Saturday 22 April 2023

Pinterest Part Four

Welcome to South Manchester, where the weather is cloudy and a little on the chilly side. 

Last week I added a new country to my travel portfolio. We spent three lovely days in Marrakech, where it was very hot and very crowded. It is my first visit to Morocco and North Africa in general (having been to South Africa a few times with work). It was thoroughly enjoyable. 

Next trip abroad is to Amsterdam in about a month for a reunion with three of my old university mates. That will be fun. 

Over to some silly questions from Sunday Stealing.

1. Would you rather trade some intelligence for looks or looks for intelligence?

Well since I consider myself to be plain at best and hideous at worst, I would gladly sacrifice looks for intelligence. I am not a vain person by any stretch of the imagination and I love intelligent people, who generally consider looks to be a lower priority in the grand scheme of things. 

2. If everything in your house had to be one colour what would it be?

It would be different shades of blue. Hopefully I would be able to persuade this omnipotent being who inflicted this crazy constraint upon me that teal counts as a shade of blue, thus allowing me to be creative with this limitation.

3. What animal would be the most terrifying if it could speak?

Any animal that could kill me. Imagine being hunted by a lion and it was taunting you; “There is no hiding place; I know where you are and I am going to have you for lunch!”

Not something I would relish, if I’m honest.

4. How do you procrastinate?

I try not to procrastinate these days but it is a constant battle to which I sometimes fail. I tend to watch TV or play on my PS4 rather than doing things that will benefit when I lose such skirmishes. Habits are a great weapon against procrastination, I have to say. Apparently 30 days is all it takes. 

5. If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

Beware: Weirdo.

6. Would you rather go 30 days without your phone or life without dessert?

Life without dessert. When I was a kid I had a really sweet tooth but over the years it has perished and now I rarely if ever eat desserts. Occasionally I will be tempted but that is driven more by hunger and what is available to eat rather than to satisfy my sweet tooth. At restaurants I almost always go for a starter and main course. 

30 days without a phone would be a far more difficult prospect.

7. If one animal was made the size of an elephant, which would be the scariest?

A cat. Cats are totally efficient hunters and would probably do some serious damage to humanity if they were the size of an elephant. 

8. If you were reincarnated as a famous landmark, which would it be?

It would be a building on Victoria Peak in Hong Kong so I could enjoy this amazing view.

9. What celebrity chef would you like to make you dinner?

None of them. I do not like celebrity chefs at all. There are one or two I can barely tolerate but there are far too many cookery programmes on TV and they are full of them. I find them tedious to watch and a lot of them are so obsessed with themselves and their own culinary skills that they come across as arrogant and obnoxious. 

Like this one – a drunk Delia Smith.

And Anthony Worral Thompson making excuses for being caught shoplifting:

There are many more.

I would take my chance with the Swedish chef from the muppets I think.

10. How much would someone have to pay you to eat a spider?

They could never pay me enough money. I would rather live in poverty.

11. If you joined a circus, what would your circus act be?

I would never join a circus. But if I were forced to I would be a clown. 

12. Do you have any superstitions?

Not really. I don’t really believe in superstitions.

13. What cheesy song do you have memorised?

I looked up the top 100 cheesy songs and discovered that I love the actual number one – and I know it off by heart.

Here it is for your delight – and I don’t think it is cheesy at all.

14. What’s something weird that you recommend everyone try at least once?

Okay – here is something that is British that I know will make some Americans howl with laughter. 

When I was at university, I lived with an American guy briefly. He found me weird at the best of times, mainly because he was the very first American person I ever met and I played on my Britishness, partly to wind him up but mostly for my own amusement. And to be fair he did the same to me. 

But one night I was cooking dinner and he popped into the kitchen and said “What are you making?”

“Faggots and peas!” I said innocently. 

“WHAT?” he said. 

“Faggots and peas,” I repeated. 

“WHAT????” he said again. 

I turned around and said it again slowly. 


He started laughing, a little too loudly. 

“What’s so funny?” I asked. 

He then told me what a faggot was in America. And I showed him what a faggot was in the UK:

Basically they are meatballs, mixed with herbs and breadcrumbs and sold in packs like this:

Of course, when I showed him the packet he almost wet himself and collapsed on the floor gibbering like an imbecile. 


I saw why it was so amusing and I started laughing at his reaction. And later, one of our other housemates came into the kitchen and found us both having succumbed to hysterical laughter. 

He took the packet back to the United States on his return at the end of the year to prove to his family and friends just how weird we are in Britain. He considered faggots to be so weird that he refused to try them. 

But, dear reader (and this is specifically aimed at Americans) if you come to the UK, try Mr Brains Faggots with a side of mashed potato and peas. 

They are truly wonderful, despite the weird name.

15. What do you think is the most unpleasant sounding word?

There are a lot of unpleasant sounding swear words but I won’t focus on them. I think “phlegm” is probably one of the worst words. As is “diarrhoea”. 



Saturday 8 April 2023

I've Come to Realise


Welcome to a very sunny Saturday morning in South Manchester. Spring has definitely arrived and the sun is shining brightly. I’ve just been chatting to our next door neighbour in the back garden and it was very pleasant in the sun. We’re going to head off to Manchester this afternoon to mooch about and then we’re spending Easter Sunday in Lytham St. Anne’s for a family Sunday lunch.

That should be fun.

Shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

I shall, of course, correct the spelling of “realize” from the American to the English below. Apologies for that but I am English. 

1. I've come to realise that my chest-size ...

… is something that I don’t actually know. Usually when I buy a shirt, jumper or coat I opt for “Medium” or “Large” depending on which shop I go to. I’m quite amazed that they seem to vary from shop to shop.  I have been known to ask the shop assistant for a tape measure if I am in a shop that works by chest size but the truth is that I have forgotten what it is. 

2. I've come to realise that my job ... 

… is something that I am no longer interested in. I have worked at the same thing for almost forty years and I am fed up of it now – bored if you will. It’s not the company I work for - it’s the career choice. I will be retiring soon and I think I am totally ready for that. Where my life leads after that, I don’t know. I have to add though that my job has been good to me in the past; I have travelled a lot through work and made a lot of friends and met some really interesting people. But it’s time to wind down now.

3. I've come to realise that when I'm driving ...

… I wish that somebody else was driving instead. I have friends who are “boy racers” or “petrolheads” and just love driving to the point where they do it for fun. I don’t. To me, driving is a means to an end – something that I sometimes have to do to get from A to B. I don’t like driving.

4. I've come to realise that I need .... 

… to find something new to do when I retire. I have some plans and I am looking into it as the time comes. I do not want to be a couch potato (that’s not me anyway) but I want to find something to occupy my time. As I have said, I have my list of “daily duties” but I think I need to expand my horizons a bit. I have some ideas.

5. I've come to realise that I have lost ...

… my knowledge of contemporary culture. Many years ago I laughed at people who hadn’t heard of the celebrities and musicians of the day and I genuinely recall saying to an older relative:

“You’ve never heard of Frankie Goes to Hollywood? Where do you live? Under a rock?”

And now that person is me. There are so many things on TV that I don’t watch. I don’t read newspapers any more and am more likely to recognise a politician than a TV presenter. And some younger people have said the same to me. 

I guess that I now live under a rock. And to be honest, I am delighted.

6. I've come to realise that I hate it when ... 

… shiny happy presenters pontificate on TV. When TV presenters somehow managed to get over-excited about talking to a celebrity I have never heard of and spend fifteen minutes gushing about them and laughing at things they say that just aren’t funny, only to start talking five minutes later about something serious that I don’t care about, implying that if I don’t care about it then I am a complete arsehole. It’s like somebody has clicked a switch from “happy” to “serious” then “sad” with adding preaching. This is why I don’t watch such shows on TV.

7. I've come to realise that if I'm drunk ... 

… then I have had too much beer. I still like a beer but I know when I have had enough usually and I am sensible enough to stop. The great plan is usually to go home, get a drink of water and go to bed. Sadly, sometimes I just fall asleep in front of the TV. This is why I tend only to drink at weekends.

8. I've come to realise that money ... 

… is something I need to get used to having less off. When I retire, I will have less money and therefore I will have to be more careful. That said, I am quite good with money anyway and working part time for the last year has got me used to having less in my pocket. 

9. I've come to realise that certain people ... 

… are conspiracy theorists. I am a huge fan of conspiracy theories because I find them hilarious, but I have encountered some who are so entrenched in their bizarre views that they don’t realise how crazy they sound. Flat earthers particularly amuse me – like this clown:

10. I've come to realise that I'll always ... 

… try to learn something new if I can. I am quite an inquisitive person and love to gain knowledge. My job has demanded that because technology has moved and continues to move quite quickly. Even though I will retire from IT I will keep an eye on it after that. I am still learning Spanish and will probably try to enhance my knowledge of French and German too. I am learning the piano and I aim to push that further with a synthesiser when I feel I am good enough. There is so much I don’t know and as long as it interests me, I will always seek more knowledge.

11. I've come to realise that my sibling ...

… is my only sibling left. I have two sisters and the older of the two passed away suddenly a year or two ago. She was a couple of years younger than me too, which is really sad. Since then my other sister and I have become much closer. You never know what is around the corner – so embrace everything.

12. I've come to realise that my mum ... 

… was a complicated person. I don’t think I ever understood where she was coming from. From my perspective, she was slightly over-protective and simply didn’t understand why I wanted to do the things I wanted to do. She tried her best to envelope us in a protective bubble that, thankfully, my dad released us from occasionally. I thought I would be the same when my kids were born – but I wasn’t. She was a wonderful person but we rarely saw eye to eye, though I do know that she had my best interests at heart.

13. I've come to realise that my cell phone ...

… is something that I cannot do without. I never wanted to depend on a gadget but I do now. I use it for everything from listening to music, to learning Spanish, from guiding me around foreign cities to recording the steps that I walk. I rarely use it as a phone.

14. I've come to realise that when I woke up this morning ...

… I had no plans for the day other than my typical daily duties. This is the last one to complete today and we are, as I said above, going into Manchester to explore, have lunch and generally mooch around the city. It’s the perfect day – sunny, reasonably warm and the city will be busy and interesting.

15. I've come to realise that last night before I went to sleep ...

… that I shouldn’t try to watch the late movie on TV if I am tired. Avengers: Age of Ultron started at 10:30 pm and I had every intention of watching it. Instead, I fell asleep almost immediately and woke up briefly to see a giant Iron Man fighting the Hulk, before dozing again to wake up just in time to see the end credits. I will never learn – when your body needs to sleep it will sleep no matter what you want to do.

By the way, in case you’ve never heard of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, here they are:

Saturday 1 April 2023

Tuesday Four

Welcome to South Manchester and a very cloudy Saturday afternoon. 

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

1. Are you currently reading a book you'd like to tell us about? Maybe a TV program you can recommend to us?

I am currently reading a book by A.G.Riddle called “Lost in Time” which, as the name suggests, is a science fiction novel about time travel. And it is very intriguing. Whenever I read a book about time travel, I start looking for plot holes because they are quite prone to them. So far, I haven’t found any in this book, which is encouraging. 

TV wise, I am watching Seinfeld for the first time, mainly because I love Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm. I’m up to season 7 and it is improving all the time. I can see Larry David’s influence in it. I am sure most of my American readers have seen it. 

I am also watching Black Mirror, which is a collection of thought-provoking stories written by the Charlie Brooker, a British satirist and comedian. They are usually set in a dystopian future and I would highly recommend it. 

2. Are you a Jane Austen fan? So many seem to be. If you are what is your favourite book and who is your favourite character.  If you aren't a fan, is there an author you especially like to read? Favourite character..etc?

I am not a Jane Austen fan at all. Mrs PM loves Jane Austen and when we went to Bath a few years ago, we saw plenty of evidence of her time living there. 

As I have said a few times, I am more into horror and science fiction, as well as political thrillers, the type written by Robert Ludlum. 

One of my favourite authors is Dean Koontz who has written seemingly hundreds of novels. I wouldn’t like to be a character in one of his books though because nasty things tend to happen to them.

3.  How do you spend your time during the day?  Do you set apart time to read, watch TV, study?

It depends on the day. I have a list of my “daily duties” that I have to perform whatever the day:

Learn some Spanish

Write something – anything (it’s mostly crap but there you go).


Play the piano.

Go for a walk.

Today I have completed these “duties” already. 

On a workday, I get up, go for a walk, work, complete my other daily duties and relax.

On a weekend the only thing I have cast in stone is to complete the daily duties and leave the rest to chance. Of course, when I am on holiday, all bets are off.

4. Have your beliefs changed in your life time?

Yes in some ways and no in others. 

Religiously, I would say yes. I am a Roman Catholic and was enveloped in the church until I was sixteen when I decided that religion wasn’t for me. My analytic and scientific mind guided me through this change. Don’t get me wrong; I am not against religion and if you are a believer and deeply entrenched in your religion of choice, I am absolutely delighted for you and would encourage you to keep practicing your faith. I know these things give comfort to people and I am happy for them. It’s just not for me. But then again, I think, once a Catholic, always a Catholic  - and if I am wrong then I will no doubt be treated like a very naughty boy when Judgement Day arrives. Unless of course, God pops into my house to prove that He exists. If he does, I will make him a special cuppa and have a lovely chat.

Politically, my beliefs haven’t changed really. Perhaps the only thing that has evolved is my massive distrust of politicians, even those from parties I support. Most, if not all of them, are charlatans, psychopaths and malignant narcissists. Some are better than others but I would never befriend one. 

I simply don’t trust them.

Life? Well, as you get older, your outlook on life changes as the years go by. At this time of my life I am now an opinionated, grumpy old git, but I have never been happier. 

5. What are your interests and hobbies? .. reading? writing? collecting?

I alluded to this above. 

I love to read, write, learn Spanish, play piano, walk, travel, watch football, watch cricket and watch rugby union. 

Of course, I am a very weird blogger too – as this post proves.

I am massively into music, particularly progressive rock, progressive metal, heavy metal, ambient music, ambient electronica, electronic pop music and some classical music. Last night I went to see Devin Townsend for example. He was amazing. 

I also love to socialise and am very happy having a meal with friends and colleagues and a few beers in the pub. 

I intend to look into more hobbies when I retire. Watch this space.

6. How much time a week/day/month do you devote to your interests?

I devote a lot of my time to my interests I think. It is currently approaching 1pm and I have spent all morning with them. I double up occasionally – for example as I am writing this drivel, I am listening to a new band I discovered yesterday – one of the support bands for Devin Townsend, a French art-rock band called Klone. They were very good and deserve my attention. I usually take evenings off though and either go out or mostly vegetate in front of the TV with Mrs PM.

7. Do you share your interests with anyone?

I have a couple of mates who are into similar music to myself and we go to gigs together in Manchester. I think writing is a solitary discipline and I largely do that for myself – apart from the public side – i.e. this blog – where I cast my drivel out to the world for judgement. 

You can’t socialise on your own though so I do that with friends, family and colleagues.

8. Tell us why you enjoy your hobby, pastimes or interests.

I enjoy writing because it allows me to express my weird thoughts in a permanent way. 

I enjoy reading and music because they take me away from reality on a trip around my imagination.

I love travelling because I always learn something new, and if you learn something new you will grow – you can’t help it. 

9. What emotions and feelings does summer conjure up for you?

I love summer. It is my favourite season. The weather is warm and generally gorgeous, although here in the UK we tend to get a fair amount of rain. It is also the season that I travel most. I am generally much happier in summer. 

10. What's summer weather like in your neck of the woods?

It is the warmest season in Manchester and temperatures range from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius (60 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit) but we do get heat waves, like last year for example where for about a month the temperatures exceeded 30 degrees Celsius and reached a peak of 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). I had Covid-19 that week and was stuck in the house, which was a bit of a blessing in disguise. 

We do get rain in summer though and it is one of the reasons that England is referred to as “this green and pleasant land”. When we have a heatwave, we all welcome a rain shower. 

11. Got some special summer meals you and your family enjoy?

Not really. I eat more salads in the summer and we have barbecues in the back garden. 

12. What do you enjoy doing in summer? Sports, trips.. do you go on vacation?

In summer we tend to go further afield for walks, I watch cricket (I have at least four matches booked later this year) and we spend time in the garden enjoying the heat. We also travel more – we are off to Croatia and Sicily this summer.

13. Did your parents have things better than you today?

No – definitely not. I come from a working class family, even though I would say that I am not that now. My parents lived in a time when it was expected that he was the sole breadwinner and although he looked after us, we rarely got luxuries. This is one of the reasons I didn’t travel abroad until I was 20 years old. 

I am much better off than they were. 

14. What time period would you rather live in.. or are you okay with today?

Technologically speaking I am happy with today because, being a geek, I love the gadgets that we have and the new ones that are being developed. 

Politically speaking, today is quite an unpleasant time to be living in, with pandemics, wars in Ukraine, arses like Trump, Johnson and Bolsonaro making a mockery of truth, the rise of conspiracy theorists and dependency on social media etc. I would like to escape that sometimes.

I would quite like to be able to pop back to the 1980’s now and again because I love that decade, as weird and wonderful as it was. 

15. What changes would you make for our time to make it nicer/better to live in?

I would make it illegal for politicians to tell lies and I would do my best to remove people like Vladimir Putin from office. 

I would love somebody to invent a device that exposed the lies of politicians whenever deceitful words escape their mouths. Perhaps then the Russian people for example would overthrow the lunatic in the Kremlin and people like Boris Johnson and Donald Trump would receive their comeuppance once and for all. 

Like I have said – when I am World President these people will be blasted off into outer space to find a planet to colonise and destroy along with all the other arses who are ruining this world today. 

I will be a great leader – I hope I have your vote.