special mention has to go to “Independence Day”. I love science fiction but this film is dreadful. It has so many plot holes that I am amazed you can actually find a plot at all. And it is full of the kind of American patriotism that drives me insane with rage – the mere name alone irks me. And what of the British in this cowpat of a film? After the Americans come up with a plot to “save the world”, the scene switches to the desert where two British officers are told the plan. In their greatest plum-mouthed British accent they say something like “Oh I say. It’s about time those Yanks came up with a plan.”

And what’s the plan? To infect an alien space ship with a HUMAN COMPUTER VIRUS!!

I could go on about it all day. It is dreadful, absolutely dreadful!

Music genres I loathe:

R’n’B, Hip Hop (particularly the kind where rappers like 50 Cent basically say how rich, macho and wonderful they are), any crap supported by Louis Walsh or Simon Cowell, opera, easy listening and modern jazz (where a group of, say, four talented musicians play four completely different songs at the same time), country and western music and that happy clappy modern religious nonsense.

Magazine which annoys me:

Celebrity magazines like “Hello!” and “OK” where these people pay humungous sums of money to already rich celebrities (most of whom are talentless and do absolutely nothing) so that people can see their bloody weddings, houses and bling.

In fact any “celebrity” promoting magazines should be stopped – immediately.

Makes me cranky at restaurant:

Bad food, cold food, pretentious food, not enough food, overpriced food.

Waiters that are rude, waiters that cannot be summoned even if you go and grab them.

Makes me cranky in public:

The constant bad weather in England in the winter makes me as cranky as hell. When it rains, and it is grey and miserable, my mood degenerates and I slump from A to B like I have the world on my shoulders.

Also, loud, obnoxious egotistical arses who shout about the place bring the worst out in me.

Makes me cranky in general:

The news is a good source of crankiness as is work. Bad drivers make me want to blow up cars.
Loud drunks who invade my space and gob in my face when talking to me.

Pisses me off at home:

Cold callers who want to sell me something on the phone.

Charity workers who call at my house at least once a month telling me that I am a selfish buffoon for not choosing their charity above others.

Also, people who try to sell me things at my door.

Running out of things pushes all sorts of cranky buttons as does day old washing up.

The cats are fine – except when they steal food and scratch the furniture.

Pisses me off at work:

I can’t say because people from work read this blog. But they know what pisses me off.

Pisses me off in general:

The fact that I HAVE to work.

Makes me impatient at home:

Cooking. I want to cook in two minutes but it always takes bloody ages.

Makes me impatient at work:


Makes me impatient in public:

Waiting in a queue when at the front of the queue is the most stupid person in the world. For example, when waiting to buy a ticket at a train station, I expect to buy a ticket whereas some idiots say things like “When is the next train to London?” It’s the bloody ticket queue not information!!!

Driving in congestion makes me extremely impatient and I become a new more monstrous version of myself screaming at anybody who hinders my journey in any way whatsoever.

Celebrity I hate:

So many – but mainly those who are famous for nothing. Here are a few:

Jordan, Simon Cowell, Jeremy Kyle, Piers Morgan, Kilroy-Silk, Louis Walsh, Paris Hilton, Vanessa Feltz, Noel Edmonds, Chris Moyles, Danny Baker, Pete Doherty, Naomi Campbell, Britney Spears, Sir Cliff Richard, Mariah Carey, Victoria Beckham, Diego Maradona, Gary Neville

That should do for now.

Music artist I hate:

Kanye West – not only for his music but for his arrogance.

50 Cent makes me feel violent.

I could care less about:

Global warming because the evidence presented to us makes us believe that the world is about to end – and that it is our fault when there is evidence to the contrary that never gets broadcast.

Politics annoys me to death and if I could do I would remove all politicians because they are lying, insincere crooks.

Annoys the crap out of me weekdays:


Annoys the crap out of me weekends:

Being on call.

Blogger's habit that annoys you:

I read a lot of blogs written by people who share every detail of a night out including pictures of their food – all three courses ordered by all members of their entourage.

Marekting blogs that claim to make me a better blogger while at the same time offering to make me rich beyond my wildest dreams.

People who write in text speak, like “Had a gud nite wiv mates. Here’s Doppy actin mad xxxxx”

People who take photos and them splatter their blog name right across the centre of the photograph.

Feature on your blog you hate:

The writing.

Movie star you despise:

I don’t hate any personally but I will say Matthew McConaughy because every single film I have ever seen him in has been dreadful.

Politician that you hate:

That's easy - Maggie Thatcher.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Mr Forgetful

Does this ever happen to you?

Plastic Mancunian: Hi there – erm – erm –erm –erm How are you doing?

Annoyed Person: You’ve forgotten my name haven’t you?

This happens to me a lot. I’m introduced to somebody and then, when I meet them again sometime later, their face remains etched in my mind. Sadly, their name has long since departed into an unknown realm never to be seen again. And try as I might, I cannot retrieve it.

The look on my face gives the game away. I smile nervously and screw up my forehead so that it looks like a ploughed field as the cobwebbed cogs of my hopeless brain send in a query. It goes something like this.

Brain: For goodness sake, Memory; it can’t be THAT difficult. You only met this guy last week. Here’s a picture of his face. Now get me the name and get it quick. We’re on red alert here, and Face is letting us down again.

Memory: Who are you? Why are you giving me random faces?

Brain: Just get me the bloody name!!!

Memory: Oh – hang on. He looks like a “Bill”. His name must be Bill.

Brain: Are you sure?

Memory: Er Er Er Er --- Yes!!

Brain: OK Mouth, we have a response. The name is Bill.

Mouth: Hi there, Bill. How are you doing?

Eyes: He’s looking puzzled. He’s looking VERY puzzled. Oh no! He’s looking angry!

Brain: Ears – report.

Ears: This coming in – MY NAME IS NOT BILL!!

Brain: For the sake of my sanity please don’t tell me Memory is wrong AGAIN!

Face: RED ALERT!! RED ALERT!! I’m going into meltdown!!!

Memory: Can I have some chocolate?

Brain: Legs – just get us out of here at maximum warp. I give up!!!

Does a similar thing happen to you?

I used to pride myself on being a bit of a memory man. I could recall all sorts of trivial nonsense; telephone numbers, kings and queens, song lyrics – all sorts.

Some of it is etched in there somewhere but the mechanism for extracting it has become befuddled with age.

If I’m watching a quiz on TV I can sometimes amaze Mrs PM with my power of recollection; there have been occasions when watching shows like “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” or “Eggheads” that I can dive into the abyss that is my memory and immediately grab a nugget of information from within that well of blackness.

Sadly, though there are embarrassing occasions when my brain threatens to shut down in disgust.

Why is that? And how can I improve my powers of recollection?

I’ve done a little research on this and discovered that my memory isn’t actually one vast database full of pockets of information. It would appear that I have two different kinds of memory; short term memory and long term memory.

Short term memory is a tiny limited space for storing bits of transient information, for example a phone number that you just looked up or a price in a shop. Clearly the capacity of this short term memory bank is limited.

Here is something that might just illustrate short term memory:

Long term memory on the other hand is a vast colossal data bank of knowledge that has been absorbed by your brain and deemed important enough to store. In my case, all that useless information I retrieve when watching quiz shows must therefore be stored in this huge reservoir.

The problem is that, sometimes, and more often as I get older, asking me to remember the name of a person that I met for the first time last week is like asking me to nail jelly to the wall.

And I hate it.

I’ve tried everything.

Once somebody told me that I should use my senses to remember somebody’s name. I almost got walloped when I said, “Ah – I remember you; you’re Mr Smellie!”

I’ve also tried repeating their names over and over in my head like an insane mantra; the problem with this approach is that the name supersedes all others, including my own, and I find myself saying “Hi – my name is Antonio Cabrera – er sorry, I mean Dave.”

Others have told me that alcohol doesn’t help. It’s been a while since I’ve been so drunk that my memory has dissipated into the void, but I can see what they mean.

In my youth, there were times, particularly at university, when I had a modicum of success with a woman at a party and then completely forgotten about it only to bump into her several days later at the student union. In the following barely remembered conversation I play the part of the goon and the poor creature plays the part of the victim:

The Victim: Hello Dave!

The Goon: Hi there erm – erm –erm –erm How are you doing?”

The Victim: You don’t remember me do you?

Brain: Oh no! Here we go again! Memory – don’t let me down! Name please! Here's an image from Eyes.

Memory: Sorry! I’m having a pint!

Brain: Stop living in that alcoholic haze and GET ME THE NAME! Mouth – you have to stall!

Mouth: Say “Of course I do”

The Goon: Of course I do.

The Victim: I was at the party two days ago. You remember? Phil’s party?

Memory: We went to a party?

Brain: Strewth! Just get me a name!!!

The Goon: Yes! Good party eh?

The Victim: Yes. So?

The Goon: So what?

Brain: MEMORY!! We’re dying here!!

The Victim: We were going to go for a date. Remember?

Brain: MEMORY!!! Get me that bloody name now! And do you remember the details of the date?

Memory: La La La! Boom Shakka Boom Shakka! La La La!

Hormones: A date? Does this mean we may get a shag?

Brain: SHUT UP HORMONES!!! And for the sake of all that is holy - do NOT say things like that to Penis. Memory! Just a name – just one little name!! Eyes – report directly to Mouth while I try to salvage this. Face – hold it together.

Face: Oh no! Purple alert!!

Eyes: Mouth – she’s a bit of a mutt.

Mouth: OK – I’ll sort it out!

The Victim: Well? Do you remember arranging a date?

The Goon: A date? With you? Ha ha ha! I must have been paralytic!!!!

Eyes: DANGER!!! She’s looking violent!!!

Face: Oh no! MELTDOWN!!

Penis: Did someone say "shag?"

Bollocks: Incoming!!!! AARRRGGGHHH!!!!!!

I think I’ve always been doomed in the memory area and probably will always be.

Oh well, c’est la vie – or, as whatsisname says – erm, erm, erm – oh, never mind!!!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Sunday Stealing - Trivia About Me Meme

I thought I'd try my hand at stealing yet another meme today. Feel free to have a go yourself here


Do you get regular massages?

Mrs PM has given me a massage, once. I don’t really fancy the idea of a stranger beating me up in the name of relaxation.

Do you have an answering machine?

Yes I do. Sadly, it is full of cold call messages: “Hello! HELLOOOO!!! Is anybody there?”

What cuss word do you use the most?

Sadly it is not repeatable on this post. I do occasionally say “Shazbot!” in a vague geeky attempt at humour but sadly it usually ends up with people taking the piss.

Are you underweight or overweight?

I am slightly overweight – I’m not too bad and I think with a month or two exercising and avoiding crap food I can lose enough to say “Bang on target”.

Can you see your veins?

I can indeed. Do you want me to say “Hello” to them for you?



I don’t watch soaps any more (assuming you are talking about soap operas instead of the stuff I use to vaporise dirt).


Granny Smith apples or grapefruit.

Kind of red meat?




Candy bar?

Mars Bar.

Have You Ever…

Eaten a whole bag of potato chips?

Yes. What’s worse is the fact that I have eaten a whole tube of sour cream and onion Pringles. I love them but I can tell you from experience that if you eat a whole tube then you will feel sick.

Eaten lobster?

Yes – and it is overrated. I don’t see the appeal at all, particularly given its price.

Climbed a mountain?

If you count Mount Snowden in Wales as a mountain then the answer is yes. I didn’t get to the top though (and I was much younger and fitter).

Been skydiving?

I’m scared of heights so what do you think?

Been water skiing?
Oh yes. I wouldn’t call what I did “water skiing as such”. Is there a name for being dragged around by a speed boat swallowing the as much of the Mediterranean Sea as possible in five minutes? That’s what I did. And the swines on the boat left me in the water; I had to swim to my lost skis and then back to the shore with them. Don’t think I’ll try it again.

Do You…

Wish you could change something about your life?

Yes. I want to break the shackles of the rat race and become a free spirit. I’m looking at the Lottery for guidance.

Like your nose?

I’ve got a squashy nose that looks a bit weird – so I guess the answer is yes. I won’t resort to plastic surgery though (see my previous post).

Like salt and vinegar chips?

No. Cheese and Onion – or Sour Cream and Onion for me.

Eat salsa?

Occasionally, yes.

Own a boat?

I can build one out of paper – and it floats. I don’t own a real boat though.

What Is…

A small thing that people let slide but that actually has dire consequences?
Probably smoking.

Your most macho trait?

Everything! I am sex on a stick!

The longest relationship you’ve ever had?

My current relationship with Mrs PM.

Your most embarrassing thoughts?

I quite fancy Davina McCall. That is wrong – but so right!

Your most shameful moment?

Too many to mention, sadly. How about admitting that I fancy Davina McCall to the world?



Shower – though a bath can be very relaxing.





Jelly/Cream Cheese?

Cream cheese.


Toast – I only eat bagels rarely when I skim across the pond to the US.


My greatest weakness is…


I wish I was…

18 again with my life’s experience so far (and with 10 million pounds in my pocket).

Three things I wouldn’t do for a million dollars are…

Eat rhubarb; Sky dive; kill anybody.

The oddest thing I’ve ever put in my mouth is…

Hedgehog flavoured crisps.


Credit card you had?


Loan you got was for?

Covering the cost of spending too much money when I was a student.

Paycheck was for how much?

£10 – when I was a paper boy.

Time you had stitches?
I had a benign growth removed from my back when I was 21.

Time you went to the hospital for something?

To have the benign growth removed.


List everything you ate in the last 24 hours?

A couple of cups of tea, bacon and egg, several glasses of water, a cup of coffee, a homemade chicken pasta dish, a couple of chocolates.

Last thing you used a credit card for?

Buying a holiday for Mrs PM’s 40th birthday trip. We are off to Iceland in August.

What was your job previous to the one you have now?


Last thing you celebrated?

New Year

Last time you were at a sports bar?

Sometime before Christmas, watching a football match.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Plastic Surgery For Plastic Mancunian?

I’ve got crow’s feet – and that doesn’t mean I’m some kind of weird avian-human hybrid.

I’m referring to the lines that appeared next to my eyes. I’ve had them for a few years now. When I look in the mirror, these grooves appear to becoming more pronounced, almost like monstrous fissures being ploughed into my skin. If you look closely at the skin around my eyes you can see a startling resemblance to the Grand Canyon.

But it’s not just my eyes.

I have deep furrows rampaging across my brow and when I frown it looks like I have been attacked by Gillette Fusion razor – not exactly the best a man can get.

And it doesn’t stop there.

I have said in the past that I look young for my age – and that is true – but I am beginning to notice more signs of aging. The closer I look at my face, the more haggard I appear to be. Jowls are being cultivated on my face, growing as if some weird farmer were spreading manure on them.

It is most unpleasant.

And I’m sure I saw a grey hair in that massive jungle on my head (though that could have been the light reflecting off a blonde hair).

I’m at a crossroads, dear reader. What should I do?

One of the choices I have is to remove all signs of aging by having cosmetic surgery. I am sure that there is a surgeon who can change my face to look like this:

What do you mean that’s impossible?

Well, of course it is – I agree. And to be honest I would rather become a wrinkly old prune than pay a gargantuan amount of cash to have my jowls hoovered, my wrinkles ironed or my facial skin lifted so that my navel ends up as a dimple on my chin.

Nevertheless, it did get me thinking. If I were crazy enough to allow myself to placed in the hands of a crazed cosmetic surgeon, what could I do to improve my looks?

Anybody who suggests being beaten with a cricket bat would make me look more attractive can stop reading now.

For the rest of you:

Surgical face lift

A surgical face lift involves having your face molested by a scalpel, resulting in your skin being sliced and diced, before repositioned great swathes of skin and stitching it all into place. The incisions are supposedly discrete so that you don’t look young with a great big scar slashed across you new visage. Usually the butchers slice along your hairline or behind your ears where they say (hope) that neither you nor anybody else will ever notice.

I tell you what, you would have to be excessively ugly, excessively old looking or so vain that you think there is an entire galaxy up your arse, to even begin to consider having your face relocated.

And if you really do have a face like a saggy old arse, don’t you think that your friends won’t notice that you now, suddenly, look twenty years younger, with skin so tight that you have a permanent leering grin on your kisser?

And if you are bald won’t there be a huge scar right across you head?

I may slowly be mutating into an albino prune but a face lift is a definite no no!

So what else is there?

Acupuncture face lift

If you believe in acupuncture, you can have an acupuncture face lift. Basically this means instead of a mad surgeon coming at your face with a scalpel and pliers, a mad acupuncturist hurls needles into your face. Apparently, by sticking a needle into certain places, you can stimulate natural collagen production, thus pumping up your skin (a bit like a bicycle pump on a football but more localised).

I guess for a while you would end up looking like this:

I tell you what, the thought of needles in my face fills me with dread so that’s another one I wouldn’t consider.


Has anybody noticed how this word almost rhymes with “bollocks”? That can’t be a coincidence. Like acupuncture, botox involves needles but unlike acupuncture, a liquid is injected into your face.

Apparently this substance prevents muscles from contracting and relaxes them thus removing lines and wrinkles.

Now I’ve seen people who have had this and to me at least they look like they have been covered in plastic. They look weird – like a showroom dummy version of their former selves.

And, you have to have an injection. I can’t stress enough how afraid of needles I am; the thought of having a needle in my arm fills me with dread – but to be injected in the face?

Forget it.

Electronic Face Lift

Before you ask, this does not involve attaching a robotic device to your face, although there is a similarity. Basically with an electronic face lift, somebody electrocutes your face. That sounds bad but it isn’t really, because we’re not talking about a massive current that will make your hair stand on end; it is a small contraption that passes microcurrents through you muscles and stimulates them, thus strengthening them and fighting off those telltale lines. Basically you are prodded with a buzzing device for a few weeks. You are electrocuted (on a microscopic scale) for an hour at a time.

Presumably when they have finished with you, your head feels like it is on fire and you could probably jump start a car with your face.
You probably look as if your face has been badly sunburnt as well.

Sounds too weird to me.

Looks like I am going to grow old gracefully and watch my face transform into a wrinkled bag of old clothes. I don’t care.

I would rather look like an old man than be ridiculed for looking like Joe 90:

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Word Abuse

There are lots of words and phrases that annoy me. Why?

Because they are repeated ad nauseam or, worse, their meaning has been hijacked, mutilated, perverted and then thrust back into the English language in order to annoy and irritate me.

I think the easiest thing to do is to give you examples of what I mean. This is the first in a series of posts about word abuse and misuse of phrases. Here are some examples.

Solution – There was a time when the word solution grazed peacefully in the dictionary, happy in the knowledge that its meaning was clear. Now, business “gurus” (see later) have misrepresented its meaning. We now see companies who make signs, for example, using the phrase “for all your signage solutions – come to Signs-R-Us”.

System – I work in IT and to me the word system describes something complex. I do not expect a razor to be described as a “facial hair removal system”. It’s just a bloody razor. I am not going to buy it just because you use buzzwords incorrectly to make it sound more than it is. What’s next? Cat food being described as a “feline nourishment system”?

Guru – A guru is somebody with a fantastic wealth of knowledge but business idiots have kidnapped this word and used in job titles to describe people who know a little bit about something but claim to know more. “I am a management guru” basically means “I am a bullshitter” in my view.

Gate – A gate is something that you walk through, a kind of outdoor door (if you catch my drift). So why the hell is the word “gate” added to any bloody scandal? It all started with the “Watergate” scandal when the ex-boss of that country across the pond resigned his post. Now we add “gate” to any scandal anywhere in the bloody world. For example: cheating rugby players who bite on blood capsules to get substituted by feigning injury becomes “Bloodgate”; dodgy phone calls between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles becomes “Camillagate”; when president Clinton can’t keep his hands of one of his interns, Monica Lewinsky , it becomes “Monicagate”; when Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand left a rude message on Andrew Sachs’ answer phone in a controversy that was exploded out of all proportions, it became “Manuelgate” because Sachs played Manuel, a Spanish waiter in “Fawlty Towers”. So if I get involved in a national scandal would it become "Mancuniangate"?

Green – Climate change and global warming are a particular source of annoyance for me. There is scientific evidence that the Earth is warming up and climate is changing and there are a bunch of envionmentalists or “eco-warriors” who have taken it upon themselves to blame human beings. In my humble opinion, climate change is inevitable and is part of the natural cycle and governments worldwide are using it to control their people. Al Gore – failed president – holds a series of rock concerts worldwide in order to bring this to our attention and each concert consumes gigawatts of power and is about as environmentally friendly as a small nuclear explosion. Why did he do it? Because he lost to George W Bush and needed to prove his manliness - so off he went on a campaign to make himself look like the alpha male that he thinks he is. Sadly, because of people like Al Gore, politicians and weird beards have hijacked “green” to represent their views and make the rest of us feel guilty for switching on our lights.

Journey – The word “journey” is misused by reality TV and media moguls to describe the story of a Z-list celebrity’s appearance on a lame reality TV show, or, typically, a useless karaoke singer attempting to win a Simon Cowell produced talent contest like “X Factor” or “Pop Idol”. When the final is reached we hear of singer Lolita Barsteward’s “journey” from the audition to being mobbed outside her house by sad bunch of idiots whose musical taste is extremely poor and who believe everything they read in the tabloid newspapers about Lolita’s terrible upbringing. “Lolita has struggled against adversity all of her life and now, thanks to X Factor, has achieved her dream. Since the audition, she has embarked upon a journey and now her dream has been realised”. The fact that Lolita is a talentless muppet seems to escape the media hype.

Give it up for – This phrase makes my teeth itch. Trendy TV presenters usually use this phrase when introducing a new trendy singer or a youthful comedian, in order to get the audience to applaud in rapture. “Give up for Whizzbang McLozenge”

At the end of the day – Every single footballer you see interviewed in England uses this phrase. A lot of so-called intelligent pundits also use this phrase. But what the hell does it actually mean? “At the end of the day, the manager calls the shots.”; “At the end of the day, we lost because they were the better team.”; “At the end of the day he deserved the red card”. I would love one of them to say “At the end of the day, the sun goes down and it gets dark.”

Most anticipated – There is a musical genre that I can’t quite classify. Artists in this genre are singer/songwriters with strange voices who sing weird songs that you will never hear on X Factor. These songs, and the albums they appear on, all have cosmic titles. The album usually features a picture of the artist in a weird “artistic” pose and is called something like “Movements in the inner sanctum of Dave Bogus”. When the advert appears on TV it is accompanied by Dave Bogus wailing over his guitar with phrases like “Bogus opens his mouth and bares his soul”. But the phrase “most anticipated” is also used – all the time. “Movements in the inner sanctum of Dave Bogus is the most anticipated album of 2010”. No it bloody well isn’t. And who is Dave Bogus anyway? I’ve never even bloody heard of him. How can his album be “the most anticipated album of 2010?”

National Treasure – It’s official. When Ozzy Osbourne made a complete arse of himself on reality TV show “The Osbournes”, he rocketed to fame once more. His days with Black Sabbath were long forgotten. The fact that the band was shunned by all but the most rebellious teenagers (I was one such rebellious teenager) is forgotten. The fact that Ozzy was a typical over the top rock star who walked hand in hand with controversy all of his life, pissing up against the Alamo, biting the heads of animals and drinking so much alcohol that he literally lost days in nebulous inebriation is suddenly forgotten. You see, Ozzy has become a “National Treasure”, that is an old famous person who is still around and somehow still doing what he has always done. Stephen Fry is now a National Treasure as is Bruce Forsyth and countless other entertainers. GRRRRR!!!!!!

New improved and whiter than white – Washing powder is used to clean your clothes. Your white clothes are particularly lucky because there are so many washing powders on the market that make your whites whiter than white that you are spoilt for choice. I have a problem though and it is not because I can’t decide which one to choose. My problem is this: what the hell does whiter than white actually mean? How can something that is white also be whiter than white? IT’S WHITE for crying out loud. Adverts demonstrate this by washing a white shirt and holding it up to the sunlight before comparing it with another white shirt washed “in another leading brand”. One is so white that you have to wear sunglasses to look at it. The other is a dull white. Choice made – I will buy Razzledazzle. Next year, however, we get new improved Razzledazzle that makes your white shirts even more whiter than white. This time they show a white shirt washed in original Razzledazzle and another one washed in new improved RazzleDazzle which ends up being so bright that it looks like a nuclear explosion. Except it doesn’t – and we are so stupid that we go out and buy this new crap that is almost certainly the same as the old stuff. I want to see the logical progression of whiter than white because if the improvement is as exponential as the advertising campaign suggests then our vision will never be strong enough to view future items washed in new improved Razzledazzle – we’ll all be blind.

That’s enough for now.

I’m sure, dear reader, that there are lots of phrases and abused words out there that have annoyed and angered you as much as the list above have annoyed me. Please feel free to comment and let me know which words and phrases irritate you. I am all ears. Together we can rescue these words and phrases and redefine them back to their original meaning.

I have a huge list, which I will relate to you in a later post.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Women - A Crash Course For One Night Only

New Year’s Eve 2009 was a very educational night for me.

Due to certain circumstances beyond my control, I found myself in the company of five lovely ladies. My problem? I was the only bloke.

Of course, there were lots of other people at the party we attended but unfortunately they were all in their own groups and my particular group was me (a sack of potatoes dressed in a tuxedo), Mrs PM and four of her friends, to whom I shall refer in this post as N, B, A and J (to protect them but most importantly myself).

Here are the lessons I learned.

LESSON ONE: Always tell a woman that she has to be ready at least ten minutes earlier than she actually needs to be. That way you stand a good chance of her being ready on time.

We had to pick up the four girls at 7:30 and Mrs PM, being a woman herself, knew that if she told the girls to be ready for 7:20 then there would be a good chance that they actually would be raring to go at 7:30. In fact, they weren’t. But had we told them to be ready for 7:30 I reckon that we would have missed the pre-meal drinks.

LESSON TWO: When women are going out, they are unable to walk for five minutes because the shoes they wear would cripple their feet.

The girls were all staying at a flat in the city centre about five minutes walk from our venue. When I suggested that they walk Mrs PM looked at me incredulously.

“Have you SEEN high heeled shoes before?” she said, her eyes telling me that she considered me to be a dumb muppet.

I still don’t understand why women have to wear shoes that give them so much pain. However, one of the girls, A, actually had a little bag with a small pair of flat comfortable shoes to walk home him. These shoes folded in half and fitted snugly into her bag, meaning that she could wear her uncomfortable shoes at the party and then walk home in a sensible pair. There is hope for womankind after all.

LESSON THREE: Never give a woman a hard time about how long it takes them to get ready because she will not let you forget it on the one time that you are late.

It usually takes me no time to get ready at all. I was still wearing a towel (having just showered – it was not a pretty sight I can assure you) when Mrs PM called a cab. Usually it takes a cab fifteen minutes to arrive but in this case Murphy’s Law applied and I was still battling with my hair, cufflinks and bow tie when the bugger turned up. Suffice it to say, for once it was me who was late and Mrs PM didn’t let me forget it for the entire evening.

LESSON FOUR: When a woman sends a text saying she will be ready, don’t believe her.

On the way Mrs PM sent a text to say we would arrive shortly. We received a text saying that the girls would be ready and waiting. They weren’t. After waiting for five minutes two of the girls, A and J, arrived and we left because N and B were having a stress moment and would see us there – despite shoes.

LESSON FIVE: When a woman has her hair done, there is a good chance that she won’t like it and will start again at home.

N had had her hair washed, styled and prepared earlier in the day. Unfortunately she wasn’t happy with the results and decided to start all over again at home. So she wasted her money and her time at the hairdressers. This was the reason for her stress moment. I hate my hair and I only took five minutes to quell its rebellious nature (though I had to bow to Mrs PM’s wishes and use a product). Mind you, my hair isn’t long – if it were I would have a problem I can assure you.

LESSON SIX: When a woman says she will do something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she will.

N and B were going to walk to the hotel in high heeled shoes. I remarked on this in the cab and the driver shook his head and chuckled as if to say “Is this man a bloody idiot or what?”

Some things are better left unsaid.

LESSON SEVEN: Whenever you get a free glass of champagne, always get your missus one as well.
Mrs PM was queuing up to order wine for our meal while I took our coats to the cloakroom. On the way back, I picked up a complementary glass of champagne and joined Mrs PM in the queue. “Where’s mine?” asked Mrs PM indignantly as A and J laughed – “You haven’t trained him well have you?” said A.

With my tail between my legs, I sheepishly returned to the waiter to get another glass. “I forgot the missus,” I said. He smiled politely but looked at me as if I were an amoeba trying to crawl out of a primeval swamp. When I returned to the wine queue, just about everybody within earshot was laughing at my expense.

LESSON EIGHT: Women are very perceptive creatures.
A and J remarked that I was very brave for coming out with five women. “You’re terrified aren’t you?” asked J.

I nodded. Women can read me like a book.

LESSON NINE: Women take so long to get ready because it is a fiercely complicated business.

I listened with interest as the five women talked about the trauma involved in getting ready. All of them looked lovely and I remarked upon this. I was told in no uncertain terms about the amount of work that had gone into their preparation: showering, scrubbing and exfoliation were just the start (there were other things involved in the showering process but the words used were meaningless to me). After that, there was hair preparation involving products, hair dryers, curling tongs and all manner of bizarre implements. And then came the make-up and actually getting dressed, before examining the look in the mirror and adjusting for maximum beauty effect.

But, once the job is complete, there is a period where every bulge, every nook, every cranny, every hair, every square centimetre of exposed skin must be examined in order to make the total effect 100% stunning.

There can be problems however. Take Spanx for example. One of the girls was wearing a pair of Spanx body shapers. Girls can wear these things to shape their body and make any odd bulges disappear. The only problem is that the bulges are not contained and flattened; they are redistributed outside the jurisdiction of the Spanx underwear and this can sometimes cause odd bulges elsewhere. This was the cause of B’s trauma.

So what are Spanx? Here is an example:

When this was all being explained to me, I got lost shortly after the sentence “Well I had a shower …”

LESSON TEN: Women are fully aware when lecherous men are staring at their boobs.

All five women wore fantastic dresses. One of the girls commented that Mrs PM’s dress showed off her boobs perfectly. “All the men will be talking to your boobs,” remarked B.
I felt that I had to defend my gender.

“We can’t help it,” I said, standing my ground. “Men are programmed to enjoy the sight of a beautiful woman. We can’t help looking at boobs. It’s our nature.”

I then realised that I might have put my foot in it. I quickly added – “I have to make sure that I look at your faces when talking to you this evening. But if you DO catch me looking at your boobs, you should feel proud.”

Thankfully, my quip made them all laugh.

LESSON ELEVEN: It is fine to complement a woman but don’t overdo it – unless you are good looking.

I remarked on the fact that all five women looked gorgeous (and they all did) but then I added “Women like complements, don’t they?”

“Yes,” said J, “but if you are dribbling and drooling like a pervert and keep saying it in a lecherous, leering way, it isn’t good at all.”

“Although, if you are good looking you can complement me all night,” added A.

LESSON TWELVE: Do not tell Mrs PM how much you fancy Beyoncé, especially in front of her friends.

The musical entertainment was a swing band with three singers called “The Brit Pack”, obviously pretending to be “The Rat Pack” and performing songs by Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior and Frank Sinatra. However, in between performances, the stage was handed over to a DJ who played modern nonsense.

“OOH! I love this one,” said B when “Single Ladies” by Beyoncé appeared. I rolled my eyes and said “Who is this then?”

Mrs PM said “Idiot! It’s Beyoncé – you know the video; the black and white one where she is dancing with two other women.”.

And then I remembered. And then I forgot that I was with five women. And then I forgot I was with my lovely Mrs PM.

“Oh yes!” I said, momentarily thinking I was out with the lads instead of the girls. “She’s bloody gorgeous. I could watch that video all day – with the sound down of course.”

The expression on my face told a story that mere words couldn’t convey. All five girls were staring at me in disbelief. Mrs PM had a thunderous look on her face.

“I don’t believe you just said that,” said B. “You’re so dead!” said J. A and N just shook their heads.

I had allowed myself to momentarily mutate into a lecherous old git like the one so brilliantly portrayed by Les Dawson:

Mrs PM eventually forgave me when I laughed it off as a joke but I had to use all of my charm. It was a very uncomfortable ten minutes when I thought that the knives on the table would be used for something more than just cutting food.

This is what got me into trouble. Guys – watch with caution if your missus is around.

LESSON THIRTEEN: When a woman asks you dance, never refuse – even if you loathe the song.

Another song that almost got me into trouble was “The Time Of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. I had been warned earlier that I was the “token male” and that I would have to dance. I steeled myself for having to endure some pure tripe.

What I didn’t realise was that N’s favourite film was “Dirty Dancing” and that she simply loved “Time Of My Life”.

When it came on, I forgot myself and stepped on my soapbox. “I HATE this song,” I said. “I hate the bloody film too. It is sugary nonsense and bilge from the opening credits to the grotesquely syrupy ending. All those eighties films like “Officer and a Gentleman” and “Pretty Woman” are all soul-wrenching trash and the plot is more predictable than the four seasons.”

I turned around mid-rant to find N standing next to me with her hand held out.

Mrs PM stared at me and said one word. “Dance!”

“I HATE this song,” I said.

“DANCE!!!” snarled Mrs PM.

N took matters into her own hands. Before I knew it, I was doing my own impression of Patrick Swayze with N in front of a bunch of other similar men who didn’t want to be there. I was tempted to utter the words “I hate this song,” to N but all I could say was “You like this film don’t you?”

“It’s my favourite,” she agreed.

I said nothing more and danced away.

LESSON FOURTEEN: If you are the token male, you must dance with all women in your group.

Having danced with N, I had to dance with Mrs PM. And then, of course, I had to dance with B, A and J as well. At the end of the night I was knackered.

LESSON FIFTEEN: If you as a male get a chance to go to a New Year ball with five women, grab it with open arms. It is scary and you have to be careful what you say but ultimately it is a fabulously rewarding experience.

I am a people watcher and I love seeing the reaction of others to various situations. The one thing that I got from this particular experience was seeing the looks of envy on other guys faces.

I was the only male on a table of five lovely ladies. I danced with each woman in turn and noticed the looks of amazement on the faces of some of the guys.

I can imagine the thoughts running through their minds:

“How’s that butt ugly baboon managed that?”

“Lucky sod!”

When New Year came in, I was on the dance floor surrounded by women and singing “It’s Up To You New York New York!” at the top of my voice alongside “The Brit Pack” and many envious guys.

It was a fantastic night and I had a fun-filled, interesting and very educational evening. I definitely managed to tap into the female psyche and learned a few things that will help me on my quest to understanding women.

Mrs PM said that, despite a couple of foot in mouth moments, I somehow managed to scrape through my crash course.

I’d like to thank Mrs PM, N, B, A and J for a great night. For one night only I was the envy of many blokes and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I will try to use the information wisely, dear reader. I just hope that I don’t have a relapse.

I have to go now because Valentine’s Day is six weeks away and I need to work out how I can get through that without buying a card and flowers and spending a wad of cash, while at the same time, making Mrs PM happy.

Bring on the next level.