Saturday, October 9, 2010

Being Happy

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Journeys recontinued


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Journeys Continued

Starting again, because the previous blog got too big!! :-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


This isn't a proper blog, it's just a space to share.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Monday Socks

I recently bought some socks. I fell in love with them at first sight, because they were black. I have this theory that black socks are best, because when they emerge from the washing machine they all look roughly the same and can be paired up with relative ease. My system for pairing-up is simple - if one sock is black and the other sock is black, then that’s a pair.

But these particular socks really did promise an absolutely perfect match every time. Each pair in the packet had the name of a day embroidered on their toes. And the name of each day was embroidered in a different colour. For example, “Monday” was embroidered in red, which seemed appropriate for the first day of the week – a red-letter-day!

Well, it seemed like a brilliant idea at the time, so I bought them. What a terrible mistake that was. You see, I’d forgotten one of the basic laws of physics, which is that when you put an even number of socks into the washing machine, you get an odd number of socks out.

So I was faced with a puzzle. What on earth do you do with a single sock embroidered with the word “Monday” on its toe? My solution to this quandary was to keep my mobile phone in it.

Then a good friend of mine suggested it would be very avant-garde if I continued to wear my Monday sock on one foot, with a Wednesday sock on the other foot. A brilliant idea!

So I started rummaging in my sock drawer to look for my Wednesday socks. At first, I thought this would be a straightforward project, because my Wednesday socks have the word “Wednesday” embroidered on the toe of each sock. But the search took forever.

You see, I keep each pair of socks neatly ravelled up in a small bundle. But you can’t see the toes in a bundle. And as all my socks are black, all the bundles look identical. So I had to unravel each bundled pair. Whilst doing this, I came across a pair of socks that weren’t really a pair at all. The two socks were of different lengths. I had to lay these two mismatched socks on the bed, in the hope that I would find more mismatched pairs and be able to reconcile the problem later. Well, I did find several other mismatched pairs, and eventually I was able to reunite these socks into pairs of equal length and re-bundle accordingly.

At first I was quite pleased with myself. Then I remembered my original objective, which was to find my Wednesday socks. I hadn’t found them. So I looked in the laundry basket. No Wednesday socks. I looked inside the washing machine, which I had used earlier. No luck. I peered under the bed. No luck there either. I searched high and low, but my Wednesday socks had vanished.

Eventually, the truth dawned on me. The reason I couldn’t find my Wednesday socks was because it WAS Wednesday, and I was wearing them. Silly me, I thought, and I took my shoes off to check. Sure enough, there they were, on my feet, where they had been all the time. It was then that the really dreadful truth became apparent.

Both of my Wednesday socks are adorned with the word “Wednesday” in GREEN embroidery. But my solitary Monday sock has the word “Monday” embroidered in RED. I was instantly reminded of the old adage “Red and Green should never be seen”. So alas, there is no way I can wear one of my Wednesdays with my Monday.

Happily, I do know where my mobile phone is. It is inside my Monday sock, hanging on the washing line, but still ringing and wringing wet.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Bully

The bully wore spectacles. He was big and fat, by far the biggest boy, with hangers-on behind him. They followed him everywhere, mimicking his lumbering walk. They surrounded a small boy at the far end of the playground. Other children nearby scuttled away. I didn’t see what happened next. The bell rang for class, and it was my first day at that primary school.

Next day, and for weeks afterwards, I stood near the teachers on playground duty, just outside my classroom door. It was a safe place to be, from where I could watch. There were incidents every day in the other half of the playground, in which the bully reinforced his dominance with a push, a spit, or a kick. He particularly liked pulling a girl’s hair, or snatching a possession and throwing it to the ground for his tribe to kick around.

The teachers on playground duty, and there were usually two of them, were oblivious, engrossed in their own conversation. Their attention only switched to the playground when the bell rang and they organised the children into lines outside their classrooms. None of the children complained. They were too intimidated.

My hate for that boy and his followers grew by the day, filling every moment of my time in the playground. I watched his every move as he swaggered about looking over the top of his spectacles, making up his mind what to do next. He had a habit of pushing his spectacles back up to the top his nose just before he picked on someone.

Inevitably, the day came when his eyes locked with mine. We stared into each other’s souls. His face curled with frustration because I was standing near the teachers, and out of his reach. He raised a fist and spat in my direction before turning to his tribe, then pointing me out to them. I was on his list – he had made that crystal clear.

The worst happened soon after, on a day when for some reason or another, there were no teachers in the playground. The bully saw me standing in my usual place, with my back against the school wall, and he made a beeline for me. As he approached he pushed his spectacles up to the top of his nose. It was my trigger. I flew off the wall with my fists flailing. His spectacles broke, and then broke again. There was blood from his eyes. He fell on his back screaming, me on top of him, pounding his hands as they tried to shield his eyes, hitting his mouth, his chin, and any part of his head I could see.

Teachers arrived, pulled me off, and one of them dragged me away into the school hall. The teacher holding me wanted to know what had happened, but I was still in such a rage that I couldn’t speak. Later, I heard a teacher say that an ambulance had taken the bully away.

I was kept in the hall until my mother came to pick up me from school, and the teachers took us to see the headmaster. It was then that I told my story. My mother took my side, and there was an argument. Afterwards, my mother told me that I wouldn’t be going to the school for much longer, because we were moving away to a new flat in a completely different area. I was enrolled into a new school shortly afterwards, where there was no other child with a seriously mean streak.

Except, perhaps, for a new boy who could be seen during playtime standing with his back to the wall....


Coincidences are fascinating. They have a quality of surprise that makes us pause for breath in our busy lives, and wonder if we are a part of some greater mysterious pattern, or if the event was merely some random chance. I suppose that most people encounter coincidences one at a time, and relatively rarely, but my story is about a day when coincidences happened one after the other, all of them amazing.

It all happened on a Saturday when I was eighteen years old. I’d had a busy morning, shopping in the West End of London, where I bought myself a faux suede jacket and a pair of shoes before keeping an appointment to have my hair cut in my favourite barbershop tucked away in a side street off the Edgware Road. The barber, an old friend of my father’s, had cut my hair since I was six or seven years old.

When I got back home I was in a hurry. It was perilously close to the time that I’d arranged to meet a school friend at a local tube station. I quickly changed clothes, donning my new jacket and shoes for their first venture into the outside world. As I left the house, I crossed paths with the postman who had a letter addressed to me. I opened the envelope as I set off on my walk to the station. Oh happiness – the letter was a confirmation I had won a provisional place at my first choice college. And the exam grade requirements were just about within my reach.

At that moment a newspaper delivery van pulled up next to me. The driver asked for directions to the very same station that I was headed to. Of course, I offered to act as his guide if he gave me a lift to the station. He agreed and let me hop in. We arrived at the station five minutes before I was due to meet my friend.

Imagine my surprise as I alighted from the van to see my friend a few yards away, also alighting from another newspaper delivery van. We stood there and gaped at each other. Then we gaped some more, as we took in the fact that that we were each wearing brand new faux suede jackets and new shoes. And we were both sporting fresh haircuts.

It transpired that he had spent the morning doing exactly the same things as me, and he too had been asked directions to the station by a passing newspaper delivery van. We were amazed. We had even bought our jackets and shoes in the same shops.

But that wasn’t the end of it. I asked him where he had had his haircut. The very same barbers! And he had been going to the same shop for many years, but we had never crossed paths there.

I guess we must have stood outside that station for at least twenty minutes, in animated and somewhat bemused discussion about these incredible coincidences. Eventually we agreed to move on to our planned visit to the local youth club. It was then that I remembered my letter from the college admissions secretary. I reached inside my jacket for the letter at exactly the same moment that he was reaching inside his jacket.

You’ve guessed what happened next, haven’t you? We had identical letters, from the same college, for the same undergraduate course. And we both passed our A-levels with identical grades a few months later.


It is one of those rare days when I can leave the office early. Midday sunshine and traffic is light as I snake my way out of the city. Life is good when your job is done, the customer is happy, and you are on your motor bike to spend the afternoon at home.

I turn the Honda left into the long run up to the fork at the station and check my rear view mirror. Nothing following me and the road is clear ahead. I relax and shift up through second and third. It will be a clear run past the station and up the hill to the heath.

A car in the distance approaches the fork from the left. It slows down and stops as it should, and I can see its right indicator flashing. I’m still quarter of a mile away, so there’s plenty of time for it to make its turn across my path. Except it doesn’t - it just sits there, indicator flashing.

It’s a fork junction with my right of way. But I’m cautious and double check that my left indicator is off. It is. No problem then. Strange the car hasn’t moved.

I’m passing across the front of the stationary car when it moves out and broadsides me. There is a fraction of time before that in which my left leg reflexes up out of the way. The lights go out.

My eyes open. I’m on my back, motionless, feeling nothing, waking into a dream. There is an ambulance close by, back doors wide open, casting a shadow over me. A paramedic is cutting the strap of my helmet. It’s too late to tell him no, don’t do that. I’m coming around, slowly moving my toes, my fingers, lifting and relaxing each knee, and raising my forearms. I’m working, but my head has a soft buzzing sound that isn’t unpleasant.

I’m told to lie still. My helmet is removed by someone else. I’m all right, I say. Let me try to get up. I start raising myself. It works, I’m sitting up. Let me stand up. They help me to my feet and want to know if I am feeling good. Yes I’m OK, no problem, and no, I don’t want to go to hospital for a check up. I look around, and see onlookers, the crumpled wreck of my bike, and two policemen talking to a man by the car that hit me.

The police walk over, take my name and address. Everything is happening so slowly. The ambulance moves away as the policemen drag my bike off the road onto the pavement. Then the police aren’t there anymore. The crowd dissolves, and I am alone with my buzzing noise and my bike. I walk into a shop and ask to use the phone to call home.

A neighbour answers. She is baby-sitting. She says she will get someone else to look after the kids and come pick me up. I’m in a dream, sitting on the kerb by my bike, not thinking about anything, waiting. She arrives in that big estate of hers, big enough for me to haul my bike on board.

We arrive home. The kitchen door in from the drive is wide open and the room is crowded. I see my wife and kids, my mother, the neighbours, their kids, and good friends who should be at work now, but have rushed here. And my dog is jumping up on me.

I sit down at my kitchen table, and big silent tears start pouring out of me. Because I know what might have been, and because I’m home, where I’m not alone.

Monologues and Dialogues

Yes, living on a Spanish sub-tropical island is slowly driving me nuts. As if any further proof were needed of my continuing descent into insanity, I’ve started talking to inanimate objects. It began one morning several months ago, after I’d put my second sock on.

A cursory examination of me in the mirror confirmed that both socks had holes in them. “You poor things”, I murmured, adding the somewhat ambiguous comment “You really are on your last legs, aren’t you?”

Then I had breakfast, and started talking to the marmalade on my toast. “Crikey! You’re yummy!” And while examining the Spanish label on the marmalade jar “And to think I thought you were jam!”

Afterwards, when I went down to the car, I said “Good Girl!” when it started first time.

It’s sad, isn’t it? But in a strange sort of way, all this extra talking I do is strangely comforting. It’s good to happily chat away, safe in the knowledge that nobody will answer back.

In fact, it’s virtually impossible to engage an inanimate object with a decent monologue when there are other people about. If you try it in the presence of family or friends you’ll soon find out what I mean. They tend to ignore your quick comments, like those I’ve described above, but if you keep talking for more than a minute or two, they simply can’t resist interrupting.

However, if you try and do a monologue with an inanimate object in the presence of strangers, their reactions are quite the opposite. All the people in the supermarket aisles simply shuffle away when they hear me talking. Yesterday I was examining a tin of sardines halfway down what had been a fairly crowded aisle, when I noticed that everyone had disappeared.

Of course, there are exceptions. Not everyone behaves like those people in the supermarket. Take my therapist, for example. He never said anything in all my twice-weekly visits. Until yesterday, that is, when he finally broke his silence.

“No hablo ingles” he said.

Psychiatrists don’t know everything, do they? And you should have seen the look of surprise on his face as he realised I was an accomplished ventriloquist. Speechless, he was....

Heavy Socks

How heavy is a SOCK I wonder?

I’ll use the bathroom scales.
The needle doesn’t move a bit

And I worry why that fails.

So I weigh myself in just one sock
And then with both socks on.
I am the same weight either way

It’s a puzzle - something’s wrong.

So I weigh myself in ALL my socks
And yes, I now weigh more.
The needle’s gone right off the scale
Which it wasn’t just before.

So I peel a sock off my left foot

And then one off my right.

I know if I keep doing this

I’ll go from heavy to light.

I'll check my weight every two socks off

That seems about just right.

I don't suppose it matters much

If I lose a bit of height.

This takes an hour and fifteen minutes

My feet are feeling sore.

Now half my socks are on my feet

And the rest are on the floor.

But the needle stays right off the scale

Its nearly half past two.

It must be time to take a break

And rethink the whole thing through.

Yes I’m far too tired to carry on

I need a cunning plot.

Suppose I take off ALL my socks

And then weigh the bloody lot?

I can get a box to put them in

And count them one by one.

If I divide the total weight

By the count then I'll be done.

But there is one thing that troubles me

About this weight of socks.

How will I know the total weight

Without the weight of the box?

How heavy is a box I wonder?

I’ll use the bathroom scales.
The needle doesn’t move a bit

Can you guess what this entails?

If there is one thing I shall not do

Its do it all again.

With lots of boxes and no socks?

There's no way I'm that insane!


Ups and Downs.

We had a power cut. It was mid afternoon, and I was alone at the time because my girlfriend had popped out to the hairdressers. And I had a bright idea. I’d go downstairs, crank open the electric car park gates, drive the car out, and park it in the street. That way, we’d be able to drive off later in the evening without any hassle.

I live at the top of an apartment block. Of course the lifts were out of action, so I strode merrily down umpteen flights of stairs. When I arrived at ground floor level, I realised I had left the car key upstairs. So I trotted back up the umpteen flights of stairs.

When I got back to the top, I discovered I’d also forgotten my door keys. They were inside my apartment. This meant I couldn’t open my front door. So I stomped back down the umpteen flights of stairs and got a spare set of front door keys from the nice lady in the reception foyer. And I puffed my way back up the umpteen flights of stairs.

When I got to my front door the keys didn’t fit. I remembered I had recently changed the locks and had forgotten to give copies of the new keys to the nice lady in the reception foyer. So I staggered back down the umpteen flights of stairs to see if she could offer any advice. She couldn’t, but she had just seen my girlfriend return home and take the other flight of stairs up. And so I gasped my way back up the umpteen flights of stairs.

I rang the doorbell. My girlfriend was chatting on her mobile phone when she let me in. I didn’t have the heart or lungs to interrupt her conversation, so I got my keys and tottered back down the umpteen flights of stairs. The nice lady in the reception foyer helped me crank open the electric car park gates while I watched and had a gasper. Then I looked for my car in the car park, but couldn’t find it. So I crawled back up the umpteen flights of stairs to announce that the car had been stolen.

My girlfriend found that funny. You see, when she went out to the hairdressers, she’d decided to take the car so that she could do a bit of shopping. And when she‘d returned, the electric car park gates hadn’t opened because of the power cut. So she had parked the car in the street outside.

And she said:
“Oh – that reminds me! Would you nip down and bring the shopping up?”

Happy Camping

School Camp in the springtime was supposed to be wonderful fun. For me, at the tender age of eleven, it represented a dream about to come true. A week away from the city, in the depths of Surrey! An open-air life by an old medieval Mill House, in a field of tents, with camp fires, sing-a-longs and midnight pranks!

But all good things have their downsides. In my case, it was the Palliasse. In case you don’t know, a palliasse (which was pronounced by the teachers as “Pally-Ass”) is a straw-filled canvas bag used as a mattress. It made me sneeze.

My sneeze is off the Richter Scale. It has been likened to the noise that might be made by a herd of erotically aroused bull elephants experiencing a sudden and unexpected mass circumcision. None of the boys in my tent could sleep with that, nor could the boys in the fourteen other tents, and most important, neither could the occupants of the Prefects Tent (occupied by eighteen-year-old hugely muscular sadists).

So I was evicted. That was fairly typical of many of my early experiences of life as a First-Former in a Grammar School run on the lines of a Public School, but with serious pretensions of being a Military Academy. So what would you do, shivering on the edge of the field in the cold night air, where you had been left by an angry mob?

Yes, there I was, in the moonlight, by the side of the camping field, freezing, forgotten and forlorn, a mere slip of a lad, with only a deep and burning hatred of muscular eighteen-year-old sadists to keep me warm in the cold night air.

What to do? I couldn’t sneak back to my tent – the dreaded Palliasse would betray my return by inducing a renewed bout of repetitive sneezing. But the old Mill House -inhabited by our teachers (no tents for them) - was not far away, by the stream on the far side of the neighbouring field. So I hit upon a cunning plan.

I made a bee-line for the Mill House, pausing only for a slight detour to the Barn. There was straw in the Barn, and holding my breath, I grabbed a handful and put it in my pocket. No sneezes. So far, so good, and I resumed my bee-line to the Mill House.

A slight digression – over the years up to age of eleven an important component of my self-taught repertoire of personal survival techniques was a BESEECHING SMILE – akin to the one used by Puss in Boots in the film SHREK. My smile was bewitching, a glorious blend of innocence, bewilderment, and supplication. It could melt the heart of Attila the Hun. (Note: the smile only worked on adults – not on eighteen-year-old sadists).

I arrived outside the door of the Mill House, took the straw from my pocket, held it up to my nose, sniffed in, and promptly started sneezing - and sneezing, and sneezing, and sneezing. Sure enough, the commotion attracted the attention of the teachers. As they opened the door, I greeted them with THE SMILE (punctuated by more sneezes).

To cut a long story short, it worked! I spent the rest of the School Camp safely tucked up in bed at night in the Mill House. That was my introduction to hay fever and the delights of NOT living under canvas.

My Ears Made Me Rich.

In my childhood I was blessedly healthy in every respect except for a particular problem with my hearing. My problem was background noise. My parents lived with background noise, by a railway line, under the Heathrow fly-path, with the radio or television always on. My way of compensating was to focus on my parent’s lips, to “see” what they said to me. I learnt to read their lips.

My lip-reading skills evolved in kindergarten and school, which were also noisy environments. I graduated from University with no difficulty – background noise in college lecture halls did not exist. But by then I had honed my special skill beyond direct eye-to-lip contact. I became very good at reading lips from a distance, and in profile. Of course people with moustaches and beards presented special difficulties - but generally I saw enough to get the gist of their conversation.

After graduation, my workplace was fun – open plan and noisy, sometimes sexy, full of hardworking, likeable and intelligent people. From my swivel office chair, I could see into the boardroom, and into every glass-clad office occupied by a director. So my lip-reading skills kept me well informed of management discussions and plans – well in advance of any formal information being trickled down to the staff.

I became well-liked by my fellow workers for my “guesses” about the next pay rise, for my “thoughts” about who was to be promoted, or my “concerns” over an imminent de-selection (management-speak for sacking an employee).

My meteoric rise to the very top was based on knowledge. After only two years of lip-reading from afar, I knew which directors were insider-trading on the stock market, fiddling the books, and having extra-marital affairs. And I let them know I knew. So they promoted me. Then they promoted me more. Then they started promoting me at each other’s expense.

I’m top dog now, and earning a fortune. From my glass-clad office, I can see all my staff, and lip-read to my heart’s content.

And I sport a very bushy beard. You can’t be too careful now-days, can you?


Mortuary Employee

In 1974 I fell upon hard times and became a night watchman in an old Victorian mortuary. My shift was from midnight to 8am, and the work was dead easy. There was little for me to do except sit at a desk and guard the dead bodies.

My desk was in the middle of the main mortuary vault, in which the surrounding walls were lined by refrigerated cadaver drawers. Each numbered drawer had a temperature gauge and a glass viewing panel through which you could see the incumbent’s feet. A label was tied to the big toe of the left foot, stating the deceased’s name, expiry date and cause of death.

1974 was the year of the three-day working week, and there were occasional power outages which plunged the building into darkness. When that happened, I had to go down to the basement with my torch to start the generator to keep the bodies cool, and then return to check all the temperature gauges. The generator didn’t supply the main building lights.

So I would sometimes be left sitting at my desk in darkness, surrounded by the silence of the dead, and if I was lucky I’d have a moonbeam for company, shimmering through a cobweb that clung to an overhead skylight. It was spooky, but I’d amuse myself by shining my torch on the drawers and letting the beam bounce off the glass viewing panels. Or I’d flash my torch at the skylight and try to annoy the spider. You do silly things like that when you are alone.

But I digress. Of all the lonely nights that I spent in the mortuary, there was one that was very different. It still sends shivers down my spine, although I can laugh about it now.

That particular night started badly enough, with a power outage immediately after the evening shift clocked off. So I stumbled down to the basement with my torch in the dark to start the generator and came back up to check all the temperature gauges on the refrigerated cadaver drawers. I'd only just started checking when mains power came back on. Back down I went, to turn the generator off, and then back up to check the gauges. But again, before I could check the gauges, there was another power outage. This carried on for an hour, during which time there were about six power outages, with me jumping up in the dark, stumbling down the stairs, and then running back up the stairs like a dervish.

Eventually, mains power was properly restored and the lights stayed on. But the temperature gauge on one of the drawers was above danger level. I tapped it. No response. I tapped again, harder. The temperature reading shot down, but my tapping had jolted the drawer fractionally open. As I pushed it to, I caught sight of something weird through the viewing panel. Instead of the customary label, there was a book, bound in black leather, attached to the big toe of the left foot of the body inside.

Curiosity overcame me. I pulled the drawer open and gingerly removed the book from the corpse’s toe. Then I closed the drawer and took the book back to my desk.

The book was a personal diary, containing scattered notes, meeting times, venues, all the usual things that you might expect to see. But in the latter pages, the writer had began a long essay on the wonderful life he had lived, and how he was now ready to die, to meet his Maker, and enjoy eternal peace. The final page contained a simple statement: “A Curse upon the Devil that disturbs my Final Sleep”.

As I closed the diary, the lights in the building flickered and went out. So I went down to the basement to turn the generator on. As I returned, all the lights came back on again. But the diary was no longer on my desk. Then to my horror, I saw the drawer, the one from which I had retrieved the diary. It was wide open. The drawer was empty. The body had vanished. And the lights flickered, flickered, flickered for what seemed like an eternity, then died, flickered, and came on again.

That’s when the mortuary managers and the evening shift burst in, roaring with laughter. I’d forgotten it was April Fools’ Day.

There's a hole in my Knickers

Yesterday I had a major scare while putting my underpants on. I balanced on my right leg and happily threaded my left leg through the appropriate holes in the garment. Then I balanced on my left leg and started to thread my right leg through.

I had no problem getting my right foot in, but my big right toe missed the intended exit hole and snagged on the gusset. Wriggling my toe didn’t free it. Then I tried shaking my foot from side to side, but this simply aggravated the problem, and the gusset became firmly wedged between my toes.

For what seemed like an eternity, I continued to balance on one leg whilst frantically raising and lowering and shaking my right foot. It was all to no avail. I found it progressively more difficult to sustain this activity without wobbling. The wobbling turned into tottering, and the only way I could retain some semblance of balance was by hopping. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to hop backwards in the general direction of my bed, where I landed safely.

This gave me pause for reflection. I’d never experienced this particular problem before, and it occurred to me that the same thing could happen to other people, possibly with fatal consequences. And if it could happen with underpants, then it almost certainly could happen with knickers. Both males and females were equally at risk.

Knickers and underpants have similar design characteristics, in that they are mostly manufactured with three holes. The only exceptions are four-hole knickers (with split gussets) and four-hole underpants (which are called Y-fronts). It seems to me that the likelihood of snagging a toe increases in direct proportion to the number of holes.

For reasons that are beyond me, knickers and underpants are always referred to in the plural, even when we are referring to a single garment. The words “knicker” and “underpant” simply do not exist in the English language. To complicate matters further, we are obliged to refer to a single garment as a pair.

But I digress. It’s the three main holes that I want to talk about. These are the waist hole, the left leg hole, and the right leg hole. The question is – why are these holes not labelled accordingly? I know that the waist hole usually bears a label, but this typically identifies the manufacturer, the size of the garment, and some hieroglyphics that purport to be washing recommendations. The label never contains any reference to the two leg holes, no instructions for putting the garment on, and no health and safety guidance notes. Is this user-friendly? I think not.

I have done some calculations, and it appears to me that there are 12 different ways in which long-suffering users can don a standard pair of three-hole underpants or knickers. Only one of these ways is the right way, which is label inside, at the back of the waist. Yes, I know there are more than 12 options if you include permutations where both legs emerge from the same exit hole, but frankly, we can't be too silly about this.

Goodness knows how many different ways you can don a pair of split-gussets or Y-fronts. That’s four holes. I think the answer is 24. But you’d have to have a small waist and thin legs.

Health & Safety Addendum:
The safest way to don underwear is to begin whilst seated. Insert both legs. Draw garment up to knees. If garment is back-to-front, maintain grip on the waistband, lower the garment back to the floor and cross your legs so that your right foot exits the garment through the left-hand leg hole and your left foot exits through the right-hand leg hole, then draw the garment back up to the knees and untwist. If garment is seen to be inside-out, or both inside-out and back-to-front, go fetch your spectacles, taking care not to trip.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Secret Siblings

When people talk about their siblings I go funny peculiar all over. You see, I was an only child. And I was a bit miffed about that, because all the other kids in my class had at least one brother or sister. So when they went home after school, they always had company, even if their parents, like mine, were still out at work.

But I did have Miffy.

Miffy (that was his nickname, taken from his initials MIF) was my imaginary friend. What a wonderful companion he was! And such an imagination! He was quite definitely the most imaginative person I’d ever met. It was he who introduced me to my imaginary family of siblings, and then showed me that they might not be so imaginary after all.

Miffy’s original idea was that my father had a secret love-child. This seemed quite plausible to me, because my father (who was actually my step-father) spent quite a lot of time away from home. At first, it was just the odd day or two, but as time went by his absences became more frequent.

This made Miffy think that perhaps my step-father had more than one secret love-child, perhaps a whole set of secret love-children, possibly by several secret mistresses. All these secret love-children would be my secret half-brothers and secret half-sisters. And in the fullness of time, the children of my secret half-brothers and secret half-sisters would be my secret nephews and nieces. Wow! And the children of my secret nephews and secret nieces would become my secret great-nephews and secret great-nieces!

Of course, Miffy was quick to point out that none of these secret siblings or their future offspring were blood relations of mine. This was quite disappointing news for me, but as always, Miffy came up with another idea. He said that everything he had suggested about my step-father might also be true of my natural father. Well, I’d never met my natural father, so he was already something of a secret to me. But it was clear that any of his children by other women would be my secret half brothers and secret half-sisters, and these would definitely be secret blood relatives of mine.

It was only much later in life that I discovered that it was me that had been the secret love-child in the first place. Miffy hadn’t suggested that, but I think he was preparing me for the day when the truth finally came out. You see, he’d been right about everything else.

And you and I, dear reader, may have more in common than we know.

Putting a lid on it.

Every now and then I come up with a really brilliant idea that enraptures my girlfriend. My most recent idea involved two screws. And by screws, I don’t mean prison wardens. I mean the sort of screws that most blokes keep in their toolkit.

It all began when I was happily blogging. Suddenly I heard a clashing cacophony of sound, reminiscent of the cymbals in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, but followed by screams of rage. At first I didn’t take too much notice, because I was blogging on My Telegraph at the time, where similar eruptions are all too common.

But then I realised that the unholy din was coming from the kitchen. So I ran to investigate. She was kneeling on the floor, surrounded by a scattering of saucepan lids that had tumbled out of a lower kitchen cabinet. “HELLS BELLS!” she was yelling, as she gathered up the saucepan lids and stuffed them back into the cabinet. “I HATE THESE THINGS!

Of course, she didn’t actually hate the saucepan lids. What she hated was the way in which they were stored; all muddled up and precariously leaning or stacked, one on top of the other. And what she really, really, hated was the chaos that usually erupted when she tried to extract the lid that she wanted from the assorted pile. Saucepan lid handles, situated as they are on the top of each lid, make storage problematic.

She looked at me. I looked at her. And I solved the problem, as you can see from the photo below. So if you are a bloke reading this, feel free to copy the idea and become a hero to the woman in your life.

And remember, there are exactly two screws required for each saucepan lid...


PS. For technical guidance, see PPS after the photo below.

PPS. Insert two screws in a horizontal line on the inside of the door, set slightly less apart than the diameter of each saucepan lid. Each lid is slid down to be supported by the two protruding screw heads. I applied the same idea for two more saucepan lids on the inside of the other door on the right. Simple!!! :-)

PPPS. It's a good idea to use short screws that won't poke out through the front of the door. :-(