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Saturday, 24 September 2016


I read a news item today suggesting that the late entertainer Paul Daniels left an estate net worth circa £500,000 and the tone was one of "how come" when he was such a successful man. Well, who really cares, apart from his family, who might be missing the man rather than anything else? In his TV heyday, he was a massive draw, very popular and rightly so. He was brilliant at his job as a superb magician. He was ridiculed by clever-arse comedians who will never achieve anything like his success. We are so obsessed about money, celebrity gossip, who's up, who's down but we can easily forget that famous people are people too just like us. They are trying to earn a living, they have loved ones who mourn their passing and whatever they leave in their last wills and testaments, well, in the end, it's got damn all to do with us.


I went into a Timpson's shoe repair shop today and the guy was as charmless, cold, personality-free and lacking in courtesy as a boulder. It got me thinking about how, gradually, like erosion of the coastlines, we are losing good manners. On the same day, old-fashioned gentleman as I am, I held doors open in a several shops for people of all genders and not one, not one, said 'thank you'. I thought....well, you can guess. The letter F featured, silently in my head. In the car park, I let a guy out. Not a jot of acknowledgement. I tried again. I let a lady out. Nada. I thought....yeah, the letter F featured, in my angry skull. What is the matter with people? What has happened to manners and courtesy? Who gives a flyer anymore? Well, I do. And I will continue to be courteous and gentlemanly and respectful and as nice as I can be in this world of who gives an F-word? But, people, there is hope. I also noticed quite a few, young and old, being naturally nice. Naturally nice. How do people become naturally nice? Upbringing? Something in the womb on the journey to birth? The atmosphere of home life to a baby, toddler and beyond? I worked in shops for 35+ years with the general public - sympathy cards welcome - and the good, the bad and the ugly were always lurking. I have more to say but I'll stop there. Manners and respect need to be taught, encouraged, influenced. Or else, well, there's the F-word again....


The notion of freedom of speech used to be such a noble ambition. Now, whoever and whatever is to blame, freedom of speech needs courage above and beyond the slings and arrows of political correctness. It is so easy to offend, upset and insult people now that free speech is consigned to the dustbin. It has been replaced by "Whoa, hold on there, Hoss, speech" and I'm certain many a tweet has not been tweeted and many a Facebook post hasn't been posted and many a word has not been uttered for fear of some shit hitting various fans. We live in stupid, frightening, angst-ridden times (a lot of which is whipped up out of all proportion) but we still have the option of calm, reasoned, rational thought. Sadly, the next and the next and the one beyond that "gadget generation" will not have a clue about compassion, respect, emotion or humanity. 

Friday, 23 September 2016


This is a bit of a ramble about luck.

Luck.  Here's the Chambers definition:

luck noun 1. chance, especially as it is perceived as influencing someone's life at specific points in time. 2. good fortune. 3. events in life which cannot be controlled and seem to happen by chance...........

"You make your own luck" is one of those glib expressions that work colleagues and bosses have said occasionally over the years.  I have never believed that.  How can you make something happen with certainty that is down to the roll of the proverbial dice?  You can have a go, make a bet, buy a lottery ticket, enter a competition, apply for a job, etc, etc but you can't make those things a certainty for you unless you cheat or enter into some criminal activity, but then even that kind of chicanery is not a guarantee of success. 

You can prepare for things to the nth degree for what you believe is a sure thing, but it is still a game of chance. I heard someone say "you make your own luck" recently on the radio and it got me thinking about the sheer amount of meaningless claptrap that permeates business life, sports punditry, social networking and life in general.

God knows, we only have to spend a few minutes on Twitter to read all kinds of pseudo-sage advice. I'm as guilty as anybody. I add my tuppence on a regular basis.  But if you really can make your own luck, it can be either good luck or bad luck, can't it?  Either way, you're not in the driving seat. Depend on the rabbit's foot if you like but remember it didn't work for the rabbit. In the Sunday Times Rich List, for example, there are winners of huge lottery jackpots in the ranks.  Did they make their own luck or did they just buy a ticket that happened to coincide with the big money balls?  

I am a competitions junkie.  If I see a prize worth going for, I enter.  In recent years I have won:

a Mini car (that's a real car, not a toy!)
a £4,500 holiday to Alberta, Canada
a £500 cosmetics/perfumes hamper
a TV
an X Box
a bench top tool system/saw set
a weekend in Cornwall
a few National Lottery tenners
a few Premium Bond £25s
an outdoor jacket
a selection of computer accessories
a lot of books
a lot of DVDs
a lot of CDs
several gift cards

I didn't make those things happen. I entered competitions and left it to chance. I got lucky. I did not force the luck. It's fun on the basis of the old pools slogan: "If you're not in, you can't win".

Having a go at something, an ambition, a career move, a competition or whatever is much more important that not bothering.  

Luck is luck, you can't make it or force it, and lethargy rulezzzzz.

Have a go. Have a nice day and, er, good luck.

Thursday, 22 September 2016


That bastard sugar has been in the news again. Oh, how some shake their fists at it. And its partner in crime, salt?  Don't get me started. And people stuffing themselves with foods of the Devil? Jeez.  Everything these days is a crisis, an epidemic, a plague, a word or a phrase to heighten dramatically anything and everything to fill our heads with angst. Private Frazer was right. We ARE all doomed.

As sure as death and taxes, bad news about the National Health Service (or what's left of it) pours out of newsrooms daily, inevitably leading to experts spouting about lifestyle choices and obesity.  Food, diet, health all have their actual or well-spun analyses, controversies, crises, epidemics, etc.  So, we need a revolution, especially in shops that sell food and even more especially in Satan's cathedrals, or supermarkets as we know them.

Supermarkets need a bloody good overhaul to make things clear to the dumb, dense, witless public (for that is what we are folks in the minds of the behavioural nudgers in politics and business).  So, here it is again.  My revolutionary supermarket layout to satisfy Nanny, and to guide us to the promised land of long life and happiness.

All the talk about retail pressures, reinvention and regeneration, clarity for customers and healthy living, got me thinking that all food stores, large, medium and small, should adopt the simplest form of layout.  

Asking customers to read product labels is a non-starter. Too much information. Too much blah. Too much cover-your-arse verbiage.  And the amount of words on food packs will soon weigh more than the products!  Here's the solution:

4 sections all painted - floors, walls, ceilings to avoid any confusion (remember, we shoppers are thick as Marmite on a bap):

Green zone: Contains all food and drink that Nanny says is very, very good for us.

Amber zone: Contains all food and drink that Nanny says is not too risky

Red Zone: Contains all food and drink that Nanny says is bad for us - but it's our choice to enter this zone.

Zone Painted In All The Colours Of The Fires Of Hell - for all food and drink that Nanny considers extremely bad for us even though it might be the tastiest selection - enter if you dare!

There you go. Simple as that. No need for expensive research. 

It's worth a pilot, surely. Today's daft idea is tomorrow's solution.........

Food and drink retailing is saved, as is the nation's height/weight ratio.

I can be contacted via this blog or at the Home for the Bewildered.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016


The gall of our leaders to change their minds,
once elected to their power posts,
from their shredded manifestos, nothing binds,
promises and pledges thin as ghosts;
We live in times of turmoil, times austere,
of gung-ho wars and fat-cat bankers greed,
we tough it out and look for things to cheer,
considering desire or want or need;
One by one the powerful fall from grace,
some by bloody means, by sword and fire,
not certain that the ones that take their place,
have the talents to encourage and inspire.
          But in this world of more bad news than good,
          We have love and must use it as we should.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016


Just as the new version of Ben-Hur made me nostalgic for the 1959 Ben-Hur, the forthcoming new version of The Magnificent Seven makes me think fondly of the 1960 Magnificent Seven. I will watch the new Seven at some point (as the DVD price plummets!) but I have a feeling it will have a gang of seven battling some bad guys (no fool me!) and it will ride on the back of that well-known title for as long as it can. Will it be any good? We'll have to wait and see. Denzel Washington leads the heroes.

The 1960 flick was a version of The Seven Samurai and Hollywood make a good job of translating the story as a western. But the sequels were weak, getting weaker with each attempt; Return of the Magnificent Seven (1966) with Yul Brynner, again as Chris, Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1969) with George Kennedy as Chris and The Magnificent Seven Ride! (1972) with Lee Van Cleef as Chris. There was also a so-so TV series from 1998 - 2000, with Michael Biehn as Chris and occasional guest appearances by Robert Vaughn as a judge.  Seven warriors against a helluva lot more is a great premise for a film but the gap between a classic and a humdrum effort can sometimes be a Grand Canyon.

The older version is one of those films, like Casablanca and The Searchers, that I can watch forever, reciting the scripts as the movies play. They are special to me.

But, I salute the original western Seven as we wait
for a new bunch to weigh in:

Yul Brynner 1920 - 1985 played Chris
Steve McQueen 1930 - 1980 played Vin
Charles Bronson 1921 - 2003 played Bernardo
Brad Dexter 1917 - 2002 played Harry
James Coburn 1928 - 2002 played Britt
Horst Buchholz 1933 - 2003 played Chico
Robert Vaughn 1932 - played Lee
And one more.....
Eli Wallach 1915 - 2014 played Calvera

Re the new version, I'll be keeping an eye on the reviews!