Saturday, 20 May 2017

Being A Guy



I often hear women saying things like “You don’t know how lucky you are being a man.”

I kind of agree with this because the truth is I absolutely love being a guy.

I have been a guy for 54 years (and counting) and I have loved every second of it. Mrs PM also claims that being a woman is fantastic – but I have no experience of that so can’t possibly comment. Besides, I wouldn’t want to risk the wrath of an irate Mrs PM.

Having said that, I may just risk that with this post. I recently rediscovered a humorous list from the 1990s which listed 100 reasons why it’s great to be a guy. Whilst it is meant to be a joke list, there are some elements of truth in it.

I thought I would share some of my favourite reasons from that list with you.

1. Phone calls last only 30 seconds.

This is true. When Mrs PM talks to her mum she is on the phone for what seems like hours. I don’ actually know what they talk about but I daren’t ask. If I were to ask she would reproduce the entire conversation to me including her thoughts, her mum’s thoughts and, worse, she would ask my opinion on everything – which could lead to danger if I said something wrong.

Conversely, when I make a phone call I am short and to the point – as is the man on the other end of the phone. If happens to be a woman then I can struggle to make the call last 30 seconds. Either way, Mrs PM usually wants to know exactly what was said, my thoughts, the other person’s thoughts etc.

I have no idea why. And if I say “don’t be nosey” I can get into serious trouble.

2. A five day holiday only requires one suitcase.

I only pack what is necessary for the holiday, which usually means that I have the minimum packed away. If I run out of stuff, I can buy some more. I don’t plan what I am going to wear every day – I just wear it.

Women on the other hand pack their entire wardrobe into the suitcase (or suitcases) and are oblivious to weight limits on aircraft. The argument seems to be that they don’t know what they are going to wear so they have to have a choice – for every single day. Worse, the entire contents of the cosmetic bag and bathroom have to fit in too – as well as the army of shoes.

I once travelled abroad for business with a woman and we were going for just two days. I had a tiny suitcase that I could take on the aircraft as hand luggage. She had a huge suitcase that had to be checked in. Being the gentleman that I am I also hauled the bloody thing around when we arrived.

I didn’t dare ask what she had in there – in case she either thumped me or listed the contents and the reasons why she felt the need to pack her entire house into a tiny suitcase.

3. Haircuts are cheap.

When I get my hair cut I usually say “Short at the back and sides and slightly curly on top please.”  The whole thing is over in about five minutes and costs about £8.

Women, on the other hand, are totally ripped off even if they want a trim and can expect to pay at least £20, rising up even more if something more sinister is involved, like dye.

I once went to a unisex hairdresser with my ex-wife. All she wanted was a trim the same as me. She paid about three times the amount that I did.

Why is that?

4. You can get ready in ten minutes.

If Mrs PM and I are going out, she usually starts getting ready an hour before we are due to leave, leaving me downstairs watching TV. As she is preparing herself, she shouts downstairs at ten minute intervals.

“Are you going to get ready?”

Finally, ten minutes before, I go upstairs, take a quick shower and change. I am ready before her as well.

This infuriates her. I love it.

5. Hot wax never comes near to your body.

At work, for charity, we persuaded my boss to have his legs waxed for charity. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen. He flinched and grimaced and yelped as his leg hair was ripped from his skin with maximum prejudice.

The women we work with had front row seats and kept saying “Now you know how we feel.”

I can safely say that this will never ever happen to me.

And, I have to ask, why on earth would any human being put themselves through such a traumatic experience?

I think that’s enough for now – but bear in mind there are 100 in total. I may share some of them with you in future.


Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Profanity Filter


A couple of years ago I wrote a post about email catastrophes. You can read it here.

I want to draw your attention to the profanity filter I mentioned in that post. The profanity filter is the procedure embedded in the email software that removes any messages that contain swear words.

I sometimes swear. I can’t help it. I find myself punctuating sentences occasionally with words that may offend people but have the effect of totally emphasising the point, adding humour or expressing my distaste for the subject at hand.

I started writing a post about the upcoming election in the UK (YES -  ANOTHER BLOODY ELECTION!!!!) but I had already promised myself that I wouldn’t upset anybody (including me!) with politics and threw it into the cyber bin.

However, the post was full of expletives and insults that would probably have offended people. Ditching it was a good thing. Nevertheless, if I had decided to keep it and send it to my work email address, the message would never have made it into my inbox thanks to the profanity filter.

And this got me thinking – always a dangerous thing!

I have a fantastic idea for a change of career. I want to be the person responsible for programming the profanity filter.

When I think of work emails, the message must run through a chunk of software that analyses every word looking for expletives. In order to identify an expletive, it must check each word against a list of known expletives.

I want to write that list, research that list and add new words whenever they come out.

Can you imagine how much fun that would be? 

It would probably only be a part time job, one day a year – but what a day that would be. New swear words pop into existence every now again, so I would have to hunt them down with the help of Mr Google.

Furthermore, I would also extend it. 

And - just for fun - I could add stupid words just to confuse people!

My job involves a lot of foreign customers, and we send out and receive emails in a variety of different languages. I would love to research the expletives that the Spanish use, for example. I would love to hunt down Polish profanities and add them to the list of disallowed words.

The job satisfaction would be immense – and testing it would be a scream.

All of this leads me onto another little story.

Many years ago at work, before the profanity filter existed on emails, a certain employee noticed that quite a few people were swearing at work on a regular basis. She wasn’t very happy. We had to listen to her because she was our project manager.

I tried to explain that sometimes people swear to diffuse or express their frustration but she wouldn’t listen. I didn’t like to offend her – she is a very nice person – so I suggested that we have an office swear box.

“I will personally look after it,” I said, “and we will have a scale of swear words, charging a small amount for the “safe” ones, rising to more painful fines for the more offensive words.”

She loved that idea, particularly when I suggested that the money would be given to charity at the end of the month.

Even my work colleagues embraced the idea. And I was targetted as potentially the worst offender, because at the time (as I am now in fact) I was a grumpy old git, frustrated by work and life and prone to rants full of expletives.

To get the ball rolling, I had to create a scale of offense.

Without thinking things through, I wrote an email to the entire team with a list of swear words and the cost of using each, ranging from 10p for something inoffensive like bloody rising up to £2 for the worst word of all (you know what word that is). In the interests of good taste, I will not reproduce the email here.

I sent the email to my team.

And promptly got a bunch of replies back, stating that without any shadow of a doubt, the mail I had sent was THE MOST OFFENSIVE email they had ever seen.

The profanity filter we have governing our mails today would have overloaded and melted the email server software had it encountered such a disgraceful message.

Consequently, I was the first contributor to the swear box. I was outvoted. I was forced to pay the fine for each word that I had used and that contribution actually hurt my wallet. But, in the spirit of comradery, I submitted and transferred the cash from my wallet to the swear box to get things going.

I was well and truly hoisted by my own petard!

Worse, one joker decided to print the email off and put it on his desk so that he could police us all. He was fined the equivalent amount because, we argued, that somebody could have intercepted it at the printer. He paid up, but I was thankful that nobody had picked it up at the printer because I’m sure it would have found its way to HR – and it had my name plastered all over it.

However, over the next few weeks, people did contribute to the swear box when they forgot themselves and the project manager was happy. In fact, she was caught out a few times when people heard her swearing under her breath.

It lasted for a couple of months and my contributions were in fact few and far between. The main contributor was a young lad who swore that he would not swear (if you’ll pardon the pun).

We finally got rid of it, when a manager from another area of the building walked in.

“I’m so fucking pissed off with those bastards!” he said.

This caused lots of merriment.

“Put your money in the swear box,” I said. “We don’t allow swearing here.”

“I’m not putting any fucking money in a fucking swear box!” he said before marching out again.

At that point we gave up on the idea but it actually worked – the amount of swearing was significantly reduced.

Looking back at this post, it would have cost me £5.10 had I read it aloud in the office at that time.

I’ll put some money in my own personal swear box here on my desk. Fear not – the money will go to my favourite charity – ME!

I will enjoy the beer I can purchase with it and I promise not to swear in the pub.



Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Weapon


There is a song I by Rush called The Weapon and some of the lyrics are particularly relevant:

“And the things that we fear are a weapon to be held against us”

The media thrive on it and also use it to make us (a) buy their paper (because they claim to tell us how it is) and (b) force their political agenda on to us.

Here are some headlines related to Brexit that came from The Daily Express - one of the worst papers on the entire planet:

“New EU Rules Wreck Pensions”

“Each Illegal Immigrant To Cost Us £1million”

“Britain 40% Surge In Ethnic Numbers”

“No Job Unless You’re Polish”

All of these headlines are meant to scare gullible people and persuade them to alter their thinking.

I don’t believe a single word of them. And if you read closely they are written by people with a deep political agenda. Of course, the same is true on the other side of the political spectrum too.

Moreover, fear is used as a means to sell us things that we don’t necessarily need. Salesmen use it all the time. Let me give you an example.

The first property I bought was a brand new three bedroomed semi-detached house that was just a lump of dirt when we actually reserved it from the house building company. We were so proud when we eventually moved in to this brand new estate with similar young people. I was 24 years old.

And then the vultures appeared.

We were swamped by door to door salesmen trying to acquire what little money we had left. One in particular sticks in my mind.

He arrived at 8pm and tried to sell us a burglar alarm. We stupidly let him in and allowed him to demonstrate his device to us. After an hour of his high pressure sales pitch he offered us a piece of paper to confirm the purchase.

“It’s too expensive,” I said. “We’re not interested.”

He was one of those middle-aged salesmen who refuse to take no for an answer. At first he offered us a package where we could pay in monthly instalments and when we refused that, he offered us a deal.

“I can get you 10% off the asking price,” he told us. “My boss will have my guts for garters but I’ll do it for you.”

“What part of “NO!” do you not understand?” said my (ex) wife.

 He tried another tactic.

“Do you care about your family?” he asked me.

I was taken aback by this.

“Of course I do,” I replied.

“It doesn’t seem that way,” he replied. “If your wife came back and surprised a burglar, who knows what could happen? With this alarm, that will never happen because no burglar will get past you front door.”

I didn’t like this one little bit.

“Get out,” I said, now quite angry. “I’m not interested.”

That didn’t deter him. He then started talking about another scenario where my brand new house could be wrecked, my wife injured and my property destroyed.

He was trying to scare us both into giving him money so that our house would be protected. My ex-wife was also not taken in by this. She actually got up, opened the front door and said “Please leave!”

“Are you sure?” he asked me again.

“Yes,” she said, answering for me. “Now go before I call the police.”

She gave him a taste of his own medicine because he said “No need to be like that!” before leaving.

It taught me a lesson about dealing with salesmen, particularly those high pressure types who squat in your house until you sign the bit of paper just to get rid of them.

If you think about it, there are certain companies that use fear to con you into buying things you don’t need. As well as the home security example above, we have things like:

Products that make you look younger. Obviously there are a plethora of anti-ageing products for women that will get rid of those wrinkles but for men we have hair-dye that miraculously turns a decrepit grey-haired old man into an Adonis who has to beat off women with a shitty stick. Like this load of old bollocks:



Products that stop you catching a disease. We all know that if you catch a bad cold, you may need to take a day off work. But certain adverts imply that without their flu remedy you will have to take days off work and probably be sacked as a result. As a hypochondriac, I feel particularly vulnerable when it comes to disease prevention. These bastards are targetting me.

The media. Yes, I know. I feel that I am constantly moaning about the newspaper companies using lies and sensationalist headlines to make us buy their newspapers and even influencing the way people think as I mentioned above. I am certain that they invent stories to scare people and when you actually get down to the nitty gritty of them, there is no substance.

Insurance companies. Mrs PM and I were conned into buying pet insurance for our cats. And then, when I thought about it, and did all the maths, I realised that that I would only save money if the cats became very ill once a year and had to be dragged clawing and screaming to the vet. I am glad that I cancelled it because Jasper and Poppy are now fifteen years old and I shudder when I think about how much pet insurance would have cost in the meantime. There are some insurance policies that you need, for example home and car insurance (but even then home insurance is preying on your fears of being burgled). But do people really need to insure their body parts, for example?

Jennifer Lopez and Kylie Minogue have supposedly insured their arses; Julia Roberts has insured her teeth; Mariah Carey has insured her legs; Dolly Parton and Madonna have insured their boobs; Keith Richards has insured his hands.

I wonder what body part I should insure? Actually, there are no bits of my body worth insuring. At my age, most of it is defunct and drooping now anyway.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Living In The Past


I’m a sceptic and like to judge things based on evidence and not just a belief.

There is one exception to this – and that is God – and the reason for that is fear. I was raised in a Catholic environment with a Catholic priest and teachers who basically told me that if you I dismissed God then I would burn in Hell for eternity with Satan himself using me his demonic plaything.

So let me just say this up front: God exists (I think) and I want to apologise to him (or her) for anything I have done or said against him (or her).

But I digress. For this post, I want to discuss reincarnation.

Believe me, I would absolutely LOVE it if we are incorporeal beings who occupy a human body from the moment of your inception to the moment it gives up, at which point it releases you ready to find another unblemished embryo to occupy.

While I find the idea of reincarnation fascinating, I simply cannot bring myself to take it seriously.

I can imagine that there may be a person reading this who actually believes in reincarnation to the point where they are looking forward to their next life with enthusiasm. If you are such a reader then I welcome your belief and I genuinely hope you are right.

I was reading about a form of hypnotherapy that allows people to regress to past lives, basically accessing the memory of your soul that remembers your previous incarnations. People have, apparently been kings, queens and emperors in past lives and described their lives to such detail that others are convinced of their authenticity.

I tried this.

I was so curious about the idea that I found a past life regression video on You Tube, lay on the bed and followed the instructions.

I fell asleep.

I did have an idea in my head that I was wondering around a village with weird shoes in medieval England and sitting by a blazing fire in a shit-filled hovel.

No fucking throne and palace filled with gold for me. How disappointing!

I woke up and realised that I had actually had a dream. I don’t believe for a second that I was a medieval tramp, living in a flea-ridden squat with only shit and a fire for company.

I then realised that I had been watching an episode of Blackadder II the night before and my dream had cast me in the role of Baldrick, a dumb dolt from Elizabethan times:



If I had watched Braveheart no doubt I would have been William Wallace, a skirt-wearing England-hating vagabond.

A young Plastic Mancunian?
Usually when you hear tales of people somehow tapping into their hidden soul-memory, there is always a something wonderful. They were princesses in Egyptian times or advisors to King Henry VIII. Such people rarely confess to being slaves clearing out the latrines in the middle of a dark-age forest in the pissing rain or native Americans wandering the plains of America or even simple carpenters living in a small town in 18th Century Ireland.

Nevertheless, I live in hope. I am fascinated by the future and I would love to be reborn in fifty years’ time and grow up in a world of technology.

What proof is there that reincarnation is real? Here’s what I found.

(1) 50% of the world’s population believe in reincarnation. The problem I have with this fact is that, really, this means that 50% of the world’s population don’t want to die and, like me, love the idea that we will all be reborn. Belief in something doesn’t make it fact.

(2) People have given names and dates of previous lives, having somehow tapped into their soul-memories, and that evidence has proved to be true. Is this coincidence? Or is it something to do with the fact that the people have somehow “cheated” or, like my hypnotherapy experiment, are really tapping into something they have seen or read? I think the latter. I believe that people are simply remembering something from their past about a person they have encountered in a book or in a movie. As was the case my Baldrick memory above.

(3) One American child, who was two years old, had nightmares about a plane crash, stating that he had been shot down by the Japanese during World War 2. He named the aircraft carrier from which he had taken off and lots more information about the pilot from whom he was reincarnated. When investigated, the two year old boy’s claims were proven to be correct and a person was discovered who fit the description. The boy’s father was an evangelical Christian who simply didn’t believe in reincarnation. Wow! Compelling, eh? But is it just a con or an elaborate hoax?

(4) Still with children – some have been known to speak in languages that they have never learned, supposedly because they spoke that language in a past life.

(5) Children have been born with bullet wounds, supposedly inflicted on the previous human who accommodated their soul.

To be honest, cases (2) to (4) above do make me think that there might be something in it and there are thousands of similar cases. Yet I am still sceptical. If we are all reincarnated, then surely our minds will be full to overflowing with our past lives, including what happened when we died, no matter how horrific that was.

The more I think about this, the more questions I have. For instance, our souls that have travelled through time for centuries, finding a new body every so often, must have been “born” somehow – and by the same token must “die” sometime, unless our souls are immortal.

Presumably, before humans existed we must have lived in the bodies of animals.

Do you think I could have been a Tyrannosaurus Rex in a previous life?


I really hope so. That would have been a fantastic adventure.

However, the thing that has convinced me more than anything that reincarnation is impossible is the belief of one person.

Yes – that’s right. David Icke believes in reincarnation and he is as mad as a bag of badgers. He believes that reincarnation is a slavery program and our souls are transferred from one slave to the next by “gods”. His view is that we are like the batteries in the Matrix with these nameless “gods” feeding off our souls.

Trust Mr Madman to apply his lunacy to reincarnation. Perhaps he took the Matrix too seriously. Perhaps he thinks he is Neo – or “The One”. Who knows?


Over to you, dear reader.

Do you believe in reincarnation?

If you do I would love to hear from you – either in this life or the next.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Ten Commandments Of Flying



I have flown a lot. I can tolerate short haul flights (up to three hours in duration) but I genuinely hate flying long haul. Even the excitement of reaching an exotic and interesting location cannot haul me out of the depths of despair at the prospect of spending twelve hours on a metal tube with wings.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not afraid of flying. I just hate it because it is so dull and uncomfortable.

However, the tedium of flying can be improved by following one of the ten commandments that I have just created.

If you are ever unlucky enough to find yourself on an aircraft sitting next to a grumpy blonde baboon with a hybrid Mancunian/Black Country accent then our mutual of enjoyment of the flight will be guaranteed if you follow the following guidelines.

1. Thou shalt not talk to me during the flight unless it is an emergency. 

Don’t get me wrong – I am a nice guy and willing to talk to most people. And I will allow a few words to be exchanged at the start or the end of the flight. However, if you are a talkative person and want to spend the next twelve hours engaging me in conversation about your life and experiences –JUST DON’T.

I speak from bitter experience.

One guy on a flight back from Europe told me that the book I was reading was rubbish and then proceeded to tell me the ending even when he saw that I was halfway through the thing.

“Ditch it!” he said. “Read something else.”

“I only have this book,” I said through clenched teeth.

“You’ll thank me,” said the prick.

“Okay!", I said. "Thanks for ruining the book and my flight!”

2. Thou shalt not grab my hand during turbulence or tell me that you are scared of flying all the way through the flight.

Related to the above, I was on a four hour domestic flight next to a guy about my age. As the plane took off, he turned to me and said. “I’m terrified of flying.”

I told him that flying was a doddle and he should relax. And for a while he did – until we hit turbulence about an hour into the flight. He grabbed my hand and said “That’s not normal!”

I tried to reassure him that it was but he wouldn’t have it. The remaining three hours were interrupted with shakes and bumps and he spent all of that time telling me in a variety of ways just how terrified he was. I could do nothing other than spend that time as a simian counsellor.

He thanked me at the end for being “a rock” but the truth is I almost asked to be moved. And my poor hand hurt. And the other passengers probably thought we were a couple.

3. Thou shalt not attempt to climb over me while I am asleep on a long haul flight.

I would rather you wake me up rather than wake up to find you straddled across me on your way out.

On a long haul flight, any moment you can sleep is a gift from God.

However, I am a light sleeper and any movement from the seat next to me wakes me up. So imagine my surprise when on a ten hour flight to South Africa, I awoke to find the lovely young lady next to me, straddled across me as she tried to get across without waking me. She was embarrassed, I was embarrassed and the rest of the flight was totally awkward.

Worse, the same thing happened with a rather large gentleman who actually fell on me when the plane hit turbulence. I’m glad the other passengers found that amusing.

I didn't!

4. Thou shalt not invade my personal space with any part of your body – particularly with your elbows during eating.

There is nothing worse than having your food knocked off your fork when a space invader knocks your elbow at the most inopportune moment.

5. Thou shalt not fall asleep on my shoulder and drool all over me.

I’d also like to add “or snore in my face with your bad breath” to this.

6. Thou shalt not be rude to the stewardesses.

I am genuinely in awe of stewards and stewardesses and the job they do and I try to accommodate them and be nice during the flight. However, if you are rude because they haven’t got the “right wine” or if you try to ask the stewardess on a date upon landing because she has been “especially nice” to you (and therefore simply MUST fancy you) then you are a prick.

7. Thou shalt not push your fat belly in my face whilst trying to get your bag from the overhead locker.

This is worse than having you personal space invaded by an elbow. Once a man reached up and as he did so, his T shirt rose revealing a bloated, hairy fat gut that he then proceeded to ram into my face. I almost used the sick bag. He didn’t even apologise, the prick.

8. Thou shalt not throw a book at my face.

Actually, I did this to a fellow passenger. I was boarding the flight and he was in the aisle seat. “I’m there,” I said pointing to the window seat next to him. I then threw my book to my seat but my aim was terrible. I hit him full in the face, corner first, and he yelled in pain. Worse, the book drew blood on his forehead.

I was mortified and so apologetic that I was willing to prostrate in front of him and be his slave for the rest of the short flight. He was absolutely fine and after a quick visit to the toilet to stem the flow of blood he simply said “Accidents happen. Don’t worry about it.”

He was pissed off with me by the end of the flight though because I broke commandment number one and apologised to him continuously through the flight.

What a prick I was.

9. Thou shalt not complain that the seat is too small and that the seat belt does not fit.

I don’t mind fat people. I don’t mind sitting next to fat people on a flight. What I do mind is sitting next to belligerent fat people who complain that “the seat is too small” and that “real people don’t fit in seats”. I am a real person and the seat fits fine.

10. Thou shalt make every effort to sit at the other end of the aircraft if you have a baby.

I pity people with babies who have to fly. But I have suffered with them. I once found myself sitting next to a couple with a baby on a long haul flight and the small beautiful bundle of cuteness suddenly lost all of its adorability when the aircraft took off.

For the next eight hours, it mutated into a screaming explosion of noise accompanied by vomit and shit exploding from its orifices. I didn’t get a wink of sleep and I felt sick. I wanted to be away from them but I couldn’t because the plane was rammed to overflowing. Now I know where babies are usually located, I always try to select a seat as far away from them as possible. It doesn’t always work.

And finally ...

Of course if you know me – and I like you – then you are exempt from most of the above rules. However, if you are Mrs PM or a male friend and suddenly present me with a baby during the flight I can guarantee that I will probably freak out in a highly disturbing but amusing way.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Inside My Head


I am weird.

What do you mean:“I know”?

No – really – I am. The persona you see on this blog is that of a confident arse who loves to be the centre of attention, happily dealing with all the shit that is hurled in his direction, beating it aside with a big stick while saying:

 “Is that all you’ve got? Come on – gimme some more.”

The reality is something slightly different. No – come on, Dave, let’s be honest  - the reality is totally different.

Deep inside me there is an extrovert buried alive within all of the neuroses that I keep hidden from public view. The extrovert does manage to free himself every now again surfacing on this blog far more than he does in real life.

The reality of the situation is that the introvert is more prevalent, as is the shy monster.

I therefore consider myself to be an introvert with extrovert tendencies and a streak of shyness.



In my head, the extrovert and the introvert are locked in an eternal battle for domination, with the introvert being the dominant species. The shy monster is a free radical that tips the balance in the favour of one or the other depending on many other factors such as stress, depression, euphoria, alcohol, grumpiness, tiredness etc. and with all of my fears and shortcomings also joining in the melee alongside my ego, you can imagine that it gets pretty messy in my head.

Hence the reason why I think I am weird.

My daily mood, and the way people see me on a day to day basis, is governed by one of the main two protagonists and how they have fared in their latest internal conflict.

The introvert may have hurled a paranoia bomb at the extrovert and rendered him useless, turning me into a neurotic mess.

The extrovert might have exploded a rapture grenade in the faces of the shy monster and the introvert and turned me into a rampant livewire.

I can do nothing about it.

Sometimes I wake up full of the joys of spring and attack my day with a huge grin on my face and a deep desire to run up to the nearest person and inflict myself upon them.

Can you imagine a gawking loon with mad hair grinning at you with a grotesque grin on his face?

Other days, my neuroses dominate and I find myself wanting to bask in my own weirdness – like now as I write this semi-serious character assassination of myself.

Deep down we’ve all got these beasts roaming around in our minds. I know a rampant extrovert and his neuroses surface when he finds himself on his own or when he’s not the centre of attention. There is not a hint of shyness in his body. However, he sometimes struggles at social events where everyone is focussing on somebody else – for example at a wedding, when he is upstaged by the bride and groom.

He wants to shout “Look at me! Look at me! ME! ME! ME! I’M OVER HERE!!!!!” but he can’t.

Bizarrely the introvert feels slightly more comfortable in those situations. I think everybody needs some “me” time where they are on their own and can bask in their own company. I also know at least one fellow introvert and people like that generally sometimes expose themselves to social gatherings where they are surrounded by people. The difference is that they effectively “show their face” for a short while, turning up late and leaving early so that they can spend time alone later.

I’m not that bad. I love social gatherings with friends and, sometimes I love being the centre of attention – albeit briefly – before returning home later to enjoy my own company.

Note – when I say “my own company” I really mean “with Mrs PM” because she is the only person I allow into my own little world. My introvert nature includes her and I am totally happy spending my “me” time with her by my side.

That said, I can also enjoy total isolation, like now, as I type this post with only Devin Townsend’s music and a sleeping fat cat for company.

The one thing I have confused in the past are introversion and shyness. I used to tell people that I was an introvert when really I meant that I was shy. It’s only when I was at university that I discovered the difference between the two thanks to somebody who explained that liking your own company isn’t shyness.

I don’t think introversion can be beaten. Shyness can – and I am in a position now where I have almost conquered this little beast. Sadly, when I need to be alone, shyness becomes prevalent again and I am less willing to engage with new people because I want to be alone.

If you are shy, the best thing you can do is just talk to people. As uncomfortable as that sounds, believe me it works. The way I see it is that people will judge you whether you like it or not. Not every stranger is a hostile person and most people will engage. Moreover, that person may be as shy as you.

In my opinion, if a person doesn’t like me, it’s their loss because ultimately I consider myself to be a nice guy. The truth is that the vast majority of strangers are also nice people and will love talking to you. If I am feeling confident and able to talk to a stranger, I find that they will almost always talk back.

Certainly if they are an extrovert, the chances are you won’t be able to shut them up.

In conclusion, I don’t know whether having a dominant introvert beast in my head is a good thing or not. I’m certainly very happy as an introvert but I also love it when the extrovert pops up and allows me to take on the world.

Finally, dear reader, over to you.

Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Or a bit of both?

Are you shy or can you talk to anybody? 

Friday, 24 March 2017

A Strange Family


Some people might consider me to be a bit strange but as far as I know my family history is a normal one. Of course, that might not be true and I may uncover some weirdness in my ancestors when I eventually get around to tracing my genealogy.

However, I doubt I will find anything as odd as the family that supposedly rule our country – the Royal Family.

People in Britain, either love them or loathe them. I’m indifferent to them if I’m honest.

Given our history, I find them fascinating in their eccentricity. Here are some odd things perhaps you never knew about the Queen and her clan.

Judge for yourself which one is the oddest.

(1) The Royal Family don’t have surnames. The Queen’s name is Elizabeth II and while she is supposed to belong to the House of Windsor, apparently nobody calls her Elizabeth Mary Alexandra Windsor.  When Kate Middleton married Prince William, she lost her surname (how careless) and became “Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge”.

(2) The Queen has won thousands of awards. Apparently Elizabeth has been awarded well over 380,000 honorary awards – for doing what I don’t know. I would imagine that smiling isn’t one of them because these days we rarely see her smile.

(3) It is illegal for anyone of her subjects to stand within 100 yards of the Queen when not wearing socks. I would love to see the powers that be enforce this law. Also, if you misuse a postage stamp containing the image of the Queen, it is considered an act of treason. I suspect this is why the Post Office has now made stamps sticky enough to apply to the envelope without licking it. Thank God for that! That sticky stuff on the back of stamps tastes disgusting.

(4) King Charles II decreed that there must be at least six ravens in the Tower of London because, he thought, that if they fly away then the monarchy will implode and fail and Britain will collapse in a heap of raven shit. I think politicians are doing a good job of trying to break Britain without these bloody ravens – but we won’t descend into politics at this stage.

(5) The Queen is the Duke of Lancaster, rather than Duchess. This is because Queen Victoria regarded a Duke as superior to a Duchess therefore gave herself (and all of those who would follow her on the throne) that masculine title.

(6) The Queen has two birthdays – her actual birthday in April and a made up (and more traditional one) in June. Lucky her!

(7) The Queen is not legally obliged to have a passport or driving license. She is the most travelled person in Britain, I guess and I have seen photos of her behind the wheel. I wonder who taught her to drive. I imagine that he was forced to pass her even if she was a terrible driver.

(8) It is illegal to die in any Royal building. That means the Tower of London isn’t a Royal building because Henry VIII had an absolutely amazing time butchering people there by proxy. It does make me wonder about what would happen were an MP to die in the Houses of Parliament. What can they do to him? Give him a jail sentence?

(9) The Queen no longer has any real power. These days that is up to the government or as she refers to it “my government”. When we go to war it is the Prime Minister who declares this – not the Queen. She has no say on the matter.

(10) The Queen owns all swans on the River Thames. These swans are actually marked with a ring. Moreover she owns all swans in open water in the UK – but perhaps it’s too difficult and dangerous to catch the nasty hissing buggers. Even more strangely she owns all sturgeons, dolphins and whales in British waters. So if a whale pops into our waters on its way to a holiday somewhere else, for that brief period of time, it is the Queen’s pet.

(11) Apparently the Queen can fire the entire Australian government. I doubt whether this is still true but she must have been sorely tempted to exercise this right when Tony Abbott was the man in charge down under. Sorry – shouldn’t do politics!

(12) The Queen is immune from prosecution. I suspect if she were to beat up Piers Morgan in a fit of rage (who wouldn’t want to do that?) she might be forced to abdicate. If she did that she would go up in my estimation.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, folks. I’m sure if we delve deeper we can uncover even more weirdness and eccentricity.

I need to be careful though – as one of her “loyal subjects” I might end up in the Tower of London for this post.

 I’ll have to learn how to cook raven pie!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Rise of the Alternative Fact


In the good old days, a fact was a fact. A fact could walk down the street with its head held high and tell everyone around that it was the truth.

In recent times, however, facts are being challenged by something that is getting stronger every single day.

We are led to believe that facts are no longer facts. We are told that the facts we know and love are now lies.

Never before has a simple fact been persecuted so much. Never before have so many people declared war on the fact, promoting lies and half-truths as the new fact and even giving these evil pretenders to the throne a new moniker – the “alternative fact”.

So what is an “alternative fact”?

Put simply, it is a lie - nothing more; nothing less. Just because it has the word "fact" in its name, doesn't make it the truth.

These “alternative facts” are sadly now becoming the norm and people are ignoring real facts in favour of these imposters because it helps them get ahead.

Such people believe that by repeating the “alternative fact” over and over again, people will actually start to believe them. The real facts do not support their arguments or views – therefore they have to invent “alternative facts” and try to convince people that their weird view of the world is true.

Here are some “alternative facts” that have crossed my radar in recent times.

No planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.

We all saw what happened. We all saw at least one aircraft fly directly into the building on that fateful day. Yet some people actually believe that the government or some shady evil organisation used digital composting to fool us all into believing that the aircraft hit the building – even on the amateur footage from the streets below.

The world is flat. 

I’ve actually written about this preposterous notion before. You can read about it here.

Scientology is a religion.

One day I will write a post about Scientology – or maybe a book.

Donald Trump’s inauguration as President was the most attended ever.

Sorry – it’s oompa loompa time again. This is one of many "alternative facts" we will see in the next four years. The photos prove it for goodness sake.

They are all nonsense.

Mind you, this got me thinking. I have recently come across a few so-called facts that are not really facts at all but are universally held as truth by most of us. People, including myself, have taken them as gospel for years and years - but they are all lies.

I apologise, dear reader, because I am about to shatter some illusions. The following “facts” are false:

When you flush a toilet in Australia, the water rotates in the opposite direction to that of a toilet flushed in the UK.

Incorrect! The water rotates in the same direction on both sides of our planet.

A Black Hole is a hole in space. 

Wrong! It is a hugely dense object with a massive gravitational pull.

We only use 10% of our brains.

Nonsense! We actually use all of our brain at various points in a typical day.

Electrons orbit around the nucleus of an atom.

Garbage! When I took A-Level chemistry, my teacher told me that most of the stuff we had learned for the past five years was simplified or untrue. Electrons are actually clouds of negative charge that ripple and flow around the nucleus.

Caffeine dehydrates you.

Rubbish! The dehydrating effects of caffeine are more than balanced by the water that accompanies it.

Bulls hate the colour red.

Bullshit! In fact bulls are probably infuriated by the cape because it is the thing that is moving the most.

There is no gravity in space.

Horsecrap! Gravity is everywhere, even in the void of our solar system. What do you think keeps our planet in orbit around the sun?

Adam and Eve ate an apple from God’s forbidden tree.

Blithering baloney! The bible, if that is to be believed, doesn’t mention apples at all; it simply states that they ate the “fruit” of the tree. Probably a pear, actually – because they are foul and disgusting.

Goldfish have a three second memory.

Poppycock! Apparently the memory of a goldfish lasts for a couple of months (mind you – I do wonder how they know this!).

Bagpipes are Scottish!

McBullshit! I particularly like this one – these wailing dirge machines originated in the Middle East.

Ninjas wore black.

Drivel! A true ninja has to blend in. If he or she wears a black ninja costume in the centre of Manchester, he is likely to attract too much attention. Ninjas really wear everyday clothes to blend in so they can attack you when you least expect it.

So you see, dear reader, “alternative facts” are on the rise especially given recent political events.

And I have one last “alternative fact” that will blow your mind.

I am not plastic, nor am I really a Mancunian (though I have lived in Manchester for over 30 years),

My name is Dave, though.

And that's a fact.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Mindfulness


At the start of this year, my company tried to inflict a New Year’s resolution on all of us. Some people reacted badly - others embraced it.

I was somewhere in between and I don’t blame them. After all, a healthy and happy work force is a good work force.

The Managing Director tasked HR with encouraging us all to be healthier in 2017 in four ways – diet, physical health, mind and finance (although finance was a little bit weird in my opinion).

For diet, we were encouraged to eat healthily and they even provided fruit every Monday and brought in nutritionists to chat to anybody that was interested about the benefits of eating good stuff. I wasn’t interested in this because I actually eat very healthily, in my opinion (apart from the odd burger, full English and beer or two).

For finance, we were encouraged to look after our cash and assets with a newsletter pointing out the long term benefits of savings, spending wisely and generally not blowing all of your cash on stupid things. Again, I wasn’t interested because I think that myself and Mrs PM are okay at the moment. Besides, if they want to improve my financial well-being they can bloody well give me a massive pay increase for having to endure some of the shit I have to endure.

For health, various people who exercise were asked to give seminars about their chosen discipline, including kayaking, rock climbing, marathon running and even pole-dancing. Groups of people clubbed together and took on a challenge of trying to walk in excess of 10.000 steps a day, competing against each other for fun. I walk two and a quarter miles every lunchtime of every working day and I am proud to say that I think I walk the most during a working day. HR were very interested in this and asked me to take a group of people on my walk at lunchtime.

I politely refused. Why?

Because the whole point of my going for a walk is to escape work. I pound the streets around my office with tiny little jukebox blasting out pop, rock and heavy metal, to allow me to enter the zone of contemplation and drift into my own little world, expunging, temporarily at least, any work related issues that may induce stress. It works for me and the last thing I want is a group of people bitching about work to further ruin my day.

However, the final topic – the mind – intrigued me.

HR arranged a seminar, inviting a woman to tell us all about mindfulness. This was the only seminar I attended. I am fascinated with the power of the mind and the ability and capability of certain people to use their mind to escape and control other physical attributes. Having been a victim of stress many years ago, and having delved recently into things like hypnosis (for fun initially) I was keen to open my mind to new techniques to support my positive outlook this year.

When I started looking at hypnosis, my purpose was to write a mocking blog post about how stupid people were if they thought that listening to somebody appeal to their subconscious mind would in any way help them to escape their vices, or change their behaviour. When I actually tried it, I was amazed that the effect of being hypnotised can actually vaguely work. Not that I do this now, of course, but I no longer mock those who believe in at as an alternative therapy.

The same principle applies to mindfulness, which is a similar concept. Basically, mindfulness is a form of meditation. The woman who presented the seminar gave us an overview of mindfulness and told us that she had actually used it to help her get through a major health scare a few years ago. She had been diagnosed with cancer and thankfully she is now fully fit again. To help support her mind during those trying times, she used meditation techniques and this helped her cope.

Again, I had a healthy scepticism about it but opened my mind to the possibilities. It wasn’t until we actually tried meditating that I was surprised. She asked us to sit up straight, focus on our breathing and allow our minds to wander, quelling any other thoughts and allowing our minds to settle and drift. There were about twelve of us in the room and I suddenly found myself just listening to her as she guided us through thinking about our own bodies. What struck me was the clock in the room. That may sound weird but I have been in that room many times and never sensed the clock. All I could hear was the gentle ticking. After a few minutes, she spoke again and asked us how we felt. It was almost like being hypnotised and I actually felt really good.

Mindfulness had taken me to the same zone that I enter when walking at lunchtime. It was the same as listening to a favourite song and allowing the gentle melody to take you on a journey through your own imagination.

I actually loved it.

And you are reading the words of a man who, in the past, has taken such things with a pinch of salt and only feigned interest when using it as ammunition to mock people on a medium such as this.

Actually, the key thing is that you don’t have to go away and hide to give this a go – and you can achieve a calmer demeanour in as little as two minutes.

There was a little bit of Buddhist nonsense attached to it, which I have dismissed, but the principle is sound and I would recommend giving it a go, particularly when news about Brexit or Donald Trump appears on your telly box.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Weird Books


I’ve always wanted to write a book - a novel, a travelogue or something that is loosely based on the inane crap you are reading at this moment. If I manage to get something published, one of the first things I will have to do is give it a title. You can rest assured that it will be decent title, an appropriate title or a vaguely amusing title. It certainly won’t be in any way weird, inappropriate or even offensive.

Yet some people have actually written either books with strange titles or with wholly unsuitable, politically incorrect or just plain bizarre titles. Worse, the contents of the books, I imagine are equally tasteless and improper.

I thought it would be amusing to share some of the books I have found on the internet with you.

How Green Were the Nazis?

Adolf Hitler plunged the world into war, destroyed half of Europe and committed genocide on a scale that will cause tremors of horror for years to come. He is the most hated man in history. But, hey – I’m sure he loved his plants and when he ordered his marauding armies across Europe, I’m sure that he avoided destroying forests as they killed innocent people. I wouldn’t know – I haven’t read the book.

How To Survive a Garden Gnome Attack


There’s a house down the street that had a single gnome in their garden just five years ago. Now there are over thirty of the little buggers. They are massing for attack, I tell you. I’ve been down to the house and put notes through their letterbox warning them about this. Surely they know that gnomes are a war-like species that hate humanity and breed like rabbits. I’ve never seen the owners of the house. Maybe they are giant gnomes. Unfortunately I don’t know what to do if they decide to rise up and invade. I haven’t read the book. 

Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them


If the gnomes do attack then a tractor might be a good weapon to crush the little blighters underfoot. Therefore if you have an old tractor, it is best to make sure that it is in perfect working order and to do so you need to find an old tractor enthusiast to help you. It might just save your life. How? I don’t know – I haven’t read the book. 

Learning To Play With a Lion’s Testicles: Unexpected Gifts from the Animals of Africa


Let me just say this: there are no creatures on God’s earth who own testicles that I would like to touch let alone play with. If I were so inclined (and I am not I AM DEFINITELY NOT), then a lion would be WAAAAYYYYY down the list of animals whose plums I would want to fondle. Imagine the gravestone? “Here Lies A. Nutter. Savaged By An 800lb Lion For Groping His Balls”. It makes me wonder whether there is a way to sneak up on a giant man-killing cat. I wouldn’t know. I haven’t read the book.

Does God Ever Speak Through Cats? 


If my cats are anything to go by, the answer to this question is easy – NO! My cats treat me with no respect – unless they want food. If indeed God really is speaking to me through my cats then he is telling me that I am a slave, an oaf, a huge scary mad-haired ape, the source of all his food and an insignificant moron. I would guess that one thing a cat may say is "Do not ever ever EVER play with my testicles." Did the author include this? I don't know - I haven’t read the book.

My Darling My Hamburger


You would be forgiven for thinking that this is the story of a pervert who is in love with a Big Mac. Apparently it’s just a love story for young adults – although my mind is boggling about where the hamburger comes into the tale. My mind is boggling about the concept of “playing with your food” in this context. But I wouldn’t know – I haven’t read the book.

Natural Bust Enlargement With Total Mind Power


I now have a black eye because of this book. Why? I asked Mrs PM to buy this to see if it really worked. It was a simple enough question and her response was a violent punch in the face. I feel like writing to the author, suggesting that he writes another book called “How To Get a Black Eye With Autosuggestion” using his previous book as a tool. Mrs PM now thinks the remaining 90% of my mind is a cesspit of pure filth. Is this true and does the author warn against such speculation? I wouldn’t know – I haven’t read the book.

Teach Your Wife To Be A Widow


Given that I was lucky only to get a minor injury from the last book, perhaps I should have suggested this book to Mrs PM instead. Mind you, she probably knows – especially since the moment before her spontaneous and unexpected moment of extreme violence, I received a factor 8 look (if you don’t know what I am talking about, read this). I think she knows how to be a widow already. I don’t – I haven’t read the book.

Reusing Old Graves



Call me mad but when I finally do shuffle off this mortal coil I don’t want to share my final resting place with anybody else - apart from Mrs PM of course. If ghosts do exist then the previous occupant of an old grave would be totally angry if he or she suddenly had a squatter hanging around after decades of solitary bliss. Perhaps the sequel to this book would be “How To Deal With Grave Squatters” or “How To Share a House With Somebody Who Died In The 19th Century”.  Does the author even consider the possibility of forcing a grumpy old bastard like me into their afterlife? I don’t know – I haven’t read the book.

What’s Your Poo Telling You?


Call me weird if you like but if I had just answered a call of nature and I heard a gurgling voice from beneath me saying “You shouldn’t have had that chicken madras last night” then I would be out of that bathroom like a rocket. Worse, this is another book title that is likely to lead to violence. Imagine walking up to a woman in a bar and saying: “Hi! My name’s Dave. What’s your poo telling you?” I wonder whether the book mentions the risk of being beaten up? I don’t know – I haven’t read the book.

And finally…
Rest assured, dear reader, that when I finally pull my finger out and write a book, the title will be not be as bat-shit crazy as the ten above. 
Actually, that might not be a bad title: Pull Your Finger Out


What do you think?

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Quest For Positivity


I just want to reassure you all that this post may initially appear to be a political ranting mess from the mind of an angry Plastic Mancunian.

It isn’t.

It is about positivity.

First of all, let me say this: Donald J Trump is an incredible man.

Yes, you’ve read that correctly.

“Why would you say this?” I hear you cry. “You’ve said horrible things about him on this very blog.” 

That is true. Here are some of the things I have said:

“I mean look at the guy! He has mad hair and a mad attitude.”

“He's like a walking parody of a politician, an idiot who allows his mouth to utter his thoughts without going through his mental firewall.”

“I am a lot younger than the oversized oompa loompa with mad hair currently residing in the White House.”

I stand by those things – I think “the Donald” is as mad as a bag of badgers. Yet the reason I think he is incredible is because he seems to be getting away with it and has conned a lot of people – somehow. I would like to add that he is also a comedian.

The Plastic Mancunian of 2016 would have ranted and raved like an insane lunatic about the antics of the man who is leading America into a deeply uncertain future. However, I want to thank my quest for positivity for making me step back and remove negative thoughts about Donald Trump and also Brexit.

In the case of Trump, I watched the highlights (or should I say lowlights) of his totally embarrassing and deranged press conference last week and I actually laughed.

There was no anger. What is there to get angry about?

His lies were exposed (again!) and most of the western world were and remain incredulous that this man has the balls to say what he says.

That is why he is an incredible man. Everything he says is incredible and his outrageous lies are so breath-taking that they are hilarious.

So instead of dragging my soapbox out of retirement, I have been watching marvellous comedians, satirists and political commentators from both sides of the Atlantic, ripping him apart.

I have had a great time.

A positive outlook also helped me cope with a potentially disastrous family exchange on Sunday.

Before I continue, let me just fill you in on a few things you need to know.

(1) Mrs PM’s mum is a rampant Brexiteer, which means that she gets really, really angry because we haven’t left the European Union yet.

(2) I am the complete opposite and Brexit was the main contributor to my ranting negative angry persona in 2016.

(3) Mrs PM’s mum and I have had several arguments over the years, one in particular over lunch in a nice restaurant where I totally belittled her in public. Mrs PM and Mrs PM’s other half told us both off for being so stubborn and humiliating them in public.

(4) I avoided Mrs PM’s mum for almost five months in 2016 because I knew that the moment she brought up Brexit I would erupt like a human volcano and say lots of things that I would regret.

(5) Mrs PM’s mum’s political views are the polar opposite of mine.

(6) The only political similarity between Mrs PM’s mum and I is that we both have been known to stand up and bellow at political programmes on the television.

(7) Until today, Mrs PM had ordered her mum, that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should she mention Brexit in front of me.

(8) Apart from politics, Mrs PM’s mum and I get on really, really well and we have been on holiday together quite a few times.

(9) Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, a rampant Remainer last week urged the people of the UK to rise up and fight against Brexit, causing every single Brexiteer in the UK to bellow their hatred of, in their words, “this arrogant delusional undemocratic arsehole”.

(10) Mrs PM’s mum hates Tony Blair.

On Saturday night we stayed at her mum’s house in Blackpool and went out for a lovely Chinese meal. Afterwards we went to the pub for a nightcap before returning to her house to retire for the night.

Now picture the scene:

I came down in the morning to see Mrs PM’s mum with a face like thunder. She was sitting on the television watching a political programme where the interviewer was asking a politician about whether Tony Blair could and should attempt to derail Brexit. The politician was talking and Mrs PM’s mum slapped the sofa in anger and looked like a coiled spring, ready to launch into a tirade of abuse about Remainers.

She knows my political stance and glared at me with the words “I AM SO WOUND UP!”.

Her face dared me to speak, challenged me to rant about Brexit. She had prepared herself for a confrontation with a Remainer, and there was one standing in her lounge - ME! The good time we had had the night before was a mere memory in her eyes.

The 2016 version of the Plastic Mancunian would have embraced the fight and unleashed my true thoughts about Brexiteers to her. He would have told her what he thought of her views and he would have insulted her with words that he would later regret. He would have pointed out her narrow-minded hypocrisy and upset everybody.

I somehow found something within to calm the situation. I wanted to be positive and non-confrontational. I knew that trying to point out why I hated her views would be as futile as leaping off Blackpool Tower in the hope that I would sprout wings and glide over the Irish Sea like a seagull.

I sat next to her and said, as calmly as possible:

“I am equally wound up but my views are the exact opposite of yours. Let’s find something else to watch.”

She looked at me in a puzzled way and then also found something within. Her face softened and she remembered where she was and who was in front of her.

“Do you want some tea and toast?” she said, finally realising that I was a guest in her house.

“Yes please,” I said. "Remainer tea, with Remainer milk and toasted Remainer bread with Remainer butter.”

I nudged her and grinned.

She smiled back and said “We only serve Brexit breakfast here.”

By this time I had flicked over the channel and Frasier popped on the TV.

“Have you ever seen this?” I said, swiftly changing the subject

“No, “ she said and then got up to make my breakfast.

Her other half then came in and said, “She’s been ranting all morning.”

But now she had stopped. I got my lovely toast and a fine cup of tea. The subject was forgotten and not mentioned again, even though , deep down, the anarchist within me wanted to destroy her argument in a furious verbal attack.

I regard that as a small victory for positivity.

The future is bright.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Bicycle Race



I have an Australian friend who currently lives in London and is a keen cyclist. As I may have mentioned, London during the rush hour is horrific for commuters and, rather than facing day after day of crowds and frustration, he prefers to cycle to work, which not only allows him to clear his head but also keep himself fit; a good thing for somebody who is marginally younger than me.

I will call him Rocky to protect the guilty.

I don’t want to generalise about Australians, but Rocky is a typical Aussie bloke and that’s one of the reasons I like him so much. Conversations with him are amazing and funny.

We visited Rocky and his wife a couple of weeks ago and I was chatting to him about my terrible procrastination when it comes to cycling. And, of course, he was blunt.

“Bloody hell, mate. It’s only FOUR MILES! Get on your bike!”

Of course, he’s right and I really should take his advice. When he said this, I chuckled and said, “You’re right. I have cycled to work before and it’s just a small pootle for somebody like me.”

For those of you who have never heard of the word pootle, it’s a British word that means to travel in a leisurely fashion taking your journey easy and relatively slowly. That’s the way I would pedal to work because I am not competitive and, at my age, racing everyone and everything would be very tiring and also mean that I arrive at work sopping wet, flooding the office with dripping sweat. I would be an even more repulsive creature than I am at the moment.

Rocky takes a different view.

“I’m a MONSTER on my bike,” he claimed when I explained what “pootle” means. “There’s NO WAY you would find me doing that. I go FAST, man. I try to overtake everybody else I see on a bike. It’s like a race and I want to win.”

I can picture him racing along the streets of London, overtaking slower cyclists with a defiant and competitive grin on his face.

However, he told me a story where he came unstuck.

During his normal journey, he spotted another cyclist in the distance travelling at roughly the same speed. Rocky allowed his competitive demon to take control and increased his pace to catch up and overtake the man in front.

At first, he started to gain ground but after a few minutes, the man’s speed also increased and Rocky didn’t like this. The distance between them grew wider and, rather than being sensible and giving up, Rocky became the monster that he had mentioned earlier.

“I pedalled like a bloody DEMON,” he said. “All the time I was watching him and it looked like he wasn’t even trying.”

Rocky pedalled even faster to catch what was now becoming his nemesis and every time he thought he was closing the gap, the man in front surged ahead again.

By this stage, Rocky was distraught. His entire focus was on one thing: defeating this man.

Thoughts started going through his head. Was this man Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome or Peter Sagan? Was he trying to beat an Olympic athlete or a Tour de France winner?

Eventually, Rocky had to reduce his speed. Desperate in defeat he watched the man pull away again, with seemingly no effort.

Rocky was now quite angry with himself. If you are competitive you probably know why. Winning is everything and if you fail to win then you are less than a human being and a total failure. I think all men are competitive to a certain extent but I have come to terms with my flaws over the years (having failed spectacularly on occasion). When I lose I accept defeat and move on.

Rocky struggled – he really struggled.

And then fate stepped in.

Rocky, now cycling much slower, turned the corner and saw in the distance a red traffic light. Waiting there was his nemesis.

“Right,” thought Rocky to himself. “Now I’ve got you.”

Rocky found some inner strength and pushed himself to get to the light before it changed to green. He wanted to see who had beaten him. He wanted to talk to his new nemesis and find out why he had lost.

After a minute or two he pulled up alongside the cyclist and, to his horror, saw that the man was a little chubby and clearly, in Rocky’s view, not as fit as Rocky himself. The nemesis had hardly got any sweat on his face. Rocky on the other hand was gasping for breathe red faced and wild with frustration.

“Bloody hell, mate!” Rocky said to the man. “What are you? Some kind of machine? I’ve been trying to catch you up for the past couple of miles and you look like you’ve hardly broken sweat!”

The man looked at Rocky as if he were an idiot.

“I’m riding an ELECTRIC BIKE mate,” he laughed.

“FOR PHAARRKKS SAKE!” screamed Rocky.

He felt like a complete idiot.

So did I.

Why? Because when he mentioned the electric bike, I sprayed the table with beer because I had been in mid sip. A mouthful of beer and a guffaw do not mix.

“Yeah,” said Rocky laughing as beer dripped down my chin. “That’s exactly how I felt.”


Saturday, 4 February 2017

Fake News


Last week MPs in Britain decided to launch a parliamentary enquiry into something that has been disturbing them more than looking at their own faces in the mirror.

They are worried about what they describe as “the growing phenomenon of fake news”.

When I read this, I struggled to contain myself. After 2016 my soapbox is currently totally worn out and in hiding and I strive to be more positive and this news story almost made me break my resolution not to rant.

Almost!

And then I just laughed at the hypocrisy of it all.

MPs, known for their ability to tell lies at the drop of a hat, are complaining because somebody is actually outdoing them. The number of lies that these mutant power hungry liars told in 2016 is utterly breath-taking. The hypocrisy is so tangible I could shake its hand and take it out for a meal.

Are these MPs just being dumb or do they think that the general public is stupid too?

They portray themselves as paragons of virtue and yet their entire lives are spent fooling the general public by lying to themselves to get elected.

It makes me wonder whether any of them have actually read any tabloid newspapers like the Daily Mail or Daily Express which have basically been publishing fake news ever since I can remember. If they want to have an enquiry into fake news they should visit the offices of these two rags and listen in as their editors discuss the lies they are about to publish for the week ahead.

And then they should investigate their own house, including most of the speeches they make in parliament – or on programmes like Question Time where they hand out half-baked lies backed up by fake figures to an audience.

What they are really pissed off about is the fact that the general public are being swayed by other sources of lies apart from their own. Worse, some of them have even been caught out themselves, using fake news stories to reinforce their points only to discover that they have been led up the garden path themselves.

It’s all about gullibility and personally I love reading truly fake news – because it’s hilarious. Some of the stories out there are amazing.

Many years ago, a spoof newspaper arrived in the UK called “The Sunday Sport” and basically it publishes ridiculous stores in a similar way to the usual British press – but in this case they are clearly crazy.

Here are some example headlines:

“World War II Bomber Found On Moon”

“Statue of Elvis Found on Mars”

“Adolf Hitler Was A Woman”

“London Bus Found Buried At The South Pole”

There are lots more so-called stories but a lot of them these days are rather crude albeit still funny.

However, if you compare these obviously spoof stories with some of the supposedly genuine tabloid newspaper stories, sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference. Headlines like:

“Freddy Starr Ate My Hamster”

“Boy, 4, Has The Mark Of The Devil”

“UFO Hits Wind Turbine”

To be honest, my feeling is that politicians should get their own house in order before targetting so-called fake news. For example, last year, I was beyond being outraged at some of the blatant lies we are hearing from the aftermath of Brexit and also those coming from the other side of the Atlantic as Donald Trump also waged war on those media outlets that are trying to tarnish his image.

Thankfully, I stopped reading newspapers years ago and some fake news sites are far more entertaining. I prefer to rely on news on the TV rather than the intended brainwashing by newspapers whose editors have their own agenda to influence world politics.

Of course, all of this will change when I become world president. I’m just biding my time until I find the right moment to strike.

Don’t laugh.

My time will come. I am younger than Theresa May and a lot younger than the oversized oompa loompa with mad hair currently residing in the White House so there is plenty of time for me to start my own propaganda machine.

In fact, I’ve set the machine in motion by contacting Mr Trump himself. He agrees with me and is preparing an executive order.


Similarly I have been in touch with Theresa May, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and she is whole-heartedly behind me.


Now how’s that for news?