Sunday 28 June 2020


Welcome to day 97 of the Coronavirus lockdown. As you can see, in the UK, we are approaching the 100th day, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel. 
From next Saturday, July 4th, the pubs and restaurants are reopening as well as cinemas, hairdressers and a few other things. Also, the “advice” is that we should socially distance by at least one metre, rather than the current two metres. 
The only doubt I have is that, once again, this advice is suitably vague – Boris the Clown doesn’t do precision, which is no surprise if you have ever heard the wittering fool bumble through a speech. 
Anyway, I have no intention of going to the pub yet – or staying closer than two metres from other people (not including Mrs PM of course). Nevertheless, I shall wander around next Saturday to see what is happening. My guess is that we shall see people flocking to the pub and chaos reigning. 
We shall see.
So on a rainy June day, let’s answer some very silly questions (and today they really are sillier than usual) from Sunday Stealing

1. If you could be a Muppet, which would you be?
There is no other choice. There is only one muppet out there that I want to be. In the world of Muppets he is my hero, the Muppet that inspired me – the greatest Muppet that has ever had a hand shoved up his arse.
I am talking of course about Animal.
Here he is in his full glory.

2. Why is a chicken crossing the road in the first place??
The chicken is presumably trying to avoid a fox, or a mad white haired man from Kentucky wearing a white suit who is pursuing it with a bag of spices and a deep fat fryer.

3. What's your favourite muscle?
The arse muscle because women seem to like it.

4. Cheerios or Rice Krispies?
When I was in America once, I was staying with a family, one of whom was waiting for me to say “Cheerio”, so that he could crack a joke by replying “No thanks! I prefer Rice Krispies!” 
Oh how I would have guffawed. The sad thing is that the only people who say “Cheerio!” in England are weird aristocrats who use also use words like “terribly”, “gosh”, “old chap” and “toodle-pip”. 
I say none of those words. 
Where were we? Oh yes – Cheerios or Rice Krispies. Well, I don’t usually eat cereals, if I’m honest. I’ve had both and I have to say I don’t like either. 
So my answer is “none of the above”.

5. Is summer ever going to get here?
I think it has arrived already. May was a beautiful month with almost all days being warm and sunny. June is not quite as good with a few thunderstorms and a few days of rain (like today) but it is still warm here and Wednesday and Thursday of last were gloriously hot at 30°C and 32°C respectively – just about the right temperature and the hottest it ever really gets in Manchester.

6. Have you ever had a utility turned off by mistake or some other reason besides weather or nonpayment?
Not that I can recall.

7. What was your "last day" of something?
Tuesday of last week was my last day of work – sadly until Thursday of this coming week when I return. I am supposed to be in Spain at the moment but am stuck here in Manchester instead, because my company is asking us to take our holidays during the lockdown even though we are incarcerated in our own homes. 

8. If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which one would you choose?
I think that it would have to be a science fiction show of some kind, preferably involving time travel. I will go for Dr Who.

9. Did you have any type of class trip, band trip, etc in high school? Where did you go, what did you do?
Yes, too many to remember. There were a lot of day trips to local points of interest, plus a couple of field trips to the school’s Welsh centre in Snowdonia. The latter ones involved being away for a week in this remote centre that could accommodate 24 pupils and two teachers, and usually involved studying local features for geography as well fun and games. 

10. Do your feet smell?
Neither of my feet contain nostrils. So the answer is no.

11. Do you know how to french braid?
I had to look it up. What do you think?

12. Two guys are walking down the street. One drops his hat and reaches down to pick it up, the other kicks him in the ass. Do you laugh?
Yes – of course I do. It’s probably because two guys are paying homage to old school comedians like Laurel and Hardy.

13. You wake up one morning and dogs are meowing and cats are barking - what are fish, elephants and crocodiles doing?
Well since this is a normal day and I haven’t been transported to the planet Tharg, I would imagine that the fish are swimming around looking stupid, the elephants are making an horrendous noise with their trunks and the crocodiles are floating in the water, their eyes peering just above the surface waiting for a stupid person to walk into the water to try to find out what noise they make.
The truth is though, if I saw an elephant or a crocodile when I woke up, I would probably call the police rather than being preoccupied with what they were doing.

14. You are going to your high school reunion. What award are you going to win?
I wouldn’t want to win an award but if I did it would probably the most travelled. And the coolest of course.

15. You find yourself stranded on a deserted island. Soon you find a laptop with a lifelong battery & internet connection, then you find a cave with an endless supply of food and a spring of fresh water. A cruise ship comes along to save you - do you get on it?
Yes – and I take the laptop with me.

16. How many shortcuts do you have on your desktop?
13 – that’s unlucky for some. I’ll have to add another one.

17. I offer you a pie... the most delicious pie you have ever seen. You either have to eat the entire thing in one sitting or allow me to slam it into your face, which do you choose?
I would eat it, of course. 

18. Are you a pen stealer?
I suffer from stationary kleptomania. I walk to people’s desks and walk away with heir stationary. I do not know why. At work, I have a draw full of stolen pens, which I hand out to anybody who needs them. I guess that I am sharing the fruits of my thievery – a kind of Robin Hood figure who steals from those who have too many pens and gives the proceeds to those poor unfortunate wretches who can’t find a pen in the stationary cupboard because a thief like me has stolen them all.

19. A dude from China comes up and offers you German chocolate cake, French fries and a Boston cream pie... what colour is your car?
I remember a question on a philosophy exam that said “There is a planet exactly like Earth but only contains unicorns. Discuss”. I thought that was the craziest question I had read but deep down there are pseudo-intellectuals who might try to make something of it to appear intelligent. 
I shall try to devolve into a pseudo-intellectual to try to answer this particularly stupid question with the craziest pseudo-intellectual answer I can come up with. Regular readers know that I am not keen on Pseudo-intellectuals. Take a deep breath …
Dong Zhongshu attempted to integrate the Yin Yang cosmology into a Confucian ethical framework and this selfless act of benevolent moral harmony clearly affected the “dude” from China. But I had to ask myself in all seriousness; “What is a Chinese dude”? This is a philosophical dilemma as the innate truth of being a “dude” is an American paradigm created by an English maverick whose thoughts drifted away from the European characteristic and more towards the customary new world convention. Consequently, we can understand the quandary the Chinese person had to grapple with and his temptation to completely abandon his Chinese heritage whilst still being ethical, forcing him to choose the Boston cream pie. Yet still he felt the struggle wasn’t over because he had to follow the origins of the English maverick in order to satisfy the deep-seated uncertainty of the impasse. The source had to be European but could not be English. How he resolved this proved arduous but then he recalled the odours of the Black Forest. The only option was a German chocolate cake, inherently European yet not traditionally English. But how could he combine the two frames of reference? What could be European and American yet not English? The French Fry completed the puzzle. The English refer to them as chips, a crude fat monstrosity that although it is made of the same ingredient bears no resemblance to the shape and texture favoured by Europeans and Americans. The circle was now complete, the French Fries bringing everything together whilst still acknowledging the origins of the English maverick. I looked upon the offering from the Chinese man; I recognised the gesture for what it was, the yin the yang, the ethics and the harmony. My reaction was to embrace this paradigm and build upon it to maintain the morality of his gift. I looked at the Chinese dude and went back to basics – to his origins. It was the only thing I could do. I saw his flag in my mind’s eye. I looked at him with a benevolent smile and spoke the words that lifted his heart; “My car is bright red – just like the colour of the flag of your motherland.” He wept and so did I.
I’m sorry about that but the bloody question was ridiculous. By the way, my car is silver.

20. Sometimes you just have to tap your foot to your favourite song - which tv series season finale are you watching?
Another crazy question. But the last season finale I watched was “Gangs of London”.

Sunday 21 June 2020

Questions You Never Thought You'd Ask

Welcome to day 90 of the Coronavirus lockdown. Things are slowly easing in the UK and the rate of infection is also heading down. 
Also, I have had a lockdown haircut. I was sick to death of trying to blast my sentient hair with products to keep it under control so I tried to buy some hair clippers. Eventually I managed to (I think every other male in the UK also had the same idea). 
Yesterday, Mrs PM put on her battle gear and attacked my hair with the clippers and some scissors. She did an amazing job, given that she’s never cut hair before and now I look vaguely human again.
Also, I have been growing a beard as an experiment. I gave myself six weeks to see what it would look like and I am four weeks into that period. And I have to say that it doesn’t look bad. When I was younger I couldn’t grow a beard for love nor money but now, being an old git, I seem to have found the ability to do this. 
The downside is that there is a little grey in there but what do you expect at 57 years of age?
Anyway, time to answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing
1. If you could spend a day in someone else’s shoes who would it be and why?
I would spend a day in Boris Johnson’s shoes, hopefully taking his form so that I could right the wrongs that he has perpetrated. I would publicly admit that I am a liar and a fraud, I would sack Dominic Cummings and make another cabinet shuffle to get rid of the most odious characters. I would then call another Brexit referendum, another General Election and finally resign as Prime Minister at the end of the day.
That would teach the incompetent, lying buffoon.
2. Which celebrity gets on your nerves the most, and why?
I can’t answer that question because there are simply too many of them. I get annoyed in particular about celebrities who are “famous” for nothing, like the Kardashians or anybody has appeared on a reality TV show and become famous for just being outrageous. Of course, People like Piers Morgan and Jamie Oliver make me angry as soon as they open their mouths, mainly because they try to preach at me. 
There are just too many, dear reader. One day I will list them all, and it will read as a passenger list for the giant spaceship I intend to build when I become World President. They will all be sent to the depths of outer space to rid the planet of them all.
3. If you were going to bury a time capsule, what would you put in it?
Old photographs, a few old bits of writing that I had done, a few CDs with some of my favourite music, a couple of newspapers, my old laptop and various other bits and bobs. I haven’t really thought about it to be honest.
4. What is your saddest memory?
Death of a loved one – every one of them.
5. Would you rather be in your pyjamas or a suit all day?
I think if I were in my suit all day I would probably be going to a wedding and I do like a good wedding. I think I would say a suit – I can’t wait to get out of my pyjamas if I’m honest.
6. What’s the strangest place you’ve ever gone potty?
In the UK “gone potty” also means “gone mad” but I think this probably means “go to the toilet” so I will assume it is that.  I have been to many strange toilets as you can imagine but one of the weirdest ones was in Hong Kong. I went to a restaurant in the Peninsular Hotel, a very very posh hotel. We managed to get a reservation for an early discounted meal (it was still very expensive) and it was very nice (if not totally overpriced). The restaurant was high up in the hotel and the gents toilets were immaculate. However, as I stood there, allowing nature to take it’s course, I found myself staring out of a window at the streets of Kowloon. The view as magnificent but it was so weird.
I almost took a photograph – not of the act itself (that would be revolting) – but of the view. I decided not to because taking a photograph in a gentleman’s toilet is at best frowned upon and at worst – well I think you can imagine what I mean.
Thankfully, somebody else has already taken a photo for me.

7. How old were you went you had your first kiss?
I was seven years old. I think I have mentioned this before. 
8. Do you have any strange or unique phobias?
Not really. I have several normal phobias, heights, public speaking, spiders but nothing weird.
9. If you could bring back one toy from your childhood, what would it be?
I think it would probably be a board game or some form of building toy, like Lego or Stickle Bricks.
10. If you could be any Disney villain, which would you be?
I would be Shere Kahn from the Jungle Book, a smooth criminal voiced by George Sanders with sharp claws who was the King of that particular jungle.

11. If your life was a novel, what would the title be.
Believe it or not, I started writing down a few memories about three years ago, mainly for the benefit of future generations (and of course for a bit of fun). I pop back and scribble a few things down occasionally. I have called it “Insignificant Memoirs”.
I guess if it were like a novel, rather than just talking about old stuff, I would call it something different like
“The boy who never grew up”.
12. What do you need more of in your life?
Time – absolutely no doubt about that. I have so many things that I want to do and, being quite old, there is limited time in which to do them.
13. What are your top 3 quotes?
Top three quotes made by me or top three quotes from other people? I can’t recall every single nonsensical quote that I have ever made so I shall assume the latter. 
I don’t know to be honest – but here are a few I quite like:
“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.” – Albert Einstein
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” – Charlie Chaplin
“Never under any circumstances take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.” – Dave Barry
14. What do you want people to remember about you?
I like to think that people will smile when they remember me. I love making other people laugh, mostly because of jokes at my own expense, and when I am gone I would like to think that when they recall some of the stupid things I have said and done (and there are loads of them, believe me), that I can still bring a smile to their faces.
15. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
What? Is this a simple answer to a question or a bloody book? As I implied in my answer to the previous question, I have done lots of stupid things and I continue to do stupid things – like admitting doing stupid things on this blog. 
The biggest mistake? Well, given that I am deeply into the music that I love, I would say not learning to play the guitar. On my dad’s advice (poor advice – sorry dad) I took up the trombone. A bloody trombone! Can you believe it? I couldn’t – which is why I gave it up after four years. But if it had been a guitar I would definitely have carried on and I could have become something like this:

So that’s quite a big mistake!

Sunday 7 June 2020

Would You Rather?

It’s day 76 of the lockdown and I’ve been looking at the statistics regarding the virus in the UK. 
They don’t make good reading. 
As of yesterday, the United Kingdom is the second worst hit country in terms of deaths, with 40,465 people having died of COVID-19. 
In terms of total cases, we are the fifth worst hit country in the world. 
Worse, in my view, if you look at the number of deaths worldwide per million, the United Kingdom is the second worst hit country behind Belgium.
I find this really annoying because if you listen to Boris the Clown and his idiot cabinet, you hear phrases like “world beating test and trace” and other incredibly inaccurate soundbites. 
Boris the Clown said last week that he is now “taking control of the pandemic”. In that case, Boris, I would like to know who the bloody hell has been in control since March? Your brother Coco the Clown?
Anyway, to stop myself descending into a full blown rant about the incompetence of the people supposedly in control, I shall seek light relief with a few silly questions from Sunday Stealing
Let’s dive in, shall we?
1.  Would you rather work in a group or work alone?
In my line of work I need to do both, though it has to be said I find that if I am able to work alone and uninterrupted I can achieve a lot. The lockdown has forced me and my colleagues to work from home and I am actually more productive, I think, in terms of not having people walking to my desk to ask questions or just chat. At home, I can choose to ignore them. Nevertheless, I still have to collaborate with people and I think that is important – as long as it is on my terms.
2. Would you rather be stuck on an island alone or with someone who talks incessantly?
We all need human company so I would say that I would reluctantly choose the person who talks incessantly. I just hope that the island is big enough to allow me to have some alone time and satisfy my inner introvert when the talking gets too much.
3. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?
I’m not keen on either but I think I prefer being too hot.
4. When you’re old, would you rather die before or after your spouse?
I am already quite old, thanks, but I think I would prefer to go first. If there is an afterlife though I would be worried about Mrs PM.
5. Would you rather have a cook or a maid?
A cook – definitely. I can cook but I hate it. When it is my turn to cook, I opt for the quickest and easiest thing I can find.
6. Would you rather be the youngest or the oldest sibling?
I am already the oldest sibling so I can’t imagine being the youngest.  
7. Would you rather get rich through hard work or through winning the lottery?
Given that I hate my job, I would definitely choose winning the lottery. I already have a plan should I do so. 
8. Would you rather have a 10-hour dinner with a headstrong politician from an opposing party, or attend a 10-hour concert for a music group you detest?
I would love to sit down for a ten hour dinner with a headstrong politician from an opposing party, somebody like Boris the Clown. I know exactly what sort of human being he is and I know exactly what would push his buttons. Not only would I give him a really hard time, I would have progressive metal as the background music to make the clown as uncomfortable as possible.  
The thought of having to endure ten hours of music I detest fills me with dread.
9. Would you rather be an Olympic gold medallist or a Nobel Peace Prize winner?
Nobel prize winners win because they have made a difference to the world in some way. That would be far more preferable to winning an Olympic gold medal.
10. Would you rather have a desk job or an outdoor job?
I like the outdoors but I prefer to enjoy it as part of my leisure. I would therefore choose a desk job.
11. Would you rather live at the top of a tall NYC apartment building or at the top of a mountain?
I am terrified of heights so really the choice would be neither. I guess you are going to push me for an answer, aren’t you? Okay – I will say the top of a mountain. 
Well, I’ve been to New York and in the days before my fear of heights developed, I found myself at the top of the Empire State Building, laughing at a man dressed as a gorilla. I would never do that now – in fact the very thought of doing so is making my legs feel a little wobbly. 
I’ve been to the top of a mountain in Switzerland (Mount Rigi) and, while it is still very high, you don’t see the huge sheer drops and the scenery is absolutely amazing.  
11. Would you rather have Rambo or The Terminator on your side?
The Terminator is cyborg that is super strong, virtually indestructible and programmed to give his life to protect you. 
Rambo is just a soldier and, while he exceeds the qualities your everyday soldier needs to survive, he is simply human being and probably wouldn’t take a bullet for you. 
It has to be the Terminator.
12. Would you rather be proposed to in private or in front of family and friends?
I hate being the centre of attention so this answer is obvious; in private thank you very much.
13. Would you rather have to sew all your clothes or grow your own food?
My dad was a very keen gardener and used to grow vegetables in our back garden. He was so good at it that he ended up having to give a lot of them away to friends and family. He also enrolled three unwilling co-workers to assist him. The chores included digging, planting, watering, picking and handling all manner of dirt and manure. One of those unwilling co-workers was me (the other two were my sisters). And I hated every second of it.
I would therefore much rather sew my own clothes. 
14. Would you rather hear the good news or the bad news first?
I am the kind of person who likes to leave the best things until last. Hearing the bad news first is the equivalent so I will choose that.
15. Would you rather be your own boss or work for someone else?
I’m used to working for somebody else. To be honest I’m happy with that although not having to deal with pointy-haired bosses does have an appeal. 
16. Would you rather have nosy neighbours or noisy neighbours?
I did live next door to a young student recently whose rich parents had bought him a house rather than letting him rent. Sadly, this meant that he was extremely noisy, sometimes choosing to have a spontaneous party at 2am on a Wednesday night with loud dance music ripping me from my dreams. We almost came to blows several times, particularly when he told me at 3am that I was being very rude to him on his doorstep. I am not a violent or belligerent person but on that occasion I was so angry that I said to him, between gritted teeth “Step outside the house and say that!” Thankfully one of the people at the party dragged him inside and said “We’re really sorry. Of course we will turn the music down!”
Thankfully, he moved out after a few months. The last time I saw him was when I went to a gig near to the University of Manchester and I saw him at the end of the bar when I was having a post-gig pint with my mates. We looked at each other and I just raised my pint and smiled. He did the same. No words were exchanged.
I think I prefer nosy neighbours because I have curtains and blinds. 
Here is a video that sums up the experience with my noisy neighbour.

17. Would you rather be on a survival reality show or dating game show?
I would have tremendous fun on a dating game show. I wouldn’t do very well on a survival reality show.
18. Would you rather be too busy or be bored?
I can usually find something to do when bored, so I would choose to be bored but make myself busy – if that makes sense.
19. Would you rather watch the big game at home or live at the stadium.
I’ve seen several big games live in the stadium and there is nothing to beat that in my opinion. 
20. Would you rather spend the day with your favourite athlete or your favourite movie star?
If I were allowed on set to see my favourite movie star in action then I would definitely go for that. And I would be cheeky enough to ask if I could appear in a scene or two as an extra.
21. Would you rather live where it is constantly winter or where it is constantly summer?
I hate winter. Winter in the UK is cold, wet, dark and miserable and it is only Christmas that stops me from going insane. The summer months make up for it though. I think if I were omnipotent, I would tilt the earth so that the UK was roughly where Spain is now.
22. Would you rather travel the US and see the sights in a motor home or by plane?
Every time I’ve been to the US I’ve travelled around by plane, mainly due to time constraints. On my first trip there way back in 1989, we only had four weeks and I wanted to see as much as possible. A motor home would required much more time given that we travelled to New York, Washington DC, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Cleveland. On subsequent trips, I have hired a car to just to travel for a few hours between cities where they have comfortable hotels. If I had a year to visit other places I might consider it, although I have seen a lot of horror movies where such vehicles have been targetted and that’s the thing that puts me off.
23. Would you rather be a little late or way too early?
I am weird. I would much rather be way too early. I hate being late for anything. 
24. Would you rather have an unlimited gift certificate to a restaurant or a clothing store?
I am not a dedicated follower of fashion so it would have to be a gift certificate for a restaurant.
25. Would you rather date someone you met online or go on a blind date?
I think I would prefer to date a person I had met online. I have always been shy, though these days I can’t really claim that is still the case, so a blind date might be more traumatic, particularly if the woman in question genuinely looked disappointed when she saw me. If you have met somebody online, you will no doubt have an inkling of whether or not you will get on as well as probably knowing what she looks like and what kind of a person she is.