Friday 26 January 2024

Assorted Pens

Welcome to a bright, sunny and cold January day in South Manchester. 

We had a bit of a battering from two named storms this week that caused a bit of damage in various places in the UK, the wind taking down roofs and trees while certain places were flooded. Things seem to have calmed down now, thank goodness. 

Best of all, the worst month of the year is almost over and this week we drift into February (the second worst month of the year). Winter is still here but it is slowly departing to usher in a warmer and far more enjoyable season. 

Let’s answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing shall we? 

1. What are your plans for February?

Despite what I anticipate will be crappy weather, February is a good and busy month. 

The best thing of all is our first trip abroad this year. We are travelling to Los Palmas in Gran Canaria in about a week and half. This will give us a little bit of sunshine and warm weather to alleviate the dreariness of a UK winter. It’s the first time I have been and it will be a bit of a mix of things to do. It will be part city break and part relaxation (Las Palmas is a big city with long stretches of beach apparently). We will be able to explore the city, go for long walks and also chill out by the beach if we so desire. Best of all I will get to practice a little Spanish. I will be able to understand menus and a lot of things written down and I should be able to make myself understood. I anticipate my main problem as being able to understand what people are saying back to me. 

I also have three gigs in February too. Two rock gigs featuring a Welsh rock trio called Florence Black and an American band called Fozzy. The final gig is with Mrs PM. Our tastes in music are different and we have a joint playlist that shows the overlap. One of the artists that features fairly heavily are Goldfrapp and we are going to see Alison Goldfrapp together. Here she is:

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

Yes – one or two. I wasn’t that keen on them to be perfectly honest with you. 

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

I would probably pick a few books in the style of Robert Ludlum, the guy who created Jason Bourne. Also on the list would be a massive elaborate space opera, a decent set of horror stories (though I read less of these now), and maybe a little fantasy or general science fiction. A couple of thrillers wouldn’t go amiss and to relieve the tension perhaps a few comedy novels similar to those written by Tom Sharpe. 

That would keep me busy for a while.

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

It’s perfect for the two of us now that the kids are no longer here. I live in a three bedroomed mid-terrace house that was built in 1900 and it has lots of period features like high ceilings, picture rails etc. 

The bedrooms are all big and each one can easily accommodate a double bed – something that more modern three-bedroomed houses struggle to achieve. For example the first house I bought claimed to have three bedrooms but you could barely fit a small single bed in there – we turned it into a study because that is all it was useful for. 

The lounge is bright and we get the sun all day. The backroom where I am at the moment has just been redecorated and it serves several purposes. It has a TV with a playstation and two sofas so it works as a man cave for me, a second lounge and it is also my office. 

The kitchen is fairly big too. 

The back garden isn’t too big but there is enough room for us to have a table and chairs and in the summer we get the sun most of the day too. We also have a weather-proof “out-house” attached to the house at the back which is really a storage space. Mrs PM wants to do what other neighbours have done and knock through from the kitchen into it to create another room. Our neighbours are doing this as I write and the cost and trauma seem to me at least to be unnecessary for the benefits we will enjoy. The neighbours are much younger than us so they will appreciate it much more. 

So what is the best bit part of the house?

All of it. I love it and we don’t plan to move.

5. How often do you try something new?

The truthful answer is not often enough. Whenever I travel, I like to go somewhere new, preferably a new country. When I am abroad I am far more willing and able to try something new, but when it comes to breaking out of my comfort zone to try a new pastime in the UK I never seem to get around to doing it. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried a few new things in recent years like bombing around Delamere Forest on a segway (which was an experience I can tell you). Maybe it is just about not having enough time but really that sounds like a poor excuse because the reality is I do have time. Maybe things will change when I retire because I do get bored. 

6. What type of sushi is your favourite?

I like most sushi and sashimi. One of the highlights of Japan was going to a sushi restaurant in Kyoto for lunch. Everything we had was divine.

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

It depends what you mean by “adventures”. To me, relaxing on holiday is spending an hour or two on the beach or swimming pool but we soon get bored of that and we typically walk around, popping into bars or coffee shops to escape from the heat in places where it is boiling hot. 

To me an “adventure” is going to explore a whole country where we do the whole “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” experience, which I have done in China, Japan, Vietnam, Australia, USA, Europe, Brazil and will be doing next in Malaysia in 2025. Those holidays are special and (related to question 5) we tend to try new things sometimes by accident. 

It’s a mixture really; Long travel holidays can be tiring but fun whereas I always feel totally recharged after a relaxing city break or beach holiday.

8. Which colours look best on you?

I really like wearing black but I don’t really do it that often. I look okay in most colours apart from orange, yellow or white, the latter two making me look like a ghost.

9. Do you like brunch?

I prefer to have breakfast and then lunch a few hours later but I am quite happy having brunch too. Usually brunch for me is a huge breakfast and it is usually something we rarely have in the UK but have quite often abroad.

10. Do you get stage fright?


I read somewhere that even the bravest people fear public speaking and I can totally see why. The thing is I have had to do it a few times at work, giving courses in the UK, South Africa, Switzerland, Oman (bizarrely)  and the USA as well as a couple in China and Russia via interpreters. When a lot of people fear speaking in public they typically only have to do it for an hour or so. If you are giving a course like the ones I had to, you have to stand up all day (for six or seven hours) for four or five days. You may think that you will get used to it and after the initial shock, it does get a little easier I have to admit. But then the fear returns for the next one. 

It is a rather bizarre phobia, I have to say, because I often talk to a bunch of people in meetings, in pubs etc. Yet when it comes to teaching about 20 Russians about an IT system, it seems like the most difficult thing in the world. I know the technical details of course but the fear comes from standing there and talking to these guys. 

The good news is that those days are over now as I don’t give courses anymore. I am certain that there will be another time when I have to do it again – I hope not – but I will be able to cope after the initial shock.

11. Which podcasts do you like at the moment?

I don’t really listen to podcasts but I have come across a couple recently about progressive rock that were quite entertaining. It is something that I want to get more involved in. 

12. One thing that immediately makes your day better

Not working. Today is Friday and I am off work as I am every Friday. There is nothing better than going to bed the night before knowing that you don’t have to get up early to either work from home or go into the office (which I have to do once or twice a week now). 

13. Which family members are you closest to?

All of them. I am singling nobody out because I love them all. 

14. Something you practice often

Spanish and the piano. 

For Spanish I do Duolingo lessons every day (my streak is 972 days). In addition to that I am reading “Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone). I read it in English but then I thought It would be a challenge to read it in Spanish too. I bought it last year and didn’t really bother with it so this year I decided to read some of it every day – and I have. I still have to look up a lot of the words but it is getting easier, particularly as I gradually start to get the hang of the grammar). I am also watching what is described as a “telenovela” called "Destinos", which is geared towards teaching speaking and listening skills. There are 52 episodes and although I don’t watch it every day, I am about 20% of the way through it. 

I also practice the piano every day. I am teaching myself and progress is slow but I am slowly getting there. Hot off the press, I managed to get through this one today for the first time. I still make lots of mistakes but I am far better than I was when the piano was first delivered.

My aim is just to have fun with the piano though how amazing would it be to be able to play like Jordan Rudess?

15. Are you a light sleeper or a deep sleeper?

I’m a light sleeper and I hate it. I usually manage to get a good 6 to 8 hours sleep every night but I do wake up if, say a hedgehog sneezes in next door’s garden. Mrs PM is a really deep sleeper and I am so envious of her. 

A few weeks ago, for some insane reason, a Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter decided to fly over the area where we live at about 1am but at a height of just 3000ft. I woke up as soon as I heard the thing when it was miles away and I lay gradually hearing the thing get louder and louder until it flew above our house where it made enough noise to wake the dead. “What the f**k IS that?” I said aloud and peered out of the window thinking it was a UFO. I saw lights go on in the street so other people heard it too. We found out what it was because it made the local newspaper the thing was so loud. In some cases people complained that their house “shook”.

And the next morning, I said to Mrs PM – “What about that bloody helicopter?”

“What helicopter?” she said. “The bloody thing hadn’t woken her up at all.

I am so envious!

Friday 19 January 2024

Swip Swap

Welcome to South Manchester on a beautiful cold winter day with the sun shining and the temperatures dropping to a slightly chilly 0 degrees Celsius. 

Let’s plunge straight away into more silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. If you could have a remote control that could pause time, what would you do with it?

It would be a little like being invisible I guess. I would use for example to gain entry into places where I would have to pay to get into. For example, I wouldn’t pay for another gig; I would just turn up at the entrance, click the remote control, and slide past the security checks and ticket verification to gain entry. The same would apply to sporting events and other similar things. 

I could do nefarious things like travel to London, gain entrance into Number 10 Downing Street and then plant a bugging device there to find out what the incompetent buffoons running the country are actually planning to do, and then release the details to the press and TV and expose them for what they are. 

Can I please have one?

2. What's the silliest thing you believed as a child that you wish were true now?

I believed that I could sing. That dream was ruined by a music teacher who was recruiting for the school choir and told me in no uncertain terms that my voice sounded like that of a cat being strangled. 

Things might have been different if my voice now were as good as I imagined it was. 

I believe it is actually far worse than when I was a kid, and my music teacher was basically being very kind in his own weird way. Whenever I start to sing in the house, the cats run away (because presumably they think there is a cat strangling burglar lurking around) and Mrs PM threatens to silence me with a frying pan before the windows crack under the strain.

3. If your life had a theme song that played every time you entered a room, what song would it be?

Since my name is Dave it would have to be this classic from Manfred Mann’s Earth Band released in 1977. The song is called “Davy’s on the Road Again”. Enjoy and imagine I’m walking into your house. I won't be singing it though.

4. If you were a vegetable, and someone accidentally ate you, what would you want them to say after the first bite?

Wow – you need to stop taking those dodgy drugs. 

I would hope to dissuade anybody from eating me as a vegetable by making them violently ill, so I would probably say “I would go straight to the toilet, if I were you, and stick your fingers down your throat.”

5. If you were a flavour of ice cream, which one would you be, and why?

Really – stop taking those dodgy drugs.

I would be the least palatable ice cream possible so that nobody would want to eat me. Brussell Sprout and Liver flavoured ice cream would do the trick.

6. What's the strangest thing you've ever googled or searched for on the internet?

I’m weird and I have a weird blog so I have searched for some strange items. The first one that springs to mind is some research when I was writing this blog post:

Fear (Part Five) – Chinese Toilets 

Warning: Before you read it, it does talk about disgusting toilets in China that I experienced on a trip there in 2010. 

When I was writing it, I thought it would help to illustrate how bad some Chinese toilets could be by adding some pictures of the abominable places. So my search was something like:

“Pictures of Chines Toilets”.

In fact, as I was looking for the above post, I realised that I have possibly just topped that with the search:

“Plastic Mancunian Chinese Toilets”

See what I mean ? I am just a weirdo.

7. If your pet could suddenly talk, what do you think it would say to you first?

Both of my cats would say:


8. If you were a character in a video game, what would be your special move?

I mainly play football games so my favourite move would allow me to dribble past all players and score a spectacular goal.

9. What's the most bizarre item you've ever bought online?

I’ve not bought anything really bizarre. I do recall buying a book for Mrs PM’s birthday called “Test Your Cat: The Cat IQ Test”. I thought it was so bizarre that I thought it would make a fun silly gift.

10. If you could replace the sound of one everyday activity with your own voice, which activity would you choose?

That sounds like another question concocted whilst high on something weird. 

I have no idea.

11. If you were a punctuation mark, which one would you be, and how would you punctuate people's sentences?

This too is another question from the addled mind of a person on something weird. 

I would be a full stop so that I could end their sentences as soon as they bored or annoyed me.

12. If you could have any celebrity be your personal assistant for a day, who would it be, and what tasks would you assign them?

It would be Morena Baccarin and it would be a day when I wasn’t working. Her only task would be to chat to me and smile. That would suffice.

13. What would be the worst "buy one, get one free" sale item ever?

I can think of a few:

A Coffin


A Chinese Toilet

A Vasectomy

A Dinner Date with Donald Trump

14. If you could trade places with any fictional character from a book or movie, who would it be, and what would you do differently in their story?

It would be Harry Keogh from Brian Lumley’s Necroscope.

Harry can talk to the dead and teleport to anywhere and anywhen. Sadly in the Necroscope series he ends up fighting the scariest and most horrific vampires ever to have walked the face of the Earth. I would simply avoid the vampires like the plague and have a lot of fun doing exciting and far less dangerous things.

15. If you had to live inside a TV show for a month, which show would you pick, and why?

I would probably go for Dr Who as long as I could dictate where we travelled to in his TARDIS. He can travel to any place at any given point in time. Given Question 14, do you see a trend?

Friday 12 January 2024

Pin It!


Welcome to another typical January day in South Manchester; cold, dull but thankfully no rain. We have booked our first holiday of the year and will be departing for Gran Canaria at the start of February for a little winter sun. It should give me a chance to practice a little Spanish too hopefully. 

Today is my day off work and I have just had my eyes tested, which means I will be getting a brand new pair of glasses next week. The difference this time is that Mrs PM usually insists on coming with me to choose my new frames “because I have to look at you”; this time she didn’t and I have chosen them. 

I actually think they are very nice. We shall see what she says but I am now of an age where I don’t really care anymore. They aren’t too dissimilar to the ones I have on at the moment and I have a vague idea what she likes so I think I will be okay. 

Shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. Your favourite part of the day

It depends on whether I am working or not. If I am working then my favourite part of the day is late afternoon when I actually stop working, 

If I am not working then I am not bothered really and have no preference. Morning is good because I feel at my sharpest. This is the time I do my “daily duties”, i.e. learn Spanish, play the piano etc. I like the evenings because I am more relaxed either going out somewhere or vegetating in front of the TV or listening to music. 

In the summer, I like to sit in the garden in the afternoon, either chatting to Mrs PM and/or the neighbours or reading a book.

2. Something you know a lot about.

I know a lot about the computer system I work on from the operating system I use, via the database and the application. I am considered one of the company experts. I won’t bore you with the technical details as I want you to read the rest of the post without falling asleep. 

The system I work on is sold to a particular type of customer so I also know a lot about how they operate. I will tell you more about that when I retire because it is quite interesting. 

3. An important person in your life.

There are many important people in my life but, as usual, I will select Mrs PM because she is the person that understands me most on the planet and also my best buddy. I have absolutely no idea how she has managed to put up with me for just over 25 years but I am very thankful that she has. 

4. Your favourite recipe

Is this to make or to eat?

If I am making something myself it has to be quick and easy, although I can actually cook. I would say it has to be the pasta dish that I can whip up in about fifteen minutes. 

If we are talking about Mrs PM, she makes a mean chicken paella. 

Perhaps I may expand my horizons and my culinary skills when I have more time after retirement. I have dabbled before and created edible food that people have enjoyed.

5. An event that turned out differently than planned

Probably the first time I went to watch horse racing. We have friends in Chester, which isn’t too far away, and they invited us to Chester races. I was a little dubious because it involves gambling and I’m not really a gambling man. Nevertheless, we had an amazing time and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I bet on the horses. I was asking one of the guys for advice and he basically told me to have a quick look at the odds and then to go with my gut. 

So I did. I decided to put the same small amount on each of the seven races, even if by a miracle, I actually won one. That way I would control my losses. 

I lost the first race but won all six of the remaining ones. 

By the sixth race, a couple of the guys were getting a little annoyed because they had won bugger all. 

My scientific method was to take a look at the odds, and look at the four horses with the best chance of winning – and then pick the horse with the funniest name. 

At the end, I was elated and made a significant profit. I decided to ease my mates’ pain by buying a round of drinks at the pub afterwards. 

Since then I have been back to Chester Races and also Haydock Park (we go there once a year). I stick with the same method, i.e. bet a small amount, look at the odds and then pick the horse with the funniest name. 

Guess what? 

I have won hardly anything since. I am usually lucky if I pick one winner and make a profit. 

Therefore my method worked once – and only once. 

It’s good fun though if you are sensible. The one thing you must remember though is that the odds are always against you and, as in a casino, “the house always wins”.

6. How you procrastinate

I am doing much better when it comes to procrastination because I’ve made a habit of things (my “daily duties”).

Usually if I do succumb to it, I watch junk on TV, play with my phone or even do housework.

Note – I have never ever procrastinated at work, so I have asked myself why I do it at home?

It’s crazy. 

7. The best type of surprise

Pleasant surprises.

I don’t like nasty ones. 

8. Music that helps you relax

Ambient electronic or rock music like these two. 

9. A thing your life has in excess


Work has dominated my life for almost forty years and until recently I have had to endure it. Don’t get me wrong; I have a lot to be grateful for and at times I have enjoyed it immensely. But that time is now drawing to a close. 

And, yes, I have to find something to fill the gap that is left when I finally give it up.

10. A book you want to read.

I have a few books on my Kindle that I have bought and are waiting for me to attack. I will select them one at a time but none of them stand out as a must-read immediately. I can’t think of any other books I desperately want to read. 

11. A person you’re always happy to see.

I’m always delighted to see my sons and my sister. And Mrs PM of course. And also all of my mates and family. 

12. What  time do you go to sleep?

It depends on the day. On a school night (Sunday to Wednesday), I usually go to bed between 9:00pm and 9:30pm to give me time to read a little before sleeping. The only reason for this is that I am up at 6:00am to do my morning walk before starting work. 

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I tend to go to bed later, usually any time between 11:00pm and 01:00am – because I can.

13. A word to describe the past year.


The 2020’s so far have been terrible but each year has gradually improved. 2023 was a fairly good year when I look back at it and I have high hopes for 2024.

14. Your favourite household chore

I don’t have a favourite household chore. I hate them all. 

That said, the one that gives me the greatest satisfaction is cleaning the kitchen because I really, really hate seeing dirty dishes and work surfaces covered in bits of food.

15. One thing you’d like to see

I’m going to give you a few – because I am a rebel.

I want to see the Conservative Party turfed out of parliament this year.

I want to see an end to the two major wars that are going on at the moment.

I want the UK to rejoin the EU.

Basically I want to see a world with peace and harmony where nations are tolerant of each other and we all feel safe - a wordl where everyone in every nation can sit down and have a beer together (or your tipple of choice) with laughter and fun.

I can dream can’t I?

Just vote for me as World President and I will sort it all out for you guys.

Friday 5 January 2024

Some More Faves

Welcome to the first post of 2024 in a dismal South Manchester that has been battered by a storm over the past couple of days. We’re used to it in Manchester but in other parts of the country, some rivers have burst their banks and torrential rain on already sodden ground has caused floods, some of which have invaded people’s homes and caused disruption on transport services. This always happens and our inept government just sits there with Rishi Sunak simply insincerely saying “We’re doing all we can” from inside his dry office. 

I mustn’t start ranting about our government so I shall dive into the first set of silly questions from Sunday Stealing in 2024. 

1. Favourite food

I like most food so it’s probably best to tell you what I don’t like. 

Thai food generally has a taste that I dislike but the food from most places is good – unless it contains rhubarb, apricots, figs, dates, turkish delight, celery, pears, is banana flavoured (though I like bananas), prunes, Christmas pudding, aubergine (eggplant for Americans),  or liver. 

Or one particularly nasty Swiss cheese that I once tried outside a cheese shop in Altrincham that tasted like somebody had blown cigarette smoke into a sock that had been worn by an athlete for a week.

2. Favourite colour

Teal. Our new sofas in the back room are teal and they are lovely.

3. Favourite Animal

Dogs and cats. I can’t distinguish between the two even though I have cats, which is mainly due to Mrs PM. I would have one of each if I could, just like I did as a kid.

4. Favourite thing to do on a cold day

It depends on whether it is sunny and not icy. It is very pleasant walking on a cold crisp winter’s day where the temperature is just above 0°C. If there is snow on the ground or it is icy and/or raining, I prefer to do something indoors.

5. Favourite vacation spot

That depends on the holiday type. If we are going to a place near to the sea then it would have to be Marbella in Spain or Nice in France. Both are fabulous and very scenic places.

In the UK, I enjoy going to London. It is huge and although I have been there countless times, I still haven’t seen it all. The city surprises me every time I am down there.

My favourite place in the world, outside Manchester, is Hong Kong and we should hopefully be heading back there early in 2025 on the way back from Malaysia.

6. Favourite TV show

I have far too many to list here. Some highlights over the past couple of years include Dr Who, The Wire, Stranger Things, Squid Game, The Last Kingdom, Vikings, The Boys, The Expanse, Dexter, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Black Mirror, The Last of Us, Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders, Daredevil, Jessica Jones.

7. Favourite Mythical creature

I guess vampires count as mythical creatures, don’t they? I am fascinated by them. I don’t include the feeble creatures in the Twilight Series by the way; to me they are most definitely NOT vampires. I am talking about those you see in the old Hammer Horror films and the Blade movies. 

Is it weird that I like them? I reckon so – but I don’t care.

8. Favourite fairy tale

I’m not a lover of fairy tales but if you were going to push me, it would probably be Jack and the Beanstalk.

9. Favourite thing to draw

I can’t draw at all. I’ve tried and been told not to give up my day job. My sister is very good at drawing. I don’t know where she gets it from.

10. Favourite scent

The smell of bacon cooking.

11. Favourite mode of transportation

I enjoy a good train journey. As I get older I am much more inclined to travel around the UK by train. For example, I can get to London in about two hours. I find it very relaxing. 

A close second is flying. Actually I hate flying because it is cramped and tedious but if I am in an aircraft it means that I am on my way to somewhere abroad and that makes it bearable.

12. Favourite vegetable

That would probably be carrots if you are forcing me to choose. Vegetables are generally pretty bland but I Like the taste of carrots more than any others.

13. Favourite candy

I tend not to eat “candy” (or sweets as we call them over here). If you were to push me, it would be dark chocolate Lindor.

14. Favourite sport

Football . And by that I mean what Americans call “soccer” (it’s known as football everywhere else in the world). In America “football” is a weird game that I don’t understand that looks to me like a weird and much less dangerous form of rugby.

My favourite football team are called Walsall and they are currently in a run of good form having won six out of the last seven games, culminating in a 6-1 away victory at Grimsby Town. 

15. Favourite weather

We have varied weather in the UK but the best is in the summer when the sun is shining and the  temperature is between 25°C and 30°C.