Sunday 29 December 2019

Goodbye 2019 - Looking Back

2019 has been a bit of a rollercoaster year with quite a few ups and downs and, if I’m honest, I’ll be quite pleased to see is fade into history. I’ve totally neglected the old blog this year too having debated long and hard about whether to carry on with it. After a lot of thought, I took a break and have gradually eased my way back into writing my usual nonsense again and I have rediscovered the spark that I thought I had lost.

To ease my way back I’ve spent the last couple of months simply answering questions once a week on Sunday Stealing and have had a lot of fun doing so. I plan to continue in 2020 and also return to my usual absurd gibberish as I talk about life, the universe and anything else that pops into my weird mind.

I usually sum up the year with a standard set of questions but this year I will answer a slightly different set, again from Sunday Stealing that will summarise the past twelve months.

It’s quite cathartic doing so because it reminds me of what happened, where I was etc. and I encourage others to have a go. I have done it every year since 2009, only missing out 2008 – the year I started this blog).

It’s quite long, so get your scuba diving gear on and jump in.

1. First things first, did you have a good year?

As I said above, it was a true rollercoaster. I don’t want to get into specifics but I really hope that 2020 is much better.

2. If you travelled, where did you go?

We travelled to Vietnam and Hong Kong. Also, we had a week in Kefalonia, Greece in September to say goodbye to summer with a little sun.

Finally, my annual university reunion left England’s shores for the first time this year as we all had a weekend break in Barcelona in Spain. My grumpy old university pals and I have officially gone international.

3. Which fashion trends did you love?

I am not a dedicated follower of fashion and the trends of the last few years generally have puzzled me. I am too old for fashion and the nonsense that it entails. I rely on Mrs PM to make sure that I don’t look like a bag of mad badgers.

4. Which fashion trends did you hate?

The weird rubbish I see on “celebrities” makes me wince. If they want to look like arses then that’s up to them.

5. What was your favourite article of clothing this year?

The normal stuff I wear.

6. What song sums up this year for you?

Spirits Will Collide by the multitalented Devin Townsend

7. What was your favourite movie of the year?

That is easy. Avengers: Endgame – an incredible movie. I also loved Joker.

8. Did an actor/actress catch your attention for the first time this year?

I’ve been watching Lucifer this year and there are two actors who I quite like. Mrs PM rolls her eyes and punches me playfully when I mention them during the show (at least I HOPE it is playfully). Step forward Lesley-Ann Brandt and Tricia Helfer.

9. Favourite new TV show?

I really enjoyed The Boys.

10. Did you make any big permanent changes this year?

First, I set myself the task of trying to learn a set of Spanish words every single day using two phone apps and I managed to do so. The bad news is that I have forgotten quite a lot of them, but quite a few have stuck.

Second, I decided to post a photograph on Instagram every single day and I also managed to achieve that.

Third, I forced myself to write every single day in an exercise called Freewriting where, basically, you just write anything that pops into your head with a view to making it a habit. I now have a word document with 150,000 words of pure nonsense, some in diary form, some exposing thoughts from my head and others expanding writing prompts, both fiction and non-fiction. The aim is to just write, even if it is gibberish (and believe me, most of it is). But in amongst that gibberish are several little nuggets, ideas and thoughts that might become blog posts or even more in the future.

Finally, I tasked myself to come up with an idea a day for every day in 2019. Some of the ideas are self-improvement, plans for improvement, new hobbies, etc. Again, some of them are silly but others might just work.

As for 2020, I have a rough plan – but we will see where it leads me.

11. What was one nice thing you did for yourself?

I bought myself a new laptop to replace my tired old desktop.

12. Did you develop a new obsession?

I guess that most of the things I mentioned in question 10 became an obsession.

13. Did you vote?

Of course I did. Sadly, results didn’t turn out the way I wanted and now I see my country turning to the dark side of stupidity.

14. Did you move?

No. I am still in the same house.

15. Did you get a job?

No. I'm just winding down for retirement.

16. Did you get a pet?

No. Sadly we lost a pet – my big fat 17 year old cat Jasper. We are now down to one cat, Jasper’s sister Poppy.

17. Do you regret not doing anything?

Not really. I wish I had more money and more annual leave from work so that I could travel more – but you can’t have everything.

18. Do you regret doing something?

Again, not really.

19. Have you done anything that scared you?

Yes. While visiting the Cu Chi tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, we had the chance to fire an AK-47 on a shooting range. I had never held a gun before and it was a brave decision to have a go at trying to hit a target in the distance. Sadly, I cannot shoot and I missed the target with each of my three shots. It was fun but I have no desire to ever touch a firearm again.

20. Did anyone/thing make you so mad it stayed with you for days?

Days? It is still with me after MONTHS! The nasty, lying idiot we have as our Prime Minister has been lying to us ever since his fat face appeared on my television screen. Boris Johnson and his government make me angry every time they open their lying mouths. I still can’t believe that he has hoodwinked so many people into voting for him, his party and Brexit.

I plan to step back from politics in 2020 for the sake of my sanity more than anything.

21. Did you lose anyone close to you? 

Sadly yes. My aunt Margaret sadly passed this year. She was a lovely fiery lady in her 70’s who spoke her mind and was so funny she always made me laugh. She will be sorely missed by my entire family.

22. Who was important to you this year but wasn’t important last year?

Nobody leaps to mind.

23. Who wasn’t as important to you this year as they were last year?

Again, nobody leaps to mind.

24. If you could have a do over on one thing you did, would you take it?

I would repeat the holiday we had to Vietnam.

25. What was the best moment of the year for you?

Going back to Hong Kong. I absolutely love the city and the events of the last year sadden me immensely.

26. What was the worst?

Mrs PM was quite ill this year and she had to spend a week in hospital. She is back to full health now, thank goodness.

27. What are you most proud of accomplishing?

I am quite pleased with defeating procrastination and forcing myself to fulfil every one of my New Year’s Resolutions from 2018.

28. What have you learned about yourself this year that you didn’t know in the years prior?

I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. I managed to cope with all of the dips in the year, particularly Mrs PM being ill.

29. What do you wish for others for the coming year?

I hope that common sense prevails in 2020 but I cannot see that happening. For all of the ordinary people like me, I hope you all have a fantastic and joyful 2020.

30. What do you wish for yourself? 

I have made a list of things I want to achieve or chip away at in 2020 that is similar but probably more far reaching than 2019.

And I am promising myself that I will be more positive rather than getting angry over politics.

Sunday 22 December 2019

Sleepy Rambles

I have worked my last day in 2019 and Christmas is no here – so I can relax.

Happy Christmas, dear reader, and I hope you have a wonderful Yuletide experience.

As usual, here are a few silly questions to enjoy from Sunday Stealing to help get you in the mood – somehow.

1. Do you ever give things away to your friends?

I have been known to do this in the past. I guess buying a round at the pub counts too, in which case I have given away lots and lots of pints of ale over the years.

2. Does it make you uncomfortable when your parents talk about finding people attractive? If your parents don’t make comments like that, what sort of things can your family members say that do make you feel uncomfortable?

My mum always used to tell me about men she found attractive and she had no shame about doing so. In particular, she liked Tom Jones, which surprised me because the Welsh crooner didn’t resemble my dad is any way. The only thing they had in common was that they were both male.

My dad kept quiet about the people he found attractive, thank goodness. Having one embarrassing parent was bad enough thanks.

3. Have you ever heard of an “alternative spring break”? Have you ever participated in one or known someone who has?

That is an American thing, I believe, so the answer is probably no. We do have an Easter break here in the UK but it’s no different from any other break. The mind boggles about what an “alternative” spring break might be.

4. Is there anyone’s friendship or relationship, in particular, that makes you jealous?

Not at all. I am not the jealous type.

5. Is there a book series where you loved the first book, but for some reason the other books in the series just didn’t measure up?

Stephen King’s Dark Tower series was a major disappointment for me. The first couple of books were okay but by the time I had finished the last one I was angry enough to throw the offending paperback in the swimming pool (I was on holiday at the time). Thankfully, I didn’t though the temptation was almost overwhelming. 

6. Are you a registered voter?

Yes I am – of course. 

Unfortunately, given the result of the last election in the UK a week or so ago, my vote did nothing to stop the nasty buffoon that is Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister. Next time I will be voting against the power-hungry, hypocritical oaf so that he is removed from office when the time comes. 

Sadly, I think he will do his best to destroy the country before then.

7. Are there any stores/restaurants that you would like to shop/eat at, but there aren’t any located near enough to you?

There was a wonderful Mongolian restaurant in Hong Kong called Kublai’s that I enjoyed when I was working there and I would love it if there were a similar restaurant in Manchester. 

8. How many people would you say you are close with? Who are they?

Far too many people to mention here. They all know who they are.

9. Do you ever have smell hallucinations?

I have never ever had a smell hallucination. What an odd question.

10. Is there something that you did not used to take seriously, that you either now take seriously or wish that you had in the past (e.g., a relationship that you miss, your education, etc.)?

Yes – lots of things. For example, I now take politics quite seriously – and it makes me quite angry if I’m honest so I may just take a break from it. I also take music seriously as well and one of my major regrets is not learning to play a guitar or piano when I was younger. I learned a trombone instead for a few years but that’s no use in a rock band – well, not the kind of rock band I like.

Lately, money is becoming more important as is language learning. These are things I shall pursue more in years to come.

11. Are there any subjects that you are interested in so much that you would read whole books or academic journals about them?

I am more interested in writing these days and have read several books about the art of writing, creativity etc. I’m not sure academic journals on the subject exist but I might be tempted if one crosses my path.

12. Are you physically affectionate with your friends?

Yes I am. I love hugging people, both men and women (as long as they are willing to hug of course).

13. When you were in school, did you witness a lot of bullying? How did the teachers react to name-calling or violence?

Yes I did. I was also a victim of bullying until I fought back. One lad, who used to be a good friend, decided that because he was taller than me, he could shove me about. However, he did something that made the red mist descend (he grabbed my crisps and crushed them), so I punched him as hard as I could. He was so shocked that he didn’t react immediately, so I ran. He chased after me and caught me but I was so angry (still) that I picked up a nearby sports bag and swung it at him, catching him full in the face with it. We then had a fight where he basically beat me (he was a lot bigger). But after that, he never did anything again – and neither did anybody else. 

I was also a cheeky little kid and used to taunt bullies. Sadly, I regarded some teachers as bullies, telling them what I thought of them and their sometimes idiotic questions and observations about me. Hence I ended up in a lot of detentions as a consequence of my actions.

If I liked a teacher I showed respect and there were some quite nasty ones who were on the receiving end of my comments and names. To be perfectly honest, though, I wasn’t a very nice person myself at that time of life. Full of hormones and angry all the time I did tend to lash out.

I’m a nice guy now, honestly.

14. If there is a specific celebrity (or two, or three!) that you dislike, is it because of petty reasons or is it because they’ve done something absolutely damning in your mind?

There are quite a few celebrities that I don’t like. Top of the shop is Piers Morgan.

He is right up there with Donald Trump, tweeting nasty things in the hope that it will get a reaction and, sadly, he has an outlet for his bile as he is a presenter on a breakfast news show in the UK. We tried to send him to America and he annoyed the Americans up so much that they sent him back. He is just horrible.

There others I don’t like (such as James Corden and Simon Cowell) but not one of them winds me up as much as Piers Morgan. 

15. Are any of your friends/relatives actually impressive artists or writers? 

Sadly no. I do have a friend who published a novel and I am quite envious.

Sunday 15 December 2019

Book of Questions

Four more days of work to go until a well-earned Christmas break. What better way to pass the time than to answer a load of daft questions from Sunday Stealing?

1. If you saw a dog locked in a hot car, what would you do?

It depends where it was, whether I knew the owner of the car, how hot it was and whether or not the dog was in trouble.

If I knew the owner of the car (and the dog) I would contact them and tell them. Failing that, I would probably call the police and ask for advice or seek assistance from other passers-by so that I didn’t get the sole blame for smashing the window with a brick or damaging the door to give the poor creature some assistance.

2.  Is it easy for you to accept help when you need it?

Absolutely. I work in an industry where no one person is an expert. I ask for help all the time and other people equally ask me for help. One of my mantras at work, especially when dealing with relatively new people is “There are no stupid questions!”, which not only encourages people to ask but also makes me approachable when it comes to assisting, which is what I like in a person when I need help.

We all need help at some point in our lives and we should never be afraid to ask, whether it is in a work environment or personally.

I sometimes don’t think we help each other enough, if I can be brutally honest.

3. Have you ever been in a fashion show?


Of course I haven’t. As my old mum used to say, I “look like a bag of rubbish!”.

In my life I have either been too skinny or, as I am now, built like that bag of rubbish my mum used to call me as a child when I went out dressed in my scruffy clothes. There might have been a few months in the transition between a skinny little git to the slightly blubbery old git that I am now when I was what you might have called “okay” – but never good enough to parade up and down a cat walk dressed in ridiculous clothes, pouting and mincing.

It would have been more like a comedy show than a fashion show.

4. Would you like to be famous?

Perhaps. I would certainly like the money that famous people enjoy. However, I don’t think I would be able to deal with fame and would end up being a recluse.

5. What is your most compulsive habit?

I probably swear too much if I’m brutally honest. Over the past few years, I have been trying not to, but I wear my heart on my sleeve and sometimes my reactions are a little too honest. At least with me, what you see is what you get.

6. What do you most strive for in your life: accomplishment, security, love, power, excitement, knowledge, or something else?

At this stage of my time on planet Earth I am striving for self-improvement in all aspects of my life. I think, really, as I approach the end of my time competing in the rat race, I am seeking knowledge and enough excitement to keep an older man happy.

7. How close and warm is your family?

My immediate family (Mrs PM and the two boys) are very close. My sisters live quite far away and over the years we have grown closer as we see each other more these days. I get on well with my in-laws as long as politics doesn’t rear its ugly head, in which case I usually have to demand a change of subject or simply walk out of the house.

8. Does that fact that you have never done a thing before increase or decrease its appeal to you?

There are some things I really want to do but simply haven’t had the time, mainly travelling, learning new stuff and writing more. These things appeal.

There are other things that I really do not want to do, such as leaping out of an aircraft protected by a big rag and some rope, attaching a long thick elastic band to my body and leaping off a bridge. Such things do not appeal at all.

My brain isn’t wired that way.

9. If your friends start belittling a common acquaintance, would you defend that person?

Absolutely. I do not like bullies, especially if those bullies are my friends.

10.  Do you make a special effort to thank someone who does you a favour? How do you react when you aren’t thanked for going out of your way for someone?

Of course I make a special effort to thank somebody for doing me a favour.

I don’t necessarily demand thanks back though. I’m just a nice guy, I guess.

11. Since adolescence, in what 3-year period do you feel you experienced the most personal growth and change?

I would say between the ages of 19 and 22 when I was at university. I was away from home for the first time and dropped into an academic environment where I knew absolutely nobody. At the start of that period, I was a shy, timid and spotty little child and when I came out of it, I was so much more.

12. When you do something ridiculous, how much does it bother you to have other people notice it and laugh at you?

It doesn’t bother me at all. One of the best lessons I have learned in my life, is to learn to cope with embarrassment and to laugh at myself. When you can deal with embarrassment, you can cope with a lot of things that life throws at you.

13. Do you believe in capital punishment?

No, I don’t. We haven’t had capital punishment in the UK since the late 1960’s, early 1970’s. We have had people convicted of murder in the UK and then, later, found to be innocent. If they had been executed then that would have been tantamount to murder by the state itself – which is unforgiveable.

14. Do you find it so hard to say “no” that you regularly do favours you do not want to do?

No. People are used to me saying no when they ask for favours that I cannot do or do not want to do.

15.  What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

Sometimes laughing at certain things can improve a bad situation like for example at a funeral when you recall something funny about the dearly departed person, it can briefly combat the grief people feel. You can joke about most things but there are places I won’t go, such as religion (but only because people can be really offended by it).

Sunday 8 December 2019


The silly season is now upon us. It is a good time of year but the time when people start behaving differently as we close in on Christmas. We have parties, festivities, food, drink, frivolity, decorations, more food, more drink, gifts, generosity, even more food and even more drink.

And I love it, not least because I get almost a fortnight off work. Alas, I have to wait until December 19th for that to happen but it will be great not to go into the office.

So, while I’m waiting I will answer more daft questions from Sunday Stealing.

This time they are from Pinterest (yet another social media thing).

1. What don’t you share?

Two things. The first is my toothbrush. The thought of using a toothbrush after anybody makes me fill rather ill. I once heard somebody say “if you really love somebody then you will let them use your toothbrush.”


I love Mrs PM but there is no way on earth that I would share my toothbrush with her. In fact, thinking about it, I am almost tempted to buy a couple of spare ones for trips – just in case either of us forget our main toothbrush!


The second this is food. When I order a meal, I order it because I want it. When somebody says “Do you want to try some of mine?” I say “NO! NO! NO! Read my lips! DAVE DOES NOT SHARE HIS FOOD!”.

I am totally with Joey on this.

2. A reason to celebrate?

Like I said at the start of this post, the silly season is upon us so that’s cause for celebration. We had our work Christmas party on Friday and there are another two or three coming up in the next couple of weeks, followed by time off work and New Year – as well as New Decade! Let’s all have some fun.

3. Describe where you are now.

I am sitting in the back room of my house at my desk next to the window overlooking the back garden. It is a nice sunny day too (if not a little cold).

This room is a kind of den for me but obviously it is accessible and used by Mrs PM too. My laptop and monitors are here, with an in-tray shared by Mrs PM. I have speakers and a subwoofer connected to the laptop so that I can listen to my vast music collection whilst writing this nonsense.

There is a fireplace with a gas fire that looks like a wood burner, two settees and a large TV in the corner connected to a Playstation 4 which I can use to either watch TV or play games. It’s a cosy place and when we have friends round we usually sit here because it is right next to the kitchen.

4. A dream that seems impossible.

Nothing is impossible, however my current dream is that in the election we are just about to have, that the British people finally come to their senses and get rid of the parasitic clown that is our current Prime Minister, one nasty piece of work called Boris Johnson. If we can rid the country of this buffoon then hopefully we can stop Brexit in it’s tracks before it is too late.

Sadly, opinion polls seem to indicate that once more the British people are falling for the bilge that comes out of his mouth.

Any foreign people looking in must be laughing at us. Here we are shooting ourselves in the foot over Brexit and being fooled by a man who in public portrays himself as a loveable rogue, a clown and a bumbling buffoon.

"I am a complete BUFFOON!"

I despair. I’m sorry about the rant.

5. Something you hope for.

Personally, I hope that I can afford to retire sooner rather than later. Sadly that may not be possible but at least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Plans are in place.

6. A tradition that makes you feel at home.

Sorry to mention it again, but Christmas makes me feel at home. The cold weather outside makes a cosy house seem even more comfortable.

7. The people who make your life better.

I think that’s fairly obvious – friends and family. I am not going to mention anybody specifically but they know who they are.

8. Someone you’d like to meet.

I would love to meet three people. Devin Townsend, Steven Wilson and Mariusz Duda. Who are they (I  hear you cry)?

Devin Townsend is a prolific Canadian progressive metal artist who produces a wide range of musical output from ambient rock to full-blooded heavy metal with everything in between. And he is a very funny guy. Here is a sample:

Steven Wilson is a prolific English progressive rock musician and singer who is dubbed in Britain as the most successful British artist you have never heard of. Here is a sample:

Finally Mariusz Duda is another prolific progressive rock musician and singer, this time from Poland. He is the main man behind my current favourite band, Riverside, as well as having a solo side-project called Lunatic Soul. Here is a sample:

9. A silly thing you’d really like.

Two things. A snooker table and a dartboard. Mrs PM would never allow me to have a dartboard because I would inevitably put a picture of Boris Johnson on it and hurl darts at it all day. Also, she would fear that I miss and put holes in the walls.

Of course, the snooker table would be far to big for any room and I would never be able to fit anything else in – nor have room to actually play snooker if I think about it.

A very silly idea.

10. A book from your childhood.

Thanks to school, I used to have to read some pretty dreadful and overrated books in English Literature. I was never really into kids books – I found them too silly – so I started reading old science fiction novels. I will select The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells. I guess some of you will not regard that as a childhood novel – but I loved it.

11. Something you’re still not sure about.

Thousands of things – all weird things too. What to choose; what to choose. Okay – here goes. I am not sure whether aliens exist or not. I am more of a scientifically minded person and I read a lot of stuff about the weirder sides of science. I suppose aliens fascinate me more than anything else and there is evidence (potentially manufactured) that we have been visited by aliens for millennia.

I guess I will never know until such time that I get abducted, prodded, probed and returned to tell the tale. Sadly, if that happens, nobody will believe me anyway and I will be cast aside as a madman.

12. The best dessert to share with friends.

There is no dessert to share with friends (see my answer to question 1). However, if I were to make a dessert I would probably share a Black Forest Gateau – simply because it is probably too big to eat myself.

13. A story that captures your imagination

The Necroscope Saga by Bryan Lumley. As you may have gathered, I have weird tastes in films and books and this series of thirteen novels (yes thirteen!!) plus five other later supplementary books has everything I love.

It has vampires – not the crap ones in the Twilight Saga – but really nasty scary ones.

It has a hero who can talk to the dead and teleport through space and time.

That is all you need to know.

14. Memories beside a fireplace.

When I was a child, my grandparents had a proper coal fireplace and in the winter we used to sit in front of it to keep warm while watching TV and eating cakes and sweets that they had bought and baked. The thing about a real coal fireplace is that when it gets too hot you can’t turn the heat down, so we all used to move to the edges of the room as it warmed up. The smell of the fire was also unique and is lodged in my mind somewhere so that I will instantly recognise it when I next encounter one. They don’t really exist anymore – which may be a good  thing given the smoke they produce.

15. How do you spend a rainy day?

We get a lot of rain in Manchester and the UK in general so we have many places we can be when the rain comes, such as a pub, at home watching TV or even sometimes just going for a walk in the rain – which strangely can be a pleasant experience too, depending on the amount of rain.