Sunday 30 July 2023

Swap Bot Part Five

Welcome to a grey South Manchester where the weather is “changeable”, a word that weather forecasters like to use to soften the blow when telling us that it will rain a lot. The word “changeable” sounds okay – but the reality is that if you don’t go out with a brolly or raincoat there is a good chance you will get soaked, even if there is bright sunshine. 

Anyway, enough about the useless British weather; let’s answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. Does love come from the brain, the heart or elsewhere?

Who knows? 

I don’t think it comes from the brain because typically when you are in love you tend to ignore everything your brain tells you to do. For example, I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge because Mrs PM wanted to do it and, although she was willing to go alone, she wanted to share the experience with me. My brain was screaming at me:


I ignored my brain. When it was all over, I dragged her to the nearest pub to calm down my jittering body with a pint of – well … ANYTHING, she told me that she would never have asked me if she knew how scared I would be. 

The heart? Nope. Sorry the heart is just an efficient pump that keeps you alive by circulating blood to you body and has been shanghaied by romantics to sell novels by Barbara Cartland and publicise movies like the dreadful “Love, Actually” and “Sleepless in Seattle”. 

I reckon that it comes from the person you are – for want of a better word, your “soul”. I’m not a religious person or a spiritual person at all but when I think about my physical organs (brain, heart etc.) they don’t really define the person I am. And that person I am is the entity that stores love. 

There you go, dear reader. Love comes from the soul.

Sorry for the metaphysical answer. I got carried away with the question really.

2. Have you ever given a shot?

In the UK we don’t really use the term “shot”; it is an American thing. But since I speak American fluently I know what you mean. 

No, I have never given a shot and I would be very nervous about doing so. 

3. Can you lick your elbow? (Come on, did you try?)

I know for a fact that you can’t lick your elbow unless you are a cat or a dog. So I didn’t try.

4. If I was going to be talking to you for 10 minutes, what would be something really interesting you know a little bit about but would like to know more?

Oh – lots of things! For example …

If you were any kind of scientist, I would be delighted for you to improve my knowledge on whatever your area of expertise is. 

If you could play the piano, I would want lots of tips on any techniques I can use to make my useless fingers do exactly what my brain is telling them too.

I love meeting people who know more than me about subjects that I am interested in.

5. What do you think of the Sopranos?

I have never seen it but it is on the list of things I will get around to watching. I am still catching up on a few things. For example Mrs PM and I are watching “The Wire” – just started the second series.

6. Have you ever had a crush on your teacher?  How about your boss?

I had a crush on a teacher in my last year of junior school. I was about ten years old. She must have been in her twenties at the time, meaning that if she is still around she will be in her seventies now. 

I won’t name her, but she was gorgeous. I became a total teacher’s pet and in the year she taught me, I was smitten like a little puppy dog. When I left that school to go to the grammar school, I even went back a couple of times to see her under the pretence of doing gymnastics as an extra-curricular activity. 

As for my bosses, they have mostly been men but I have never had a crush on a female boss at all. 

7. Have you ever seen a movie in 3D?

Yes – and it is a waste of money. The first one I saw was at university; it was Friday 13th Part III. At the time, 3D was relatively new I think and thankfully the trend seemed to fade due to lack of interest. But recently it came back and we saw the first Avatar movie in 3D. It was okay but I would have preferred 2D to be honest. 

8. How difficult do you think it is for immigrants to come into your country?

It is getting worse. Brexit was largely about immigration and certain tabloid newspapers stoke fear into the people with sensationalist headlines that attempt to pin the blame on all the UK’s woes on immigrants. Headlines like these:

We claim to be a welcoming country but the reality is that we’re not that welcoming at all in my opinion. I will leave this discussion there in case I launch into a massive rant.

9. Do you have what it takes to go live in another country, maybe for years, where you don't speak the language as your first language?

I would love to do that. I speak a little French, German and Spanish and would welcome the opportunity to live in a place that spoke one of those languages and dive into the culture, including speaking those languages to fluency. Mrs PM did it at university and she speaks French very well (she used to speak it fluently over twenty five years ago – although she claims she is no longer fluent). 

10. Have you ever died in your dreams?

No. I’ve had weird dreams where I have been in danger but I’ve never died. I remember seeing a film called Dreamscape starring Dennis Quaid and that movie claimed that if you died in your dream, you died in real life.

11. What book should our political leaders read and why?

I would suggest 1984 by Geroge Orwell to show the dangers of heading towards a totalitarian state. Also, a book about the benefits of telling the truth would be good.

12. What is your favourite glass object?

I’m not sure I have a favourite glass object to be honest with you. I quite like a glass that I acquired from a beer festival that is the perfect shape and volume to hold a 440ml can of beer. 

13. Do you like to window shop?

I don’t like shopping full stop and I find window shopping pointless. I prefer to surf the internet for things I need to buy and, to me, that doesn’t count as window shopping.

14. Are you more likely to buy one really nice expensive outfit or a couple of cheap outfits?

I would rather buy a couple of cheaper outfits. The only time I buy expensive outfits is for weddings and things like that. I do have a penguin suit which I bought in a sale for a New Year’s Eve party and I have worn that a few times but such extravagance is the exception.

15. If you could, would you wear everything once, throw it out and buy something new?

No – that would be a complete waste of money and not very good for anybody or anything.

Saturday 22 July 2023

Either ... Or ...

Welcome to a miserable South Manchester. We are covered in grey cloud and are being soaked by sporadic showers, which is particularly annoying given that the Ashes cricket series is taking place in Manchester at the moment with just over a day left. I went to watch it yesterday to watch a very good day for England in their quest to level the series against Australia. Sadly, if the rain persists the game will end up being a draw. 

Shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. Live on a boat or in a treehouse?

I don’t think I would fancy living in a tree house. 

I have been on a houseboat in Amsterdam and I have to say that it was a pleasant place to be. One of the guys I was working with owned it and he lived there with his wife. It had everything he needed to live in comfort. It is a place I could have lived. 

Therefore my answer is boat. 

2. No computer use for a year or no sweets for a year?

I don’t eat sweets anyway so this one is a no-brainer.  I would live with no sweets for a year.

At the moment I work in IT so it would be tempting to say no computer use – but the problem is I use them outside work too. 

3. Have $2,000 right now or be given $100 every month for the rest of your life?

Surely getting $100 dollars a month for the rest of your life is better than a one-off sum of $2000. You only have to live for just under two years to make it worthwhile.

4. Be an astronaut or an athlete?

I would definitely be an athlete – even at my age. The thought of becoming an astronaut fills me with dread. I know that I wouldn’t shatter any athletic records any more but when I was younger I was pretty good at 100m, 200m 800m, 1500m, 5000m, long jump and triple jump. I can’t say that I would be now but I would try. That is far more appealing than be blasted into space on what is effectively a massive bomb.

5. Have 50 good friends or only one best friend?

Mrs PM is my best friend and if having 50 good friends meant losing her as my best friend then I would go for one best friend.

6. Have bright blue teeth or bright blue hair?

Bright blue hair. I think I would look quite good!

7. Have the power of flight or the power of invisibility?

Given that I am scared of heights, this too is a no-brainer. 

I would have such fun if I could turn myself invisible, as long as my clothes also turned invisible. Suddenly appearing naked in a crowd because the power of invisibility has worn off would be rather unfortunate, don’t you think?  

8. Have a fun friend who is snarky or a boring friend who is kind?

I already have both. I think I would probably go for the boring, kind friend if I’m honest. 

9. Be incredibly rich but without love or be poor but have a happy marriage?

I would definitely rather be poor and have a happy marriage. You can still be happy and poor. I have never been poor but there have been times, especially as a kid, when money was tight and it is very possible to be happy under those circumstances. 

10. Have a freezing cold shower every day or a pleasant hot shower once a week?

It depends where I was. If I was in the south of Spain in the summer, I would have a freezing cold shower every day anyway. If I were in Manchester in the winter, having a freezing cold shower would be a most un pleasant experience. I think I would probably go for the pleasant hot shower once a week.

11. Be an only child or have many siblings?

I would rather have siblings. 

12. Quit video games forever or live in a desert for a month?

I play video games occasionally and to be honest I could live without them quite easily. I’ve been in the Middle East a few times and the desert is quite unpleasant, especially when the temperatures rise to a stupidly high value. Living in such a desert for a month under such conditions would be horrific. I would ditch the video games.

13. Go on a one week trip to a foreign country of your choice or a month long trip in your own country?

I would go on a one week trip to a foreign country, preferably one that I haven’t been to before. 

14. Celebrate your birthday every day or go on your favourite holiday once a year?

I have never celebrated my birthday really and, at my time of life, I would rather forget them. It would have to be my favourite holiday once a year.

15. If fish could talk, what would you ask them?

Where did you learn to talk?

Saturday 15 July 2023

Thieves Like Us

Welcome to a very changeable South Manchester. The weather is sunny and warm one hour and then thundery the next. At the moment the sun has dried the ground from this morning’s rain but the forecast is that there will be a thunderstorm this afternoon (another one) and the ground will be saturated again. 

Compare this with Europe where countries like Italy are in the middle of a heat wave with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). I would rather be in Manchester at the moment I have to say. 

We are going to Italy at the end of September for a week, - well Sicily to be precise. I’m looking forward to that.

Shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. What are the 3 most important things everyone should know about you?

(a) I may appear to be an outgoing and friendly chap who can talk to anybody but inside there is a battle going on between the personification of my desire to be an extrovert and the real me, who is a shy fellow. The extrovert wins most of the time but if you find that you have managed to penetrate my outer shell, the Dave that you met socially and thought was a great guy is not that Dave all the time; he can quiet, shy and slightly vulnerable at times.

(b)  I am not impulsive at all. I have been known to be in the past but those rare occasions have been the exception rather than the norm. I take a lot of time to weigh up the pros and cons of doing anything important but once I have made up my mind, it is cast in stone. 

(c) I like to think I am a nice guy. Somebody once said to me “If you need to tell people you are a nice guy, then deep down you aren’t!” I found that way of thinking rather odd because I believe that I am a nice person. I am helpful and I will never willingly hurt or harm anything. I feel terrible if I inadvertently upset somebody. I even open windows to let flies out of the house rather than killing them. That said, if I were to find a wasp in my house, then it would be killed as soon as I could. That’s the exception. I am a nice guy – but not if you are a wasp.

2. What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?

My dad once said to me – “I’m going to make you a snowman”. I was about five years old and I thought that he was going to take me outside and cover me in snow and leave me in the garden. I read "make" as "turn you into". 

If he had said “I’m going to build you a snowman” I wouldn’t have had such a bizarre thought. 

3. Thinking of school classes, which were your favourite and least favourite?

I loved maths and chemistry. Maths was my favourite subject and I was very good at it. I was such a geeky nerd that I actually used to do extra maths homework – FOR FUN! Can you believe that? Chemistry was fun because I loved mixing chemicals and doing experiments. I was very good at chemistry but I had a tendency to break things on occasion. 

My least favourite subjects were geography and history. I found them difficult and rather tedious and couldn’t wait to give them up. Strangely, now, I am more fascinated by history. 

4. What is your favourite fast food?

I don’t eat fast food very often but it has to be fish and chips, or a “chippy tea” as it is known in Manchester. When you are in the mood for fish and chips, there is nothing more satisfying. 

5. What song comes closest to how you feel about your life right now?

6. Have you ever taken martial arts classes?

No. I did consider it at university. I watched some guys who were trying to get us to join the Karate Society and I was so impressed by their moves that I almost signed up. 

A friend of mine took up kickboxing but gave it up after a few months. I asked him why and he said “I am sick of getting beaten up all the time!”.

Another guy I used to work with is a black belt third dan karate instructor and I asked him if he had ever injured anyone. “I accidentally broke somebody’s leg once,” he said. 

I am glad I didn’t take up martial arts.

7. Does your life tend to get better or worse or does it just stay the same?

It’s getting better. There have been a couple of blips over the past ten years but the trend is definitely upwards. I am very content at the moment.

8. What arts and crafts have you tried and decided you were bad at?

All of them.

I tried painting but a child of five can paint a better picture than I can. 

I tried creating art using a computer and this is the terrible result. I call it “Naughty Cat!”

I tried woodwork and the “thing” I made fell apart after I put it down. 

I tried pottery once and ended up with more clay on my body than there was on the pottery lathe.

Basically I am the worst artist who has ever lived.

9. What is the truest thing that you know?

My name is Dave and I am a bloke.

10. Are you more of a giver or a taker?

I am both but possibly more of a giver than a taker. 

11. Do you make your decisions with an open heart/mind?

I try to but, as I hinted above, I agonise over decisions and take a long time to make them. Mrs PM is the complete opposite – she is impulsive. 

As a couple we work well because she sometimes pressures me to decide things more quickly, and I sometimes rein her in when she is too quick to make an important decision. 

It works quite well – she has made me more impulsive and I have made her less impulsive – if that makes sense. 

12. What is the most physically painful thing that has ever happened to you?

I have never really seriously injured myself. I do remember once falling downstairs as a child and though I was in agony, I didn’t damage anything other than my pride.

As a man, however, I do have a rather vulnerable spot that I won’t go into much detail about (for the sake of common decency). One day I was playing football and I tried to tackle a person who was about to take a shot. I managed to touch the ball out of the path of his foot but it found another target – that vulnerable spot. 

I dropped like a stone and was in absolute agony, rolling around like a total lunatic.

Any man who is reading this will know exactly what I mean. 

13. What is the most emotionally painful thing that has ever happened to you?

The loss of anybody close to me. This has happened a couple of times in recent years. 

14. What is your favourite line from a movie?

I have several favourite lines. Here are some of them:

15. Can you eat with chopsticks?


I learned in Hong Kong in the 1990’s when a guy from New Zealand showed me. I have used them all over China and the Far East and I am pretty handy with them.


Sunday 9 July 2023

Post Holiday Blues


Welcome to a sunny but potentially thundery South Manchester. I’ve been away for a week and yesterday, the day I arrived home, in the afternoon we had a thunderstorm of biblical proportions. Mrs PM noticed that we were short on a couple of provisions so she decided to pop to a local shop to get something. I was busy watching the news at the time and we had a lot of windows open because it was rather muggy – warm and almost uncomfortably humid. I noticed a rumble of thunder and looked outside just as there was a huge lightning strike. This was quickly followed by a huge clap of thunder and suddenly the heavens opened. The rain came down so fast and so quickly that I was quite shocked. We have a satellite dish for Sky TV and such was the force of the rain that I had to switch to the aerial because the signal was completely lost. Mrs PM, in the meantime had had the foresight to take her brolly, which worked as she walked home – for the top of her body at least. From her tummy downwards, she was drenched when she got home. 

Now, I am sure that you have been in the situation, dear reader, where you have found something really, really funny but it is just totally inappropriate to laugh? That’s the situation I was in and I somehow (don’t ask me how) managed to comfort her and listen to her without even smirking. Inside, there was a helpless beast rolling around on the floor laughing so much that he almost had an unfortunate accident – but that person didn’t leak out in front of Mrs PM. 

Even the cats were laughing – of that I am certain.

We have been to beautiful Croatia, the wonderful city of Dubrovnik, where we had a fantastic week of exploring, relaxing and over-indulging. 

It’s back to work tomorrow, hence, hence the title of this post “Post Holiday Blues”. 

Don't worry - I will cope. 

Here are some answers to silly questions from this week’s Sunday Stealing

1. Do you trust people at restaurants who handle your food that they aren't doing anything gross to it while you can't see them?

What choice do I have? 

If I were to demand to see them prepare the food, cook the food and present it to me I think I would offend them so much that the next time they saw me, they would probably do something horrible to it on purpose. I have been to a couple of restaurants with open kitchens before and watched these guys perform miracles in some cases just to feed me. 

I therefore have trust in them and 95% of the time the food has been good to amazing. 

2. How do you wear your hair each day?

I shower in order to beat my dreadful hair into submission. I hate my hair and I keep it short so that it is easier to control. Basically it is short on the side and one top I let it do as it pleases as long as it behaves itself – lots of water is always necessary and sometimes even styling wax. 

On holiday and when it’s really hot, I wear a hat and this makes my hair look ridiculous when I finally take it off. On those days I tend to keep the hat on so that the “style” underneath is hidden.

3. Have you ever worn:

A gas mask?

No – I have never worn a gas mask. Thank goodness.

A blindfold?

Yes – but only when playing stupid games like blin man’s bluff as a kid. 

4. Would you be willing to go hang gliding?

Absolutely not. I am scared of heights and it would be one of my worst nightmares. On my recent holiday to Dubrovnik, I refused to walk along the walls because it was too high. I have to admit that I did go on the cable car to the hill overlooking the city. It was high but I was only in the cable car for five minutes each trip. Once you are there it is high but really it is a hill so the fear of heights is subdued. It allowed me to take this picture so it was worth it:

5. What is the difference between a man's button down shirt and a woman's button down shirt?

I have no idea having never worn a woman’s button down shirt. A distant memory tells me that the buttons are on different sides but maybe a lady can confirm that for me. 

6. Have you ever taken a lock of someone else's hair?

No. I’m not sure why I would ever want to do that.

7. Have you ever given anyone a lock of your hair?

I had a lock of my hair stolen by a neighbour when I was barely able to walk. I had short tight curly blond hair as a kid and the lady in question claimed later that my hair was like that of an angel. She was rather eccentric. 

Judge for yourself (if you can from this picture). 

8. If you had a locket what would you put inside?

Probably a photo of Mrs PM and my two lads (if it would fit).

9. Have you ever written something on a bathroom wall?

When I was a young man we found a bar in Amsterdam where there was a blackboard and lots of chalk in the bathroom so it was positively encouraged to write silly and/or rude things. Since I was in a foreign country I chose to write “Walsall FC” (my favourite football team in England). It lasted that night but I imagine the whole thing was washed off ready to start again the next day.

10. When was the last time you fell down in public?

I had been to a beer festival in Stockport and as I was approaching the station I saw my bus about to pull out. I ran as fast as I could and promptly tripped up and ended up going head over heals and sprawling on the floor. I think the bus driver saw me and took pity on me, allowing me to get on the bus. My arm was bleeding and I had smashed a souvenir pint glass that I was carrying in a bag. 

Oh – and I manage to shatter my pride too. 

At least I got home though.

And by the way, I wasn’t drunk. 

And I was in my early 50’s too. 

11. Are you more aggressive or mellow?

I am definitely more mellow. I can be aggressive when something really angers me but such episodes are rare. I hate confrontation of any kind and I am more likely to walk away than to be aggressive. I like to think that if you have a calm outlook on life then you are generally more able to cope with the things life throws at you. 

That doesn’t stop me ranting though , but when I do it is usually tongue in cheek and also very amusing rather than threatening. People try to wind me up on purpose just to get me going and cheer them up. 

I am definitely trying to cut down on ranting too. 

12. What have you done with yourself to keep your life worth living?

I am a naturally inquisitive person and I believe that if you can learn something new every day then that makes life worth living. 

I also like to keep a routine to improve myself, even if it is a tiny little step a day. 

And I genuinely like people (though I am shy) and I get pleasure from watching other people having fun – though ideally I would like to be having fun with them. 

13. What is the most incredible thing you can do?

I don’t know. 

I can make some computers behave themselves and I am quite good at it, despite hating my job. 

I can sing like a cat that has had its tail slammed in a door. 

I can make Mrs PM laugh by singing the chorus to this:

J'en perds la raison dans la mer du Japon

I can speak American English, Canadian English and Australian English fluently. 

I am sure there is something else that makes me incredible – give me twenty years to work out what it is.

14. Do you bury your pets, flush them, or throw them away?

I take them to the local vet who promises to treat them with dignity and kindness for a fee.

15. What's your favourite thing that is yellow?

I can’t think of anything. I don’t wear yellow clothes because I look like an alien banana. To be honest, yellow is not one of my favourite colours at all if I’m honest. 

Ah – the walls in the room I am in are yellow (to brighten the place up as the back of the house doesn’t get much light). I will say that.

16. Do you have any tattoos or piercings?

Nope. I would look ridiculous with either. 

I once used a biro to create a tattoo on my hand when I went to work dressed up as Ozzy Osbourne for charity back in 2010. You might be able to make out the O Z Z Y on my fingers. That’s the closest I will ever get (mainly because it washed off).