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.