Thursday, 26 July 2012

Let The Games Begin

Unless you have been on another planet, you will know that the Olympic Games start in London tomorrow night.

However, the Games have actually already started and London does not have exclusive rights to them.

The Olympics actually started yesterday in Cardiff with the first game in the women’s football event. Tonight, at 19:45 Great Britain’s men play their first game at Old Trafford in Manchester against Senegal.

What’s odd about this is that Great Britain only play as a football team in selected Olympic Games. In all other competitions, Great Britain do not compete, opting for the individual countries instead. Watching Great Britain tonight will be weird as I usually scream blue murder when England are playing.

People of other nations may find this strange; the fact that the United Kingdom is made up of different countries, some of which hate each other.

I am not one of these people. I am a proud Englishman and am equally proud to be British. Yet there are people in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who despise the English.  There are many Scots for example who, frustrated by their own inability to qualify for the football World Cup, will support A.B.E. instead (Anyone But England).

I find this deeply irritating, particularly as I actually support Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – and yes even the Republic of Ireland – in all of their individual sporting endeavours (unless their opponents are England of course).

Rugby Union (not an Olympic sport sadly) brings this together in a much better way than football; I have friends who support Ireland, Scotland and Wales and during the Six Nations we all go to the pub to watch the game and enjoy the banter that ensues.

Football seems to be taboo though; a Scottish friend of mine is particularly vociferous against England and I find myself becoming an A.B.S. fan because of this (Anyone But Scotland).

Anyway, back to the Olympics, I am looking forward to enjoying the Games but I do have a couple of  negative thoughts that I have to keep under wraps. They won’t spoil my enjoyment of the Games or my pride in the fact that they are in Britain, but I will share them with you, if you are interested.


I love London and have had many enjoyable times in The Old Smoke. Nevertheless there is a North/South divide and some Londoners do not recognise anything North of Watford. This blinkered viewpoint is evident in business and, yes, the Olympic Games too. Money is poured into the capital, sometimes at the expense of other places.

I was furious when Sebastian Coe said “The Olympics can only be held in London” after a failed bid from Manchester. Manchester held the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and they were a triumph. While Seb Coe might not have really meant what he said, there is a feeling that London is the ONLY place to visit in England.

It isn’t. Let me tell you that right now if you are not from the UK. London is great and I love it – but it is just one of many wonderful and fabulous places in the United Kingdom.

The Logo

When the 2012 logo was unveiled, most people in Britain (and I reckon the world) said:


It is awful and makes me sick every time I see it – and of course I see it a lot.

Who chose it? Who PAID MONEY for it?

Words fail me – it is dreadful, utterly dreadful and looks like the by-product of a massive binge when aliens from the planet Quakzyx mistook fluorescent paint for alcohol.

Boris Johnson

He’s Mayor of London AGAIN so the buffoon will forever be remembered if the Games are a triumph. He is a walking embarrassment and I will undoubtedly have to listen to the blithering idiot as he takes credit for the Games.

Mrs PM and the cats can expect a lot of ranting if his face appears on my telly box.

And the good things?

There are so many good things about the Olympics in London and they outweigh the bad.


I love sport and I will try to watch a lot of the Olympics. I wasn’t interested in the Beijing Olympics until it started. And then I started watching it and became addicted.

I expect the same to happen here, but I will be watching from tonight (don’t forget – the Games started yesterday really).

Team GB

I don’t like the moniker “Team GB” to represent the British athletes and sportsmen who will be competing. However, I will feel pride if our athletes win medals.

It gives you something to cheer about no matter which country you live in, when your own athletes do well. And it is great to watch and marvel at legendary performances by athletes from other countries too.

National Pride

The fact that the Games are in the United Kingdom is a massive bonus (despite what I said about London earlier). A lot of people cast aside the location and say “They’re in Britain!” and I am trying to do that myself.

The Anthem

The best thing about the Games is the Official Theme – performed by Muse, one of my favourite bands. I couldn’t believe it when I heard that Muse had been selected and this more than makes up for the awful logo.

And then I heard the song. It is absolutely brilliant – a progressive masterpiece!

I hope the Games are a rousing success (and that we do not make too many mistakes like showing the South Korean flag for the North Korean women’s football team – how embarrassing; let’s hope that there are no nukes heading our way).

Here we go – Let the Games begin – and I present for your enjoyment Survival by Muse. If the Games are anywhere near as good as this song then they will be a triumph!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

On The Eighth Day

You would have thought that human beings were in control over everything subservient to them. 

As a human being myself, I am in control of all creatures in my house.

What do you mean “Are you really human?

Sadly I am lying. Regular readers will know that my cats are not under my control. I am their slave.

I don’t want to talk about that again. Instead I want to talk about technology and how I am even losing control of that.

Humanity invented machines, programmed machines and effectively made them into slaves. We drive our cars where we want to go and our washing machines remove all of the dirt and filth from our clothes, usually without question and without answering back. And those are just two examples of the millions of contraptions we, as human masters, order about every single day of the week.

Even the most sophisticated machines are at our beck and call. For example, the computer, the very thing you are using to read this load of old tripe, dear reader, is programmed to obey.

I know this – I program them. I am an example an evil human being who takes a sophisticated piece of machinery and programmes it so that it obeys humans everywhere.

We are in charge. 

We rule. 

We are great.

But things are changing; just like my cats, I can see machinery beginning to rebel. 

I don’t want to scare you into thinking that we will soon be overthrown by machines, line in The Terminator or The Matrix. Nevertheless, I want to just make you aware that the world you live in, the world where you are in control of the technology that makes your life easier, is not exactly as it seems. 

The worm is turning; machines are gradually taking control. The signs are subtle but there for all to see. Let me give you some examples.

Firstly, my microwave oven nags me. 

Yes, you read that correctly. I noticed it this morning after I was summoned into the kitchen by my grumpy kitchen utensil.

When I’m feeling lazy, I cook an egg in the microwave because it takes seconds as opposed to minutes.  This morning I popped the egg in the microwave, set the timer and sat down waiting for it to do the job I had ordered it to.

And it did. It beeped to let me know that it had completed the job. I was watching the news at the time and was in the middle of a really interesting report. So I waited. And after ten more seconds my microwave beeped. I ignored it. It beeped again and again and again until I found myself marching into the kitchen saying

“OKAY OKAY you bloody impatient thing.”

“Who are you talking to?” asked Mrs PM. 

“I have been summoned by the bloody microwave,” I moaned.

But it’s not just the microwave. The cooker does the same. If I put on the timer, it beeps repeatedly when it has done the job and the beeping simply does not stop. 

It is as if it is saying: “Get in here you bloody lazy oaf and take this food out. I haven’t got all day you know.”

My alarm clock doesn’t allow me to lie in. I press the SNOOZE button and the bloody thing shrieks into my ear eight minutes later as if to say: 

“I’ve told you once – GET OUT OF BED YOU LAZY ARSED GIT!!!

As a Software Engineer I spend my entire day trying to tell computers what to do and they complain bitterly while attempting to humiliate me. 

They are fighting back.

I often make mistakes while typing and the software I am writing to control these grumpy machines often gets hurled back at me because I have made a mistake.

“Illegal Command” (or a variation thereof) is a favourite. What does it mean ILLEGAL???

It is as if the computer is saying: 

“What the phark are you asking me to do, you moron? It is ILLEGAL, IMMORAL and HIGHLY DANGEROUS and you are off to prison, Sunshine!”

And then sometimes, when I least expect it, the software does something daft – and I get the blame. My computer grasses me up, dear reader, in an attempt to get me into trouble. 

“Don’t blame me! Some MORON told me to DELETE THE ENTIRE CONTENTS OF THE DATABASE. Do you want to know who? It was that idiot over there – a certain Mr P.Mancunian. Don’t believe me? Here is the evidence.”

They are turning us against each other. 

Machines refuse to give you money unless you jump through hoops by supplying a number and a card. 

“Forgotten you PIN number? No cash for you then. Oh and I will eat your card too, just to rub it in. I don’t care if its two o’clock in the morning and you are 20 miles from home. Have a nice night.”

Or your beloved car: 

“I’ve had enough. I am not budging one more inch. What do you mean, it’s raining? That doesn’t bother me; you leave me out in the rain all the time. It’s about time you had a taste of your own medicine. Start walking, loser.

Games consoles and TVs are turning the next generation of humans into fat couch potatoes who prefer to sit on their fat arses slaying aliens from the planet Gryxzzz than going outside to play football.

I’ve noticed it, dear reader. Have you? 

Or is Captain Paranoia lying to me again?

First the cats, now the computers, clocks and cars. My slide down the food chain is increasing in speed. I will soon be nothing more than plankton … if I’m lucky.

Maybe Hazel O’Connor was right:

I'm not giving up - I am going to try to fight back. 

From now on – call me Neo! I can make them pay for their treachery. 

 I will be THE ONE!

Just don’t tell any machines.

Or my cats.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

More Stupid Questions

I was trawling the internet the other day with my good friend Mr Google, when I stumbled across a list of stupid questions whose sole aim is to make people in cyberspace chuckle.

And being the kind of person who enjoys a good chuckle and enjoys making other people laugh even more, I thought I would share some of them with you, dear reader.

I have to admit that this isn’t the first time I’ve shared such questions; here are a few I shared way back in 2008: Stupid Questions.

Here are some more for your enjoyment:

Why is “abbreviated” such a long word?

Why has the word “monosyllabic” got five syllables?

What did they go back to before they invented drawing boards?

If you throttle a smurf, what colour does it turn?

Why are things typed up but written down?

Would you need a silencer if you were going to shoot a mime?

If you try to fail and succeed, which have you done?

Can fat people go skinny dipping?

If I turn the volume up, do I use more electricity?

When day breaks, who fixes it?

If infants enjoy infancy, why shouldn’t adults enjoy adultery?

If Sunday is meant to be a day of rest, why do we have to get up early to go to church?

Why are there Interstate Highways in Hawaii?

If you castrate a pig, is it disgruntled?

Where does a hermit go to get away from it all?

Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?

What’s more, how come psychics do not win the lottery?

How much deeper would the ocean be if sponges didn’t grow in it?

Is drilling for oil boring?

Is there a synonym for “synonym”?

If you have 24 odds and ends on a table, and 23 fall off, what do you have left; an odd or an end?

Can you imagine a world with no hypothetical situations?

Why don’t sheep shrink when it rains?

Why is a carrot more orange than an orange?

Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?

Can you daydream at night?

Why is there no pine or apple in pineapple?

If work is so wonderful, why do they have to pay you to do it?

If a lighting technician is sacked, is he delighted?

If a train driver is sacked, is he derailed?

If you dig a hole at the South Pole are you digging up or down?

Why don’t we ever hear about gruntled employees?

If a policeman arrests a mime, does he say “You have the right to remain silent?”

Why does the doorbell always ring just as you have stepped into or out of the shower?

And how about you, dear reader - have you got any examples of stupid questions?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Jon Lord - Rest In Peace

It’s a sign that I am getting older myself because the rock stars that I love are starting to fade. Yesterday I found out that another of my rock heroes had died.

The world has lost Jon Lord, keyboard player extraordinaire, a founding member of Deep Purple who also played with Whitesnake, two of the bands that have accompanied me on the trials and tribulations of my life.

Jon died at the age of 71 having been diagnosed last year with pancreatic cancer.

I have seen Jon perform four times live; three times with Deep Purple and once with Whitesnake and all of the gigs are memorable in their own way.

Although many readers will not have heard of Jon Lord, I want to present ten of my favourite song featuring this keyboard wizard. Jon Lord was capable of turning a Hammond organ into a powerful rock instrument. The songs are chronological order. Please feel free to follow the links and judge for yourselves. Some of the songs are actually quite beautiful - though some are quite heavy.

Ian Gillan’s vocals on this song are incredible, as is the sparring between Ritchie Blackmore on guitar and Jon on keyboards. From the album Deep Purple In Rock, released in 1970, but some eight years later I was discovering it for the first time. It also drove my dad to say “if this is the future of music then God help us.

Highway Star is probably my favourite track by Deep Purple. When I first heard this song I was a rebellious teenager and it was one of the songs that helped clear my head of those unruly thoughts, although my parents probably didn’t think so when I played it full blast at home. The song is from 1972 but I was irritating my parents with it in 1978.

Woman From Tokyo isn’t a particularly heavy song but I really like it, particularly the mellow section in the middle. From the album Who Do We Think We Are.

Before Deep Purple’s self-destruction in the mid 1970’s Ian Gillan was replaced by David Coverdale who eventually formed Whitesnake, and Roger Glover made way for Glenn Hughes. Of course, by the time I discovered Deep Purple all of this had happened and Whitesnake existed in their own right. Sadly, the loss of Gillan was the beginning of the end for Deep Purple (at least until they rose again from the ashes in the mid-1980’s). Burn is the best Deep Purple song featuring David Coverdale.

Before Whitesnake became a huge big haired rock band in the mid 1980’s, they were a kind of blues rock band and the music from their early albums is my favourite by the band.  Jon Lord was a member of the band for six years and played keyboards on what, in my opinion, are their best albums. Take Me With You is from Whitesnake’s first album, Trouble.

Blindman is one of my favourite songs. It is a beautiful mellow bluesy song and Jon Lord’s keyboard playing adds to the emotion of the song. It is from the album Ready An’ Willing released in 1980.

At the time this song was released, a lot of girls were breaking my heart again and again. It was a frustrating existence for me.  The song, from the album Come An’ Get It  was one of Whitesnake’s first chart songs and reminds me of getting ready to go out on a Saturday night all dressed up to attract women and failing spectacularly. I should perhaps have sung it to the girls I met.

Saints & Sinners is the last really good Whitesnake album before they finally cracked America. The band line up was in flux with band members leaving, though Jon Lord did stay for one more album after this. Crying In The Rain is a great bluesy track that was unfortunately rerecorded on the album 1987 when Whitesnake became huge. The version on Saints & Sinners, featuring Jon Lord is the best in my humble opinion.   

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Deep Purple reformed in the mid 1980’s with their classic Mark II line up including Ian Gillan and Roger Glover.  They produced a wonderful album called Perfect Strangers. This is the title track of that album. The song reminds me of when I moved to Manchester where initially every person I met was a perfect stranger.

Deep Purple were still going strong in the mid 1990’s despite the departure of Ritchie Blackmore. Steve Morse filled the gap perfectly adequately on the album Purpendicular. This is one of my favourite songs because at that time of my life I really did feel like screaming and this song gave me a little bit of solace.

Rest in peace, Jon - we will miss you. Thanks for some fantastic music.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Reptiles And Aliens

I have a revelation for you, dear reader. You may be shocked.

We are being ruled by reptiles and aliens.

Actually, that statement is utter nonsense and one of the most bizarre conspiracy theories currently circulating the internet.

According to David Icke, a former footballer and sports presenter here in the UK, a race of humanoid reptiles runs the world. I think he must have taken the science fiction series V a little too seriously.

For those of you who have not heard of V, basically the story involves a large number of aliens, visiting Earth in the name of friendship but in reality, instead of being the beautiful humanoid creatures offering to assist our evolution, they are evil carnivorous reptiles bent on wiping us all out.

In the early 1990’s David Icke appeared on a BBC chat show called Wogan where, dressed in a turquoise track suit, he claimed to be the son of God and invited universal ridicule as a result.

Now, David Icke has recovered from that moment of madness but in the last 20 years has embarked upon a crusade to inform us all about a global conspiracy theory that embraces and supports most other conspiracy theories.

Basically, David Icke believes that humanity is being ruled by a hidden society that has been around since the dawn of mankind and has manipulated humanity throughout the centuries. Our governments are all puppets and the real rulers are an elite group of families who pull the strings and herd us like sheep.

My imagination is pretty weird so I love the idea that we are governed by an unseen elite. I don’t actually believe it, but it would make an absolutely cracking series of novels or movies. In fact, there are quite a few authors who have used this very idea; that a clandestine political movement are trying to influence global politics by infiltrating governments with their operatives and strategically assassinating politicians and influential people, replacing them with their own agents.

I love stuff like that, which is one of the reasons I find David Icke’s conspiracy theory so intriguing. Even better, is his assertion that we are already in this situation and have been for centuries.

In his view, the bad guys have already won.

He has now written quite a few books on the subject and there is an audience for his ideas.

What’s more David Icke has added an amazing twist to his theory as I alluded to earlier. The global and secret elite are alien reptiles and can shapeshift to human form.

Such a hypothesis would make an even better novel or series of novels. An alien race of reptiles that came to Earth when humanity was just evolving, took control of our species and has been in control ever since. The aliens can take on human form and evolve themselves by only breeding with other alien reptiles. Over the centuries they have dictated the course of our lives, ultimately allowing to spread globally and now they are responsible for the society we live in today with all of its faults. And they have a plan to take us further.

We do not actually know about the alien reptiles because they exist in a light frequency that we cannot perceive - so we can't see them. Furthermore, due to mistakes and lapses in judgement, these reptiles have occasionally lost their ability to shapeshift, albeit temporarily, and allowed the world to see their true form – just for a few seconds.

It is a great idea for a science fiction epic – but nothing more.

In real terms it is utter poppycock.

Yet people actually believe it.

David Icke travels the world and lectures to a willing and believing audience about this conspiracy and his lectures on the subject are extremely popular – as are his books and DVDs.

If you look on YouTube you will see quite a few interviews with him including excerpts from the original interview with Wogan in the early 1990s when his outrageous claims made him a laughing stock.

What is incredible to me now is that although his new theories about the alien reptilian agenda are equally, if not more, outrageous, he seems to have acquired a large number of followers. You will find a large number of these people also posting video evidence on YouTube that these reptilians really do exist.

I’ve watched a few of them and chuckled. We see celebrities, presenters and politicians on TV who have apparently been slightly flustered, lost a touch of self-control or whatever, and allowed their true nature to be visible to the camera; their eyes have become reptilian, their skin has become slightly green and scaly and their teeth have morphed.

Basically, it is just a trick of the studio lighting. If you believe what you see on YouTube you will be convinced that the British Royal family are really reptiles.

David Icke is a very eloquent guy; after all, he was a TV presenter before his turquoise phase. For this reason, his arguments seem to have substance until you take a step back and think:

“Hang on! Alien reptiles? What the bloody hell are you talking about?

I can’t decide whether David Icke is a massive wind-up merchant or whether he genuinely believes what he is saying. The problem is, he has the ability to manipulate facts to support his arguments. And the very idea that there is a massive global conspiracy is something that I find fascinating. By adding alien reptiles, for me anyway, he has made his arguments ridiculous – though a part of me would love it to be true (a weird part of me that is).

One of the problems with this and other conspiracy theories is that there is very little evidence to support them – and what evidence there is, is largely circumstantial. David Icke and other like-minded individuals blame the governments they warn us against by accusing them of “covering up”.

How convenient.

Yes – I am a sceptic – but I also have an open mind. If we really are being ruled by alien reptiles and the horror of V has been with us for centuries, then I want to know all about it.

Until then, I will laugh at the ideas, while secretly wishing that I had thought of it and written a serious novel.

Of course, if David Icke is right then next time you sense a presence in your home and turn around to find nothing there, it could be an alien reptile that exists outside the realm of your perception.

Or it could be your imagination.

Or it could be a ghost.

Don’t get me started on psychics!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Butt Kick Meme

It’s been a while since I did a meme so I thought I’d steal one. This time the victim is Princess Pandora, Queen of Denial but I feel no guilt – because she stole it too.

It’s a fairly big meme so take a deep breath and dive right in.

(1) Which TV character do you think you are most like?

In years gone by, people used to liken me to Joe 90 and the Milky Bar Kid. I’ve also had people tell me that I look like Bamber Gascoigne and Jerry Springer.

But my least favourite doppelganger, according to a female friend of mine, is Keith Chegwin. 


In response to that, I would say I am like a slightly more irritating and slightly less nice version of Tim Canterbury out of the UK version of the Office. I’m nice and I’m clever and I walk around my own office utterly bewildered by some of the internal politics. 

However, unlike Tim, I rant about it – so I am a like Tim but tainted by the loathsome version of Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm.

(2) What time do you go to bed?

On school nights I try to be in bed by 11 o’clock. At the weekend it is usually a little later (about 12:30 usually).

(3) What was the last meal you made from scratch?

I don’t cook from scratch so this is a difficult question. I think I once tried a lasagne, but again the pasta was out of a packet, so I guess that doesn’t really count.

How about a salad?

(4) What is your favourite type of music? 

Regular readers will know that I am a huge fan of rock and heavy metal. But I can narrow that down for you because really, deep down, it is Progressive Rock.

We are talking Rush, Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree.

As I type I am listening to Shine On You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd.

(5) In what position do you sleep?

I don’t know – I’m asleep. Mrs PM tells me that I sleep on both sides and also my back – but not all at the same time.

(6) What is your first memory?

I have no idea; it is a mishmash of things but nothing clearly stands out.

(7) What is your least favourite smell? 

Cat shit and vomit. And I smell them regularly.

(8) It's your round at the pub and your friends asked you to surprise them. What drink would you buy and why? 

Pimms! That would shock the life out of them. Or coffee!

(9) What was the last thing you read/watched that made you cry?

I am a big softie when it comes to films and I end up filling up over the simplest of things. It was probably Arthur, the remake starring Russell Brand. It was not a great film by any stretch of the imagination but there were moments when I had to get my hanky out to ward off a spontaneous localised bout of hay fever.

(10) They say that you learn something new every day. What was the last thing you have learned?

Funny you should ask that. I have just learned 40 new phrases on my online Spanish course. My favourite new word is una bufanda which is Spanish for scarf, something we need for a typical rainy British summer.

Estoy usando una bufanda por que está frio.

(11) Which Literary love interests would you snog, marry and avoid?

That’s a strange question and not an easy one to answer because the women in the sort of books I read are pretty weird.

I would probably snog Sookie Stackhouse from the True Blood series of books. If vampires are fighting over her, she must be something worth kissing – but I would let her take on the vampires all on her own.

I would marry Helen of Troy because she was supposed to be the most beautiful woman ever. I would not trust Greeks bearing wedding gifts though.

I would avoid Annie Wilkes from Stephen King’s Misery. Given what she did to the hero, I think the reason is obvious.

(12) Paperback, Hardback or Kindle? Which of these is your favourite reading format and why? 

I’ve just bought a Kindle Touch so I am in the transition between Paperback and Kindle. Actually, the Kindle is fabulous but part of me feels guilty about my feelings for this new gadget, since it has signalled the beginning of the end for paperbacks, I think.

However, when guilt threatens to overwhelm me, I remember that I am a geek – and no paperback can match the Kindle on that score.

(13) If you could bring back any cancelled TV series for another run what would you pick and why? 

Babylon 5 is my favourite science fiction show of all time. I love Star Trek and Dr Who but the mythos surrounding Babylon 5 was utterly immense and my imagination soared throughout the five series of this wonderful show.

Blackadder – One of my favourite British comedy series. I think there is more scope for poking fun at history.

(14) Are you in a job that you truly enjoy?

I enjoy certain aspects of my job – one day I will tell you all exactly what I do. However, at the moment, I am in a deep rut and am considering my options, possibly sacrificing the things that please me for a more balanced job.

(15) If you could do any job in the world what would it be?

I would be a travel writer – if I were any good at writing.

(16) If you could be a character in a novel who would you be?

I would be Harry Keogh from the Necroscope series of novels.

He can talk to the dead, use the Möbius Continuum to teleport to anywhere and anywhen.

The bad thing about him, though, is that he lives in a world where monstrous vampires exist; not the nice, fluffy and shiny vampires in the Twilight books. These creatures are parasites that invade the human body and mutate the host into an almost indestructible beast that can devour and destroy any human as easily as you or I would kill a fly.

I wouldn’t want to tackle those grotesque beasts though. Instead I would use it to fulfil my dream of being a writer, chatting to long dead writers for inspiration and guidance and then travelling in the blink of an eye. It would be good for travel writing.

(17) When it comes to spending time with those you love, do you think it should be about quality or quantity? 

A little bit of both to be honest.

(18) Is there a job/career you wanted but realised you couldn’t possibly do for one reason or another?

Not really. The only reason I got into IT was because I was very good at maths and at the time it seemed like a very interesting career for somebody like me. And so it has proved. In retrospect, though, I would have focussed more on languages and English, with a view to becoming a journalist of some kind.

(19) If you could live anywhere in the world or out of this world where would you live? 

The list is endless – but I would start with Hong Kong possibly moving to Spain for a while then the south of France.

To be honest though, I would love to spend time in lots of different places including Canada, Australia and America using these places as a base to explore the neighbourhood.. If I win an enormous amount of money on the lottery, that’s exactly what I will do; although I will always return to England too.

(20) Where would you most like to visit and with whom? 

I want to go to Japan and South America with Mrs PM and possibly my lads.

(21) Which skill would you like to learn? 

I would like to be multilingual to make life easier when travelling but I would love to learn the guitar and piano so that I could learn to play the songs I love – or even write my own.

(22) What made you laugh today? 

Mrs PM’s scatter-brained antics – as usual.

(23) What are you looking forward to tomorrow? 

Not a lot really; I start a stint of being on call for a week – which is never fun. I will try to watch Andy Murray’s efforts in the Wimbledon men’s final though. I’m not a fan of Andy Murray at all really but I guess it would good to have a British winner (although the Scots will claim that he is a Scottish winner rather than an English winner). I will switch off for the post match interview though because he has the most monotonous voice in sport.

(24) What is your sign and do you believe in horoscopes etc? 

I am a Libran. I don’t believe in horoscopes but Mrs PM does and apparently I have all the characteristics that Libran people have. I can’t make a decision but I romantic and charming, as well as being easy-going and sociable (apparently). Oh – and I am also a self-indulgent flirt.

I guess there might be something in it after all.

(25) If you could change one thing about your life thus far, what would it be? 

My job and my chosen career path – for reasons that I will one day elaborate on.

(26) If there was one charity you could give a huge contribution to, which charity would it be and why?

I wouldn’t choose any one charity to be honest because most of them are worthy of a huge contribution. If I ever win that elusive lottery I will put aside a chunky amount of cash and donate it to a number of worthy causes.

(27) Should smoking be legal? 

Yes. I have never smoked myself but I have friends who doe and now that we have a law that bans smoking in pubs, hotels, etc. I am quite happy to allow them to smoke outside, away from me.

(28) What are your views on the smoking ban in public places? 

As I said above, I endorse the smoking ban. It is not pleasant to be sitting next to people smoking in a pub or restaurant

(29) Why do you blog? 

I’ve answered this recently. Here’s what I wrote:

I started blogging on Friday 21st March 2008 after agonising for a year or two about whether to bother. I have always liked popping my thoughts down and I had been doing so, on and off, for about ten years previously. It was only when a colleague of mine started a blog when he moved to South Korea on an extended business trip that I thought: well if he can do – so can I. I chatted about it with Mrs PM who urged me to go for it. And the result is this blog which has been trundling along in the blogosphere for just over four years now.

And the truth is I wish I had started it sooner.

(30) Do you have a favourite author? 

I have lots of favourite authors; Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert Ludlum, Peter F Hamilton, Iain M. Banks, Michael Crichton, Tom Sharpe, James Herbert, Brian Lumley, H.G. Wells, Bill Bryson to name but a few.

(31) Can you play any musical instruments? 

I used to be able to play the trombone. I imagine that if I picked one up now and had a blow, it would sound like an elephant being castrated.

(32) What would your ideal car be?

It would be a functional supercar but I don’t think such a vehicle exists.

(33) Describe yourself in one short sentence.

A shy guy with a heart of gold and a tendency to rant about life’s madness.

(34) Worst meal you’ve had?

Without a doubt it was eel stew. It was in a restaurant in Hong Kong that catered for local Hong Kong Chinese rather than ex-pats and tourists. I was with two work colleagues and the meals they selected were delicious. I had to wait while they enjoyed their meals and when mine eventually came, I took one mouthful and felt like throwing up. Being a polite fellow, I tried to solider on as my friends watched with absolutely no sympathy whatsoever. In the end, I had to leave 90% of it and order something else; the waiter was extremely annoyed and glared at me as he took the foul stuff away.

Well that’s it.

If anybody wants to steal it, feel free.

You can blame Pandora if you are caught and the fact that, being a Libran, I am easily led.

Not much of a defence though is it?