Narrowing Horizons Thursday, Jul 21 2016 

“We’re going to see if the Yanks can get this bucket of junk into space again”

In the Eighties my science class was herded into the school’s lecture theatre. The rest of the year were probably there- I seem to recall the whole year did the same subject at the same time. By coincidence I was in Science at the time the space shuttle was relaunched. We were going to watch the 2nd launch of the space shuttle.

Why the 2nd launch?

NASA was about to do something that had never been attempted before. They were going to relaunch a spacecraft.

As I grow older, I think, that despite his ‘bucket of junk’ comment, my science teacher was actually impressed.

In the 80s anything was possible. When did humans become so introspective?

All I want for Christmas… Saturday, Dec 12 2015 

This is a time of stress for me. People will ask me what I want for Christmas, and get upset if I say “nothing”. So, here is what I want:
A couple of Saville Row suits, some handmade shirts from Jermyn Street, and hand crafted shoes from a traditional shoemaker. Oh and silk ties. One red, one dark grey. If you can throw in a Jackpot lottery ticket, a big house and an Aston Martin while you’re at it…

What? Too much? I suppose Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all People and a rebalancing of the World Economy is out the question then?

See, here’s the thing. I like Christmas. I like the shared experience that we have, that Northern European tradition of going “It’s cold and dark, and we’re on dried food for the next three months. Sod it, let’s have a big party.” Sure, it’s been hijacked over the millennia by various mystics, nutters and men in dresses, insisting it is all about their particular gods/goddesses/bunch of rocks/life force, but that is just the excuse: nights are long and days are cold, and people want to be together.

And that is the point. Take me for example. Yes I wargame, pushing toy soldiers that cost [mumble, mumble] across a table. But for me that isn’t the point; no matter how much I might say “I really need some dragoons/panzers/better dice” what I really want from my little lead men is the shared experience- the sitting across a table from a mate, having a beer and a laugh, telling each other stories, and laughing even though it’s the tenth time we’ve told it in the last two years.

It’s not about the possessions. It’s about the shared experiences they allow.

And that’s what I want. You can’t buy it. You can’t wrap it. You can only give it. It’s that shared experience, my sister in law saying something silly, and my brother ragging her on it, the Old Man acting like a silly old fool, the arguments over who had the best card in Apples to Apples. I want my wife not to stress about achieving the unbelievably perfect Christmas, just sit down and enjoy it, because people won’t care that you failed to hit 100%, only that you cared enough to do it

I want to know that in the coming year that my friends will be there for me, and for them to know I will be there for them. I want you all to find the man or woman of your dreams, no matter what your gender, sexuality, or even if you’re an ex! All I ask is that they are someone who deserves you, and loves you like you love them. (Side note to some of my female friends- No seriously, please stop hooking up with dickheads. What do I have to do, interview them myself?)

So stop buying me books I won’t read, clothes I won’t wear, and … ‘stuff’ (Just what the hell am I supposed to do with a lightsabre the size of my thumb?) Just give me the only presents I’ve really ever wanted for Christmas.
Your time, your company and your friendship.

Thank you

PS. My Birthday, however, is in February 😉

I wonder if new surgeons feel like this? Thursday, Jun 4 2015 

Cracked open my 4 year old lap top today to see if I could fix an overheating problem.

That’s a nervewracking time – wondering how delicate it all is in there. (I’ve done stuff in towers before, but that was easy things, drives, and they are designed to be like Lego, and easier to get into).


I High-Fived a vicar Sunday, May 17 2015 

Highlight of the weekend – it’s not something you do very often.

I ran a quiz for the local church last night. Although the building is 13th century, very traditional Church Of England, the vicar is from Florida You have to feel sorry for him at things like this. He always gives his full support even though he is often lost and bewildered, and I have heard he has problems at these Anglo-centric quizzes. So I wrote a round specifically for him.  (I say specifically, the questions were general enough for people to know.)

Question 3
In January 1861, Florida declared its secession from the Union and became a founding member of the Confederate States. However, in what previous decade had it joined the United States? It wasn’t a founding member.

He had to think hard, but he got correct answer – I’ve never seen anyone so excited when quiz answers are given!  OBVIOUSLY I had to High-five him.

Ebola and context Saturday, Oct 11 2014 

As of October, there have been approximately 4,000 worldwide Ebola deaths. Im not saying we should ignore this, but…

In the UK alone flu kills 2,500 people per year. Road accidents 2013 killed 1700.

A third of British adults are obese, and as far back as 2001, a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) ‘Tackling obesity in Britain’ estimated that approximately 6% of all deaths in England in 1998 were caused by obesity – a total of 30,000 excess deaths in that year, but when the Government looks at ways to help people reduce calorie intake there are screams of “Nanny State”, even though modern food processing, if left unregulated, makes it difficult to control your diet.


Just a thought.

“Do not forget one line of this, not one day.” Friday, Jun 27 2014 

My son finished college today, and hopefully will be off to University in September.

Education hasn’t been easy for him. When he was 7 he was diagnosed with a lazy eye. It wasn’t found early enough (the only day he had off school sick when he was 5 was the day they did the eye tests). It was thought that this was what was holding his reading back.

Then we found he had dyslexia – quite severe as far as I can tell. We fought the council for funding for help for him at school. We also paid for a lesson with a specialist teacher once a week. After a while she suggested we get him tested for Aspergers. That was another fight to get the education department to recognise the diagnosis (because the support costs money). This is a proper diagnosis, done by professionals, not ‘I’ve done a checklist from the internet’.


Another Poem for my Wife Tuesday, Mar 11 2014 

It was suggested to me recently I haven’t written a poem in a while. I took the hint. Not sure it’s what she expected, though.

Everywhere on Earth
There are things that come in twos
Coz no one likes the rhythm
Without listening to the blues.


How to undermine a successful Ad campaign Sunday, Jan 19 2014 

Many years ago Marmite broke all the rules of advertising.

They suggested that some people don’t like their product.

The world of advertising were incredulous (except, I assume, the agency that came up with this idea).  They thought the company was mad.

“Are you mad?” they said (see, told you). “You can’t suggest someone doesn’t like your product, you’ll put people off.”

However their PR men had spotted something.  Marmite – you either love it or you hate it, and this went on to form the basis of one of the most successful campaigns in British TV history.

Now obviously Marmite is the Devil’s smegma.  However my brother (aged 41 and 6 months) becomes inappropriately excited by Twiglets (which I maintain are real twigs, covered in tarmac, though the packet assures us they are Marmite covered breadsticks)- to wit, upon  finding we had had them for the Christmas Evening buffet had him running round like a 5 year old at a party.

My Dad’s response?

“I’m not really that keen on Marmite.”

NOT THAT KEEN.  NO ONE IS NEUTRAL ABOUT MARMITE. You can’t be ‘not that keen’.

Millions of pounds worth of advertising undermined in one sentence.

A Complaint Letter to Haribo Tuesday, Nov 12 2013 

Sent by me today.

Dear Sir/Madam

It’s been quite stressful at work recently, so I and the two ladies I share an office with all chipped in last week for some comfort food, and Wendy and I took ourselves to the local store to stock up.

Among the items, Wendy selected a Haribo Mega-mix bag (yeah we’re a bunch of 40-somethings eating kids’ treat bags. Like I say, stressed). I must admit I had some reservations, as I am not a lover of the Gold-bear. However I realise that your jellies are formulated for a younger palate, not a middle aged man, and it was a ‘Mega-mix’ bag. As such the pack also tantalised with the promise of ‘Tang-fastics’, and I do like a sharp/sour sweet. We also bought chocolate chip cookies and bags of scampi fries and bacon fries. As you can see we were not planning to run our afternoon snacks past a doctor for their approval, but were intending to cheer our minds and taste buds (if not our arteries).

Upon opening the bag I sorted through for something I would like, and retrieved a packet of Tang-fastic. I say ‘a packet’; it would be more accurate to say ‘THE packet’. Yes, much to my disappointment, there was only one pack of this fizzy delight. And not just my disappointment, for it turned out Robbo also fancied a pack, and I had snagged the only one. I have thus upset my colleague, and she’s Australian, so not someone I wish to anger.

There were a few packets of what my colleague Wendy assures me are called ‘Star-mix’, but not many. Indeed, an unofficial audit between us (the bin has been emptied, so we can’t count the packs) suggests that of the 25 packs, at least 18 were Gold-bears. 72% (plus) of this gummy ursine seems rather excessive in something that represents itself as a ‘mega-mix’.

We therefore wish to register our disappointment, our distress even, at this oversight by your packing machine. I was so upset I had to have another packet of Bacon Fries.

Yours Faithfully
Ian, Wendy and Emma (aka Robbo)
Team 2
PS Robbo wishes to make it clear she is not yet a 40-something.

PPS Wendy says age is immaterial, as your slogan is “Kids and adults love it so, the happy world of Haribo.” We would add, “unless you like Tang-fastic or Star-mix, when you are in for a disappointment.”

Book is finished Saturday, Apr 27 2013 

It’s come in at 118000 words, or there about. It’s currently with 3 people for reading/finding cockups/grammar errors.

It also has two endings, I don’t know which one I want.

I’ve Finished my book! Tuesday, Feb 26 2013 

Ok, maybe not finished finished -I need to round off the odd chapter – I’ve put in ??? to say ‘Something more, possibly’.

But after 15 months (I had a long break in the middle, – not stressed enough) and 118,000 words I have a novel that can be read as such.

Now just need to tighten up the start, make sure the continuity works, and correct a few pages. THEN start the editing of the first draft.


I actually have a novel.
Bugger. That’s a bit scary. Never written anything this long before

Getting Old Friday, Jan 11 2013 

Picked up my first pair of glasses today (proper prescription glasses, not shades).

I’ve always had good eyesight, often surprising the opticians with what I can read – I can read the 4.5 meter line on a chart. My last test was 3 years ago, and I was due back a year ago, on a two year recall. I never quite got round to booking the appointment.

However over the last couple of months I’ve noticed it was taking a second or two to snap into focus when reading smaller fonts, so I finally made an appointment. As suspected I need reading glasses.

Its odd, because I’m not used to having anything on my face, its going to take time to ignore the weight on my nose, and the fact the pages and VDU are now framed. Also I ONLY need reading glasses – I still have ‘fighter pilot vision’ as the opthalmist called it; better than 6/6 (20/20). This means when I’m wearing the glasses anything more than arms length away goes blurry as my distance vision kicks in and wonders what idiot put these lenses in the way!

So now if someone talks to me while I work I look up at a slightly fuzzy person. Sitting on my laptop I perched them on the end of my nose, so I look at the screen through them, but can watch TV over the top!

Don’t Tell Your Mother Tuesday, May 15 2012 

A poem dedicated to fathers and sons.

When things went not quite wrong
But then again not quite right,
Dad would lower his voice,
Just like a conspirator might,
And we’d grin and smirk
One to the other,
He’d wink and say
“Don’t tell your mother.”


Thoughts upon life after death. Wednesday, Apr 18 2012 

Funerals are not for the dead, they are ceremonies for the living.

It was my honour on Tuesday to support three people who are very special to me through their time of grief.

Paul had little choice but to entrust me with looking after these people, who were also very special to him. It was clear from the eulogy he has set the bar high. I will do my best to live up to what he would have wanted.

Man Rules Thursday, Apr 5 2012 

A collegue emailed me this.  I said to her “Did this really need to be written down? Really, like it isn’t obvious?”

 “At last a guy has taken the time to write this all down   

The rules

These are our rules!

Please note… these are all numbered “1 “ON PURPOSE!

1          Men are NOT mind readers.

1          Learn to work the toilet seat. You’re a big girl.  

If it’s up, put it down.

We need it up; you need it down.

You don’t hear us complaining about you leaving it down.  

1.         Sports on TV:  

It’s like the full moon or the changing of the tides.

Let it be.  

1          Crying is blackmail

1.         Ask for what you want.

Let us be clear on this one:

Subtle hints do not work!

Strong hints do not work!

Obvious hints do not work!

Just say it!  

1.         Yes or No is a perfectly acceptable answer to almost every question.  

1.         Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That’s what we do.

Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.  

1.         Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.

In fact, all comments become Null and void after 7 Days.  

1.         If you think you’re fat, you probably are.

Don’t ask us.  

1.         If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one  

1.         You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done.

Not both.

If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.  

1.         Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say “during commercials”…  

1.         Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.  

1.         ALL men see in only 16 colours, like a Windows default settings.

Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a colour.  

Pumpkin is also a fruit.

We have no idea what mauve is.  

1.         If it itches, it will be scratched.

We do that…  

1.         If we ask what is wrong and you say “nothing,” We will act like nothing’s wrong.

We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.  

1.         If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to, expect an answer you don’t want to hear.  

1.         When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine…Really.  

1.         Don’t ask us what we’re thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as football or motor sports.

1                    If when you ask us what we are thinking we say nothing, it means we are thinking of nothing.  This is perfectly possible.

1.         You have enough clothes.  

1.         You have too many shoes.  

1.         I am in shape. Round IS a shape!  

Thank you for reading this.

Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight;

But did you know men really don’t mind that?  

It’s like camping.

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