Wednesday 22 December 2021

Heavy Metal Christmas

This will be my last post before Christmas so I thought I would resurrect a stupid idea from many years ago when I started to supply alternative lyrics to famous Christmas songs, ruining them completely. 
The one I have chosen to vandalise this year is the old “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree”. 
Why? Because I spotted it and immediately thought of proper rock music – or more accurately heavy metal.
I apologise to anybody who loves the song, or anyone who loves Brenda Lee. 

Moshin’ around the Christmas tree
With a heavy metal song 
Air guitar playing noisily 
Grandma tells me this is wrong

Moshin’ around the Christmas tree
Turn the volume really loud
Later we’ll have a huge mince pie
And we’ll share it with the crowd

You will get a heavy metal feeling when you hear
Guitar, bass with drums and keyboard
Drink some beer, you’ll never feel bored

Moshing around the Christmas tree
Have a happy Christmas Day
Let’s start head banging merrily 
In a new and noisy way


You will get a heavy metal feeling when you hear
Guitar, bass with drums and keyboard
Drink some beer, you’ll never feel bored

Moshing around the Christmas tree
Have a happy Christmas Day
Let’s start head banging merrily 
In a new and noisy way

To be honest, I’m not the first to imagine traditional Christmas songs and add a touch of heavy metal to spice things up. Here are Megadeth having some fun:

And Motörhead:

And of course the Darkness:

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. 

Saturday 18 December 2021

Fauxklore, Part 2

Welcome to a sunny but chilly day in South Manchester. I am not going to chat about Omicron today because I have finished work for the year and can now relax for the holiday period and stay happy. I am looking forward to Christmas as are you all, I hope.

Without further ado, let’s dive into a continuation of last week’s sill questions from Sunday Stealing

16. Do you want any piercings?

Absolutely not. I am squeamish anyway and the thought of sticking a needle into my body is repulsive. This last year I have had four vaccinations (three Covid-19 and one flu) and that is four more than I can put up with. To voluntarily pierce my skin for a so-called aesthetic effect is a completely alien desire to me.

I struggle to imagine why anybody would do it. I have seen some really bizarre piercings in my life and I simply don’t get it – even simple ones like ear piercings.

It makes no sense.

17. What’s your mouse pad look like?

I have two mouse pads. The first is one that by youngest son gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago and is basically a picture of him looking like a maniac. The second is another gift, this time from a mate, but is the official mouse mat of my favourite football team, Walsall. Of course, as usual, when I say “football” I mean what Americans call soccer rather than the poor imitation of Rugby that Americans call football.

18. Have you ever been to a psychic/tarot reader?

No and I have no intention of ever doing so. I am sorry but I find all that kind of stuff to be nonsense (apologies to my blogging buddy Pandora who I know is very much into it).

19. How do you identify spiritually (do you follow a religion, what do you think about soul/spirit, etc.)?

My approach to spirituality has been through a few phases. As a child, I was brought up as a Roman Catholic and was indoctrinated from birth all the way through to the age of sixteen via school, family, friends and of course the church itself. At that age, I changed my view because of my ever increasing science background and I questioned religion and everything to do with it. For the next couple of years until university, I started to see what was happening with people who are, what I would describe as evangelical Christians, who told me that, as a Catholic, I wasn’t even a proper Christian.

That angered me, so I rebelled against them.

After that, I have mellowed. I am still a victim of indoctrination as my Catholic background vaguely resonates within but over the past few decades I have moved away from it. I don’t go to church and I ignore any and all attempts to bring me back into the fold, even when discussing with evangelicals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religions. I respect their views and listen rather than arguing.

I do see now that religion provides comfort and hope for people so if you are a devoted member of any religion then, as long as you aren’t harming people, I am happy for you to embrace your chosen faith.

Am I spiritual in any way? Not really but I am fascinated with the scientific theory of what may happen to the essence of who I am when I finally pass on.

I guess I’ll find out then.

I would quite like to be a ghost actually as long as I had free reign over the planet. Maybe I can travel the world after death. That would be good.

20. Do you prefer your nails long or short?

Definitely short. I have very strong nails and they have to be trimmed on a regular basis.

21. What are your favourite smells?

I think I may have answered this before:

•             Bacon

•             The smell of the English countryside on a summer’s day

•             Coffee being brewed

•             Baking bread

•             The smell of the ocean

22. Do you still use a radio or just use your phone/computer for music?

I use the radio to wake up in the morning but I don’t listen to music on it as, typically, they don’t play the music I like and the DJs are annoying shiny happy people. Instead I prefer to listen to Radio 4 and the news.

When I listen to music at home, it is either through the speakers connected to my laptop or using our Sonos speaker. When out and about, I use my iPod which has my entire CD collection stored on it.

In my car, I still use CDs.

23. What kind of socks do you prefer to wear?

The typical kind of sock you will see in a men’s clothes shop. There is one exception – I wear those small ones that just cover my feet when I wear shorts.

24. Do you have any family heirlooms?

I only have one – a leather bound Bible that my very strict Catholic grandfather had. It was created in 1950 and was passed down to my mum and then me. I will pass it down to my eldest lad – though what he will do I have no idea as he is definitely not religious in any way. TO be fair, I only keep it myself because of my grandad.

25. Are there any musicians you didn't like at first but grew on you?

I would say that Gary Numan falls into that category. At university a mate of mine tried to brainwash me into listening to him but I was into heavy metal at the time and absolutely refused to do it. However, a few years ago, I heard a song by him and I actually loved it. I have bought his last three albums and started to revisit his early catalogue. And in May 2022 (Omicron permitting) I am going to see him in Manchester.

Here is an oldie and a new one for you.

26. Is there anything you used to love but now dislike?

The only thing that leaps to mind is sugar. I don’t dislike sugar as such but I rarely use it now. For example, I used to drink really sweet coffee and tea each with about four spoons of sugar in them. These days I don’t have any sugar in either. What’s more, I drink my coffee black now too.  

27. Your favourite place to be aside from your home?

Travelling somewhere. I’ve forgotten what it is like to travel.

28. What is your favourite kind of tea?

I drink what Americans would call “English Breakfast” tea, the stronger the better. In fact, I’m going to have a cup right now.

29. Any old home remedies you use when you're sick?

I have been know to have a hot toddy when I have a bad cold.

What’s a hot toddy? I hear you cry?

It’s a hot whiskey based drink with lemon and honey. I’m not a fan of whiskey at all – nor honey in fact - but if I have a cold and can barely taste, it provides you with a soothing remedy for a sore throat and the warmth and burning of the whiskey really helps.

Usually I stick to scientifically proven remedies though.

30. What level of brightness do you usually keep your phone at?

My phone adjusts automatically depending on the external brightness. That’s good enough for me.

Saturday 11 December 2021


Welcome to a cold and wet South Manchester. Christmas is drawing ever nearer but, sadly, so are the short days. 

Our resident clown has surpassed himself this week and the good news is that his popularity is dropping like a stone.

First of all, last year we were all locked down for Christmas having a miserable time but it has since been revealed that there were several unlawful parties for various government departments, including one at Number 10 Downing Street itself. Somebody leaked this and Boris the hybrid clown scarecrow mutant creature denied it. And then a video was released that proved the party had taken place. 

It was one rule for the government and one rule for the rest of us and, as you can imagine, the people are livid.

What did our incompetent clown do? He still says that a party didn’t take place and that all rules were followed. How can that be?

Basically he is a liar. 

And then he announced that more restrictions would be imposed because of Omicron. We now have to wear masks in cinemas and theatres and you need to show proof of vaccination to enter places like night clubs.

Having been found out for being a total hypocrite last year when his people partied through the night while we were sitting in our homes locked down unable to see our loved ones, he now announces more restrictions – thinking that it will make us feel better and distract us from the lies.

I am loving watching him squirm and there are a few people calling for his resignation. Even members of his own party are starting to rise up and criticise him.

His resignation would be a great Christmas present.

Anyway, I don’t really like discussing politics as it is too divisive so I shall dive into some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. Have you ever been caught outdoors away from shelter during a thunderstorm?

I mentioned this before on this blog. I will reproduce it here for your enjoyment:

I was in Trinidad and staying at a hotel on the outskirts of Port of Spain. It was a Saturday afternoon and I was bored. I decided to go for a walk around a park. Dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and trainers, I started wondering around. In the distance I saw a huge black cloud approaching over the hills and figured that if I started heading back I would avoid the storm. Sadly, I was about two miles away from the hotel and I realized with horror that the cloud was part of a massive fast-moving thunderstorm. The rain came within about five minutes and with the thunder and lightning it looked like the end of the world was suddenly upon us. I stood sheltering under tree with a young Trinidadian lad and seriously contemplated allowing Jesus to enter my life. 

The rain was so heavy that all of the crap from the tree simply fell onto us. The young lad apologized to me because he thought that my day was being ruined by this bizarre apocalyptic storm. I told him that I was here with work so it didn’t matter. In the end, I sheltered under that tree for about 20 minutes and the rain continued and, if anything, started to get worse. I worked out that I was about Twenty minutes away from the hotel so I shook hands with the young lad, wished him luck and made the sacrifice of trying to get back to the hotel. He watched me as if I were a soldier embarking upon a suicide mission into no-man’s land.

The rain was probably the most intense I have ever been in. The temperature was still very warm, as you can imagine in the Caribbean, and my glasses let me down. Within minutes they were drenched and steaming up making it almost impossible to see. I felt like I was walking under Niagara Falls. 

Eventually I reached the hotel and walked into reception looking like a drowned rat. I walked up to the desk to ask for my key and the two female receptionists stared at me as if I were an alien that had just walked off a spaceship. 

“Can I have my key please?” I asked politely. 

They were struggling not to laugh as they handed over my key. 

“Oh by the way – it’s raining our there!” I said.

That was the catalyst. The two women howled with laughter, one of them gripping the reception desk so that she didn’t fall over. 

The other said “It’s not funny. I’m so sorry for laughing,” as she continued to roar with laughter.

I just smiled as the two women guffawed for Trinidad. 

When I got back to my room, it took me 10 minutes to peel my sodden T-shirt off my back and my trainers were so full of water that I had to empty them into the toilet. 

I looked at my face in the mirror and I was covered in dirt from the tree – I looked like I had had a swim in a swamp. No wonder the women were laughing at me.

I enjoyed that incident despite the trauma of the apocalyptic storm. I can still picture the laughter of the two wonderful receptionists, who were still struggling not to laugh when they apologised to me later in the day.

2. Did you ever build furniture forts as a child?

Yes. I lived near to a building site where they had demolished some old houses ready to build some brand new ones. There were lots of doors piled up from the demolished houses so we used to use them to build what we called “dens” rather than forts. Nevertheless we kind of used them as forts as we split into two groups and tried to conquer the other group.

3. Do you use any medicines daily? 

Not at all. I’ve had the odd prescription in my life but my only medicine at the moment is normal food.

4. When was the last time you used a disposable camera?

I think that would be at a wedding I went to quite a few years ago. Each table had about three disposable cameras with instructions on them to “take as many photos as you can”. I think it was a great idea and I can imagine there were some amazing photos of the guests and happy couple.

5. When was the last time you flew on a plane?

Oh dear – that is a depressing question. It was back in September 2019 when we were returning from the lovely Greek island of Kefalonia. I am determined to go abroad in 2022.

6. How many first cousins do you have?

I only have three first cousins, all of whom still live in Walsall, the town of my birth.

7. What’s the longest period of time you’ve gone without sleep?

The nature of my job means that I have, in the past, had to work overnight in some far off places, meaning that I have a combination of jet-lag and night-shift blues. I think my record, way back in the mid-2000s is about 30 hours. 

That was a one off, and I volunteered to do it to sort things out. I have never done it since – nor would I.

8. Did the house you grew up in have a big yard?

The house I lived in from the age of about 9 until 19 had a long back garden that my dad turned into a huge vegetable patch. He grew so many different vegetables that he had to give them away to friends. 

9. What has been the most difficult class you’ve ever taken?

I think that honour goes to a pure maths course at university called “Rings and Modules”. My degree is in computer science and statistics and I was really keen to ditch all maths modules. Sadly I couldn’t and, because I was very good at maths, I was thrust into two courses that were quite hard. “Rings and Modules” made no sense to me, even when I was revising it for the exam. In the end, I managed to somehow scrape a pass – but it was so hard.

10. What’s something that’s much more difficult than a lot of people realise?

I would say creative writing. Some people have told me that “writing is easy” and writing a novel would be something that they could easily do. However, I disagree and having read some written work by these people, I think that they have discovered the hard way.

11. What are some things a house would need to have for you to purchase it?

That depends where I am living. In the UK I am quite happy with the house I have at the moment. It has three bedrooms, a lounge and reception room, kitchen, bathroom and garden. If I won the lottery I would want something bigger with more rooms available for specific things, like a games room, an office room and perhaps an extra bedroom. However, deep down, I know that I wouldn’t need that so I am quite happy to stay exactly where I am.

12. Would you ever go out in public wearing pyjamas?

No. I have answered the door in pyjamas but with a dressing gown on.

13. Have you ever had a lemonade stand?

No. We don’t do that in the UK.

14. Do you think you look older or younger than your real age?

I definitely look younger. Here is a recent photo so judge for yourself. I am 59 years old by the way.

15. Where have you lived throughout your life?

I sent the first nineteen years of my life in Walsall, followed by three years in Liverpool. I then moved to Manchester for a year and then the small town of Altrincham (about nine miles south of Manchester) for about fourteen years. I then moved back to Manchester and have lived here ever since.

Saturday 4 December 2021

Even More Penpals

Greetings from a rainy and miserable day here in South Manchester. December is upon us and with it all of the horrible weather that comes with it. The days are getting shorter and colder but at least we are approaching Christmas, a time of year that helps to haul me from the doldrums that winter usually inflicts upon me at this time of year. I only have nine more days at work before I can take a couple of weeks off. That too will raise my spirits.

Enough of those winter blues – shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. What are your plans for December

As I said above, I have two more weeks of work, give or take a day or two, before I take a couple of weeks off. There are no official Christmas parties this year again but unlike last year, the annual work pub crawl will be taking place. Also, I will be out and about a few times with friends and pending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Blackpool with Mrs PM’s parents. I will see my two lads in between Christmas and New Year. I just need to get some Christmas Shopping done – something I don’t really like doing but has to be done. I also imagine that I will be overindulging on food and drink and putting on weight as a result. Finally, I will start to plan what I want to achieve in 2022 – that will be fun as I have big plans.

2. How do you celebrate your wins/success

I usually celebrate with a beer if I can. I’m not really a fan of wild celebrations these days because, as I get older, I prefer things to be more low-key. I still have fun though.

3. Are holiday movies only for the holiday season

Yes – definitely. Call me Scrooge McMancunian if you want but I am not really a fan of Christmas films. There are obviously a couple of exceptions like Die Hard and I quite like Bill Murray in Scrooged (until the gushy ending that is) and It’s a Wonderful Life but mostly I don’t watch them.

4. What would you consider a waste of money

I consider anything that is a normal item but has a colossally ridiculous price because it is a “brand” a complete waste of money. On our last trip to London this year, I took Mrs PM to Harrods because she had never been there and we walked around the shop gaping at the crazy prices of normal everyday objects. A lot of the goods on offer didn’t have any price tags on them – you had to ask. And to be honest I didn’t want to ask. Some things “on offer” were ridiculous. 

I know some people who splash out large sums of money for things like handbags. I’ve just asked Mr Google about overpriced items and it has come back with some that are just crazy:

£645 for Gucci trainers.

£1890 for a Gucci handbag.

£14,900 for a Hermès handbag.

£15,500 for a Pierpaolo Piccioli gown

And there are zillions more examples.

5. What do you like to eat for breakfast

It depends on the day. Monday to Friday I have fruit for breakfast, usually a banana, an apple and either a coupe of plums or a nectarine or peach. At the weekend, I usually have bacon and eggs with toast and it I am feeling like pushing the boat out a little, I have sausage too.

6. How do you feel about poetry

Bizarrely I just wrote a terrible poem as part of my daily freewriting routine and, no, I am not going to share it with you. I wrote a blog post about poetry once and in that post, I kind of half-criticised poetry, which is perhaps unfair. I love song lyrics and they are a form of poetry but I hate pseudo-intellectual poems that are meaningless. I love funny poems though. I will reproduce a couple of poems from that post that I actually wrote.

The first was for a birthday card for an old friend of mine who had turned 50:

A new decade's upon you; it's your 50th today.

The little hair that you have left will soon be turning grey.

You still play squash and cycle, to cling onto your youth.

But soon your muscles will give way, along with every tooth.

And when your gums are toothless (and chewing is a chore)

The only food you'll manage will be sucked up through a straw.

You take your lady dancing (Mimi is her name)

But believe me, waltzing's tricky when you use a zimmer frame.

Your pension is approaching more quickly than you think.

But forget that for the moment - we'll buy you lots of drink

To wish you HAPPY BIRTHDAY and, if I may be so bold,

To make sure you remember, Bill, that you are VERY OLD.

The next one is a pseudo intellectual piece of crap called The Loquacious Figment:

I contemplated the torso of a despondent galactic masterpiece

And my heart thanked my voracious sight.

I hastened my swiftness, disoriented by my awareness

Yet somehow did not submit to fright.

The final piece of crap is another pseudo-intellectual’s dream called The Enigmatic Equation:

The imperceptible formula, cloaked in derangement,

Struggles to reveal its worth.

Yet the analyst blindly persists in frustration

Anticipating its Caesarian birth 

I hope you agree that they are absolute garbage.

7. Are you shy

Yes. I am shy. You wouldn’t think so if you were to meet me because I am in a constant war with inner shyness and these days I take it on charging in like a man possessed. What you would experience from me would be a smiling, happy and inquisitive chap who will ask you lots of questions about how you are, trying his best to keep the conversation flowing. Underneath that façade is a man who is in constant fear of asking the wrong question, worried about offending you and nervous about what you will ultimately think of him.

It is a constant battle dear reader – but at least on the outside I am winning.

8. Do you take time to reflect on your goals

Yes – usually at this time of year. I will, as usual, write a summary of 2021 in a couple of weeks and you will see what I wanted to achieve this year – whether I failed or not. I do okay though.

9. Something you are curious to know more about

I am naturally a curious person (in both senses of the word) and I want to know more about anything that I am not an expert in. To be fair, I am not an expert in a lot of things, which makes me keen to learn about a lot of things. If something grabs my interest, I will pursue it in order to find out more.

10. Something that makes you feel fancy

I guess wearing a penguin suit – like this one take in 2010.

11. How you’re still handling the pandemic

In the UK we are largely restriction free although with the arrival of Omicron we now have to wear masks on public transport and in shops. I am enjoying the relative freedom compared to this time last year when we were fully locked down. Also, I have had three Covid-19 jabs (Pfizer) so the hypochondriac within me is asleep for now. 

I am missing travelling though and we have started making tentative plans for 2022. I just hope that Omicron doesn’t spoil the party.

12. A close friend you’ve never met in person

I have met all my close friends. I have encountered many people online via the blog and various places I frequent – I would be quite happy to meet them in person, subject to the limitations of my answer in question 7 of course. 

13. Do you get in on trends early or later

Usually later because I think some trends fizzle out. This is particularly true of electronic devices. I am a huge technophile but you will never find me queuing for the latest devices. I prefer to let them bed in and become established because I know that sometimes the first versions are poor and you have to wait for all the wrinkles to be ironed out.

14. What is something you do on a regular basis

I go for a walk every day if I can, I write jibberish in my freewriting journal, I try to learn a little Spanish every day and I try to learn something new every day.

15. Do you enjoy spending time with family

Yes. In fact I am going to the city centre to go for a meal with my eldest lad and his girlfriend. I don’t see my youngest son that often but I will be seeing them both over the Christmas period.

Sunday 28 November 2021


Welcome to South Manchester on a freezing cold day. I was out and about yesterday and it was bitterly cold and quite unpleasant. Today I am staying in and as I type I can see snow falling outside. It is the first time my two cats have seen snow and I’ve just been watching Ziggy looking up at the sky thinking “What the bloody hell is this stuff coming down?”

In Covid-19 related news, it seems that Omicron is here – the latest variant that has been discovered in South Africa. It is unknown whether this variant is as virulent as Delta, whether the vaccines can cope with it or whether it is as dangerous so the Clown in charge of our country has decreed that we should, as a precaution, now wear masks on public transport and in shops – for the next three weeks or so.

I kind of agree with that but given that we are approaching Christmas and pubs and restaurants will be quite busy, perhaps we should prepare for restrictions to be reintroduced. 

It all depends on what the scientists discover.

It’s a sad fact that Covid-19 hasn’t gone away yet.

Anyway – enough of that dismal way of thinking. Let’s dive into some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. What is the craziest, most outrageous thing you want to achieve?

Obviously, I want to travel the world – that is not that crazy – once we rid ourselves of Covid-19 of course. I think that is achievable.

Nevertheless, I’ve been thinking about what I am going to do in retirement, given that Mrs PM will not be retiring for a few years yet (being younger than me). I have come up with a crazy notion that I may or may not achieve. 

Regular readers (if there are any) will know that I can play a trombone (well I could at 16 anyway). This means that I can vaguely read music, so I have decided to try to learn an instrument. A guitar would be the obvious choice but I have had a go before and I think it is quite difficult. 

So I am going to try to learn to play a piano. My thinking is that if I can get my hands on a digital piano, with fully weighted keys, I can start to play – maybe even get lessons. I have tried a piano before and I taught myself to play a little bit of California Girls. Why that song? I have no idea – perhaps it was on the radio at the time. 

Learning a piano will open up a few things, like being able to record myself on a laptop and perhaps get some amazing software that can transform my tinkling into something that is vaguely tuneful, perhaps even transforming the piano sound into something else.

It looks quite exciting – and also quite crazy and vaguely outrageous.

It’s never too late – so I think I will do it.

2. Have your parents influenced what goals you have?

Not really. My dad wanted me to achieve more than he did and so encouraged me to excel at school and end up with a decent career – which I did. My specific goals never came from him though but I have always considered what both my parents would have thought about what I achieve. My mum saw a lot of this as she only died recently – but alas, my dad didn’t. If he is watching I am sure he will be proud.

3. What is a fashion trend you’re glad went away.

I am not a fashionista at all and I don’t really care about fashion or what the latest trends are. I kind of fall into it because I buy clothes that vaguely follow the latest trends.

However, when I was a kid I hated the fashion of the 1970’s – it was utterly ridiculous. I am sure it will return some day – these things tend to reappear – but I hope it doesn’t.

4. What word or saying from the past do you think should come back?

The word “Gadzooks” just popped into my weird head when I read this question. I don’t know where that came from to be honest but it was a word that expressed shock – a kind of strange reaction to something surprising.

I’ve just looked it up and discovered that there was actually a shop called Gadzooks in America.

I just like the word. I may start using it and see how far I get.

5. What do you bring with you everywhere you go?

My glasses and my smartphone. And clothes of course.

6. Is there such a thing as a soul?

I would like to think that souls exist – not for religious reasons (as I am not really religious). I prefer to think of a soul as the life force that keeps our bodies going and when that body fails, your soul is liberated to enjoy a more ethereal existence, watching things from afar.

It’s almost certainly not the case but I guess we will all find out sooner or later.

7. Is there life after death?

Deep following on question there. I don’t know is the honest answer but the romantic dreamer inside me likes to believe that somehow I will live on after my decrepit old body has finally given up the ghost. Whether I become a ghost or a drifting soul, I don’t mind, as long as I can still see what is going on in the world.

Related to this, I read a series of vampiric horror novels by a guy called Brian Lumley called Necroscope, where the main protagonist is a man who can speak to the dead. The idea is that the people carry on existing after they die and continue their work in this after-life environment. So for example, Mozart will still be composing symphonies, Isaac Newton will still be trying to solve elusive mathematical problems and Albert Einstein will be working on his theory of relativity. 

I really like that idea.

8. Do you think there will ever be a third world war?

I hope not but I don’t trust some of the nutters we have had as world leaders in recent times, so sadly I know that it could well happen. I was quite worried when Donald Trump was the American president and we still have people like Putin and Kim Jong-un knocking about. At least in America it is possible to get rid of a nutter, as it is here in the UK. But in places like North Korea, China and Russia this is more difficult. 

9. What smell brings back great memories?

The smell of Chinese food reminds me of all the wonderful times I have spent in Hong Kong.

10. How would you like to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered as somebody who made people laugh and wasn’t a bad person.

11. What kind of music are you into?

My musical taste is quite varied but I tend to focus on progressive rock/metal and ambient music. I love everything from heavy metal, to pop music, to electronic industrial metal, to 1970’s disco, to Indie and symphonic metal. Here are two completely different musical masterpieces that illustrates the range of my taste.

12. What is the biggest surprise of your life?

That I am very close to retiring. I see myself as a young man and I can’t believe that I am really quite old.

13. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I am a sensible chap so it would have to be something that is nutritious and isn’t going to turn me into some kind of weirdo over time (well not a weirder weirdo than the weirdo I am now). It would probably be some form of fruit.

If I weren’t being sensible about it and didn't care about becoming a giant mouse then it would have to be cheese.

14. Where is the most awe-inspiring place you have been?

I have travelled to many varied places around the world and it is truly difficult to pick just one of them. I am going to be really selfish though and name just one – Hong Kong. The entire city is just incredible and I am filled with awe and joy whenever I return there.

15. Describe your life in six words

Happy and very eager to retire.

Saturday 20 November 2021

An American Holiday


Welcome to a cloudy but mild and dry South Manchester on day 123 since Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

This week my friends from across the pond are celebrating Thanksgiving, an annual holiday where families get together and eat lots of turkey. 

We don’t celebrate it here but we know all about it because we see it in a plethora of American TV shows.

And today’s Sunday Stealing questions are all about Thanksgiving, which is a strange thing for me as a British citizen to deal with. But, in the spirit of harmony, and because I like America and Canada, I shall partake. I have always had a great time when I have stepped over the big pond and I have yet to meet an American or Canadian that I haven’t enjoyed the company of. 

From the person in Florida who asked me “Why do all British singers sing in an American accent?” to the woman in Cleveland who asked me “Wow! You’re from England – have you ever met the Queen?” I have enjoyed discussing our cultural (but similar) differences. From explaining the rules of cricket to trying to explain why Monty Python is so funny, I have always had fun with our somewhat surreal conversations.

Before I dive in, I shall just say this: I hope you enjoy your holidays, guys and rest easy, knowing that I will be hard at work trying to tame wild computers in Manchester while you are eating turkey and having fun.

Questions, as usual, from Sunday Stealing

1. What teacher are you most thankful for and why?  What did you learn from him or her?

I have recently been writing a few memoirs and by lucky chance, I am currently looking at and re-examining my school life. I went to a really good school that required passing an exam to get into and the teachers and kids were all very clever – which was a shock to the system for me because up until then I was always top of the class. I found myself competing with some really intelligent boys and the teachers were totally dedicated to the academic success of their pupils as well has maintaining the excellent reputation of the school.

I didn’t really grasp that at the time but in retrospect it was obvious. Each and every teacher wanted each and every pupil to be the best that they could. And for me, being an obnoxious little git for about three of those years as a rebellious teenager, I pushed them to the limit of their patience sometimes.

The good news is that they stuck by me and when my rebellious phase had faded as I approached 17 years of age, I really pushed myself to succeed. 

There were two teachers in particularly who I thought were brilliant. My maths teacher, Mr P who guided me through O-Level, A/O-Level and A-Level maths, helping me to achieve the top grade required for university, and Mr N, my chemistry teacher and mentor who guided me to choose the course I chose (even though it wasn’t chemistry) and really helped me with A-Level chemistry which initially I struggled with.

Thanks guys.

2. What’s the season you’re most thankful for, and what’s your favourite part of each season?

I love the summer. In the UK, summer is amazing (though we do get a fair amount of rain) and the temperature is always very pleasant. The rain helps keep the UK the fabled green and pleasant land. That said, I usually travel to Europe in the summer too. I love Europe and it is a bit warmer than the UK the further south you go.

Favourite parts of each season?

Spring – After winter, it is wonderful to see foliage returning to its post-winter colour and splendour and, as the weather improves and the days get longer, I find my mood improving every day.

Summer – As I said above, I love the warm long days and the travel. It’s a pleasure to be outside on a long hot summer day.

Autumn – The colour of the leaves as they turn and start to fall. It is usually still pleasant weather during Autumn, particularly at the beginning.

Winter – Winter is my least favourite season, but the one thing I do enjoy is Christmas and New Year because, although it is cold, everyone is happy and in the mood to party with friends and family.

3. What electronic device are you most grateful for, and what does it add to your life?

That’s easy – my smartphone. I rarely use it as an actual phone to be honest but it has so many uses that even if I list them here and now, it wouldn’t do the device justice. Here are just a few things I use it for:

Learning Spanish, counting steps, keeping a calendar, sending messages, banking, watching videos, listening to music, emails, taking photos, keeping in touch with friends, watching TV when out and about, internet, weather, compass, satnav, time, fitness, books

And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

4. What musician or type of music are you most thankful for?

Progressive rock and progressive metal. I love so many artists that I can’t list them all but I will single out three of my current favourites:

Steven Wilson:

Devin Townsend:

Mariusz Duda (Riverside):

5. What are you most grateful for that brings beauty to your daily life?

I look for the positive in everything life throws at me – even work (which I am completely tired of). In a similar way, there is always something of beauty if you do something simple, like go for a walk. Personally though, I like to see something that makes me laugh or at least smile. There is nothing more beautiful than laughter.

That's one of the reasons that Monty Python is funny.

6. What philanthropic cause or organization do you feel thankful for?

Every single on of them. There are far too many to list here.

7. What foods are you most thankful for?

Cheese. I can’t imagine a world without cheese. I am looking forward to a ham and cheese sandwich for my lunch after I have finished writing this post.

8. What local store or restaurant are you most grateful for?  How does it contribute to your quality of life?

Again, it is difficult to single out a particular local shop or restaurant. I am quite lucky to live in an area where there are several good places within a short walking distance.

I will mention our local Indian restaurant though. I haven’t been there for a while and I think I am overdue a meal there.

9. What book are you most grateful for, and why?

I can’t honestly say, with my hand on my heart that I am grateful for a book. I enjoy a good novel and I have enjoyed most of them. When I read a novel I enter wholly into the universe created by the story and that provides a form of escapism from normality – a bit like taking a holiday in your own imagination. It’s good for the mind.

10. What act of kindness has made the greatest difference in your life?

Again there are two many to single out one particular act of kindness. 

11. What challenging experience has ended up changing your life for the better?

I’m a fairly positive person and when I see or experience a problem that may seem difficult to overcome, I will usually try to have a go at taking it on. When I was younger, I was painfully shy and decided when I went to university that I was going to declare war on what was effectively social anxiety. It is a conflict that I hurled myself into and I forced myself to explode out of my comfort zone. It was difficult at first and after a few years, I feel that I conquered it. 

Fast forward a couple of decades and shyness is still with me but I manage it very well and when people get to know me they are stunned when I admit to being shy. I guess that means I have won the war.

12. What vacation are you most grateful for?

I love travel and there are many places that I have thoroughly enjoyed. The most recent big holiday that left its mark on me has to be my trip to Japan about eight years ago. I enjoyed the experience so much that I am desperate to get back there. Sadly, it won’t happen for a few years yet as our next jaunt to the Far East will take us to Malaysia – but after that I will be pushing for a return trip to Japan.

13. Name three days in your life that you feel especially grateful for.

The day I made my entrance into the world way back in the early 1960’s in Walsall of course. 

The day I graduated from Liverpool University. I was sad to leave the city, having spent three wonderful years there, but it was an amazing experience and I had to move on.

The day that Mrs PM declared her feelings for me in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. I have never looked back. That was 23 years ago.

There are many more than three.

14. What product do you use on a daily basis that you most appreciate?

Again the list of products I use on a daily basis is vast and it is difficult to pinpoint one particular item.

Perhaps I shall say clothing because that means that I won’t scare the whole of Manchester by walking around naked (sorry for the terrible image this will conjure up – I’ve seen myself and it isn’t pleasant).

15. What, from this year, do you feel most grateful for?

I am grateful that almost all Covid-19 restrictions have gone and that I have been able to return to something like normality – at least for now. 

Those Covid-19 vaccinations and then people behind them are heroes.

Sunday 14 November 2021

Some More Favourites


Welcome to a cloudy but dry south Manchester on day 117 since the Clown we have in charge of the country eased Covid-19 restrictions. I have now had my third Covid-19 vaccination because, being over 50, I am considered to be “vulnerable”. I’m not complaining and I still struggle to see why some people haven’t even had one injection yet.

I have had three and I have not grown a second head, there are no nanobots in my bloodstream recording my whereabouts to send to Bill Gates, I have not become magnetic and I am still, as far as I can tell, 100% human; my DNA has not been modified in any way.

Shall we dive into some silliness from Sunday Stealing

Name your favourite …


There are lots of favourite places I can name and it would be difficult to pick one out – so I am going to name a few off the top of my head as they occur to me:

Hong Kong


Marbella, Spain

Santorini, Greece

New York City


Nice, France

Japan (the whole country)

Sydney, Australia

Sorrento, Italy


I like a lot of colours but I would say that teal is my favourite.


Here are a few:


The smell of the English countryside on a summer’s day

Coffee being brewed

Baking bread

The smell of the ocean


I don’t really read magazines these days but the most recent one I bought (a few years ago now) was Classic Rock:


I don’t really have a favourite texture if I’m honest. Something nice and soft to the touch I guess and let you use your imagination.

Thing to do when bored:   

When I’m bored, I will listen to music, watch TV, read or write inane ramblings on my laptop. I have so much rubbish written down. Depending on the weather I like going for a walk too.

Precious stone:

I don’t have a favourite precious stone. I’ll say jet – because it is a nice black colour - and I have goth tendencies.


I love dogs and cats. I would love a dog but, alas, it is too tough on them at the moment as I haven’t the time to give them the care and companionship they need. Since we now have two young black cats, the likelihood of me ever getting a dog is very slim.  

Time in history:

I’m a little intrigued by the time when we were ruled by a psychotic nutcase called Henry VIII. I would love to be a fly on the wall in his court.


I use a few fonts. I am writing this in Word using Calibri, but I also use Arial, Times New Roman and, sometimes, Segoe UI. 


I am a little weird when it comes to sounds. I love to hear the wind blowing and I love thunderstorms. I also love the sound of waves crashing on the shore and the dawn chorus when I go for a walk at 6 o’clock in the morning as the sun is about to rise.


I love apples, plums, nectarines, peaches and bananas. Actually there are lots of other fruits I like but those are the most common ones I eat.


I like most vegetables to be honest, especially carrots, potatoes, peas, corn and broccoli. The only one I avoid is dark green veiny cabbage.


I don’t really like shopping at all but if I have to choose one, it would be a shop that sells gadgets and electronic devices, such as phones, laptops, games consoles, TV’s etc. No particular shop leaps to mind.


Here are some good ones.

Billy Connolly: “The desire to be a politician should bar you for life from ever being one.”

Steve Martin: “Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol.”

Dave Barry: “Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals like Hydrogen and Oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.”

Historical figure:

I am going to say Henry VIII again. The man was mad – but very interesting.


Favourite letter? That’s an odd favourite to ask. I will say D because my name is Dave and that is the initial letter.


I would say that it is probably exploring Hong Kong with Mrs PM when we first got together there.


Black Forest Gateau.


Candy is an America word – we call them sweets across the pond. I don’t eat that much “candy” to be honest so I will just say Extra Dark Lindor.


There are far too many restaurants that I like both here in Manchester and abroad. I will pick on close to home – the Yang Sing Chinese restaurant in Manchester and its younger sibling The Little Yang Sing.


I can speak a little German, more French and I am getting there with Spanish. I will say that French sounds the best because you can insult anybody in French and it still sounds beautiful.

Thing to learn about:

Everything and anything. I am always keen to learn something new. If you can learn something new everyday your life will improve.

Thing about yourself:

I look young for my age – I am 59 years old but can pass for a man at least 15 years younger (unless I grow a beard). 

I am fairly intelligent (you need to be to work with computers all day).

I am also quite funny – or at least I can be.

Please don’t ask what I dislike about myself – I will be here all week.

Saturday 23 October 2021

Moshing in the Mosh Pit


Welcome to a cloudy but dry south Manchester on day 97 since our resident clown lifted all restriction due to Covid-19. 

At the moment I am working back in the office two days a week but last week a person who, thankfully doesn’t sit near to me, tested positive for this wretched virus. By all accounts he is okay but I have taken a lateral flow test just in case – and thankfully I am still fine.

I won’t be going into the office next week because I am making my second trip to London this year on Thursday for a long weekend of being a tourist with Mrs PM before visiting a couple of friends down there. I don’t want Covid-19 to ruin that.

Shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. First thing you wash in the shower?

Woah! That’s a personal start isn’t it? Do you know, I don’t actually know what I wash first – hang on – let me think. It’s probably my hair because I have to get the useless unmanageable mop under control after a night that has morphed it into weird shape. 

2. What colour is your favourite hoodie?

I don’t actually own any hoodies. I do own three coats that have hoods: a blue summer jacket that claims to be waterproof but isn’t, a truly waterproof jacket that is so good at its job that it makes me sweat when I wear if for a long walk and a huge thick winter coat that is perfect for those cold, dismal, dark and depressing winter months (that are approaching too fast for my liking). 

3. Would you kiss the last person you kissed again?

Of course I would. I don’t give kisses lightly and if a person gets a kiss, they usually deserve another.

4. Do you plan outfits?

Absolutely not. I just open my wardrobe and pick up the first thing that takes my fancy. Actually, having said that, sometimes if I am going to a posh party or something like that, I may plan to wear my penguin suit.

5. How are you feeling RIGHT now?

I am feeling terrific and looking forward to an enjoyable day. 

6. What’s the closest thing to you that's red?

Embarrassingly, this book.

7. Tell me about the last dream you remember having?

It’s an odd recurring dream that is the result of my body telling my sleeping brain that it needs to heed a call of nature in the middle of the night. Whatever dream I having is invaded by the concept that in my dream I have to go to the toilet urgently. This usually manifests itself in a toilet appearing in my dream that I simply cannot use because there is something wrong with it. For example, if I am dreaming that I am working in an office, the toilet appears in the middle of the room in full view of everyone who is working. Obviously I can’t use it because there is no way I can expose myself in front of all my colleagues. So I wake up and have to go in reality.

Odd, aren’t I?

8. Did you meet anybody new today?

Not today, no, because so far I haven’t been out of the house yet. 

9. What are you craving right now?

I’ve just had some lunch so the truth is that I am not craving anything. I wouldn’t mind another cup of tea, though.

10. Do you floss?

Yes – otherwise my dentist tells me off. Whenever I go to the dentist I feel like a naughty child who has been summoned to see the headmaster for doing something unspeakable. My dentist is a young bloke and I always feel a little weird when he asks me how often I floss and then tells me off for overbrushing and all of the other things I do incorrectly. The strange this is that at the end of the examination, he always says “Your teeth are fine. Keep up the good work!”

Odd, isn’t it?

11. What comes to mind when I say cabbage?

Yeuch! I’m not a big fan of cabbage if I’m honest, particularly that dark green veiny abomination below.

It looks like something out of an alien horror movie, doesn’t it?

The white variety is edible though and I do try to eat it because, supposedly, it is good for your health. At least that’s what my mum used to tell me.

12. Are you emotional?

I can be. The problem is that I sometimes show emotion over the most mundane and innocuous things, like a TV program, or a great song – like this one. 

13. Have you ever counted to 1,000?

No – why would I ever do that?

14. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it?

I do a bit of both actually. 

15. Do you like your hair?

Not at all – and equally my hair hates me. Regular readers will know this. My hair is short at the moment but even so it is an unmanageable mop. When it is longer it becomes a sentient being that taunts me mercilessly, especially when I wake up in the morning. I swear I can hear it saying “Good luck trying to get ME under control!”

If you don’t believe me, please read this cringeworthy account in a post I wrote back in 2008:

Bad Hair Day 

Saturday 16 October 2021

This Side of the Pond

Welcome to a cloudy south Manchester on the east side of the pond on day 90 since our clown Prime Minister removed almost all Covid-19 restrictions. 

Today we are driving to Chester to visit some friends. It’s a lovely little city that isn’t too far away (about 30 minutes) and is a haven for foreign and domestic tourists alike. I particularly like the Roman Walls surrounding the city centre and you can have a lovely walk around them. They were built by the Romans in 75 AD so they have been around for a long, long time. 

We won’t be walking around the walls today; instead we will be visiting a pub or two and having a nice meal.

In the meantime, let’s answer some silly questions that originate from the west side of the pond, on Sunday Stealing

1. What's something you've recently accomplished solo?

I’ve been trying to teach myself Spanish for a while now and I reckon I could live in a Spanish town or city and make myself understood for the essential things in life. Having a deep conversation with a Spaniard would be very difficult though – and in that sense I haven’t really accomplished the task yet – far from it in fact. What I really need to do is go to a class and actually start having conversations with Spanish people. There are a couple of places in Manchester where I can do this but finding the time at the moment is difficult. It will happen when I retire though. 

This is really an ongoing self—improvement process.

2.  What's one product you use that never ever fails?

There are quite a few things that never fail – like the TV, the microwave oven, my iPod. You watch – all three of the items I mentioned will fail miserably now.

3. Have you found your place in the world? Where is it?

I think so. I am very happy to spend the rest of my life here in Manchester, travelling apart of course. If this question doesn’t really mean a physical place, then I guess I will find that too when I retire. I’m currently in a place that I am fed up of when it comes to my career – but once that’s over, I will be seeking a new place that hopefully I will find fairly soon.

4.  Worst movie you ever saw?

I would say that Sharknado is probably the worst but it is so bad that it is brilliantly funny. If you haven’t seen the film – here is the trailer.

Believe it or not, they have made five sequels and the names kind of tell you that it is very tongue in cheek:

Sharknado 2: The Second One 

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

Sharknado: The 4th Awakens 

Sharknado 5: Global Swarming 

The Last Sharknado: It's About Time

The worst film I have seen that is meant to be serious is Lincoln. I watched it on a long haul flight because it won so many Oscars but it was truly awful and it bored me to tears. I would rather watch all the Sharknado movies than have to endure that again.

5. What's the last fun thing you did?

We went to visit my eldest son in Prestwich, North Manchester last night to see how he and his girlfriend are settling in, in their new house. They have bought a house that needs some work and they are slowly chipping away at it. Every time we see it, there is a massive improvement. It will be great when they have finished it. We went out to a restaurant and had a fun time with them.

6. What's your favourite Italian dish?

I love most Italian dishes but I will put forward lasagne as my favourite for now. Ask me next week and it will be something else.

7. Have you ever been to France? Any desire to visit there, and if so what would site or city would you most want to see?

I have been to France many times and I love the place so my desire to visit there is still ever-present. I speak French well enough to make myself understood, which is almost essential really, particularly in Paris. 

I am lucky really because Mrs PM speaks French really well and can easily hold a conversation with a French person. She lived in Toulouse for a year, while studying for her degree at university.

I have been to a few cities, including Paris, Bordeaux, Monte Carlo (which is really in Monaco but let’s not split hairs), Cannes, Nice, Lyon, Calais, Collioure and Antibes as well as a few northern towns. My favourite city is Nice – it is beautiful and is a great base for exploring the area. 

We will definitely go back there in the near future.

8. Have you ever been to Disney, any of the parks at all? Are you a Disney superfan or something less than that? They're open right now so tell us, would you go if you had the time/money/a free trip?

I have been to Disneyland in Paris and California as well as Disneyworld in Florida. 

I am not really that big a fan of Disney; I like the cartoons but I can take or leave them. To be honest, Disney is huge now and has engulfed lots of other franchises such as Star Wars abnd the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I have to admit that my favourite of those franchises is the Marvel Cinematic Universe – I absolutely love the movies. 

Would I go to one of the parks now? Probably not – I’ve been there, seen that and done that. 

9. Your favourite place to go when you want to be quiet as a church mouse? Would those who know you well describe you as more church mouse or perhaps more like mighty mouse?

When I want to be as quiet as a church mouse I would just stay home in the room I am in at the moment. It’s not exactly quiet because I always have music on when I am in this room but it works for me when the introvert inside takes over (as it has now). 

I think people who know me well would describe as mighty mouse (if that is the opposite of a church mouse) because I can be quite loud when I want to be. When I am in the mood to see people (which is often) I unleash the extrovert within and love to have a good laugh with people – even in the office with work colleagues. I struggle to take things seriously and even when work is demanding I like to provide some light relief from time to time by just acting like a complete pratt.

10. Do you bake your own bread? Last time you had hot out-of-the-oven homemade bread? What's your favourite kind of bread?

I have never baked my own bread. The last time I had hot-out-of-the-oven bread was when Mrs PM tried to make some during lockdown. She did a good job to be honest. The best hot-out-of-the-oven bread I have had was at a small bakery shop in Nice, France. We were staying in an apartment and we popped there every morning for bread, croissants, pain aux raisins and when feeling naughty, pan au chocolate. They were divine.

My favourite kind of bread? I love thick white toasty bread – but I eat all kinds really.

11. What's something you might say is 'the greatest thing since sliced bread'?

Smartphones. I love them. It is like having your own portable computer and I would be lost without it.

12.  Share with us five little things you're grateful for today. Small blessings. One catch-they all must start with the letter T.





Travelling to Chester

13. Tell us where you were and something about what life was like when you were 20- 21.

I was a student at the University of Liverpool and living near to the centre of that wonderful city. I love Liverpool and it is close enough for me to go back and visit it on a fairly regular basis (it is about 30 miles to the west of Manchester). Being a student I was sharing a place with seven other guys so we had a great life with lots of student-related fun being pursued. Of course, I was also studying hard and left university with a Bsc Honours degree that has set me up for a great life since. 

My three years in Liverpool were probably the best years of my life.

14. What's on the menu at your house this week?

We will probably have a traditional Sunday lunch on Sunday but for the rest of the week, I imagine that there will be steak, salmon stir-fry, chicken pasta, perhaps a curry, maybe meatballs and possibly something a little more special on Friday.

15.Something you recently purchased where a coupon was involved? Do you regularly shop with coupons? 

I can’t remember the last time I bought something with a coupon if I’m honest so the answer is that I rarely shop with coupons. 

Saturday 9 October 2021

Journal IBuddies

Welcome to a cloudy but unseasonably warm south Manchester on day 83 since restrictions were lifted. The weather is cloudy but it is pleasant.  

It was my birthday yesterday so Mrs PM and I are venturing into the city later to have a couple of beers and an Italian meal.

My date of birth makes me a Libran, the same star sign as Margaret Thatcher who was born on October 13th. The fact that I share the same star sign as that horrible woman, for me at least, destroys the very idea that people with the same star sign have the same traits, foibles and behaviours. 

Anyway, I could spend the entire blog post talking about how much I disliked Thatcher but in the spirit of beauty, congeniality and fun I will desist and chat about some silly questions, as usual from Sunday Stealing

Let’s dive in …

1. Who is your favourite singer?  What do you like about him or her? 

I have many favourite singers and in the interests of harmony I am going to single out two – one male and one female. It is difficult for me to select my favourites and if you were to ask me tomorrow I might select different ones. 

Anyway – today’s male singer is Devin Townsend. He is a Canadian singer whose genre of choice is mainly progressive rock/metal but also sings ambient rock too. Why have I chosen him? Because his voice range is spectacular, from low soothing ambience via plain rock singing to the ability to scream like the best screaming rock singers. I love the guy. Here is a wonderfully eccentric song that incorporates, ambience, choirs, Hawaiian, rock, metal and even a little dance and shows his vocal range as well as showing what a fun guy he is. The video is amazing and funny.

The female singer I am going to pick is Charlotte Wessels, a Dutch symphonic metal singer, formerly of the band Delain who has now started a solo career. She has an incredible voice and is at home singing metal as she is singing anything else. I have seen her live a few times now with Delain and her voice is as incredible on stage as it is in the studio.

Here she is in action and you will hopefully see what I mean.

2. Write about your first memory of going to the doctor.

I was about seven years old and I had an ear infection. I remember screaming all night because my ear felt like it was on fire and the doctor took a look and immediately diagnosed the problem. I was given penicillin and it cleared up really quickly. The relief was immense.

3. Write a poem about writing poems.

A poem? As long as it is just the one ...

Poetry is tricky; I’ve tried it many times.

The words can be found quickly. I just can’t find the rhymes.

It’s stories that I want to write. I’ll never be a poet.

Prose is king in my mad world; if only I could show it.

4. Write a poem about vacations.    

What – another poem? Are you serious? Okay – here goes.

I want to go on holiday, I’m bored here stuck at home.

A trip to France or Germany, perhaps even to Rome.

A visit to a foreign place can truly make me whole

Such journeys really cleanse the mind and liberate the soul

5. What is something interesting that no one knows about you?    

So after two poems, you want to get personal now? Is that it?

Okay – let me think. I can say “hello”, “thank you” and order a beer in the following languages:

English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, American, Australian, Czech and Portuguese. 

6.Why is it so important to help other people in need?   

The way I see it is that if something bad happens to me, then I would expect somebody to help me. It’s human nature. For that reason, I will always try to help people if I can because you never know when you are going to need help yourself.

7.Would you rather finish a project early or do it at the last minute?  Why?    

I would much rather finish a project early. My work is subject to deadlines and I always strive to complete it before then so that I have time to polish it – or maybe make some progress on the next chunk of work that will have its own deadline. 

People who leave things to the last minute suffer more stress in my experience. I hate stress.

8. If you had three months left to live, what would you do?     

I would travel the world if I were fit enough to. Or if I wasn’t fit to travel I would do my best to brain dump my thoughts into a book.

9. If you could be a flavour of ice cream, what flavour would you be?  Why?    

That is a surreal question – the kind of question that would be asked at an interview to get into Oxford or Cambridge university. Also it is the kind of question that a pseudo-intellectual would revel in because it may make people believe that he is a smartarse.

Me? I refuse to answer it.

Oh, go on then.

I would be vanilla because I have pale skin, light hair and I also like the flavour.

10. What is the hardest thing about being a kid?

Not being an adult. When I was a kid I always wanted to be grown up because I was sick of people telling me what to do “for my own benefit”. Every adult tried to boss me around whether it was my parents or teachers or the old woman down the street who though that she was my boss because she was older than me. 

Since I was a kid I have had a problem with people telling me what to do but now I can simply refuse or at least decide for myself whether their goals meet mine. 

11. Would you rather be tall or short?  Why?    

I am about average height for a male at just under six feet tall and that is pretty good. The answer is therefore tall because you can see more. There is nothing worse, for example, than being at a gig when the tallest person in the building decides that he wants to stand in front of you. I have had some interesting chats with taller people under such circumstances and most will allow me to stand either just in front of them or just to their side. 

Equally, I am always happy to let a shorter person stand in front of me as long as it doesn’t impair my view of the stage.

12. What is the greatest challenge facing people in our world today?    

Global warming. There are people who think that it is a myth and continue to turn our world into a toilet. Personally, I think that it is too late – we are attempting to shut the stable door after the proverbial horse has bolted. 

It doesn’t help that we have world leaders who are complete climate change sceptics. Boris the Clown, for all his faults, at least has the wherewithal to realise what is happening and has set some targets. 

And thank goodness the Orange Goblin is no longer in power. We just need to get rid of people like Bolsonaro in Brazil.

13.What is the scariest experience you’ve ever had?    

I would say climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was my own fault. I am scared of heights and still I did it. I must have switched my brain off. Three hours I had to endure this torture – a torture that I stupidly volunteered for and actually paid money for too. 

What a stupid bloody idiot I was.

I’m glad I did it though – I will never do anything that stupid ever again.

14. Write a poem about music.    

Not another poem please! Oh go on then!

A song from many years ago, with lyrics built to last,

Can conjure up old memories from the dim and distant past.

A melody’s a mind machine that draws things back through time

Remembering a life gone by, a feeling so sublime.

15. Write about a favorite memory of something you did with your best friend.

My best friend is Mrs PM and all my memories with her are brilliant ones. She shares my passion for travelling so the best memories involve visits to weird and wonderful countries, such as Japan and Vietnam amongst many others. The best ones are always in Hong Kong because that’s where we got together.

Sunday 3 October 2021

Facebook Questions


Welcome to South Manchester on day 77 since Covid-19 restrictions were lifted. I’ve taken my fifth Covid-19 test this morning because I am now going to be working in the office two days a week and my company insists that we self-test – even though we aren’t necessarily supposed to tell them the result. It’s a weird idea if you ask me but it is good to test just to make sure. 

The test, like all of the others, was negative - so I don’t have the virus, by the way, in case you were wondering.

I didn’t take part in Sunday Stealing last week as I had a university reunion in London, and spent most of the weekend strolling down the South Bank visiting a few sites and popping into a couple of pubs. It was good to see these old mates of mine again. One guy came across from the US to visit his family and took the opportunity to see us. I’ve known these guys for 40 years now and I regard them as my best mates. Sadly we don’t see enough of each other but it is always fun when we do; it’s just like we are still at university. 

Anyway, let’s answer some more silly questions from Sunday Stealing. Don’t be misled by the title; these questions have been stolen from Facebook but aren’t about it.

1. Do you like bleu cheese? 

I love all cheese apart from blue cheese, although having said that, I quite like blue cheese sauce. To me, blue cheese looks inedible and, having tasted it, I can confirm that it tastes almost as bad as it looks. 

2. Coke or Pepsi? 

Neither. I have tried the brown fizzy sweetly revolting drink a lot  over the years and I really don’t like the taste of it. Both Coca-cola and Pepsi, to me at least, taste very similar. To be honest, I don’t really drink pop (for American readers, what you call soda, we call pop) because it is too sweet and sickly. If I feel really thirsty or have a mild hangover, I might just try a Sprite or 7-up but Coca-cola and Pepsi are near to the bottom of the list. The worst fizzy drink I have had is a Scottish drink called Irn Bru – it is utterly revolting. Oh – and root beer – oh – and Dr Pepper. All of those drinks are utterly disgusting.

3. Do you own a gun?

I live in the United Kingdom so the answer is a resounding no. I am curious about the American obsession with guns. It seems that it is easy to get a gun over there and is the right of all Americans to “keep and bear arms” because it was written in a document back in 1776. 

I am always appalled by the number of mass shootings that occur over in the US and the power that the NRA seem to have. The easiest way to stop these mass shootings is not to arm “the good guys”; it’s to make difficult to get a gun in the first place. 

Things like this hardly ever happen in the UK. There is a reason for that.

4. Hot dogs or cheeseburgers? 

Cheeseburgers. I like hot dogs but cheeseburgers are one of my many food weaknesses. It involves cheese and a burger – what’s not to like?

5. Favourite type of food?

I love so many different types of food that I cannot pinpoint one in particular as my favourite. I’m not keen on Thai food but I will try anything else. 

6. What do you drink in the morning? 

I usually start the day with a fruit juice and a cup of tea. 

7. Can you do a 100 pushups? 

I used to be able to when I was young and fit. I could probably do 100 push ups now but it would be in groups of five with a gap of ten minutes between them. I may have a go later just out of curiosity.

8. Tattoos? 

What about them? 

No – I don’t have any tattoos and I will never get a tattoo. They are two permanent and I am not a fan of them. Besides, as I get older and my skin starts to droop, the tattoo would become a parody of itself.

9. Do you wear glasses? 

Yes. Without my glasses I am like Mr Magoo. I could probably find my way around but it would be difficult. I can actually read without my glasses and in fact I prefer to do that – I have to hold the book right up to my face though. My lenses are really expensive as they are varifocals and specifically made for somebody who sits at a computer screen all day. To make matters worse, I suffer from astigmatism too.

10. Phobia? 

I am scared of heights and spiders. I am not fond of any insect if I’m honest. Anything with four legs or less is fine – anything with more can get out of my house.

11. Piercings? 

I don’t have piercings. I have never understood why people do that to themselves. The funniest piercings I saw were on a barman in rock club we used to have in Manchester. It was full of weird and wonderful people and played rock and metal music for people who hated the more conventional clubs. As I was ordering my beer I looked at the barman and thought that there was something wrong with his moustache. On closer inspection, it was because he has about ten large studs on his upper lip giving himself a metal moustache. 

That must have hurt.

12. Can you whistle? 

I can whistle with just my lips but I can’t do that weird whistle where you put your fingers in your mouth.

13. Surgeries? 

I’ve never had any surgery. I think I am quite lucky in that respect because I am a massive hypochondriac and would always fear the worst.

14. Like gambling?

Gambling can be fun if you are sensible with it. I’ve been to horse racing events and had a plan to enjoy it. 

There are usually seven races and the minimum you can bet on a race is £5. If you decide to just bet the minimum, no matter what, then the most you will lose is £35. What some people do is look at their winnings and decide that if they win a race or two the they will increase their stake on the next few races. They will probably lose it all. 

I once had one good meeting in Chester. Mrs PM and I were with friends and we decided to bet separately on the first race. She won and her £5 bet returned her £20. I lost, and suggested that we pool our resources as she seemed to be luckier than me. She refused thinking that she might be on a lucky streak. So I bet for myself on the remaining races. 

I won every single one. Out of all of our friends, Mrs PM was the only one who won a race apart from me and that was the first one. Instead of putting say £20 on the next race after I had won, I stuck to my £5 maximum. 

I ended up winning close to £200. 

After the race meeting, we went to the pub and I bought a round on my winnings and Mrs PM and the rest of them looked at me with frustrated and envious eyes. 

That was a one off. Every other race meeting I have been to, without exception, wins have been few and far between and the best I have done since is to just break even. If I counted that first race meeting where I won £200, I have lost money on the rest and probably lost that £200.

That’s what I mean – they will get you in the end – but if you are prepared to lose just a small amount, it can be fun. 

For casinos, and I have been to one or two, it is best to walk away if you win big. Just stop or be prepared to lose just a small amount.

Ultimately you will not win. The odds are stacked against you in any form of gambling. As long as you know that you can enjoy it.

Sorry for the rambling answer.

15. Do you like to dance?

Yes – sometimes. I am not a bad dancer – I can maintain the beat – but these days I just mess about and act a little silly while dancing. That said, I haven’t danced for about three years now.