Saturday, 25 March 2023


Welcome to a cloudy and slightly damp Saturday morning in South Manchester. It is quite mild at the moment and now that Spring has arrived the temperatures are bearable. The clocks go forward today and we get one hour less sleep and this will make my morning walk a little bit more interesting for the next week or two because hopefully I will see a couple of sunrises on the way.

Shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. Working on anything exciting lately?

I trust this question refers to life outside of work. One day I will tell you all about my job – but now is not the time (as I still work there).

In answer to the question, I am slowly working on two writing projects when time permits. The first is a set of memoirs from my boring existence on this spinning ball of rock. The second is a novel that I will probably finish but will almost certainly never see the light of day.

Of course, never say never, but at the moment these are just fun things to do.

I am also slowly learning the piano (very slowly actually) and that is quite exciting.

And of course I am slowly learning Spanish, which is also fun and exciting.

2. What was the highlight of the day today?

It is early in the day so nothing much yet. I went out for a walk this morning and had a cuddle with the cats beforehand. Mrs PM has gone away for a spa weekend with a couple of friends and so I am going out to the city for a couple of beers and meal later with a couple of friends, one who is the husband of one of Mrs PM’s spa friends. That should be fun.

3. What is your favourite thing to do on the weekends?

My favourite thing is not to work. My weekend now consists of Friday to Sunday since I am part time (semi-retired) and I love just being able to do whatever I choose to do on those days. On Fridays, Mrs PM is still working at home, so I usually try to catch up on outstanding tasks. I have amassed quite a list – from sorting out old stuff in preparation for changes we are making to the house later this year (not structural just decorating, relocation room functions etc.).

On Saturday and Sunday We try to do something interesting together, depending on the weather or just do nothing and be lazy. Whatever takes our fancy.

4. What are your favourite restaurants?

There are some good local restaurants and some good places in the city too. Here are a few in the city centre:

Yang Sing – Chinese restaurant

Little Yang Sing – Chinese Restaurant (sister of the Yang Sing)

Gaucho – Steak restaurant

East is East – Indian restaurant

Salvi – Italian restaurant

5. Do you follow any sports?

Yes indeed. I am a massive football fan but I support a team in the lower leagues; Walsall FC – the team from my home town. They are not very good but things are slowly improving. I like to watch Premier League football too.

I am a big fan of International Rugby Union and am currently smarting because once again England failed to impress in the Six Nations league (against France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy). I am looking forward to the World Cup later this year.

I love watching cricket. I don’t really follow county cricket but I do go to a few matches at Old Trafford either to watch 20-20 matches or to watch England. This year it is the Ashes – when England face Australia and I shall be going to watch that when it comes to Manchester.

6. What is your biggest fear?

I’ve mentioned this a lot recently – it has to be heights. I won’t go over this again.

7. What is your biggest regret?

I try not to have regrets. You should look forward rather than backwards.

8. When you were growing up, what was your dream job?

I honestly didn’t have a dream job. I kind of fell into IT because I excelled at Maths and sciences generally. Were I to look back now, it would be a writer and if I could have my time again I would have switched my allegiance from Maths to English and languages in general (French, German, Spanish etc.).

9. Do you say ‘sherbet’ or ‘sherbert’?

I say sherbet – I think. I haven’t had it for many, many years.

10. Have you ever had a paranormal experience?

I was thinking about this the other day. Shortly after my dad died I thought I had a visit from him in the early hours of the morning. You can read about it here:

Talking to Ghosts 

The other day I was thinking about the house I live in. It was built in 1903 and I am sure that somebody must have passed on in the 120 years of its existence. Therefore, if ghosts exist, then there must be one or two of them roaming around my own house.

And I have never seen or heard from one. Cats are supposed to be sensitive to spirits and none of the six cats that have shared our house over the last 21 years have, to my knowledge, informed us that a ghost is haunting us.

With the experience I had with my dad, I could have been dreaming. But then again maybe not.

I won’t find out for sure until it is my time to move into the next world – or oblivion if that happens.

That sounded quite negative. 

Let’s cheer ourselves up! I hope I do become a ghost because I would have great fun moving around without a body – it would be a good way to live forever (which of course I plan to do). If I do become a ghost, I will do my best to let living people know that I exist.

11. What is your favourite food at a cocktail party?

I don’t go to cocktail parties generally but I do like finger foods that are usually handed out as appetisers before eating a Christmas Parties and similar things. I quite like anything with cheese (surprise surprise) but most things will do. I avoid seafood because although I can eat it, Mrs PM is allergic to it so I avoid it in solidarity with her.

12. Who is a book character most like you?

I would like to say Jason Bourne or James Bond (or James Blond in my case).

It would probably be the geek who supplies James Bond with all of his gadgets. So, assuming Q exists in the James Bond novels, I would say him.

13. Do you read reviews before you go to movies?

I try not to because if they say the movie is rubbish it will ruin it for me. I have seen quite a few films that the critics have slated but that I really enjoyed. The answer is therefore no.

14. How do you feel about cilantro?

I speak English – I don’t speak American English (although it is the language I am most fluent in). I had to look up “cilantro” and I discovered that it is really “coriander”. And I have to say I absolutely love it. It is one of the many spices that make Indian food really tasty. I once found a coriander pesto in the supermarket and it was divine – but I have never seen it since.

As an aside, here are a few other words that Americans get wrong. I am here to educate my good friends from across the pond. Here goes:

Eggplant – This is called aubergine in the UK.

Granola – We call this muesli.

Arugula – We call this by its proper name – rocket.

Cookies – What is a cookie? I’ll tell you what it is – it’s a biscuit.

French Fries – first of all, these are chips. Second, they are not from France – they are from Belgium.

Jelly – Jelly is a wobbly dessert not something you spread on sandwiches. We call it jam.

Zucchini – In England we refer to it by its real name – a courgette.

Popsicle – What on earth is a popsicle? I will tell you – it is an ice lolly.

Chips – This has totally confused me in America. As I said above, we call “French Fries” chips so when I ask for chips in America and get crisps I am most disappointed!

Candy – Candy? What is candy? We call candy sweets over here.

There are other differences but I aim to educate. You can thank me by not giving me crisps when you offer me chips next time I am over there.

15. Have you ever cried in public?

Only at funerals. Actually, that’s not true. I have been know to shed a tear in the cinema when a movie has been merciless with my heartstrings.

Saturday, 18 March 2023

One To Ten

Welcome to a sunny south Manchester in the wonderful country of England. Spring is here; my morning walk was very pleasant and at the end of my four mile trek through a couple of suburbs of this great city, I was quite warm and a little sweaty. Sorry about sharing that with you but the good news is that I had a shower on my return, followed by an omelette and a large cup of tea. 

I am as fresh as the proverbial daisy.

Shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. One song that describes my life.

There are several that could describe my life but I will try to focus on today rather than the past. 

I’ll choose a happy little tune from my two Scottish brothers, The Proclaimers. NOTE - they aren’t really my brothers but I do look like them:

2. Two things I wish I had more of in my life

Travel; and lots of money in order to pay for the travel.

3. Three ways I relax

I listen to music and I write, which is exactly what I am doing as I type. I also like to watch a decent TV show.

4. Four of my best accomplishments

  • Academically speaking, I have 10 ‘O’-Levels, 4 ‘A’-Levels and an Honours degree in Computational and Statistical Science. I’m very proud of that.
  • I have two wonderful sons.
  • I have travelled to 37 countries in the world and next month Morocco will make it 38.
  • Even though it scared me half to death, the fact that I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge is something that I can say that I have accomplished. A word of advice; if you suffer from vertigo and/or a fear of heights (not sure whether they are the same thing), do not even contemplate doing this. Where I found the courage I will never know. It will never ever happen again (and neither will anything like it).

5. Five things I am looking forward too

  • I’m looking forward to retirement in a year or two.
  • A little closer to now, I am looking forward to a trip to Morocco in April, as I said above.
  • In May I am travelling to Amsterdam with a couple of my old university mates for our first reunion in two years. There will be four sixty year old blokes wandering around the city, with me being the tour guide because I have been to the city so many times through work I know it like the back of my hand. It’s a wonderful city if you get the chance to visit.
  • Mrs PM and I are spending a week in Dubrovnik in Croatia in July. 
  • We are also travelling to Sicily in September for a week. I’ve put in a request to make sure that should Mount Etna decide to erupt, that it chooses a date after that.

6. Six things I am grateful for

  • I am grateful that I although I am sixty years old, I still look young for my age.
  • I am grateful for Mrs PM who keeps me sane and on a steady road, despite my weirdness.
  • I am grateful that I am winding down my career and that as such I have divorced myself from the office politics and shenanigans that go on in and around the workplace. I no longer care, though I remain committed to my job as any decent professional should. As my career draws to a close, I actually feel totally relaxed at work and I can choose when I finally decide to retire.
  • I am grateful that I am still quite healthy and able to do things like travel abroad and walk at least four miles a day.
  • I’m grateful for friends and family who stuck by me over the years.
  • I’m grateful for the life I have generally. I am sure it could have been worse or much better – but it’s been good so far and shows signs of improvement (age aside). 

7. Seven facts about me

The door to my life is actually ajar as far as this blog is concerned. I did want to remain anonymous when I started but people have discovered who I am. I don’t mind too much. Here are a few facts that I have shared in the past.

  • My real name is David – and I prefer to be called Dave. When people call me David, I think “what have I done wrong?”
  • My house is Edwardian, meaning that it was built in 1903, making it 120 years old. 
  • I am 5ft 11 inches tall, making me average height. In fact everything about me is average and I find it very easy to find clothes that fit. 
  • Mrs PM and I have been together for 25 years this year. Before that I was married for 10 years but it didn’t work out – we were just incompatible and it took a while for us both to work this out.
  • I am a total geek and am absolutely fine immersing myself in things like Star Trek, Dr Who, Marvel, DC, Lord of the Rings and most science fiction/fantasy tales. I gladly admit it and if, you are laughing, I say unto you: “Embrace your inner geek – because we are ALL geeks (just scared to admit it).”
  • I love progressive rock, heavy metal and other unfashionable music styles and have been to so many gigs that I have lost count. That said, my taste in music is eclectic because I am equally at home with some pop music, electronic music (particularly from the early 1980’s) as well as ambient electronica and classical music. 
  • I have met two fellow bloggers who have commented on this blog. So watch out for me on my travels because you never know.

8. Eight things I can see from where I am sitting

  • My Spotify Playlist on my laptop (currently playing this):

  • A porcelain South African Rugby Union player that I was bought as a gift in Johannesburg my one of the guys on the course I was giving there. I’ve kept, despite the fact that it was meant as a reminder that South Africa had beaten England in the Rugby Union World Cup Final earlier that year.

  • A Matryoshka doll (or nested dolls) that I bought in Moscow twenty or so years ago as a souvenir. We would have all the inner dolls out on display but sadly the cats tend to beat them up. 

  • A talking John Barnes figurine that I was given on St Patrick’s night several years ago. I got it free with my second pint of Guinness. Quite apt, really as yesterday it was St Patrick’s day when a lot of Guinness is consumed in the UK. Sadly the battery has gone so he no longer talks.

  • My new Samsung S22 Ultra phone (acquired in January). It is amazing and as well as taking the photos above, I have used it to take the best pictures of the moon that I have ever attempted.

  • A large scratch post that the cats love to use to sharpen their claws. 
  • Star(dust), the smaller of my two black cats, who is using the scratch post as climbing apparatus as I type.
  • A piping hot cup of tea.

9. Nine words I would use to describe myself

  • Weird
  • Caring
  • Immature
  • Amusing
  • Clever
  • Silly
  • Opinionated
  • Geeky
  • Friendly

10. Ten little things that make me happy

  • Sitting watching TV with either Ziggy or Star(dust) curled up next to me on the sofa.
  • Listening to music.
  • Watching football.
  • Having a beer or a meal with friends.
  • Strolling along a south European beach as the sun is rising or setting.
  • Strolling through the English countryside on a sunny summer day.
  • Exploring a foreign city.
  • Cheese on toast.
  • A good gig.
  • Saturdays.

Saturday, 11 March 2023

More Pen Pals

Welcome to a sunny but cold south Manchester. Winter is back for an encore and it has been bitterly cold. Thankfully, we don’t get much snow at all here, and while some parts of northern England have suffered, all we’ve had to put up with is cold winds and sleet/rain showers. Unpleasant to walk in but hopefully things will start warming up again over this weekend.
Let’s dive in with some silly questions from Sunday Stealing 
1. Do you make new friends easily?
I used to find it difficult to break the ice because of shyness but these days I am much better. I’m okay at making new friends and I think being able to chat to people is key to that. I am a friendly and sincere chap – what’s not to like?
2.Which podcasts do you like at the moment?
I don’t listen to podcasts. I am tempted to listen to Spanish language ones to improve my listening skills but I haven’t managed to get around to that yet. 
3. One thing that immediately makes your day better.
On a school day, finishing work. Other days, it depends. I feel better today because Ziggy is hungry and he is currently perched on my desk next to the keyboard, purring and giving me head bumps to entice me into the kitchen. So, the cats I guess make my day better when they are being cute.
4. What app do you use most?
I use a lot of apps. Google Chrome is well used, as is Duolingo. I use Whatsapp quite a lot and now that I have embraced music streaming, Spotify is right up there. 
5. The friends who would have your back no matter what.
I don’t want to mention any names but they know who they are.
6. What is something you’ll never do again?
Having tried to overcome my fear of heights by climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Burj Khalifa, I have vowed never to go up high building ever again. This includes things like the Eiffel Tower as well. It’s a shame because I didn’t used to be scared of heights and climbed the Eiffel Tower twice in my youth with no qualms at all. The third time was terrible and a long time afterwards. I don’t really know why or how I developed this irrational fear – I have a theory. I’ve just decided to avoid the trauma from now on.
7. Something you practice often.
I practice the piano every day – my latest effort is “Joy to the World” which I have just about mastered. It’s slow progress but there is definitely progress. 
I also write every day and practice Spanish.
8. What gives you an adrenaline rush?
These days it is the simple things in life. In my youth I used to love fast rides, rollercoasters, sports, high buildings and all the things that lads loved. These days, a walk in the countryside will do the trick. 
I do get a massive buzz when my flight lands when I am going on holiday because I know that I will soon be able to explore another country.
9. How well do you do in social situations?
As I said earlier, I am much better in social situations. When I am with my closest friends I am, I’ve been told, quite a funny chap and I usually cast aside the introvert within to unleash the extrovert. In some situations, my shyness does return to bother me sometimes – it has not fully gone – and I try to combat it on the spot. 
So mostly I am good but sometimes I can be awkward.
10. Are you a light sleeper or a deep sleeper?
I am a light sleeper and it annoys me. A couple of nights ago, for example, one of the neighbourhood cats sneaked into our house and decided to make himself at home downstairs. He woke me up because he wears a little bell on his collar and, at 3:35 am (I remember the time) I was woken up by the cat flap and then the tinkling of his little bell as he prowled around downstairs. My own two cats were fast asleep in the back room. 
So I raced downstairs to chase him out. 
Thunderstorms wake me, as do police helicopters as well as two mice playing football with a pebble in my front garden.
In the summer, I will wake up at 4:30 am every day because it gets light at that time. 
Mrs PM says that I have transparent eyelids.
11. Do you get stage fright?
Yes – definitely. I hate public speaking and I have had to do it quite a few times, usually giving courses to people. 
12. Which family members are you closest to?
All of them.
13. How was your February?
February was good actually because we managed to get away to Tenerife for a few days. Of course it was still winter (and I hate winter) but the trip was a respite from the miserable weather.
14. What is your favourite candle scent?
Anything that Mrs PM chooses to buy.
15. One book that you would recommend as a "must read'?
I’m going to give you a couple that I have really enjoyed.
Stephen King – The Stand
Robert Ludlum – The Bourne Ultimatum
Blake Crouch – Recursion
James Herbert – The Dark
Iain. M. Banks - Matter
There are many more.

Saturday, 4 March 2023

Pen Pals

Welcome to a cloudy South Manchester where the weather is going to get colder for the next few days. At the moment the sky is grey and cloudy but at least it is dry for once. I think my winter coat will have a couple more outings as winter has its last bite before returning at the end of the year.

Let’s dive in with some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. What are your plans for March?

I don’t have anything specific. Mrs PM is working a lot this month, which will jeopardise our weekends somewhat so we won’t be going away anywhere. I’ve got a couple of gigs – the Black Spiders next weekend and Devin Townsend at the end of March. I am really looking forward to both.

2. Did you ever have or go to sleepovers as a kid?

I went to the odd one. I was never really that keen on them to be perfectly honest because I love my own bed and have always done so. 

3. Which books would you pick for a book binge?

I usually have a book binge when I am on holiday, usually buying a few before I set off. If I am going to do some intense reading, I usually go for a multi-book series space opera, like the ones that Peter F Hamilton writes. I recall the first books I read by him – the Night’s Dawn trilogy which consisted of three 1000 page plus novels with vast scope that I needed to keep reading one straight after the other to keep track of all the characters and the convoluted storyline. If I had read the first and waited for the second, I would have probably had to reread the first to get up to speed. 

It is best for me to just go for it all in one go. 

I love a good space opera.

4. What features do you love most about your home?

I love quite a few things. 

In the house itself, we have three bedrooms, which are reasonably sized, each of which can accommodate a double bed (even the smallest). It has a smallish lounge with a slightly bigger back room that leads into a good sized kitchen. We have a weather-proofed outhouse that we use for storage. It is perfectly fine for the two of us. 

In fact we are currently going through a spring clean as we are about to redecorate the back room, which is looking quite tired now. This will involve replanning how we use the middle bedroom and the back bedroom as well as replacing the furniture. It is currently my man cave (if such a thing exists) doubling as an office and a second lounge with my Playstation and a fairly large TV. However, we are going to turn the back bedroom into my new mancave by moving the Playstation and TV upstairs, replacing the double bed with a double sofa bed and moving the piano from the middle room into the back bedroom. The middle bedroom will double as a second office (since both if us work from home a lot – and it is definitely big enough to accommodate a desk with plenty of room to spare). 

House-wise, it could be a turbulent year but by Autumn hopefully it will all be finished.

I also love the location of our house. We are in South Manchester, close to an area with a lot of shops, bars and restaurants and close to a tram station to get us into the centre of Manchester in about 20 minutes. We are also fairly close to the countryside too – perhaps a 30 minute drive in most directions. 

Sorry – I waffled on a bit there but I do love my house.

5. Favourite songs from tv, movies, and video games

I watched Inception not so long ago and I love the music that accompanies it – like this one. 

It is truly beautiful:

I love Hans Zimmer and I need to explore more of his music.

There are so many TV shows that have great music but one recent show sticks in my mind – Peacemaker. I started watching this thinking it would be another DC superhero show but I have to admit it is one of the best – and funniest – shows I have seen recently. I absolutely loved it. The theme is really good and the dance routine that the stars go through is as funny as it is unexpected and sums up what the show is all about.

Games? Well I rediscovered this from playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. I remember going to see them in Liverpool when I was at university. I loved it then and I love it now. A real throwback to the brilliant decade that was the 1980’s.

6. What group games do you like to play with others

I don’t really play group games. I guess the last one I played, quite a few years ago now, was Trivial Pursuit but I haven’t played it for a while. I usually did quite well because my ageing brain is full of absolute trivia.

7. How often do you try something new?

Not as often as I should. In recent years, I have started taking on new things and as I approach retirement I aim to do that more. Having said that, if you count travelling to a new country as “trying something new” I do that as often as I can. Last year I went to Denmark for the first time, this year it will be Morocco and next year it will be Malaysia – with a possibility of sneaking in a weekend break in one of the following new countries this year; Austria, Sweden, Poland or Estonia.

8. What type of sushi is your favourite?

I think that would have to be sashimi, in particular salmon sashimi. 

9. Do you prefer to relax or go on adventures during vacation?

I don’t really go on adventures unless you count exploring cities an adventure. If we go on a city break we usually spend most of the time exploring but if we go to the coast or a resort, we tend to split the exploration and relaxation. For example, when we go to Marrakech in April we will spend all of the time exploring but our trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia in June/July will be a little bit of both.

10. How do you prevent burn out?

I think I have a really good work/life balance. In my thirties, I had a minor health scare that turned out be totally stress related and I took the decision then to be more assertive when it came to this balance. These days, I do not let work get on top of me at all and I haven’t for years now. And I feel much better for it. 

Stress does still happen but I have learned to deal with it in a better wary, and I am happy to say that almost none of it comes from work – and nor would I allow it to.

11. Which colours look best on you?

I look like a ghost if I wear white or yellow so they are out. 

I just look like a weird alien if I wear orange.

I prefer blue, turquoise or teal but Mrs PM likes me to wear brighter colours like red or green. She says I look better – and she’s probably right. As she says “You don’t have to look at yourself!”, so I just let her decide.

12. Do you like brunch?

Yes but only at weekends. If I have a lie in, I usually go for my walk before breakfast and by the time I get back it is closer to lunchtime. So we have brunch, which basically means a full English breakfast with all the trimmings. We do this on holiday quite a lot too.

13. Trends you showed up late for.

All of them!

I don’t follow trends at all. When it comes to fashion, I sometimes accidentally follow trends because I buy clothes that happen to be trendy at the time. 

As far as technology is concerned, I tend to wait for new items to “bed in” for six months to see how good they really are before buying them.

Mrs PM follows trends, especially with fashion, houseware, etc. so again, I accidentally end up being relatively close to them. 

If I were young, free and single I would be absolutely hopeless.

14. What’s your favourite drink order?

It depends. In the winter I will order bitter or an ale of some kind (an IPA perhaps). In the summer, I tend to just drink lager because it is cool and refreshing. I avoid stout but occasionally have a Guinness.

15. Which clothes or accessories make you feel most confident?

I just like to be comfortable and that makes me feel more confident rather than being a sharp-dressed man. Things like weddings and other similar social events where I am expected to wear a suit or a penguin suit don’t really matter because every other bloke is wearing a suit too.

I didn’t like wearing a suit for work and thankfully now I don’t have to. There was an interim period where we had “dress-down Friday” and I felt much more relaxed on Friday in my jeans and T-shirt. 

Saturday, 25 February 2023

Compassion Int'l

Welcome to a cool and mild South Manchester with light clouds but sadly no sunshine. We just had a few days in Tenerife where the temperature was about 20 degrees Celsius during the day but a little chilly at night. It was like a lovely sunny British day, even with a little rain at times. I managed to practice my limited Spanish and it was fun.
Shall we answer some daft questions from Sunday Stealing
1. Do you ever have funny dreams at night? 

I don’t have funny dreams, as in amusing but I do have strange dreams that make me wake up thinking “What on earth is going on in my mind?”. I wouldn’t mind if they were troubling dreams – they’re not – they are just strange. Perhaps I should write them down and send them off to a dream analyser or a psychiatrist/therapist and see what they make of them. On second thoughts, perhaps not because I may end up spending the rest of my life in a lunatic asylum.
2. If you could make a law for your country, what would it be?
I would force us to rejoin the EU (if they would have us back) and exile all the über-Brexiters like Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson etc. to a remote island in North Scotland.
3. What would you do if you were invisible for a day?
I would probably spend the whole day getting free entrance into huge events like a football match or a rock concert and go behind the scenes to witness the action close up. I’m not a malicious person so I wouldn’t do any harm or do anything naughtier than that. 
4. If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?
I would be Rishi Sunak and my first activity would be to resign and call a General Election.
5. What would you like to change about yourself?
I wouldn’t mind changing my body to be the one I had at 21.
6. What is your daily routine.
It depends on the day. 
On a school day, I get up and immediately go for a four mile walk. I return, have a shower and then start work (usually between 7am and 7:30). I stop and have lunch with Mrs at about 12:30 (we both work at home – except Tuesday when I tend to pop into the office). I watch the news headlines at 1pm and then return to work until about 4pm. I then practice piano, do a little Spanish, a little writing and tend to spend the evening mooching and watching TV.
On a Friday or weekend, I don’t set the alarm but I go for a four to five mile walk. And then it depends on what I have planned for the day. I usually go to bed later (around midnight). 
7. What would your perfect day be like? What would you be doing?
I would be abroad and I would like to delve into the local culture walking around visiting things for most of the day with a little relaxation before enjoying an evening with Mrs PM. But it depends on where we are. For  example in Tenerife, we tended to go for big walks along the coast, stopping off for coffees and perhaps a cheeky beer before relaxing by the pool with a good book and some music. In a foreign city we usually walk a lot further and spend most of the day exploring rather than relaxing.
8. How old were you when you learned to read?
I was probably about four or five years old I think. 
9. What is the most interesting thing you know?
Interesting to me or interesting to you? 
If you are not a mathematician I can prove:
(a) 1=0
(b) In a race between a hare and a tortoise where the hare can run twice as fast as the tortoise, the hare will never win.
Obviously, if you are a degree educated mathematician you will easily disprove both, but if you are not, I can convince you of both.
Also, the world’s first stored-program electronic digital computer was designed and built in Manchester, my adopted home.
10 What makes you nervous?
Lots of things. I usually get over them though.
11. What is your favourite flower?
I don’t really have a favourite flower – maybe a rose? I can tell you a flower that I hate – sunflowers. They’re like triffids with heads.
12. Have you ever ridden on a horse or any other animal?
I haven’t ridden on a proper full sized horse, but I have been on a couple of small horses and donkeys.
13. What time do you go to bed?
Sunday to Wednesday I am usually in bed between 9:30pm and 10pm. 
On Thursday I usually go to bed at about 11pm.
On Friday and Saturday bedtime is usually after midnight but usually before 1am.
14. What time do you get up?
Monday to Thursday I am up at 6am.
Friday I usually get up at about 7:30 am.
On Saturday and Sunday, I am usually up by 9am.
15. What is something that is always in your refrigerator?
Cheese – of course.

Saturday, 11 February 2023

7 Layers

Greetings from South Manchester. We have just booked a trip to Tenerife and we are off on Wednesday for five days to escape the dull and dreary February weather in Manchester. I’m looking forward to it so that I can take walks along the coast, relax and practice my Spanish, even though English is fairly widely spoken there. It’s more fun trying to communicate in the local language and I am lucky because I can make myself understood (though understanding Spanish spoken back at me at 100 mph is not easy – I am sure there will be some humorous misunderstandings).
Shall we answer some silly Sunday Stealing questions? 
LAYER 1: Tell us your...
* Eye colour: 
I have blue eyes I’ve been told they are quite nice. 
* Hair colour: 
My hair used to be very blond but now it is a kind of light brown that is slowly being invaded by grey.
* Height: 
I am 5ft 11 inches (or 1 metre 80 centimetres).
* Righty or lefty: 
I am right handed. 
LAYER 2: What's...
* Your heritage: 
I answered this last week as a class thing. I didn’t mention that I am almost certainly an Anglo-Saxon with some elements of Viking (the blond hair and blue eyes). I need to take a DNA test to find out for sure. However, when I go to Europe I am almost always mistaken for a German. Mrs PM and I once flew from Manchester on Lufthansa to Munich and as we boarded the aircraft, Mrs PM was greeted in English and I was greeted in German. It happens all the time (though less so now because the grey invasion is perhaps removing the impression that I might have German heritage). 
* The shoes you wore today: 
I went for a walk in my sturdy walking boots this morning. 
* Your weakness: 
I am possibly too nice and too helpful. I find that sometimes people try to take advantage of this. 
* Your fears: 
Spiders and heights.
* Your perfect pizza: 
I love anything that is described as a “meat feast” with as many different slices of meat of any kind on it, all trapped in lots of cheese. It’s not particularly healthy but then again I don’t eat pizza very often at all. 
* Goals you’d like to achieve:
I would like to retire, write a book, travel the world and live until I am 200 years old.
* Your first waking thoughts: 
Am I working today?
* Your best physical feature: 
I don’t regard myself as attractive at all. I don’t care – I am 60 years old. However, several ladies have told me in the past that I have a very nice arse. I don’t actually know why this is a plus point if I’m honest. 
* Your most missed memory: 
Not quite sure what this means. If it is a memory the implication is that you still remember it. Therefore how can it be missed?
LAYER 3: Do you...
* Smoke: 
No. I tried it once as a stupid nineteen year old. I was drunk and promptly threw up everywhere. I have never tried it since.
* Cuss: 
Oh yes. I try not to swear in front of relatives or anyone who might be offended but sometimes (quite often actually) things get the better of me. My cats have learned several new words in their two years on this planet. 
* Sing: 
Yes – I have just been singing to this:
although obviously nowhere near as brilliantly as Sharon den Adel.
* Do you think you’ve been in love: 
That’s where I am now. So yes.
* Did you go to college:
I went to university in Liverpool. I have a Batchelor of Science degree with Honours. I loved it.
* Liked high school: 
I went to a Grammar School and I had a love/hate relationship with it. There were times when I despised it but a lot of the time it was “okay” I suppose. I look back with gratitude for what they helped me to achieve though.
* Believe in yourself:
Largely yes. I know what I like and I know what I am good at. I also, largely know what I want. 
* Think you’re attractive: 
As I said above, I don’t think I am attractive at all. However, I am not a woman and so I don’t see myself from the female perspective. I guess history will record that women find me okay given that I have two serious relationships. It could be personality though I guess but even that surprised me because I think I am just a weirdo. 
* Think you’re a health freak: 
Not really. I have always been relatively fit, running, swimming and playing football in the past. These days I try to walk four miles a day. As for food, I tend to eat a balanced diet with little chocolate and sweets, not much junk food and generally healthy options such as fruit, vegetables, fish. I am a carnivore though. I rarely eat desserts. I do like beer though.
* Like thunderstorms:
I absolutely love thunderstorms. A couple of years ago we were in Croatia and, in the middle of the night, I was woken up by the distant rumble of thunder. It was about 2am. I looked out of the window and could see distant lightning in the sea – and it was getting closer. I sat on the balcony for an hour watching it make landfall. Thankfully the balcony was sheltered and I didn’t get wet when the rain came. There was so much lightning and the thunder was really loud I thought the sky was going to crack. Mrs PM opened the door and said “Come inside you weirdo!” I stayed out for another ten minutes until the wind blew the rain straight onto the balcony like a shower. It was fantastic.
* Play an instrument:
Yes. I can play a trombone – well at least I could when I was 16. I am teaching myself to play the piano at the moment. Baby steps. 
LAYER 4: In the past month have you…
* Drunk alcohol:
Yes I have. I had a couple of beers last night (since it was Friday). 
* Smoked: 
* Done a drug: 
* Made out: 
I’ve always wondered what “made out” actually means. We don’t use that phrase in the UK. So I will say “I don’t know but probably yes”.
* Gone on a date:
Only with Mrs PM. 
* Gone to the mall: 
No. I hate shopping and I avoid shopping centres.
* Eaten an entire box of Oreos: 
I’ve only ever eaten Oreos once or twice in my entire life. And then I only had one or two. 
* Eaten sushi: 
No. But I love sushi. There is a Pan-Asian restaurant fairly close to us and this makes me consider going there sometime soon.
* Been on stage:
* Been dumped: 
I hope not. 
* Gone skating: 
I haven’t been skating for years (ice skating that is). 
* Gone skinny dipping:
No. I have never been skinny dipping, the reason being that I wouldn’t want to subject the human race or even the animal kingdom to such a revolting sight. 
LAYER 5: Have you ever…
* Played a game that required removal of clothing: 
No. For the same reason I gave in the answer to the last question.
* Been trashed or extremely intoxicated:
Absolutely – but not for many years.
* Been caught “doing something”: 
It depends what you mean by “something”. The answer is probably but I don’t know for sure. 
* Been called a tease:
Yes – I quite enjoy winding gullible people up and teasing them. It’s a bad character trait that I am trying to overcome. 
* Gotten beaten up:
I have lost a couple of fights but only when I was a kid. I have never had a fight as an adult. 
* Age you did get/hope to be married:
I got married at the age of 25 and then got divorced ten years later. I have been in a relationship ever since but at the time of writing neither of us have really thought about marriage.
* How do you want to die: 
As quickly and painlessly as possible.
* What did you want to be when you grew up:
I honestly didn’t know; I just fell into my career because I was very good at maths and telling computers what to do. If you asked me now, I would probably say a travel writer.
* What country would you most like to visit: 
Any Scandinavian country, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong and other south Asian countries. But given the chance I would go on a round the world trip taking in all of those countries, Europe and the Americas.
LAYER 7: Now tell...
* Name a person you could trust with your life:
Mrs PM.
* Name a favourite CD that you own: 
Hand. Cannot. Erase. By Steven Wilson.
* Number of piercings:
* Number of tattoos:
* Number of times my name has appeared in the newspaper: 
Zero (hopefully). 
* Name a past experience that you regret: 
I try to look forward not to the past. So I shall end this post on a positive note and say the future is unwritten and ready to be conquered. I intend to do that.

Saturday, 4 February 2023

Three Things


Welcome to a dull but mild South Manchester. The weather is slowly improving as we enter February (although I fear there might be a sting in the tail – there usually is). 
Shall we dive into some silly question from Sunday Stealing? 
1. Three names you go by, other than your given name:
My given name is Dave and most people call me that. 
(a) In Blogland I go by the name Plastic Mancunian because I don’t come from Manchester originally but I have lived here for 60% of my life. I like to consider myself a Mancunian.
(b) There is a lad at work who calls me Dilbert because apparently I resemble this weird cartoon character. I guess I am an engineer and I work in technology but I also wear glasses and am a bit of a geek – so it does kind of fit. 
(c) Others add the letter Y to my surname – which I used to hate as a kid but I have got used to it over the years. I even sign cards using that name sometimes.
2. Three things you like about yourself:
(a) I like the fact that I am vaguely intelligent. It has helped me through school university and my career.
(b) I like that fact that I look younger than I am. At Christmas on a work pub crawl I met a former work colleague (he actually used to be my boss’s boss) and when I told him I had turned 60 he was stunned. “Can I have whatever you are taking?” he asked me. He is in his mid-40’s and I actually look younger than him (in my opinion).
(c) I like the improvements I have made to my life in the past few years and that I am continuing to do so. You are never too old to learn something new. 
3. Three things you don't like about yourself:
(a) My hair is awful. Women and bald men like it because it is thick and when it grows long it is quite wavy. The problem is that it is uncontrollable, which is why I keep it short these days. It was quite long when I was younger and how I suffered that I will never know.
(b) My eyes are useless. I hate the fact that I have been short-sighted all my life. It seems cool to wear glasses now but, believe me, when you are a kid it can be terrible. I used to be called “four eyes”, “specky” and all manner of other insults. And I tried to get contact lenses but my eyes let me down again, making me almost throw up when the optician tried to put them in. They aren’t suited to them. I am Mr Magoo.
(c) I have a tendency to procrastinate. I have to say that I am better than I used to be – these days I just tell myself to do just do things whereas in the past I would do something inane like watching some crap on the TV rather than do something useful. Habits have helped. I recommend them.
4. Three parts of your heritage:
(a) I come from a working class background and that has tuck with me even though I wouldn’t class myself as that now. In the UK there are three classes – working, middle and upper (before you get to silly things like royalty). Hopefully this illustrates what I mean:
As such I hold certain values and views that I think are sound such as working hard.
(b) I’ve done quite well; I was the first person in my family to go to university (closely followed by my two younger sisters) and having come from a lower class that some of my contemporaries, I have a different outlook on life. 
(c) I have often had to deal with and even work with upper class people; one of my best friends from university went to public school – the kind of school where you pay exorbitant amounts of money to send you kids away. He rubbed shoulders with sons of rich politicians. Yet somehow we were and are still good friends. I think possibly because I am quite direct and he loved it.
5. Three things you are wearing right now:
(a) I am wearing a pair of dark blue chinos. They are quite comfortable for knocking around the house. 
(b) I am also wearing a blue jumper because we are still in the latter stages of winter, despite the mild temperatures.
(c) I am wearing my glasses because without them I can’t see a thing.
6. Three favourite bands/musical artists:
These are my current favourites – that will probably change.
(a) Riverside – a Polish progressive rock band.
(b) Devin Townsend – a Canadian progressive rock/metal maestro.
(c) Steven Wilson – a British progressive rock genius.
7. Three favourite songs:
There are so many to choose from. These are not necessarily favourites but they are brilliant nonetheless:
(a) Let There Be Rock – AC/DC
(b) Wish – Nine Inch Nails
(c) Tom Sawyer – Rush
8. Three things you want in a relationship:
(a) Intelligent conversation.
(b) Laughter.
(c) Fun.
9. Three of your favourite hobbies:
(a) Writing – well I try to anyway.
(b) Football – as a spectator sadly (I was never any good as a player and now I am too old).
(c) Music – I love music (as you have guessed from the previous two answers). I will be able to play a piano (very badly) soon. I am calling myself a pianist even though I am not really. Look out and beware – there may be an album when in ten years – I will be 70 but it didn’t stop Christopher Lee releasing a heavy metal album at the age of 90.
10. Three things that scare you:
(a) Heights – and I have been to the tallest building in the world. I am a bloody idiot. I will never do that again – nor will I ever skydive.
(b) Spiders – I can tolerate the small ones we get in the UK but if I saw a Huntsman Spider I would probably scream like the loudest banshee who has ever lived. I honestly debated going to Australia for that reason (but having been there I would definitely go again). I have watched Arachnophobia once – I will not watch it ever again.
(c) Public speaking – believe me, I have done this numerous times but I still panic when I do it. I have given courses in China, Russia and other countries – I don’t have to do it now, thank goodness.
11. Three of your everyday essentials:
(a) An early morning walk. I usually go for a three to four mile walk every morning (at about 6:30 am on school days but slightly later at weekends). It is a habit now and I feel weird when I miss out. When I caught Covid-19 last year, I was over it in three days but I had to self-isolate for ten days – that was dreadful.
(b) A cup of tea. Tea gets me through the day, especially when I am working. I really miss it when I go abroad because you can’t beat a cup of strong British tea. Coffee helps but it’s not the same.
(c) Music – there is always music in the house, even if I have to walk around with earphones. It keeps me calm and composed
12. Three places you want to go on vacation:
(a) Japan – I have been once and I absolutely loved it. I hope I get the chance to go back.
(b) Sweden – my trip to Denmark last year made me think about going to Sweden. Mrs PM has been before and she loved it.
(c) New Zealand – I’ve heard it is beautiful and I fancy a long haul trip via Australia – probably after I retire. If I can persuade Mrs PM that is.
13. Three careers you have considered/are considering:
My career is drawing to a close now but I guess if I could have my time again I would reconsider my options.
(a) A writer – I would love to write a book and I would have pushed my studies in that direction had I had the opportunity. 
(b) A traveller – I would probably combine this with (a) above and I would also have pushed my school curricula activities into languages rather than science to assist. I can speak a little French, less German and my Spanish is coming on but it isn’t enough. I know a person who works at my company who can speak about four languages fluently and is currently learning more. I envy her. 
(c) A postman – While I try to get my writing career started and think about studying languages to travel, my day job would be a postman. I have done it before as a holiday job while I was at university and it was peaceful and rewarding. I love a morning walk as I said above and actually combining that with something I can get paid for appeals. It might even be an option if I get bored after I retire.
14. Three things you want to do before you die:
(a) Travel to as many countries as  possible.
(b) Play the piano well enough to create some music.
(c) Publish a book.
15. Three things you want to do really badly right now:
(a) Retire – I’ve had enough of the rat race. A year or two to go but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
(b) Go on holiday. I have to wait until April to go to Morocco but there may be an outside chance of a quick break to Tenerife soon – depending on certain things.
(c) Have some lunch. I am hungry.

Sunday, 29 January 2023

Pinterest Part Three

Welcome to a cloudy and dull South Manchester. January is almost over and I am delighted because, as regular readers will know, I hate January and February. I won’t go into this now but it is a relief that days are getting longer and the weather is improving (although February is to come and that can sometimes bite me on the arse as I look forward to spring).

Without any further ado, let’s dive into some silly questions from Sunday Stealing.

1. When did you last sing to yourself

This morning. I was listening to the latest single by Riverside. Here it is:

2. If you’re male, would you ever rock black nail polish? If you’re female, would you ever rock really, really short hair?

Last time I looked I was male. And the answer is that I would never wear nail polish at all, black or otherwise. I am a fan of rock music and while I have seen guys wearing all manner of weird things, I have never been tempted myself. 

3. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

That’s a difficult question and I don’t like to blow my own trumpet at all. By nature, I am not a person who boasts about anything really; I am quite modest. I guess I have accomplished a lot of things but there are people who would say “call that an accomplishment?”. Here are a couple to consider:

My two kids.

I have travelled to lots of countries and I plan to add more to that list. 

I am comfortable and happy as a grumpy old 60 year old.

That will do. I am sure others have accomplished far more than I have.

4. What is the first happy memory that comes to mind, recent or otherwise?

Going abroad for the  first time last year after the pandemic was a fairly significant happy memory. There are many others but after being locked down for so long and managing to escape being stir-crazy constantly, I was delighted to finally get away.

5. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living?

I would want to know how I was going to die and take steps to avoid it. Wouldn’t everybody?

6. Do you have a bucket list? if so, what are the top three things?

I’ve posted about bucket lists before. I don’t have one but I basically went through each item on one person’s bucket list to indicate whether I had done it or whether I would do it. I have considered creating one when I retire and have more time to actually achieve them but I’m not sure that I want to commit to doing it. Things may change though. 

Off the top of my head, here are three things I shall consider:

Write a novel. I am currently chipping away at a novel on my day off each week. It is in its infancy and quite amateurish but it is evolving. It will take some time to produce the first draft and then lots and lots of time to rewrite most of it (for being crap basically). Who knows? I may even self-publish it on Amazon. 

Travel to as many countries as I can. This is a work in progress. Last year I added Denmark to the list of countries I had visited. We are going to two more in the next two years: Morocco in April and Malaysia sometime in 2024. 

Make an album and release it on Spotify. I am teaching myself piano and am making fair progress. It is quite hard but I am getting there slowly. For me this is like a project. As soon as I can play and invent simple tunes, I am thinking of buying a synthesiser and exploring producing new instrumental tunes. A friend of mine recently “released” an album on Spotify and I listened to it yesterday. It gave me the idea of possibly doing that myself. It is not necessarily going to happen – but if you don’t have a goal (however difficult) how can you grow? That’s a good philosophy to embrace, I reckon.

7. How do you feel about tattoos and piercings? 

I don’t mind other people having them but I would never have either. 

8. Do you feel you had a happy childhood?

I had a tricky childhood but it was happy I think. I come from a working class background and I managed to find my way out of that into a more comfortable lifestyle and without the support of my family that would never have happened. 

8. When did you last cry in front of another person?

I can't remember but I probably blubbed watching a cheesy movie in front of Mrs PM.

9. Who in the world would you most like to receive a letter from and what would you want it to say?

I would like to receive a letter from King Charles III telling me that I had been knighted for just being an all round great guy. And then I would write back saying "Thanks -  but no thanks."

10. What is your night time routine?

Usually, I watch a little TV first and when I feel tired I will lock up, floss, brush my teeth and read in bed until I start to doze off (usually within about fifteen minutes). I will then remove the cats from the bedroom (so they don’t wake us in the middle of the night) and hopefully go to sleep. 

11. When was your last 3am conversation with someone, and who were they to you?

I can’t recall when I was last having a conversation at 3am. It will almost certainly been with Mrs PM though.

12. If you were about to die, and you could only say one more sentence to one person, what would you say and to whom?

I would say “See you in your dreams” to Mrs PM.

13. What is your opinion on brown eyes?

My mum had brown eyes as did my very first proper girlfriend. I love them. 

14. Pick a quote and describe what it means to you personally.

I will cheat and list a few:

“If an earthquake were to engulf England tomorrow, the English would manage to meet and dine somewhere among the rubble, just to celebrate the event.” – Douglas Jerrold

“The English are not happy unless they are miserable.” – George Orwell

“In the bible, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights- they called it a disaster. In England, we call it summer! – Unknown 

“Well, you’ll be glad to know that scientists have finally explained why we’ve been enduring this rather long spell of disappointing weather. Apparently…we live in Britain.” — Hugh Dennis

"The sun doesn’t live in England; it comes here on holiday when we’re all at work" - Benny Bellamacina

"Being an England supporter is like being the over-optimistic parents of the fat kid on sports day" - John Bishop

They are funny and tell me that we love a bit of self-deprecation in England. That’s why I love my country.

15. What would you title the autobiography of your life so far?

I have started one. It’s called “Insignificant Memoirs!”

Saturday, 21 January 2023

Grammar School

Welcome to South Manchester on a sunny but very cold day. It snowed last week and the temperatures have dropped to below freezing and a lot of the snow has frozen, leaving certain areas of the pavement quite treacherous if you are walking around in dodgy shoes. I wear walking boots so I am fine for my morning strolls. 

Today’s Sunday Stealing is all about “High School” and since I live in the UK and went to a grammar school, there will be a little editing to anglicise the post and alter the Americanisms (I usually do this anyway – changing favorite to favourite for example). 

I am English after all.

Shall we dive in?

1. You are  back in grammar school... what are you doing after school lately?

Let’s say that I am in the sixth form for the next few questions; the year is 1980 and I am aged 17, studying for my A-Levels in Physics, Chemistry, Maths and the pot pourri that is “General Studies” (where you dive into weird and wonderful subjects such as religion, art, the ascent of man, history and various other odd tangential weirdness). 

At the moment, I help out in a newsagent so I receive the newspaper delivery at the shop and gather the newspapers for the paper kids to take out. If somebody doesn’t turn up, I help out with the delivery (for an extra couple of quid). 

As soon as I get home from school I will go back to the newsagent and help out in the shop and maybe collect money from customers who have their papers delivered. I will then do some home study and a bit of homework, eat and join my mates in the park. 

Oh – that’s right – I had a steady girlfriend then so I will spend some time with her too.

2. Do you do homework early or late? Do you really study?

The grammar school is supposedly the best in Walsall and is driven by academia. A huge percentage of the pupils end up at university and that is what is expected of me. In other schools, the cool kids are those who can fight well or are brilliant at sports. At my school the cool kids are the clever ones. I don’t particularly want to be cool but I am clever and I want to succeed (even though at this time of my life I am a complete arse). So, yes, I do study and I do my homework on time.

I have fun though. I’m not a complete nerd.

3. (a) Do you go to the games? Football? Basketball.. what is your favourite to attend?

Yes – I am a huge fan of my local football team (if you are American – that is “soccer”) and I am a season ticket holder, meaning that I attend every home game.

3. (b). Do you go to the dances? Prom? (what'd you wear?)

Back in 1980, we don’t have proms in the UK. That is an American thing. However, if we leave 1980 for a short time – then, yes, the “prom” has started happening in the UK. 

I don’t like the idea of them to be honest. Too much pressure. But I can’t remain as an old fuddy duddy for long. If the kids love them then so be it.

4. Lunch!  What are we having today?   What is your favourite lunch?

School dinners in the UK have a reputation for being disgusting but nutritious. Personally I think they are overcooked and we are fed terrible things like prunes, damsons, rhubarb and other foul desserts. Some are okay but it seems that the minister in charge of school meals is a complete sadist. 

If I had ruled the world back in 1980 I would have forced him to eat the gruel himself. 

Sometimes, however, I do go out to get some fish and chips because in the sixth form we can do that. 

5. What kind of music do you like the best?

Back in 1980 it is heavy metal and hard rock. Some pop bands are okay but my musical taste has evolved to the point where I love it loud and heavy. My hair is long too and I feel like a rebellious arse.

Here is a sample of what I listen to.

6. Does the radio play in your car and if so what station or kind of music plays?  Does music play in your home often?

I don’t have a car but my mate does. We are both into the same kind of music, which is lucky but his taste isn’t quite as heavy as mine. However, we are both huge fans of this album – and for me this particular song:

At home, I have a music centre (a combined radio, record player and tape deck) that my dad passed onto me when he upgraded. I listen to heavy metal and drive my parents up the wall with it. They are forever telling me to turn the volume down.

My dad thinks that music is dead – I tell him it’s the future. 

7. What do you think of the music played in restaurants or stores? Do you find it relaxing or annoying?

It’s basically pop music so, as a rebellious arse, I hate it. 

8. What part has music played in your life? What kind of music played at your wedding or at parties you have been to?

Let’s move back to the here and now. Music has played a massive part in my life and I am almost obsessive with it. I l always have music on in the house unless I am watching TV. I listen to music on my walks unless Mrs PM is with me and I even listen to relaxing ambient music while I am working. 

Now I have Spotify, I am exploring new music and old music that I have missed on the way.

Music is exciting and nostalgic and I always feel happier when listening to it. 

I’m not keen on the music I hear at weddings though I have to say; it is usually safe popular music and as such I find it boring.  There are occasional gems that I may even get up and try to dance to but they are few and far between. 

I have been known to actually ask for some decent rock music at a wedding but the response is always the same – it’s either “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi or “Sex on Fire” by King’s of Leon.

Sometimes I despair – I really do.

9. Is the farm for you? How about a ranch, a village or a city? Which is your choice and why?

I am a city man but as I get older, I find that occasionally I like to escape to the countryside where you will find farms and cute villages. I think I would find a farm or a country village a little boring at the current moment but as I get older that may change. 

10. A short auto trip for the weekend with friends or a long vacation? Where would you go?

Both. We are planning a weekend away in a lodge soon with some friends near to Delamere Forest in the Cheshire countryside but I have to say that I prefer escaping further afield. We are planning some travelling this abroad again this year – Morocco (a new country for me), Croatia and Spain are definite, with Italy a possibility. We may also go to the Canary Islands in the next month or two and I may also get to Amsterdam for a university reunion in May (as it didn’t happen last year). 

11. The quiet life at home with a cuppa and TV or  a good book or a night out with friends? Which sounds good today?

Well I will do all three to be fair. After I have published this, I will sit down and have a cup of tea and watch some TV before going into Manchester to meet some friends for a couple of beers and a meal. When I get back I will read for a while before going to sleep. 

12. You have a choice of  dinner and a movie or a game of cards and snacks at the neighbours. Where are you going tonight?

Like I said I am going out with friends tonight – no movie though. I don’t play cards but we pop to the neighbours for a chat and some fun sometimes.

13. Is there a hero or character on TV, in a book or a movie .. or even on all three, that you are especially like? What do you find attractive about them?

Nope. I am too boring to be a hero. 

If you can think of a “hero” who is fairly competent with computers, is quite numerate, like decent rock music and travels a bit then that would be the man. 

Answers on a comment please.

14.  Was there a book that was better in movie form? How about a movie you thought didn't live up to the book?

Typically in my experience, the book is better than the movie and I think it Is a rare thing to find a movie that is better than the book from which it came. I always found Thomas Harris a little difficult to read so the movies were generally better than the books in terms of enjoyment. In particular, Hannibal (the book) had a terrible ending – so the movie is far better. 

As I said, there are a lot of movies that are nowhere near as good as the books. 

Most books by Stephen King are better than the movies made from them for example.

15. When you choose a book, program or movie which subject it is most likely to be: science fiction, mystery, romance, comedy, documentary, etc.? What draws you to a particular book or movie?

It is most likely to be science fiction or a political thriller like those written by the late Robert Ludlum (the creator of Jason Bourne). I also read the odd horror story and I like a good comedy. 


Saturday, 14 January 2023

Some More Favourites

Welcome to a changeable South Manchester. I can see blue sky and both white and grey clouds with a threat of rain later. 

Before I go on, I just want to raise my glass (well cup of tea at the moment) to the legendary guitarist Jeff Beck who died this week. Rest in peace:

Shall we move onto some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. What is your favourite accent?

My own accent is “neutral” English with a hint of Black Country and a soupçon of Mancunian. It is a lot better than the one I had when I lived in Walsall which was pure Black Country – or “Yam Yam”. It wasn’t pleasant to listen too (so I am told).

Here is a taste of the accent:

I’m not actually sure whether I have a favourite accent. I am not a fan of cockney or Welsh and I struggle to understand the Scottish accent sometimes, particularly that in Glasgow. 

I quite like Southern Irish and the North East accent. I am surrounded by Mancunian accents as you can imagine and that is just like white noise to me. 

I will say Southern Irish – as I recall a young lady once trying to chat me up in a bar in Dublin while Mrs PM was at the bar – also being chatted up by a different bloke. 

2. What is your favourite animal?

I love cats and dogs. I would be quite happy to have both a dog and a cat together but Mrs PM favours our feline friends more. I am happy with that. 

3. What is your favourite band?

My favourite band is no more. It was Canadian progressive rockers Rush and sadly they ceased to be just before the untimely death of their legendary drummer Neil Peart. Their music has been with me at key moments in my life and always will be with me in future. Here they are at their best.

And now it is time to move on and taking up the throne is probably Polish progressive rockers Riverside who have a new album out next week. Here they are:

4. What is your favourite childhood book?

I remember reading War of the Worlds when I was about eleven years old and I loved it ever since. It is one of the few books I have read a couple of times.

5. What is your favourite colour?

I like blue but I think my favourite colour is probably teal – a kind of bluey green.

6. What is your favourite drink?

My favourite non-alcoholic beverage is tea, which I take decaffeinated and with just a splash of milk. 

My favourite soft drink is probably apple juice, though I usually add a little orange juice to give it a little kick.

My favourite alcoholic drink is probably Timmy Taylor’s Landlord, although I will happily drink lager and other ales. I also like red wine – and I can quite happily drink white wine too.

7. What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

I don’t eat much ice cream to be honest but I do recall that Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is really nice.

8. What is your favourite place on the planet?

There are too many to list. I am quite happy here at home in South Manchester but you can’t beat walking along an unspoiled beach as the sun is going down either in the south of Spain or the South of France. Hong Kong is my favourite city outside the UK.

9. What is your favourite sandwich?

I am a man of simple tastes so I am happy with a ham, cheese and tomato sandwich. I do like smoked salmon and avocado too occasionally.

10. What is your favourite swear word?

A great word to express your distaste is a word that I think is only used in the UK (though it might be used in Australia too). That word is:


It basically means “rubbish” as in:

“You are talking complete and utter bollocks!”

“What a load of old bollocks!”

11. What is your favourite thing to wear?

I am quite happy wearing jeans and a T-shirt usually. 

12. What is your favourite food to eat on a rainy day?

I guess if it is raining I would go for something more homely like a casserole or a pie.

13. What is your favourite food to eat on a sunny day?

I guess on a sunny day I would eat something lighter like a salad. That said, it is sunny now but it is the middle of winter so I think I would stick with the same as the answer to the previous question. 

14. What is your favourite number?

I don’t have a favourite number. If you force me to pick one I will go for 8 because I was born on the 8th.

15. What is your favourite snack?

I have several favourite snacks; cheese on toast, cheese and biscuits, cheese and onion crisps, flame raisins and almonds, dry roast peanuts, Granny Smith’s apples, nectarines, plums, satsumas, oranges, bananas – the list goes on.