Sunday 27 November 2022

More Silly Questions


Welcome to a dull and boring South Manchester with a cloudy grey sky and fairly mild temperatures for the time of year. At least it isn’t raining.

Let’s dive straight into some very silly questions from Sunday Stealing, shall we? 

1. What mythical creature would improve the world most if it existed?

There are so many incredible mythical creatures that exist in folklore and picking just one to unleash on the word in order to improve it is a big ask. Most of them would cause chaos either on a global scale or certainly in the area where they were unleashed. 

Regular readers will know that I am fascinated with vampires, for example, but the ultimate endgame for such creatures would be to turn the whole world into vampires, something that wouldn’t be a good thing for humanity at all.

The same could be said for werewolves. 

Dragons might be good but if you have watched Game of Thrones or read ancient myths you will know that they would pretty much destroy the world.

You might be able to use a gorgon, perhaps, as a deterrent to crimes of any kind. If you murder somebody, you have to look into the gorgon’s eyes and become a statue. Harsh but perhaps fair.

I quite like the idea of having a Kraken in your navy as a deterrent against war. Can you imagine a World Leader screaming “UNLEASH THE KRAKEN!”? 

It could lead to that country dominating the world, sadly. 

I guess I would choose something safe that wouldn’t harm people but charm them. I think the obvious choice is therefore the introduction of unicorns or maybe centaurs.

2. What inanimate object do you wish you could eliminate from existence?

That’s an interesting question. I think it would have to be cigarettes and anything else you can smoke, like cigars, pipes etc. One of the best policy decisions in the UK was when the smoking ban was introduced. 

Apologies if you smoke – I have never done so – apart from the time I tired it when I was 20 years old and drunk (I tried it because I was drunk actually). I promptly threw up and decided then that I was an idiot for trying it and that I would never ever try it again.

3. What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?

It would have to be a piece of horrific abstract art. I am not a fan of contemporary art at all and when somebody tries to convince me that the amateurish splat on a piece of canvas that is adorning the wall of their living room, I just node and say “very nice”. I would never say “What’s wrong with you? How much did you pay for that weird splat of vomit on your wall? Are you mad?”

I don’t like hurting people’s feelings. 

I just stay quite. 

But I have seen some horrible art in people’s houses. 


4. What would be the absolute worst name you could give your child?

There are few Christian names that I could give a child which would be laughable given what my surname is. I won’t go there. However, they are insignificant compared to some of the weird names that so-called celebrities have chosen to give to their children just to be unique (or in my view pander to their own weird tastes). Here are a few:

Moxie Crimefighter

Moon Unit

Bronx Mowgli


Fifi Trixibelle

Audio Science

X Æ A-12

Diva Muffin

Pilot Inspektor

Future Zahir

Poor kids. Stupid parents.

5. What would be the worst thing for the government to make illegal?

Beer and music. Actually given the stupidity of the current mob in charge of the UK, I wouldn’t put anything past them. At the moment, for example, they are trying to pass a bill to seriously restrict protests.

6. What are some of the nicknames you have for customers or coworkers?

I work with a good friend who happens to be Scottish and he calls me Dilbert because in his eyes I look like him. I disagree but there you go. In retaliation, more than anything else, I call him Hawkeye. I have never heard him utter the stock Scottish phrase “Och aye the noo!” but my name for him is a representation of that (“Hawkeye the New!” – get it?).

I have had other names for customers like, “The Smiling Viper”, for a man I had to work with who had a menacing smile (that he thought was charming) when he was having a go at you. 

7. If peanut butter wasn’t called peanut butter, what would it be called?

Mrs PM would call it “abomination” because she hates peanuts and cannot understand why somebody would make a sandwich spread out of them. 

To be honest, I think it is a bit weird and I don’t eat it – though I have had it in the past. It seems to be more an American thing and they have some weird food I have to say (sorry dear American readers – but you do). 

For example “peanut butter and jelly sandwiches” – that is totally weird and something that I have resisted trying myself. In the UK we don’t call it “jelly”, we call it “jam”, but whatever it is called “peanut butter and jam” also sounds like it tastes totally wrong. 

To answer your question, I wouldn’t call it “abomination” like Mrs PM – I would call it “peanut spread” or something like that.

8. What movie would be greatly improved if it was made into a musical?

I don’t really like musicals if I’m honest. It seems crazy to me that characters can just burst into song and dance around to keep the story going. If I were walking down the street and saw a group of people having a conversation in the form of a song and dancing around like lunatics, I would probably call the police.

I would have to pick a movie that I think is utterly terrible to turn into a musical but, quite frankly, it couldn’t be any worse, could it?

Let’s go for “Love, Actually” – one of the worst films I have ever seen. Adding music couldn't make it any worse.

9. What would be the worst “buy one get one free” sale of all time?

It would have to be something horrible, like extracting a tooth. 

“We’ll take out the rotten tooth and then remove a healthy one at no extra cost!”

10. What is the funniest name you have actually heard used in the real world?

I once received a letter from a Mr Snowball that made me laugh. We also have a local weather reporter in the North West of England and her very apt name is Sara Blizzard.

We also had a contractor working with us for a while and while his name wasn’t funny, I had to resist making jokes to him – his name was Phil Collins (after the famous singer/drummer from Genesis). 

I also like the names of some famous actors – like Edward Woodward (Or as I used to say when when I was a kid – Ed Woodwoodwood) and Rip Torn. I also like the name of the crooner from the 1970’s called Englebert Humperdinck. There have been some great names in rock like Philthy Animal Taylor, Rat Scabies, Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten – okay they aren’t their real names but they are quite amusing.

11. What sport would be the funniest to add a mandatory amount of alcohol to?

Are you talking about adding the alcohol to me or the people taking part in the sport? 

If it is me, then it would have to be golf – the most tedious spectator sport. Just a bunch of weirdly dressed people hitting a tiny white ball with an odd shaped bat to get it into a tiny hole. Being forced to watch that while drunk might make it more enjoyable and less tedious.

I imagine that golf would also benefit from making these odd players quaff enough alcohol to make them do daft things while trying to hit the ball with the golf bat. 

Yes – golf for both please.

12. What would be the coolest animal to scale up to the size of a horse?

It would have to be an animal that doesn’t eat meat (in case they realise that we could be a new thing to try on their diet) and it would have to be limited to having four legs, thus ruling out all insects and spiders.

I guess a hamster would be a safe option.

13. What set of items could you buy that would make the cashier the most uncomfortable?

That’s an odd question because I am sure that cashiers would be used to selling the wares in their shops no matter how odd they are. Even in something like a sex shop – they would be used to accepting cash for all of the potentially perverted items in their inventory.

I guess it would be something like an odd book in a bookshop – something like “How to be a stalker” or “Do it yourself gender change”.

14. What is something that you just recently realized that you are embarrassed you didn’t realize earlier?

Too many things to list here. Mispronunciation of foreign words, mishearing song lyrics and being caught out when singing them loudly, and mostly saying something I thought was true in front of my kids and then finding out it was totally wrong – children never forget – even when they are 26 and 29 – and they love to remind you in front of people about how stupid you are.

15. What are some fun and interesting alternatives to war that countries could settle their differences with?

It would have to be something benign, like a game of football, a quiz or a silly content like “It’s a Knockout” or “Jeux Sans Frontiers”, a very silly show from the 1970’s. Here is a clip from the international contest that featured, the UK and some of our European neighbours. Don’t ask what is going on – but it is quite amusing and we could solve a lot of international issues by resurrecting it, I feel.

Sunday 20 November 2022

Hodgepodge Part Two

Welcome to a sunny but cold South Manchester in November. 

This month really is miserable, isn’t it (unless you live Down Under of course) but I am pleasantly surprised by the blue sky and sunshine today I have to say. 

One good thing about November is that it drifts into December so there is an element of Christmas cheer about the place. For example the Christmas Markets are in full swing in the city centre. Mrs PM and I went into the city yesterday and had a wander around the markets. The whole city centre was packed full of shoppers and people just mooching about. We enjoyed it.

Anyway, Christmas is a month or so away – there will be more of that to come later, I don’t doubt. 

Shall we answer some daft questions from Sunday Stealing

1. What’s your favourite childhood memory?

I’m not sure to be honest. Leaving school was great – though I wasn’t a child then (I was 18). I guess it would have to be one of the holidays I took with the family in England and Wales. In those days, international travel was reserved for those with a lot more money than we had, so we ended up at the traditional holiday resorts such as Brighton, Blackpool, Skegness, Rhyl, Minehead, Bournemouth and other places like that. Basically we would go away for two weeks at a time and spend quality time with our parents and actually dare to walk into the freezing cold sea off the coast of England. 

Summers in the UK can be quite hit and miss because of the weather – but when it is hot, it can be really hot and at such times, especially in the 1970’s the beaches would be full of people. 

I’ll pick our second holiday to Brighton because I remember we met an Italian family and we got on famously.

2. Do you sing in the shower?

I have been known to on occasions, usually when there is nobody home. Sadly, the neighbours can probably hear my renditions of classic rock masterpieces, which is making me feel a little self-conscious actually. I wonder why sometimes they have a puzzled look (with a slight snigger) when we chat.

3. What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

I would say a trip to Australia from Mrs PM’s mum. It was her 60th birthday and she and he other half wanted to travel with seasoned travellers, i.e. Mrs PM and I. Australia is an expensive place to get to and so we politely refused – but they insisted and Mrs PM decided to accept. Basically she paid for the flights and some of the accommodation and we tried to pay her back on the trip – at least some of it. 

It was a great holiday and of course I want to go back again. I will do one day if I can, now that we can afford it more easily.

4. Do you prefer being indoors or outdoors?

It depends. During the summer or on holiday I spend a lot of time outdoors. Now in November it is colder and more rainy so being outdoors is less pleasant, which means that during the winter I tend to stay in more (though I do go for a 4 mile walk almost every day, whatever the weather).

5. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?

I spoke to somebody at the bank last week. It was a tedious chat.

6. What do you keep in your bag or handbag?

I don’t own a handbag but I do have a rucksack that I take to work. It contains my work laptop, an umbrella, a couple of notebooks, my work pass, a few pens, a set of headphones and a few other bits and bobs, including an exploding umbrella (a small one that opens up magically when you press a button). 

7. Can you knit?

Absolutely not. I may strive to be creative but knitting looks difficult and extremely tedious (apologies if you love knitting).

8. How many hours do you sleep each night?

I sleep seven and a half hours on average. Last nightf or example I went to bed about midnight and I woke up naturally between at 7:45. I can get by on less if required but I usually catch up by falling asleep in front of a football match on TV.

9. Who is your role model?

I don’t have a specific role model at the moment. I do look at other people I know and analyse their strengths. For example, I have a few friends who can just walk into a room and make people laugh, even if they don’t know them. I sometimes try to emulate that myself with varying degrees of success. Basically if I know somebody with a trait that I would like to improve in myself, I try to learn from them – even at my age. 

10. Who was your first ever pen pal?

My only pen pal was a German girl whose name I have completely forgotten. I tried writing to her in German and she wrote to me in English. It worked for a while but I got bored of doing it as it became a chore.

11. What has been your favourite job so far?

I have been in IT for 38 years now so you may think that my chosen long term career is my favourite job. 

You would be wrong. 

While I was at university, I had three stints being a postman, delivering letters and parcels around Walsall. I have to say that I loved it. The introvert within me was delighted walking around the streets with a bag full letters and parcels. It was very peaceful and relaxing (apart from walking quite a lot – but I was really fit in those days so it was no hardship).

12. What is your favourite go-to recipe for mid-week meals?

I hate cooking but I can actually cook. When I do cook I usually go for something that is quick – I would say chicken pasta. It tastes good too.

13. How often do you eat in a restaurant?

Fairly often. We tend to go once or twice a fortnight, usually on Friday or Saturday. Today we will be having Sunday lunch in a restaurant, washed down with a pint or two of the finest ale the restaurant has to offer.

14. Are you close to your family?

Physically no. 

My nearest relative, my eldest lad, lives in North Manchester. The rest of my family are scattered with some living in Walsall, others in and around Blackpool and also in Harrogate and Whitby in Yorkshire. We can get to each other within an hour or two if necessary.

However, we are all very close as a family. We all get along really well and to be honest we don’t see them as often as we should. I think I will be seeing all of them at some stage over the Christmas period.

15. Which phone app could you not live without?

The ones I use most are Chrome, Duolingo, mail, Whatsapp, Googlemaps, You Tube, Google Calendar, my camera, and the various banking apps, oh – and my habit app, and notes. All of those really.

16. If you could afford to volunteer full time for a charity, which would it be?

I don’t know to be honest. There are a lot of worthy causes out there and choosing one would be difficult.

17. Do you have any siblings?

Yes – I have two sisters. Sadly, one of them passed away last year, which was a total shock. It has brought me and my other sister a lot closer (we were close anyway). 

18. Who is your favourite YouTuber?

I don’t do influencers or any of that nonsense. I guess it would have to be Jonathan Pie who is a comedian pretending to be a newsreader who gets caught off guard when no longer broadcasting, during which time, in the foulest language possible, tells us what he REALLY thinks of the news. I’ve actually seen him live and he is hilarious. 

Here he is talking about the resignations of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. 

Be warned – if you don’t like strong, bad language please do not watch them. 

19. Have you ever been a bridesmaid or a groomsman?

I assume by groomsman you mean “best man”? That’s what we call them over here in the UK. No, I haven’t been a best man – and I’m quite pleased about that. There is a lot of pressure to be funny at the wedding speech and I have never fancied that.

You will be pleased to know that I haven’t been a bridesmaid either.

Sunday 13 November 2022

Swap Bot Part Three

Welcome to a sunny south Manchester. It’s November and the weather is actually not that bad. Usually at this time of year it is cold as the first signs of winter appear. At the moment, though, it is reasonably warm, so much so that I have been walking outside in my summer coat during the day.

I would like to add my congratulations to the England T20 cricket squad who this morning won the T20 Cricket World Cup, beating Pakistan in the final by five wickets. It was a very interesting match to watch and it now means that England are the current holders of both one day international World Cup trophies. 

Well done, boys.

Shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. If you could witness any event from history, what would it be?

I’m not really a religious person but I think I would like to go back in time to see who Jesus was and what he really did. I am a Roman Catholic by baptism, though not practicing (for the last 44 years at least) and so I was indoctrinated into believing that this man was indeed the son of God and performed miracles like they were part of every day life. 

I would just like to be an observer of this to judge for myself. I think it would be really interesting. And if indeed he did perform these miracles, I would love to chat to him about it. 

2. What do you think about conspiracy theories?

I absolutely love them – the more bizarre the better. With the advent of the Internet, such theories are exploding all over the place. Here is a list of my ten current favourites:

The Earth is flat – this one makes me howl with laughter.

The moon landing was fake.

The Earth is hollow.

We are being ruled by a secret group of lizard people.

Covid-19 is a hoax – I’ve had Covid-19 – I know it isn’t a hoax.

Humanity is a race that was planted on Earth by an alien species.

JFK was assassinated by the US government.

Scientology beliefs are real.

We are all living in the Matrix.

3. Do you like cartoons? Do you have /had a favourite one?

I used to really like cartoons as a kid. Nowadays, the only one I watch are repeats of the ones I used to watch as a kid if I see them and, of course, the Simpsons, which is really an adult show masquerading as a children’s cartoon.

Here is an example of my favourite cartoon as a kid:

and of course now:

4. What did you most dislike in school times?

Most of it. I was very clever and went to a really good school but I hated the discipline because it was more prominent in my school. Don’t get me wrong, I had some good times there but I won’t look back on those days with fondness. I much prefer my time at university which was absolutely brilliant.

5. How do you think the end of the world will look like?

It’s difficult to say but recent events are making me think we are seeing the start of it:

The Covid-19 pandemic, a nutter in Russia walking ever closer to a line that we should never cross by invading a foreign country while having a huge stash of nuclear weapons and finally most if not all nations on the planet ignoring the signs of global warming.

I hope I am wrong of course. I don’t think the end of the world will be a quick event; it will be a slow drawn out catastrophe that happens over a decade or so.

6. What sounds are in your opinion relaxing? The sound of the sea? Traffic? Vacuum cleaner? Combine harvester on the field? Some kind of music? Birds singing?

I love the sound of the sea and I am always relaxed when I walk along a shore. Also, ambient music really works for me (I sometimes listen to it while working). Something like this:

7. Which would you take: The well-worn path or the road less travelled?

It depends. Most of my life I have travelled the well-worn path but occasionally I have used the road less travelled. The past five years, however, for me have been the latter, which has its ups and downs. I don’t think I can help it.

I guess I will say at the moment and for the foreseeable future, it will be the road less travelled.

8. What was the last thing you read?

I’ve read a few Dean Koontz books this year, rekindling my relationship with his books (I  used to read a lot of his novels in the 1990’s and 2000’s. The latest one I read was this one:

9. What is one thing that has stumped you so hard you won't ever forget it?

It has to be the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. We are now paying the price and I simply can’t work out why we did such a stupid thing.

10. What are you interested in that most people aren’t?

I like a lot of obscure music by bands that a lot of people haven’t heard of and being a total geek, I like a lot of weird and wonderful books, shows and movies that people would raise an eyebrow at.

11. What’s something you really resent paying for?

We in the UK are constantly ripped off. Everything is more expensive and I hate paying the extra price for things like petrol, music etc. compared to other parts of the world. 

12. What did you think was cool when you were young but isn’t cool now?

I had a mullet in the 1980’s that I absolutely loved. It was removed by accident (here is the story of how it happened).

These days the mullet is mocked mercilessly. I still love that style.

13. If you could choose a different time period and place to be born, when and where would it be?

I think it would have to be in the future. Given that I am a technophile, constantly fascinated with technological improvements, development and evolution, I really want to see where we are in say 100 or 200 years – or even further in the future. 

I would like therefore to be born in the year that time travel is invented or discovered and let’s take it from there. I would still like to be in the UK (if we haven't self-destructed by then, of course).

14. Do you think cats have any regrets?

HA HA HA HA HA. Of course they don’t. All the cats that I have owned walk all over me like I am a piece of rubbish festering in a gutter. Regrets? Not a chance.

15. What question do you hate answering?

I don’t mind answering any question. I’ll have a go at answering any question. Of course, being a human being, I may choose to answer it truthfully, exaggerate a bit, exaggerate a lot or just tell a downright lie.

Go on – try me!

Saturday 5 November 2022



Welcome to a damp and overcast South Manchester on November 5th, the day when we in the UK burn an effigy of a man called Guy Fawkes who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. He failed but for some reason we still celebrate this fact.

Most bonfires will have an effigy of poor Guy Fawked. However, in Edenbridge, they have decided to burn an effigy of Liz Truss instead. I guess in a way you could argue that she tried to destroy the UK in her brief and disastrous stint as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Liz Fawkes

Personally, I would have three effigies; Truss, the Clown and a man who was once described as a “haunted pencil”, a man called Jacob Rees-Mogg, a man with traditional values, but sadly traditions that were popular in Victorian Britain. 

A haunted Victorian pencil

Thankfully, Rees-Mogg has now been relegated from the cabinet into the obscurity of the back benches where he can hopefully keep his horrendous views to himself.

Anyway, as I said, today is Bonfire Night and there will be loads of bonfires throughout the United Kingdom and lots of firework displays to accompany them. I shall not be attending any myself but there will be armies of people doing so, despite the potentially terrible weather.

Anyway, if you want to read about the gunpowder plot that gave birth to our tradition, here is a post I wrote about it back in 2009. 

Shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1.    Have you ever written to a celebrity?  Did they respond?

I once tweeted Joe Satriani to say that I loved his new album, which at the time was Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards. I don’t think he replied.

 2.  Do you read letters immediately, or wait until ready to reply

I don’t get letters these days from anybody other than banks, or other people expecting to me to part with my money. I usually read them as soon as they arrive and, once I have dealt with them, I add them to the paper recycling bin.

 3.   My preferences when it comes to reading

I am weird, so I like weird books. My favourite genres include science fiction, and anything of that ilk. I used to really like horror but I am less into such books these days, reading only the occasional one. I also like a good thriller, especially if it involves spies and conspiracies, like the works of Robert Ludlum, the man who created Jason Bourne.

 4.   What I'm least likely to change my mind about.

Politics. I am fairly stubborn in my beliefs and when it comes to watching and listening to people whose views are opposite to mine, I grant them the courtesy of listening and trying to understand them, but I struggle. 

For example, when the UK committed a colossal act of self-harm by leaving the European Union, I was and remain beside myself in anger because I simply cannot understand why there would be any benefit. What is most frustrating is that those who voted to leave simply cannot justify why they did so or even list any advantages of doing so. 

I am still angry about it after all these years, especially when I travel to the EU and now have to justify why I am entering their country, when before all I had to do was show my passport. 

In the interests of keeping myself calm, I rarely engage with people about Brexit these days. I prefer to walk away or just insist upon changing the subject.

 5.   The topics I would get wrong about during trivia

I am very good with music unless it comes after the year 2000, in which case I am absolutely useless. Anything to do with art also bamboozles me (mainly because I am not a fan of art and tend to avoid it). 

I am not bad at quizzes because I have a weird ability to retain useless information. Mrs PM is quite astounded when we watch a TV quiz because I can answer a lot of the questions. I don’t fancy ever going on a TV show though.  

 6.   What I'm hopeful about right now? 

Given the economic crisis in the UK and the war going with Russian nutcase Vlad the invader, I struggle to have hope about anything.

There are signs though. The current UK government are in a mess and their position in the polls is low enough to suggest that they will be turfed out when the next election comes around. 

I just hope that Putin either changes his mind or is overthrown before things escalate more.

 7.   Philosophies I've learned/embraced from others.

I’m always fascinated by rampant extroverts and either consciously or subconsciously picked up some of their traits. I have also tried to become more tolerant as the years go by, because, as some people have told me, there is nothing you can do about things anyway so there is little point trying to change people’s minds. 

In the interests of harmony, I avoid such conflicting debates these days. 

Life is too short.

 8.   What makes home feel like home?

I love the feeling that when I get home, I can enter a place that is basically full of everything that makes me feel comfortable and secure as soon as I close the door. There isn’t one particular thing but effectively I can shut out the outside world and become that introvert again.

 9.    Talents and skills I like to cultivate

 I always want to learn. I have worked in IT for almost 40 years and the very nature of that career requires me to learn the latest and greatest new technologies. I apply that same philosophy to life outside work too. For example, I try to improve myself by acquiring (or at least trying to acquire) new skills. 

I am learning Spanish at the moment and have been doing so for a few years on and off. I would love to be able to learn other languages too and improve on my French German and, dare I say, English too.

I am also trying to teach myself the piano and progress is definitely being made. I always thought it would be impossible to coordinate my left and right hands and I seem to be slowly learning to do just that. I am hoping that this will become a good project for when I retire. I would love to invest in a synthesiser for example and use my laptop to create some music of my own. 

And of course, I always try to improve myself as a human being – as I have alluded to above.

10.   What makes my heart race

Lucy Verasamy makes my heart skip a beat. She’s a weather girl on ITV and I must admit that I struggle to remember what the weather is going to be like once her bulletins have finished.

Of course, my heartbeat increases when I go on my daily three to four mile walk as well.

11.  What power means to me

These days it is almost synonymous with abuse. When you look at some of the leaders we have had in the world recently like Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, Kim Jong-Un and of course Vladimir Putin, to name just a few, I honestly despair. 

We have had such people in power in the past of course and you rarely find decent leaders.

As I have said before, when I become World President all of these people and many many more will be put on a fleet of spaceships and dispatched into deepest space on a mission to find a new planet to ruin. 

You might say that is an abuse of power but I disagree. 

12.  Some of my comfort hobbies.

I like to write – even though the words I write are absolute gobbledygook. In the thousands of paragraphs of utter garbage, I occasionally find a couple of gems. It’s like prospecting for gold.

13.  Last time I was pleasantly surprised

On my 60th birthday, there was a whip round at work and I received some cash and a birthday card signed by some of my colleagues. I was pleasantly surprised by that I have to say, mainly because I tried to keep a low profile.

14.   How was my October 2022?

As I mentioned above, it was quite good. I turned 60 (which was not that good) but I got to visit a new country – Denmark – on a brief city break to Copenhagen.

15.   Those who inspire my growth

There are far too many people to mention. I find inspiration in most people I meet and talk to, no matter who they are. Even in the case of somebody like Boris Johnson, he would inspire me to be nothing like him.