Saturday, 11 June 2022

Unconscious Mutterings


Welcome to South Manchester on a cloudy, windy but warm day. Today we are on the edge of a tropical storm that has headed north after presumably causing havoc somewhere else. Thankfully it missed the UK and the only side-effect as it dissipates are some fairly strong winds. There will be no rain today which is a bonus.

Shall we dive into some Sunday Stealing chicanery?

I say ... and you think ... ?

Hurry! ::

Fifteen years ago I would be the one saying “Hurry” if I’m honest because I hate being late for anything. These days I still hate being late but I have slowed down to a more leisurely pace of life. It’s not just about getting old; it’s about trying to enjoy life. 

When somebody tells me to hurry up, I will judge the situation and decide whether it is worth it or not. I am definitely less likely to comply these days – or ask somebody to hurry up.

Dumb ::

There are so many dumb people in the world that I despair – I really do. In days gone by I have ranted mercilessly at the stupidity of some people who say and do stupid things without thinking about the consequences. 

By the way I am not talking about people who simply don’t understand difficult things. I have a lot of patience when dealing with people through work who aren’t technical and struggle to understand the concepts of the work I do. I usually tell these people that there is no such thing as a stupid question. 

I would be in a similar situation if somebody was trying to teach me about quantum physics; I wouldn’t have a bloody clue.

But what I am talking about are people who think that the Earth is flat, or people who still think there is no need for gun control after yet another mass killing in an American school.

Fudge ::

I love fudge. Yum! That’s all I need to say.

Sturdy ::

I have a sturdy house made of brick – and thank goodness I do on a windy day like today.

Printing ::

I used to do a lot of printing at work; documents, program listings and all manner of tree-destroying nonsense. These days in the office I rarely print anything. Everything is electronic – even signing documents. I have a printer at home and I only need that now for printing and signing important personal stuff – and that is rare. 

Even concert tickets don’t need to be printed any more. Mrs PM and I are going to see the new Jurassic World movie this afternoon and my tickets are on my phone – which is great. We can even check in for flights now without the need to print out things.

It’s a good thing and is yet another small step for combatting climate change.

Itch ::

June is hay fever season for me and thankfully it is improving year after year so these days I don’t have to take any medication for it. When I was younger, this allergy used to make me itch in places that I thought it was impossible to itch. My eyes were red raw and itched so much I felt like plucking them out. And my nose – how can the inside of your nose itch so much? 

I was a mess; streaming eyes, snot running from my nose like a waterfall, constant sneezing (once so much that my nose started to bleed) and a constant terrible itch up each nostril and around my eyes.

Thank goodness that this has largely disappeared now – one of the benefits of getting older. 

I still itch occasionally but it is well within my tolerance levels.

Creaks ::

My knees creak sometimes. I never expected that to happen. I walk a lot (an average of about 8000 steps a day) and sometimes I hear and feel creaks. No pain yet (thankfully) but I guess this is one of the bad things about getting old.

Paste ::

The word “paste” goes along with the word "cut". I write documents and move things around by cutting them and then pasting them somewhere else. 

I haven’t used real paste for decades – and that was to put up wallpaper – a really horrible chore. I pay somebody to do it now in about 5% of the time it takes me (and they do a much better job).

Waste of time ::

Listening to any words spoken by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the clown prince of scarecrows. Every word that he utters is a lie and total bullshit. I’ve heard him speak and I won’t get any of that time back.

Let down ::

I try not to let people down; as a rule I hate doing so and even when I have to I feel terribly guilty and try my best to make it up to them.

Cancellation ::

There have been a lot of people in the UK suffering from flight cancellations and as a result have had their entire holidays ruined. 

Next weekend we are jetting off to Spain – my first foreign trip for over two and a half years. If anything gets cancelled I will be livid. I am praying that I can get there. No doubt you will find out soon enough because if my flights are cancelled there will be a very irate ranting blog post about it.

Suspect ::

I suspect that Boris Johnson has never told the truth.I may be wrong about that actually because when asked his name he usually gets that right – or does he? His real full name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson – I mean – come on – de Pfeffel? 

Fireplace ::

I have had to buy a fireguard in order to stop Star(dust), the smaller of our two cats, from climbing up the chimney. In winter, she sat watching the fire with a puzzled look on her face and then actually tried to swipe the flames with her paw. She can’t do that now. Ziggy, the other cat, has more sense and has never been as daft as Star(dust).

Spring ::

Spring is almost over in the UK and summer starts very soon. Officially this is in ten days but the weather is pretty good at the moment – warm and pleasant (with the odd bit of rain). July and August are usually the hottest months in rainy old Manchester.

Commute ::

I’ve been working from home during the pandemic with the odd trip to the office but starting next week we have been told that we have to go back into the office for two days a week. I actually achieve more when I am working from home because I get fewer interruptions and I can pick and choose who I talk to. 

I like the guys I work with and it will be good to see more of them but my work rate will go down – that’s for sure.

Places ::

I am going abroad at least three times this year (hopefully). The first place is Estepona in the south of Spain – I’ve never been there before. In July we are going to Brussels and Bruges in Belgium. I have only ever been through Belgium on a train and I am looking forward to sampling some of that wonderful Belgian beer and also Belgian chocolate. Finally in September we are going to Zante in Greece. There may also be a university reunion in Amsterdam too – that needs to be arranged depending on when my mate can get across from America.

Fraud ::

I am so wary of fraud and it pays to be totally paranoid. We are constantly getting warnings about this at work, and a lot of it is common sense. Be very careful and trust nobody – you will probably not suffer from fraud if you take that approach.

Adoption ::

I don’t know anybody who is adopted – apart from my two cats.

Election ::

Somehow Boris the Clown is still in power despite lying about breaking the law during lockdown (if you don’t know about this look up Partygate to get all of the gory details). I wish there was an election right now because maybe then we can finally get rid of this Worzel Gummidge lookalike.

Moving day ::

I don’t ever plan to move house again. Of course, circumstances might change, for example if I were to win the lottery and buy a huge house somewhere, but I am happy to stay where I am and not have to go through the pain of moving house.

Saturday, 4 June 2022

Peculiarly Platinum


The UK is a peculiar place at the best of times but this weekend it is crazier than ever. 

In the past we have stupidly voted ourselves out of the EU and also elected a clown/scarecrow hybrid as our Prime Minister but at the moment, we are spending a hell of a lot of money to celebrate the fact that a 96 year old woman has reigned over us for 70 years. 

We have been given two extra days off to go mad – and some people have been doing just that.

Yes, it’s that time again in the UK where we can forget the fallout from the pandemic, the cost of living crisis that is making a lot of people struggle and insteead we can spend tons of money on a four day party to celebrate the 70th anniversary of a woman called Elizabeth Windsor ascending to the throne. 

Some people in the UK go absolutely bananas about royal festivals such as this and we’ve had our fair share of them over the past few years, with her golden and diamond jubilees and a couple of royal weddings thrown in for good measure.

Watching television at this time is absolutely dreadful. We become so jingoistic that I struggle to believe it. Every street has a Union Jack flapping in the wind and some pubs are covered in bunting to remind us all that we are British and eccentric.

So far I have largely managed to avoid the excessive coverage of the events, some of which Elizabeth cannot attend because, at the age of 96, she is feeling her age. She was out and about on Thursday for the ceremonial nonsense that she has to endure but she felt “uncomfortable” so she is missing the remaining events and her eldest son, the next king, will be attending as her representative. His name is Charles Windsor and he is an odd fellow but people seem to like him.

Now you are probably reading this and thinking that I don’t like the royal family. You would be wrong; I simply don’t care about them and if it were up to me I would just pay them off and let them live in peace and quiet somewhere, allowing them to escape the constant attention of the press under the proviso that I never have to hear about any of them ever again.

I know people who love them (they are called “royalists”) and these people become over-excited whenever a royal event like this happens. These are the people who dress up in Union Jack clothes, gush about the family saying things like “Oh aren’t they just WONDERFUL”. 

Such people queue up for days on the Mall in London just to catch a glimpse of Elizabeth and her family. If you ever see one of them being interviewed on TV, it is quite funny – and sad – to see them fawning in a sycophantic way that makes me want to throw up in a bucket. These people line up for days outside hospital waiting for a royal birth and then gush about the event as if the child were related to them.

Elizabeth is arguably the most famous person in the world and probably one of the richest. My feelings for her are the same feelings I have for any other 96 year old woman. She has done really well to still be compos mentis and mobile at her advanced age, and she has been on the throne for so long that I have never known another monarch. I guess that will change soon and we will see another bout of madness as royalists mourn her loss. 

I don’t wish her ill but I have to say I just don’t get it. I don’t understand why people seem to worship Elizabeth and her family. Some fellow Brits reading this might agree with me but I reckon that royalists will pour scorn on my words, even though I have not actually said anything bad. Why I should feel subservient to a woman who is where she is because of what she born is beyond me. I have no desire to ever meet her or any of here family and if I did I wouldn’t bow or prostrate myself in front of her. I would not call her “Your Majesty” or “Ma’am” and I may even ask her if she minded being called Liz or Betty.

The good thing about this mad weekend is that British people love a party and we have taken advantage of the time off work to meet family and friends and raise a glass to ourselves, rather than the monarch. Also, our lying clown/scarecrow hybrid of a Prime Minister was roundly booed when he arrived at a service yesterday – which shows me that the moron is as unpopular as ever, especially having lied to the British public so consistently over his period in office.

Anyway – there are still two days left of this craziness and it will hopefully be back to normality on Monday morning and we won’t have to listen to lots of old twaddle from royalists – well maybe we’ll still have to endure some of it I guess – it never really goes away. 

Anyway – for those of you who haven’t seen anything, here is a taste of the madness that has engulfed my country over the past day or two.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

15 More Questions (from 5000)

Welcome to South Manchester where the weather is cloudy with a very slim chance of rain, but still quite warm. 
Shall we dive into some silly questions from Sunday Stealing
1. Who do you take for granted?
I don’t think I take anybody for granted. I guess if there is a chance that I do then it would probably be Mrs PM. However, Mrs PM is a strong independent woman and I reckon that if she thought I was taking her for granted then she would almost certainly tell me in no uncertain terms. I don’t really want to ask her – just in case I do.
2. Short, knee, or ankle skirts?
If you have read this blog before you will know that I am a bloke. I know that there are men who wear skirts but I am not one of them. In fact, I can honestly say, with my hand on my heart, that I have never worn a skirt or even been tempted to – even for a laugh.
I can answer the question though just shifting the attention to skirts on women. 
I like short, knee and ankle skirts on ladies and I know women who wear all three (not at once – that would be silly). Of course it depends on the occasion and what else is being worn but I am happy with all of them. 
3. Do you wear a hat?
I only wear a hat when it is very hot, the sun is blazing down and I am stuck outside. I wore a hat last Saturday because it was rather warm and sunny in Manchester and I will no doubt take it to one of the four cricket matches I am going to this summer. 
I will also take it to Spain and Greece on holiday later in the year.
4. Who's your favourite cartoon character?
When it comes to adult cartoons – this guy:

And when I was a kid I loved this guy:

5. Does break dancing impress you?
I don’t get break dancing – I never have – but the answer is yes, it does impress me. I couldn’t do it.
6. Are you a miracle?
We are ALL miracles dear reader. When you think about how likely your existence is, given what has happened since the dawn of time and the Big Bang, the probability of you actually existing is so low that the fact you are here reading this garbage is an absolute miracle.
You are special dear reader, as am I.
7. Have you ever eaten tofu?
Yes, I’ve eaten it a couple of time. It’s okay if not a little bland.
8. Does the moon have an effect on your mood?
I used to be a werewolf but I’m okay NOOOOWWWWWWOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
As far as I know, the noon doesn’t affect me personally. I am sure that it does at some deep level. After all, you can see the effect it has on the oceans. But do I feel it’s influence? Not at all. I might miss it when it is gone. Let’s hope this never happens:

9. Many people will say that the Harry Potter books are pure fluff with no literary value. Do you agree?
I loved the Harry Potter books. I wasn’t going to read them at all and Mrs PM was singing their praises having read the first three of them. I thought they were just kids’ books. However, one day I woke up feeling terrible, full of cold and totally unable to work. I lay there in bed feeling sorry for myself and I spied Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on a chest of drawers. 
I was bored so I decided to give it a go and basically devoured it in a few hours. I was ill the next day too so I read the second book. 
And I became a fan. 
The writing isn’t brilliant, I have to say but it does work. 
And I also love the movies too.
10. What are you doing next Wednesday?
Wednesday is a busy day next week. I usually work from home but that day I am going into the office because we are being taken out for a free lunch because a recent project was installed successfully. Later in the evening I am going out for a couple of beers with some of the lads from my team. I don’t normally drink during the week but I thought I would make an exception this time. 
11. Why do so many people think Elvis is still alive?
I honestly don’t know. I don’t think that people have ever been able to come to terms with the fact that he died so young.
Of course it is possible that he is still around – he would be 87 years old – but I seriously doubt that he faked his own death to hide from the mafia (which is the most common one).
You just have to accept it when a musical hero passes away. Some of mine have done so over the years and I just accept it. 
Mind you, I love a good conspiracy theory (even though I rarely believe them) and the fact that some people have invented stories about the so-called king is amazing. Good for them – they’ve kept me entertained.
12. Are your hands cold?
My hands are never cold apart from when I am outside in winter.   
13. Have you ever given blood?
Yes – once. And I nearly passed out. I haven’t given it since and I do feel guilty about that.
14. What Sci-fi books do you read?
I have read hundreds of science fiction books. I favour space operas but I am willing to try anything, even hard science fiction where the science blows your mind.
I’m not fussy really. 
15. Have you ever belonged to a sorority or a fraternity?
No. We don’t have fraternities or sororities in the UK.

Saturday, 14 May 2022


Welcome to a warm and sunny afternoon in May. 

Shall we dive into a bunch of silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. Where do you get your news these days?

Our news channels in the UK are largely unbiased because they have to be. I wish I could say the same for newspapers. There are a few satellite/cable channels that lean towards the left or right but I tend to avoid those.

The channel I usually get my news from is the good old reliable BBC who, to be fair, do approach the news from different perspectives allowing the views from both sides. This is unlike some American channels like Fox News. Obviously I don’t watch Fox news as I am not interested in American politics at all – I just hear about their bias from shows that I watch from there.

As for the BBC, the right wing usually accuse them of having a left bias and the left wing accuse them of being right wing. This is the price they pay for approaching the news in the way that they do.

Personally, I think they are fine.

2. Do you like crab meat? What makes you crabby?

I haven’t had crab meat since I was in Atlanta, Georgia many years ago. I went to a seafood restaurant and got a huge bucket of crab and a weird implement to use to extract the meat from the legs. I had to be shown how to use it. It was lovely I have to say.

What makes me crabby? This cretin:

3. Does freedom mean more choices? Have you ever felt there were too many choices? Elaborate.

Freedom in what sense? As I’ve said before, I don’t think that we are free. We live under the illusion that we are free but when reality bites you will find that you don’t have the freedom described by your government. Certainly some countries have more than others but the bottom line is that we are not that free at all.

I am naturally indecisive and so I hate it when there are too many choices. For example, I recently bought an electric piano and I agonized for weeks about the best one to buy. I am happy with my choice but it took loads of research. Now I am looking for a new 10 inch tablet and the market is flooded with such items so I have to go through the same pain again.

I suppose it’s good to have a lot of choice but there is a limit to my patience.

4. Barbara Millicent Roberts was introduced to the world on March 9, 1959...that's Barbie to most of us. Did you have Barbies as a kid, or did you let your own children play with Barbies? What well known Barbara (living or not) would you most like to meet?

I am a guy so I didn’t have Barbie dolls as a child. I had two sons and they didn’t have Barbie dolls either. 

I know one person called Barbara, someone I used to work with who is now retired. Two guys I used to work with (also retired) have wives called Barbara.  I guess the most famous persons I have heard of called Barbara are Barbara Streisand and Barbara Windsor, so I will say those two ladies would be on my list to meet.

5. What are three things you value most in another person?

I like people who are funny, honest and sincere.

6. How would you define “old.”  At what age is a person old?

I am 59 years old and while cheeky younger people refer to me as “old” I don’t actually feel old at all. My perception of “old” has changed over the years. When I was a kid, I would have thought 30 was old. When I was 20 I though 50 was old. Now I think of 70 as old. 

And really I am old when I think about it as I will be retiring in a few years. Let’s say 65.

7. A place you’ve been that’s “old.”  Tell us something about your visit there.

I have been to lots of old places, like the Palace of Knossos in Greece, the Colosseum in Rome (and the Forum) and the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall of China was the most impressive and there were several things that struck me about it:

First, it is huge. The bit that we saw is the most touristy bit and it was flooded with visitors.

Next, it very old, some parts dating from the 7th century BC. 

Next, it is very steep in places. If you want to walk along it, be prepared to climb some steps and really steep bits.

Finally it isn’t straight. It winds through the countryside sometimes doubling back on itself and I often wondered why they didn’t make it straight.

It is really impressive though. Here are some photos and if you look carefully you can see Mrs PM in one of them.

8. Something you miss about the “good old days.”  When were they?

The good old days were probably the 1980’s and early 1990’s. I miss being young, I miss decent music being in the charts, I miss university life and a general feeling that the future was going to be amazing. I don’t think the future has become quite as brilliant as I anticipated with wars, pandemics, Brexit and all the pain those things are bringing. I am quite happy despite this and looking forward to another time when I feel as positive as I did back then.

9. In what way are you a 'chip off the old block'? Or if you'd rather, in what way is your child a 'chip off the old block'?

I look just like my dad. He died at the young age of 44 but until that moment the resemblance between the two of us was uncanny. In a similar way, that family resemblance has passed down to my two lads who look very similar to me. Myself and my two lads are really close and although we don’t see each other as often as we would like, we still have a lot of fun together.

Mrs PM calls us “the clones”. Judge for yourself:

10. Old fashioned, Old Testament, old timer, same old same old, old glory, good old boy, old wives tale...choose an 'old' phrase that relates to something in your life or the wider world currently and explain.

For the last ten years I have been called a grumpy old git because I have spent a lot of time ranting about all manner of things. This year I decided that I wasn’t going to be grumpy and that I am going to try to be more positive. It is an uphill struggle, believe me, but so far I have managed to take a deep breath and stay silent when watching the news for example. There is so much crap going on at home and in the world at the moment that the need to look for the good things in life is something I want to do. This time last year, for example, when Boris “the clown” Johnson appeared on TV talking utter bollocks I would yell at the TV and hurl all manner of abuse at the clown/scarecrow hybrid. These days I just shake my head and say nothing. Inside I want to scream but I control myself. 

I just want to be an old git.

11. July 5th is National Hawaii Day...have you ever been to Hawaii? Any desire to visit or make a return trip? Pineapple, mango, or guava...what's your pleasure?

No, I haven’t been to Hawaii. Mrs PM has with one of her old jobs. I followed her to Las Vegas but Hawaii was a bit of a stretch given how long it would take to get there and the time I would need to take off work.

I haven’t ruled it out though. If you live in Hawaii you might see me one day.

Pineapple, mango or guava? I prefer pineapple but I love all three of them.

12. Last time you were 'thrown in at the deep end'? Explain.

It’s happened a lot in my job. One example:

I was working in Hong Kong in 1999 and, almost as an afterthought, I was invited to a meeting. The way it was put to me, I was just going for a quick chat with a couple of people. When I turned up, I was confronted by about ten people. The guy who had invited me introduced me than introduced everybody else to me. They were all high level managerial types and I thought to myself “What’s this?”

I found out.

“Dave, we’re concerned about the millennium bug. Can you give us a presentation about your computer system and tell us all where all the risks lie and whether we are going to have an issue on 31st December 1999?”

I had prepared nothing, had no warning and basically had to convince these guys that all hell wasn’t going to break loose come the millennium.

I almost told them to rearrange the meeting to allow me to prepare. Basically I had to describe the system in great detail and convince these guys that the system would be fine. It took me about two hours and I have to admit that I winged it a little bit. Every time I uttered a sentence it was “Will the bug affect that?” 

“No,” I said. I probably used that word several hundred times in those two hours. 

At the end I discovered that some big manager had started panicking and called for several such meetings immediately. And when told to jump his subordinates jumped, giving people no time to actually sort themselves out. 

In the end, as I predicted, nothing happened with the Millennium Bug. The truth is that as software engineers we had been preparing for it for at least ten years. I found it hilarious when people were convinced that aircraft would fall out of the sky or that your toaster would either start attacking you or explode. 

They all thought that this would happen:

13. Sun, sea, sand, salt...your favourite when it comes to summer?

It’s good to get outside in the sun (as I will be this afternoon). I also like travelling and we are off to Belgium, Spain and Greece this year. Spain and Greece in particular will be fantastic and I can’t wait.

14. Bury your head in the sand, the sands of time, draw a line in the sand, pound sand, shifting sands...pick one and tell us how the phrase currently relates to your life in some way.

Shifting sands I guess. Recent things like the pandemic, Putin’s crazy war and Brexit have meant that odd things have happened and continue to happen worldwide. Also, winding down to retirement means more changes in my life. The next few years are going to be – well interesting to say the least.

15. On a scale of 1-10 (1 = make your own rules and 10=like a warden), how strict were your parents? If you're a parent where on the scale do you land? 

My dad was a lot less strict that my mum. I think my dad wanted us to thrive as kids and, quite rightly in my opinion, he used to encourage us to do stuff. Sadly a lot of the time he deferred to my mum and she was strict and put paid to any ideas we had. 

I think she did it out of love because she was terrified that things may happen to us as a consequence. But it could be frustrating and caused a couple of arguments as I tried to rebel against her wishes – which probably explains the rebellious side of me that surfaced between the ages of about 11 and 18. 

It was only when I grew taller than her that I started ignoring her and laughing when she scolded me, which led to a few fallings out. 

When my dad died, though, things changed and my mum and I became a lot closer.

So on a scale of 1 to 10, my dad was probably a 4 and my mum an 8 giving an average of 6.

Saturday, 7 May 2022



Welcome to a fairly pleasant South Manchester with a blue sky but the threat of rain later, potentially. I don’t mind – the days are getting longer, the nights shorter, the temperature is rising and we are heading for summer. 

What’s not to like?

Shall we dive into some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. Do you like your handwriting?

It’s readable, I think so I guess the answer is yes. Judge for yourself. Here is an excerpt from my university notes (and this is as neat as it gets). It’s the same now but probably a little scruffier because I don’t write as much as I used to. It’s all on the computer now.

2. Do you like roller coasters?

When I was a kid I used to love them. However, something changed when I reached about thirty or forty and now I hate them. I think it was a huge ride somewhere in America that flipped me. I waited to get on the thing and it arrived with the pervious victims, some of whom were whooping and saying “ALRIGHT!” and high fiving each other in the way that our American cousins do. But then I noticed a few people get off with faces drained of blood saying “I am NEVER riding that thing again!”.

That made me nervous – but I got on anyway.

And I hated it. I was hurled around like paper bag in a hurricane and when I finally got off the thing, my heart was racing, my head was spinning and I felt pain when I had been bruised as then thing slammed to a halt. 

I have never been on a rollercoaster since.

3. Do you like scary movies?

I used to love them but now I find them a little boring. I remember watching The Exorcist and it scared me to death and I have never seen one since that has had the same effect. The problem these days is that they are there to make you jump and I find myself trying to predict when such moments will occur. I find films like Saw too disturbing so I don’t watch those gory films.

However, I have enjoyed some fairly recently. 

I liked Ring (the Japanese version is genuinely brilliant), Paranormal Activity and the two “It” movies based on the Stephen King novel. 

Usually I don’t bother unless somebody recommends them to me. 

4. Do you like shopping?

This is déjà vu. I used to like shopping but not now. When Mrs PM says “shall we go shopping?” I usually decline unless it is absolutely necessary. There is nothing worse than shopping with your wife/girlfriend for the following reasons:

(a) It takes hours.

(b) I end up waiting outside a changing room with other depressed and grumpy men. These changing rooms are usually adjacent to the women’s underwear department so there is nothing to see other than bras and panties – and that adds to the depression because you end up looking at the floor so you don’t appear to be a weird pervert.

(c) You have to answer the world’s most difficult question over and over again: “How does this look on me?”

These days I do 95% of my shopping online.

5. Do you like to talk on the phone?

Again (déjà vu) I used to do this a lot but now my phone conversations are limited to calling up companies to help me or to complain or things like that. Most communication these days is face to face or via some form of social media or application like WhatsApp. 

I feel sad about this – I think we are losing something.

6. Do you sleep with the lights on or off?

Mrs PM says that I have “see through eyelids” because whenever there is the slightest bit of light, I wake up. I love this time of year but the one disadvantage is that it gets light at 4am and I wake up early a lot of the time. We do have blackout curtains but occasionally the dawn light gets through gaps. 

I sleep with the lights off – definitely.

7. Do you use headphones or earphones?

I use both. When I am working or practicing the piano, I use headphones. When I am walking, I have my iPod and earbuds. 

I like both really.

8. Do you have tattoos?  Do you want any?

I have no tattoos nor do I want any. 

They are too permanent and I am starting to droop.

9. Do you wear glasses?

Yes. I have to wear them otherwise I would stumble around and bump into things.

10. What is your strangest talent?

I can say the first word of this song:

I learned this when I was a kid and I can still say it:

I am basically a weird person.

11. Have you ever been in the hospital?

I’ve been in a hospital several times to visit people but I have never spent a night in one. 

I hate hospitals.

12. What colour mostly dominates your wardrobe?

I would say that blue is the dominant colour. Mrs PM does her best to change that – I am wearing a red T-shirt as I type and have several other colours. But blue is the main one.

13. What’s your most expensive piece of clothing?

I would say that is the suit that I bought recently for a wedding. 

Guess what colour it is?


14. Have you ever had braces?

What sort of braces?

I have never worn this kind:

but I have worn two different sets of teeth braces. I hated wearing them. They were a right pain in the rear end – and the teeth as well. 

15. Have you ever been on TV?

Only by accident. I have seen myself in the crowd at a football match and also at a cricket match. The last one was hilarious. 

England were playing New Zealand in a 20-20 game at Old Trafford cricket ground in Manchester. I was with two mates and had a full pint of beer. One of the New Zealand batsmen decided to choose that moment to hit a six. Moreover, he calculated that the best place hit it was at me.

The bowler ran up, bowled a loose ball and the batsman caught it perfectly. I watched with a smile as it sailed into the air. Now cricket balls are really hard and as a kid I have suffered with them when they have hit me. So as you can imagine, as the ball sailed through the air towards me, I started to panic. My mate pointed at it and said “It’s coming this way”. It landed about two rows in front of me but for a moment I was convinced it was going to hit my head.

What did I do to avoid this catastrophe?

I didn’t do what any normal man would do and try to duck or avoid the projectile. 

Instead I panicked and spilled approximately a quarter of a pint of lager down my shirt. 

When I got home, I watched the highlights on TV and saw the whole thing again – the look of amusement as the batsman hit the ball, my mate pointing at the ball as it flew towards us, the look of sheer panic on my face as I realized it was on a possible collision course with my head, a tsunami of lager cascading down my pristine T-shirt, the look of embarrassment on my face when I realized what had happened and the laughter of my two mates and a couple of others as they saw my beer-soaked shirt.

Not a good appearance; it’s a good job I’m not famous. 

Saturday, 30 April 2022

More Firsts

Welcome to a very pleasant South Manchester, a warm and sunny day. We are well into spring now and summer is calling so my mood is getting better each day.

Shall we answer some daft questions from Sunday Stealing

First Job:

My first job was delivering newspapers for the local newsagent. I used to have to be up at around 5:30 am to collect the papers and stuff them through letterboxes at a time when I should have been asleep so that the recipients could crawl out of their pits and read the daily news as they slurped their morning cup of coffee.

I loved it though. I was walking the streets when everyone was asleep. There were no cars about and depending on the time of year it was lovely. You could actually hear birds singing when dawn broke as winter turned into spring and autumn turned into winter. In fact, that’s one reason why I go for a four mile walk at 6am now – it reminds me of that time. And the peace and serenity are wonderfully fulfilling.

Not when it is raining though. That is very unpleasant.

First Favorite Politician:

I have never had a favourite politician. I hate them all. Somebody once said “the desire to be a politician should stop them from ever being one.” I guess for a while I had hope in the late 1990’s when Tony Blair became our Prime Minister until he, too, proved that he is as bad as the rest by dragging us into the war in Iraq. 

First Record/CD:

My first single was this one:

I am sure you will agree that it is a wonderful piece of progressive rock.

My first vinyl album was Donna Summer’s greatest hits, mainly because of this song:

I absolutely love this tune – synthesisers and the fantastic voice of Donna Summer.

My first CD was Wild Frontier by Gary Moore:

Again – a magnificent album full of Celtic rock anthems.

First Sport Played:

Football – always football (that is “soccer” for American readers). I am as blind as a bat but I love football. I have no skills but I love football. Despite these handicaps I somehow managed to play from the age of about six until almost 40 in various guises. Now I am just a spectator.

First Concert:

The mother of a schoolmate of mine used to work at the Birmingham Odeon and somehow managed to acquire a handful of tickets to see Cheap Trick there way back in the late 1970s. I had never heard of them but they weren’t bad.

The first gig I actually paid for was in 1981 at the Empire in Liverpool where I saw Gillan:

First Foreign Country Visited:

The starting point for my love of travel was the Netherlands, just across the water from the island I live on. I arrived in Amsterdam and I loved the place so much I have been back many times – in fact I am planning to return this year for a university reunion.

First Favorite TV Show:

I think that has to be Dr Who, a show that is still on at the moment (I watched a brand new episode on Easter Sunday).

First Favorite Actor:

That’s a tough one. I loved Jon Pertwee who played Dr Who when I first used to watch it, but I also loved Lee Majors, aka the Six Million Dollar Man. I was just a kid. I think really when I think about it, the first actor whose films I would see religiously has to be the wonderful Clint Eastwood. I loved the Man with No Name and Dirty Harry.

First Favorite Actress:

That would be Linda Carter, the original Wonder Woman. I had such a crush on her you wouldn’t believe.

First Girlfriend/Boyfriend:

My first girlfriend was called Christina and we went out together for about a year. I often wonder where she is now.

First Encounter with a Famous Person:

Now this might not be a person you have ever heard of but I met Alan Buckley, the lengedary striker for my favourite football team, Walsall. TO me he was and remains an absolute legend. I met him in Mansfield. We arrived at Mansfield Town football club just as the Walsall team coach was arriving. I had a programme in my hand and my dad gave me a pen. I raced to the coach as the players were getting off and the second one I encountered was Alan Buckley, who very sweetly gave me is autograph on the programme.

I still have that programme today – and I treasure it.

First House/Condo Owned:

My first house was a three bedroomed semi-detached house in Altrincham, a small town about ten miles from Manchester. It was very small but I loved the fact that I actually owned property.

First Film Seen:

That could be any one of the following:

The Jungle Book

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Help! (with the Beatles).

First Favorite Radio Station:

That would be BBC Radio One, which played all the latest pop songs, culminating in the Top 20 show on Sunday evening where we would hear the count down of the “Hit Parade” as they called it back in the 1970’s. I owe that station a lot.

It still exists today but it is absolute rubbish now. One of the drawbacks of getting old I reckon.

First Book I Remember Reading:

I think that would be one of the following two by Enid Blyton:

The first serious novel I read was “The War of the Worlds” by H.G.Wells – still and incredible novel even today.

Saturday, 16 April 2022

More Silly Questions

Welcome to a beautiful sunny and warm day in South Manchester. I know I have a tendency to bleat on about the weather but today is genuinely a nice day. The sky is blue with scattered white clouds and the sun is shining. 

Also, our wonderfully inept Prime Minister, a hybrid between man and scarecrow, has surpassed himself this week. His government was responsible for creating laws about gatherings during the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning that we were all stuck at home and couldn’t see our friends and family except via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. 

The problem is that he has been caught doing exactly what he warned us not to do; yes – he is so arrogant that he broke the laws that he enforced upon us all. He was seen at a party on his birthday (that he claims wasn't a party).

And the police have been involved and agree that he broke the law. 

So he has been fined along with his own chancellor, making him the first sitting Prime Minister to have ever broken the law.

And the police are still investigating other parties in what has become known as “Partygate”. There is a good chance that he will be fined again because there are at least two or three other instances when he has broken his own law.

Will he resign?

Not at the moment. He is stubbornly refusing to go. 

Get the popcorn out folks; the next couple of weeks could be interesting.

Anyway, let’s answer some sill questions from Sunday Stealing.  

And these questions are very silly.

1.    What’s the weirdest smell you have ever smelled?

It is almost certainly something generated in a chemistry laboratory when I was at school. Things like chlorine, which is quite nasty, and hydrogen sulphide, more commonly known as stink bomb gas, which reeks of rotten eggs. A lot of the things that we created (or extracted) had weird smells.

 2.   What would be the hat to end all hats? What could you wear on your head that would make people stop what they are doing and stare in awe and amazement?

It would have to be a beer hat. A hat that can accommodate cans of beer and allow you to drink them as you walk. Something like this:

 3.    What is something that everyone looks stupid doing?

That moment just before you sneeze, especially if you are trying not to actually sneeze. It is not a good look. And before you ask, no, I am not going to post a picture of myself about to sneeze. I will post a picture of this guy instead.

 4.   In 40 years, what will people be nostalgic for?

Music because music is always nostalgic. To me it is a time machine that can take you back to a moment in time. 

Forty years ago I was at university and this song takes me right back there. 

And they are from Manchester too.

 5.   How do you feel about putting pineapple on pizza?

I don’t get why people are weird about putting pineapple on pizza. I love pineapple and when I have had a “Hawaiian” I have loved having pineapple nestling amongst the melted cheese.

 6.   If animals could talk, which would be the rudest? 

Cats – without a doubt. Their contempt for humanity is legendary and they would be quite offensive to their owners, both rude in the way they spoke and also full of expletives when you didn’t leap up immediately to feed them when they demanded it.

 7.   What’s the best type of cheese?

All types of cheese except stilton are brilliant. Oh, also apart from a horrific cheese I once had in Switzerland that tasted and smelled of rotting old socks (or how I imagine they would taste). 

If pushed I would go for a Double Gloucester, Red Leicester, a mature English Cheddar, a lovely Brie or Camembert. Forget it – I love all cheese except the ones I mentioned. 

 8.   Where is the strangest place you’ve urinated or defecated?

What a question. I think everywhere I have visited has had to have toilets. So – let’s think.

The Vatican, the Kremlin, underneath Niagara Falls, an aircraft at 36,000ft, on the Great Wall of China, and lots of strange places like that.

 9.    In one sentence, how would you sum up the internet?

 The internet is very useful, totally addictive, absolutely necessary but potentially very dangerous.

10.   Which insect could you happily do without seeing for a good long time?

Wasps. I hate them with their yellow and black striped bodies, their dreadful buzzing and their vindictive stings as well as the fear they introduce within me. I am one of those people who flies into a mad panic when one of the little buggers is buzzing around me. I wave and scream like a madman. I hate them.

11.  What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever worn?

Well if you head back to the 1970’s I used to wear flared trousers – but they were fashionable so that doesn't count. 

You could perhaps say that when I wore Kiss makeup for Mrs PM’s photography course. Like these two photos.

Or when I dressed up as Ozzy Osbourne for a charity fancy dress at work.

Or maybe when I pretended to be Slash from Guns'n'Roses at a wedding?

All good fun – I don’t get embarrassed easily these days. Good job, eh?

12.  What’s the weirdest thing a guest has done at your house?

We had a Christmas pub crawl at work and a workmate stayed at our house. The following morning, he had already gone when we woke up. Our Christmas decorations were in the room he had stayed in and we had them ready to put up in the house. Except when I walked out of the room, I found that he had put them up – but all over the staircase. When he had done that I have no idea because I was amazed I didn’t hear him.

I asked him why he did it later and he said “because they were there and it seemed like a good idea!”


13.  Is cereal soup? Why or why not?

Of course it’s not. That is probably the silliest question of them all.

14.   What is the sexiest and least sexy name?

The last Stag Party (or Bachelor Party for Americans)  I went to, a few years ago, was in Amsterdam and in traditional British fashion we were forced to wear T-shirts with our porn star names on them. What was odd about this was that the Stag was a policeman so there were a few coppers on this too – and I have to say they are bloody animals when they are let off the leash. I could (and probably should) write a blog post about the experience so maybe look forward to that. 

Anyway, the future groom’s porn star name was “Dirk Nasty” but I have to say that I thought mine was better. 

It was “Jake Sin”.

Sexy, eh?

Least sexy name? For a bloke it would have to be Arnold Rimmer.

15.   What fictional character is amazing in their book / show / movie, but would be insufferable if you had to deal with them in mundane everyday situations?

Probably the above mentioned Arnold Judas Rimmer from Red Dwarf.

Saturday, 9 April 2022

More Thought Provoking Questions

Welcome to a sunny South Manchester. The weather is cold – we even had wintry showers yesterday – but the trend for the temperature is going in the right direction. Enough about the English weather (something that typically gets a bad press worldwide but can be quite beautiful).

Let’s dive in with some thought-provoking questions from Sunday Stealing

1. Do you own your things or do your things own you?

I own my things – with two exceptions. The exceptions are Ziggy and Star(dust) my two cats who own me. In fact, as I type, Star(dust) is sitting on my desk staring at me with a look of total disdain because, in her mind, it is time for her lunchtime food. It is however, forty minutes too early and she is going to have to wait. 

I know the drill. She will watch me for a while, then she will lie down and start to attack my fingers as I type, playfully at first and then with a little more aggression. That said, she isn’t violent at all. The last thing she will do is just flop on my keyboard. In fact she managed to do that a month ago, resulting in me sending a half complete email to my manager at work. 

I told him that the cat sent it for me and he thought I was losing what remained of my marbles.

Oh – the flopping looks like it is coming gfu/E’LGHQHGEHBGGILKHW43 WTO’WGJ’W

Yes – she flopped onto my keyboard and I thought I would leave the contribution for you to enjoy. 

I shall add Star(dust) to the writing credits for this post. I think I will feed her now.

2. Would you rather lose all of your old memories or never be able to make new ones?

I would probably go for not being able to make new ones. The reason is that I have cameras that can record those new memories, recording images and videos from now on that I will at least be able to look at in the future. You can’t do that with the past if you don’t have the photos. 

It would effectively make technology the new means of making new memories.

3. When you are 80-years-old, what will matter to you the most?

I can’t predict the future but I hope that when I am 80 years old, that I will be physically fit and able to think like I do at the moment. It’s only two decades away so I reckon that as long as I am fully compos mentis and can walk around it will be pretty much the same as today.

4. What do you have that you cannot live without?

Lots of things – my house, my phone, my glasses, my health and all the other things that contribute to my peace of mind and my life. I could make a list but it would be long and boring to read.

5. When you close your eyes what do you see?

Not a lot because my eyes are closed. However, usually closing my eyes leads me to start falling asleep or at least meditating somehow. And that leads to my mind’s eye opening and me catching a flight into my imagination, which, as you can envisage, is a very weird place to be. 

6. What sustains you on a daily basis?

Food and drink, of course, like everybody else.

7. What are your top five personal values?

Honesty – I try to be honest with everyone and I hope others are honest back.

Kindness – There is nothing more powerful than an act of kindness. I wish I could be kinder myself.

Empathy – I try to be empathic and put myself in the position of other people. It doesn’t always work but when it does it really helps.

Trustworthiness – My favourite people are those that I trust and can rely upon. I try to be trustworthy myself.

Humility – I regard myself as a humble person and as a result I think I can handle stress in a better way. I’m humble and happy as a result.

8. What personal prisons have you built out of fears?

In the past I was a very shy person and it stopped me doing a lot of things. This changed when I left home for university and had to face those fears; I forced myself to join in things despite the fact that they were outside my comfort zone. Effectively I managed to break out of the glass prison of shyness; glass because you can see what you are missing. While some of those prisons still exist, I am much better at breaking out of them now. I have a really big hammer.

9. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?

Travel the world. Okay – yes I have travelled to a lot of countries, 36 and counting. But there are 195 countries in the world so the percentage is about 18%. I see that as something that I can improve upon. 

10. If you haven’t achieved it yet what do you have to lose?

Absolutely nothing. And I am chipping away at this target slowly but surely. As time goes on I will have more time to see more countries and we are certainly planning to see a few more over the coming years. If I win the lottery in the meantime it will accelerate things – that’s for sure.

11. What three words would you use to describe the last three months of your life?

Hopeful, exciting and positive.

The next three months should be even better. 

We have booked a trip abroad to Spain in June. It will be almost three years since I have left the UK - three years too long. 

12. Is it ever right to do the wrong thing?  Is it ever wrong to do the right thing?

The answer to both is yes. There are situations where, for example, it might be a good thing to do to tell somebody a home truth and other occasions where it might be better to keep somebody in the dark. There are examples where I have done both in the past.

13. How would you describe ‘freedom’ in your own words?

To be honest, I don’t think that anybody is really free. I used to think that maybe we were free here in the UK but recent political events have proven otherwise. For example, in 2015, I was free to move to any country in the European Union and live there with no visa and no hassle. Since 2020 that is no longer the case; I have effectively had part of my freedom taken away from me.

I believe that the UK is one of the most “free” countries in the world, if not the most free. I know that the US prides itself on its “freedom” but, like the UK, this is jingoistic sometimes. 

Take US gun laws for example. Americans are free to bear arms but this ends up in disaster when some nutcases are free to commit mass murder.

I would therefore define freedom at the political level as an illusion.

True freedom on Earth doesn’t exist.

Wow – that sounded really deep and negative. I’m sorry about that – normal service will be resumed in the next question hopefully.

14. What is the most important thing you could do right now in your personal life?

Retire. I am 20% of the way there and now that I don’t work Friday I am much happier.

15. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?

Travel writing probably. I don’t think I am a good enough writer but if I could convince somebody to let me travel the world as a job and write reports about where I had been I would be a lot happier. I may even postpone retirement to do so. To be honest, though, I would prefer to do it under my own steam because the idea of still having to report to somebody who is telling me where to go and what to do isn’t the most ideal situation. I have had people telling me what to do since 1984 and I am fed up of it.

I like the idea of being my own boss.

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Weird Librarian

Welcome to a sunny but cold Sunday afternoon in South Manchester. 
Let’s dive straight in with some silly questions from Sunday Stealing, shall we? 
1.    When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?
The very first thing I thought was “Who the hell is that?”
Then I remembered that it was my reflection and I put on my glasses. My second thought was “What the hell happened, Dave?” 
Of course I know the answer to that question – AGE happened.
2.    What shirt are you wearing?
I am wearing an old checked shirt that I have for a couple of years now, so it is probably drifting towards the end of its life.
3.    Do you label yourself?
I know who I am, so I don’t need to label myself.
Oh – you mean do I try to put myself into a generic subgroup of people?
If that’s what you mean then I guess I could, if I wanted to, label myself as a member of any one of the following groups:
  • Weirdos
  • Geeks
  • Grumpy old men (in my case trying to rid myself of grump)
  • Late middle-aged white British males
  • Men who suffer from bad hair days every single day of their lives
4.    What does your watch look like?
I have two watches. The one I am wearing at the moment is a free (and cheap) FitBit style watch that I acquired from my company and tells me the time, records my steps, records my sleep, guess at the distance I have walked and how many calories I have burned. To be fair, I am toying with the idea of buying a proper smartwatch but I am struggling to justify it to myself, even though I love gadgets. The truth is, I will end up getting one I reckon.
My other watch is a long service award. It is quite expensive and I tend only to wear it if I am going to a posh party or restaurant or something like that.
5.    What were you doing at midnight last night?
I was reading a book. I watched Match of the Day and then went to bed and I usually read a few pages until I nod off, which I think I probably did at just after midnight.
6.    Last furry thing you touched?
That would be Star(dust), one of my two black cats.
7.    Favourite age you have been so far?
I reckon that it would be 20, when I was at university. I loved that time of my life and I was able to be the immature little kid that has always lived inside me. I can’t get away with acting like a kid now.
8.    What is your current desktop picture?
It is a picture of a sunrise that I took back in 2005 in Port Douglas, Australia. I had taken an overnight flight from Hong Kong to Cairns and arrived at the hotel at about 5am, an hour before breakfast, so we had no choice but to take a walk along the beach as dawn was breaking. It was magnificent and I am so glad that we did. The beach was empty apart from a couple of dedicate fitness fanatics who were running up and down in the early hours to avoid the heat that would come later. 
I have it as my desktop on my home laptop and my work one too because I love sunrises and sunsets and when they are over a calm ocean it is even better. I feel at peace whenever I look at it.
Here is the photo but I have added a couple of similar ones that I took at the same time that I have also used.

9.    If you had to choose between $1,000,000 or to be able to fly what would it be?
It would definitely be $1,000,000 but I would prefer £1,000,000 because it is worth slightly more. The reason? I am scared of heights and being able to fly would be a curse.
10.  The last song you listened to?
Tye Dye on the Highway by the legendary Robert Plant:
11.  What time of day were you born?
I was born at 4am in the morning apparently. I don’t remember it at all.
12.  Where did you live in 1987?
I lived in a small three bedroomed semi-detached house in Altrincham, a small town about seven miles south west of Manchester.
13.  What do you do when vending machines steal your money?
The temptation is to attack them but I am a pacifist so I usually stand there staring at them in disbelief for a few minutes before thumping them in the hope that the money will be dislodged and give me whatever it is I had paid for. And then I walk away either in disgust, to a person who might be able to help me or like a complete lemon if people are watching and chuckling.
14.  Would you move for the person you loved?
I think I probably would but it would depend on where they wanted to go. 
15.  Name three things that you have on you at all times?
My glasses, my phone and my clothes.
16.  What’s your favourite town/city?
In the UK I can only say that my favourite city is Manchester. Worldwide it is Hong Kong.
17.  What was the last thing you paid for with cash?
I bought a chicken shawarma at a kebab shop during a break between two bands at a gig I went to last Saturday night. I rarely use cash these days but I always have some with me – just in case.
18.  When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it?
I haven’t written a letter using a pen for years and years. I simply can’t remember. It was probably in the 1980’s.
19.  The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear?
I went to a wedding in deepest darkest Lancashire a couple of weekends ago and I decided to buy a new blue suit (chosen of course by Mrs PM). I also bought some new tan brogues and a light blue shirt to match. I wore an old red tie though.
20.  Does anything hurt on your body right now?
The only pain I have is a minor irritation on my finger where Star(dust) scratched me a couple of days ago while I was playing with her. I deserved it completely.

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Pinterest Part Two


Welcome to sunny South Manchester, where we have bright blue skies, peppered with white clouds and a lovely temperature for a nice three mile walk down by the river in the morning. 

News this week – I’ve bought a piano and have already started to teach myself how to play the thing. I knew it would be hard and I am currently trying to get my brain communicate with the fingers on my left hand and right hand. I knew this would be tricky and I was right. I will persevere though and hopefully have a lot of fun on the way. I can vaguely read music, having played a trombone in my youth, so the music theory side of things should give me a minor head start.

Also I discovered yesterday the tragic news that Taylor Hawkins, drummer of the Foo Fighters, has died at the young age of 50 while on tour in South America. The Foo Fighters are one of my favourite bands and I may just write a tribute post to for Taylor later this week. 

Rest in Peace.

In the meantime, I’ll distract myself with some questions, as usual, from Sunday Stealing

1. Are you living a meaningful life.

I think so. I wrote a series of six posts about “the Meaning of Life” way back in October through to November 2015 where I covered the weirdness of life. Have a read if you are feeling bored. 

If you look at a template for what is a “meaningful life” I have ticked a lot of the boxes and probably done a little more in some cases and less in others. I’m quite happy where I am at the moment and as I approach the next phase, which is winding down to retirement, I am looking at starting a few other things, for example taking up the piano, in preparation for that as well as looking for potential new hobbies, or taking existing ones up to a higher level. 

I hope when I shuffle off this mortal coil I will have been able to say that it was meaningful as my soul leaves and embarks upon the next journey, through the stars to try to find out if L. Ron Hubbard was telling the truth about aliens. Only kidding – I plan to live forever!

2. What’s the one thing you cannot live without?

Mrs PM. She’s been my rock and my best friend for almost 24 years now. She somehow puts up with me and my weirdness and makes me feel vaguely human.

If you are talking about objects then I guess that would be my smartphone. 

3. When is it acceptable, if ever, to break the law

I would only think that it might be acceptable to break the law in order to save somebody or prevent them from dying. It’s a difficult one though. The truth is, I have probably broken the law inadvertently, mainly because there are some crazy laws around that we don’t actually know about. I know that, for example, in England, believe it or not, it is illegal to be drunk in a pub. And I have broken that one definitely.

4. What do you want your final words to be

“Onwards and upwards”.

5. What do you think are the five most beautiful things in the world?

I’m not going to talk about people here because people aren’t “things”. Here are some off the top of my head (there are many more I can think of).

A sunrise or sunset over the sea on a beautiful sandy beach.

Iguazu Falls (both in Brazil and Argentina).

Paris in summer.

The Amalfi coast in Italy.

The Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

6. What makes you feel empowered?

I don’t really like the word “empowered” because it has kind of been abused. At work I was told that we, as team members, were “empowered” to make our own choices. Now call me an old cynic if you like, but I immediately took this to mean that it put you in the firing line should something go wrong. I often see people, particularly in the cult of celebrity, claiming to feel “empowered” – and to be honest, I struggle to understand what they mean by that.

The way I see it is that I am a human being – my OWN human being – and I can choose to do and say what I like if I have the urge to do so. In that way I am “empowered” just to be myself and be the master of my own destiny. 

I do not see myself as a celebrity would see himself/herself and abuse the word to increase their status in the world of fame by empowering themselves to go on a “journey” to a “better place”. 

We are all living our own lives and so should it remain.

7. Which is more important–what you say, or how you say it?

Both are equally important in my view.

8. Do you live to work, or work to live?

I definitely work to live. If I had enough money stashed away, work would be the first casualty.

9. How do you think the world will change in 10 years? 50? 100?

If I am being optimistic, I would like to see the world come together as a global community, embracing each other’s cultures and having the ability to just be good to one another. I hope to see amazing technological wonders and a general improvement on where we are at the moment.

If I am being realistic, then I suspect we will have lots of ups and downs over the next 100 years. I still think that technology will improve but politically, we seem to be in a bad place that will get worse before it gets better.

If I am being pessimistic then I think that global warming will rear its ugly head, growing over us like a huge malevolent cloud that we will no longer be able to ignore. Given recent events, I suspect that we may see another pandemic (after all the last one before Covid was 100 years ago), and the sabre rattling of Russia and the lunacy of places like North Korea mean that war will not go away but be walking alongside us like an evil companion.

I hope the optimist in me is correct.

10. What is something you’re certain you’ll never experience?

I will never ever ever EVER jump out of an airplane with a big rag on strings attached to my back (commonly known as a “parachute”).

11. What one responsibility do you wish you didn’t have?

Household chores.

12. What is something you’re embarrassed that you’re so good at?

I am good at maths and excellent at telling computers what to do. Consequently, I look like a geeky nerd and I sound like one sometimes. A female friend once told me that she was initially scared to talk to me because (in her words) “I looked too clever”. Thankfully she overcame that particular obstacle and soon realised that I am a weird human being who can sometimes be extremely stupid.

13. What’s the one thing you most want to achieve before you die?

I would love to have a book published (if I could write) but also, as I said above, be able to play a piano reasonably well. I will attack those and more as I meander through what remains of my life. 

14. What’s something that offends you?

Politicians lying and using their status to change the world for the worse. This is personified magnificently by a man called Vladimir Putin at the moment.

15. What makes you most angry about the country?

The fact that we left the European Union under a tissue of lies and those who voted to do so were influenced by the most horrific human beings in the United Kingdom, people like Nigel Farage, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson amongst others. 

I must not rant (I’ve done well so far this year).