Following a period of almost four years writing on behalf of the committee for St. Peter’s RFC for the Cardiff East magazine, Vince was asked, by the editors, to write a general monthly column which did not always focus on the daily activities of the club. The following articles are written by Vince Nolan and as such are not the thoughts, opinions or reflections of the Committee or Members of St. Peter’s RFC, but they are an enjoyable read and often reflected upon by the Committee and Members of St. Peter’s RFC.

“And another thing…….” by Vince Nolan

December 2016

A Touch of Glass, Democrazy and What’s in a Name

Seasons Felicitations fellow seekers of truth.

I need to share my latest escapades with you.  To begin at the beginning:  Unlike some one million car drivers in this country, we have car insurance and have “fully comprehensive” cover at that.  Recently the windscreen of the Nolan limousine decided to call it a day whilst we were hurtling down the M4, carrying the precious cargo of Sainted Mother-in-Law and her Daughter, the current Leader of the Opposition.  I phoned the insurers: “Press 1 if you have the audacity to want to make a claim; Press 2 if you are still there; Press 3 and we will play some inane classical music and Press 4 and we will cut you off.”  I was eventually put through but not by a humanoid to an approved windscreen company.  I had to pay a £75 excess despite being “fully comprehensively” insured.  I was also informed that the pedestrian safety camera mounted inside the windscreen of the car would need recalibrating once I could see out of the glass again.  This could be achieved for a further £250 of my hard-earned.  I was now £325 down on the deal and when viewed against a basic annual premium of £314, was feeling understandably somewhat miffed.

Having agreed to the above replacement, I was then faced with having to negotiate an appropriate date, time and location for this to be achieved.  I am the client remember (because I am paying), but was told it would be 8-12 or 1-5 on a day chosen by my supplier.  I asked if they could be a little more specific on timing as I had a life and She and I both had crusts to earn, to enable us to pay for the little luxuries in life, like insurance.  Alas they could not do this.  It got worse – “Did I have anywhere that the replacement could be effected in the warm and the dry.” “Yes” I said, “We were thinking of having a large kitchen extension with bi-folding doors, will that do?”  I felt like screaming “I am the client, I am paying, I want some say in how and when this is done.”  Anyway, come the day in question (by now I was driving from memory rather than from sight), I had a phone call, unfortunately, our new windscreen was damaged in transit and a new one would take about three days to come and be introduced to us.  My response was alas, unprintable.  Suffice it to say that the sprinkling of several Anglo-Saxon derived gems, never heard before in polite windscreen circles, will now no doubt be used for staff training purposes.

Here we have the ultimate cracked glass caused by a minor collision in space in a picture taken by astronaut Tim Peake.  I would love to know how he got this repaired.

My insurance tale of woe does not end there.  The big day arrived and I was naturally excited.  The glass job was completed and I sped off to a meeting.  I felt like somebody who had just had a successful cataract operation with light and vision miraculously restored.  This is what enabled me to see the Motorway Cop who blue-lighted me going through the Bryn Glas Tunnels and then invited me to follow him into a lay-by.  I had pinged his ANPR camera because my car had come up without any insurance!  My how we laughed.  It was of course insured and a quick but very one-sided call to my insurer and I was on my way again.  I was subsequently charged £19.50 by them for changing my insurance details (I had a different plate on the car which they had failed to record correctly on their insurance database).  So, just £344.50 down on the day and a starring role in Police Interceptors. 


I am sure you would not expect me to ignore the recent comedy show that was the US Presidential Election.  Trump has been famous for opening his mouth and putting his foot in it but he has not been alone in this over recent years.  Vice President Dan Quayle was famously heard to say “If we don’t succeed we run the risk of failure.”  And who could forget Ronald Reagan: “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” Then there was George W. Bush:  “Throughout our history, the words of the Declaration have inspired immigrants from around the world to set sail to our shores. These immigrants have helped transform 13 small colonies into a great and growing nation of more than 300 people.”  Don’s in good company.

This latest election result was of course foretold by the children’s 1960’s animated programme, “Trumpton”, about a happy and imaginary place far away.  The programme started with the character roll-call: “Pugh, Pugh, Barney Mc’Grew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Trump (Grub).”   So, a few short years later we now we have “Trump Town” and Phew, Queue, What do I do, Fluff it, Fiddle and Jump.  

I can understand concerns that President Trump will now have his finger on the nuclear button.  However, I take some comfort from the fact that he probably does not know that there is a nuclear button or where it’s at.  Democrazy is what it is.   

Finally, and on an unconnected topic, I was musing recently about the derivation of Welsh names – you know, Jones the Milk and Davies the Gas (anaethetist) and so on.  My mate in Wattstown Rugby Club told me about his mate, Billy Two Rivers.  Apparently Billy wasn’t of North American Indian descent but had fallen into two different rivers on the same night.  This got me thinking.  What about:

Di-alect – Welsh Politician.
Di nosaurs – Welsh Skin specialist.
Di rectory – Welsh Vicar
Di alog – Welsh Lumberjack.
Di arist – Welsh hand specialist.
Di ffuse – Welsh Electrician.
Di amante – Artistic Dai.

See you in 2017.

November 2016

Lakes, Gardens and Tourists

 I have always been hugely impressed by the skills and vision of Lancelot Capability Brown, the famous English 18th Century landscape architect.  It occurred to me that it would be a great plot for a comedy series if he had a less well known alcoholic distant relative, Totally Incapable Brown, possibly Scottish, who leaves a series of landscaping disasters across this green and pleasant land.  Note if you will the natural water feature below by way of example.

Of course, the best way to garden is to put on a wide-brimmed straw hat and some old clothes and with a hoe in one hand and a cold drink in the other, tell somebody else where to dig.

In a previous episode of our life which I shared with you, She and I failed to arrive at Kidderminster due to traffic problems.  Well, we finally made it but now we don’t know why we bothered.  However, we were sat outside a coffee shop and were listening to three senior citizens who were sharing a crossword puzzle.  The guy in charge (for he had a pen and the newspaper) sounded just like Anthony Hopkins so it was heavenly to listen to him as he read out various clues in a mellifluous Welsh baritone.  The temptation to shout out the answers was overwhelming but She ensured that I did not.  His team had completed the puzzle save for one question, “Forename of writer, Eco, seven letters, author of Foucault’s Pendulum”.  I let them stew for a while and as we were leaving I said to Sir Anthony, “Taff, that will be Umberto, Italian writer and philosopher”.  Made their day and mine.  Sort of Last of the Summer Wine meets Blankety Blank.

Well I have seen it all now my Chums, or rather I haven’t.  I am once again forced to write about the art world.  I seem to have had a bit of a downer on art over the years.  Frankly I have a very limited imagination and am therefore a boring traditionalist when it comes to art.  Photography is my thing as the picture I took below of Valetta may testify.  Admittedly this was taken from a holiday bar in an attempt to combine three of my hobbies at the same time.  Nevertheless, I hope you will agree that it has a certain naïve charm and that “you can see what the artist was trying to say”.  

So imagine my dismay when I read that there is an art gallery in Zurich called the No Show Museum “filled” with more than 400 works of nothing (vacant rooms, empty frames and sculptures made of air).  If that wasn’t bad enough, 120 international artists “contributed” to this.  Apparently, “in the course of the 20th century, nothing has become as distinctive an aesthetic category as the beautiful, the ugly or the absurd.  The artistic examination of the (non) phenomenon nothing has led artists and critics to question the traditional practices of art production and open up new possibilities of spatial, temporal and material interpretation.”  Please! Anyway, I am off now for a walk with my virtual giraffe! 

Staying with art, did you hear about the attempted robbery at the art gallery?  Apparently the miscreants ran out of petrol a few blocks away and when the police caught them they said: “We didn’t have the Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh.”

We recently visited the Lake District for a week.  The wife packed the usual offensive weapons and we took the Sainted Mother-in-Law along in case it got rough.  Most of the blokes in the Lakes seemed to have been kitted-out ready to conquer Annapurna (whoever she is).  All that was missing were a couple of Sherpa’s on the end of a rope to help them around the shops.  This was in stark contrast to their womenfolk who all had jeans and sensible shoes on.  By way of example we watched a bloke drive up to a restaurant.  He alighted wearing shorts, hiking boots and carrying a rucksack to walk the 5 metres from his car to his dinner.  Weird. 

Whilst we are on the subject of tourists, we overheard an American lady (hard not to) say to her friend: “With all this rain, I’m surprised how green it is up here”.   You do the math lady!

Instead of the hiking, fishing and yomping, I repaired regularly to the Westmoreland Arms whilst She and the She Senior went shopping.  I invested numerous English Pounds in numerous English beers (a sound investment many of you will agree).  From an economic standpoint I had nothing to show for my efforts whereas the females of the species had many shopping bags.  However, I had the advantage of being drunk whilst they were sober, so each to his own.  After all, beer makes you see double and feel single, according to one local wit!

We also visited Ambleside at the Northern end of Lake Windermere but could not park anywhere so continued the journey over to Coniston Water.  A fabulous and wild place the day we pitched up and made “famous” by having killed speed ace Malcolm Campbell in 1967.  However, we overheard a father talking to his wife and children in a nearby café having just visited the Campbell Exhibition.  He informed his family that Malcolm had been killed attempting to break the land speed record.  The problem I had with this was of course that he drowned (1st clue) trying to beat his own water-speed record (2nd clue) in a boat (3rd clue) on Coniston Water (4th clue).  Is it me or how do these people manage to get though life?

And finally, talking of lakes:

Golfer: “I played so badly today I am going to drown myself in that lake”.
Caddy: “I doubt you could keep your head down that long Sir”. 

Bye for now. 

October 2016

Five Rings and Business Speak   

I must confess to having dipped into and out of the recent Olympic Games coverage but from what I saw and have since seen with the Paralympics, I confess to being blown away by the dedication and talent of this special group of people.  However, not all of us share this view.  In a recent evening out with the current Mrs Nolan (who is in training for the Triathlon, or Cage Fighting or something), we repaired to the local hostelry, The Couch Potato.  There, we were forced to listen to two blokes bemoaning recent events in Rio.  Apparently, the presenters were rubbish, the competitors were rubbish, the venues were rubbish and the officials were rubbish.  More importantly, no professional sports people should have been allowed to compete.  Two things struck me, (a) clearly neither of them had ever competed at any level in any sport themselves and (b) despite their opposition, they seemed to have managed to watch all two weeks of the Games but had failed to notice that Team GB were outstanding.  I then gave them my overview of the Games they wanted to see.  It went something like this:

Water polo would be much more fun if it involved horses.  Beach volleyball should be played on a pebble beach to stop all that diving about stuff.  The three-legged, egg and spoon and sack races would all make an appearance.  Ditch the stadia and use a field and river for the events with the winners receiving Marks and Spencer vouchers instead of medals so as not to infringe their amateur status.  Cardiff could then afford to host the Games and global crowds of many dozens would then tune in.  Main sponsors would be Luigi’s Italian Café, Pontypridd and The Old Arcade Public House.  They got the message!     

Oh what are we to believe Dear Reader?  Lies, damned lies and statistics (ironically attributed to Benjamin Disraeli by Mark Twain and to Mark Twain by many others).  This pretty much covers news events I have been following over the last week or so.  Let me share some headlines with you from the same edition of the same paper and written by economists:

  • Wales is getting wealthier says report from Barclays Bank.
  • Wales figures for unwaged youth the UK’s highest.
  • Ebbw Vale poorest region in North West Europe.
  • Sports Car manufacturer TVR settles on Ebbw Vale for its new manufacturing facility.

Confusing I know but to make matters clearer:  A mathematician, an accountant and an economist apply for the same job.  The interviewer calls in the mathematician and asks “What do two plus two equal?” The mathematician replies “Four.”

Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The accountant says “On average, four – give or take ten percent, but on average, four.”

Then the interviewer calls in the economist and poses the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The economist gets up, locks the door, closes the blind, sits down next to the interviewer and says, “What do you want it to equal”?

Whilst no longer involved in the daily cut and thrust of rugby administration, I am still on a number of email lists which is both annoying and amusing, at times.  The latest subject to catch my eye is the WRU Statement of Truth.  All clubs have been instructed to formally state that they are not paying their players (below professional level that is).  I am afraid that I am too cynical to believe in the validity and accuracy of such an exercise (in the case of some clubs that is).  This had me in mind of the “Circle of Trust” from the film, Meet the Fockers.  For the uninitiated, it is a family thing with non-members being on the outside as per the diagram below until they have earned approval to enter.  

Whereas the Statement of Truth –

WRU: “Are you paying any of your players?”
Club: “No.”
WRU: “Thanks for clearing that up.” 

You may or may not know that I write for a living.  Not that you could deduce that from reading this drivel but I write business plans for companies who are seeking funds from Government to expand or indeed commence operations in Wales or the wider UK.  As part of my marketing approach I am a member of Linkedin which many of you will know is the World’s largest professional network of business people.  Essentially you provide an electronic profile on the Interweb thing which showcases your skills and experiences.  You might not be too surprised to learn that this can lead to all sorts of exaggeration, lies and some very odd job descriptions.   

For example, I recently ran across the following:     

“Chaos Surfer”
“Abstract Solution Crafter”
“Brand Storyteller”

This prompted me to consider changing my profile from “Business Planner” to “Narrative Alchemist – Transforming Words into Money”.   Snappy ain’t it?   

Talking of work, I don’t know about you but the biggest irritant I have in business is being on the receiving end of somebody trying to sell me goods or services that I do not want.  The icing on the cake is when they cannot spell either.  My theory is that so many people communicate in authentic gibberish these days, via the interweb, that they cannot communicate properly when required to do so.  To illustrate the point here is an extract from a recent email I was sent:

“With this in mind we are certain we will be able to win your business and we would love the chance to try and put our foot in the door.  Also it would be much appreiciated if we could send across a quote for your landline aswell wich dosent just give you a nice and easy converged solutution it allows us to make our prices even more competitive”.

This is an entirely genuine excerpt from an email.  My response was not suitable to be shared with the educated readers of this august publication but suffice to say, I advised the sender that he had in effect put his foot in his mouth rather than htrough my door.  (I know).   

Hasta Luego Amigos.

September 2016

Never a Crossword at the Border on Le Weekend

Once upon a time, the current Mrs Nolan and I decided to do some missionary work in Clevedon in the West Country.  This being the first Holiday Weekend after the schools broke up.  Well true to form, the clever people who decide such matters thought it would be a good wheeze to close the old Severn Bridge thus transforming the new one into a modern ten-mile, traffic jam.  Congratulations.  Having been blessed with cat-like reflexes I did a quick recalculate and headed off up the M50/M5 towards the Middle Lands instead.  We then decided to turn off to take a look around Kidderminster, a place neither of us was familiar with (and still aren’t).  Imagine my amusement when we joined another queue heading towards the little known and never advertised Kidderminster Annual Classic Car Show.  So we were stuck in traffic again, heading to a town neither of us wanted to go to in the first place.

Of course we never got there either and had an hour in Worcester City Centre once I had managed to find a vacant car parking space, such fun!  However, all was not lost.  On the way back we decided to salvage something from the day and to avoid our usual pubs and to go one on the old A48, The Nobody Inn, which as the name implies, is always nice and quiet.  We couldn’t get near the place.  It looked like the cast from the film Ben Hur had decided to go there for a day out, oh and then it started to rain.  Remind me why we go to Greece?

Talking of holidays, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine they lay down for the night, and went to sleep.  Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend.

“Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”
Watson replied, “I see millions and millions of little stars.”
“What does that tell you?”  Watson pondered for a minute.
“Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.
Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo.
Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three.
Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant.
Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.  What does it tell you?”
Holmes was silent for a minute and then spoke. “Watson, some pillock has stolen our tent.”

I have no wish to make light of some of the horrendous global terrorist outrages which seem to have beset our World of late.  However, a recent article in the Western Mail caught my eye.  It described a terrorist suspect as follows: “The suspect is described as between 20 and 30 years old, about 6ft tall, of athletic stocky build, with dark hair that was long on top.  He had a well-groomed bear and wore dark clothing.”  Shouldn’t be too hard to find him walking around with a well-groomed bear then.   One assumes they meant beard but you never know these days.

Apparently the value of fraud cases in Wales has dipped in the first half of the year, according to research from consultants KPMG.  Presumably this is due to a lack of confidence in the economy within the criminal fraternity.

Now She Who Must Be Obeyed and I like Crosswords as opposed to cross words.  This clue amused me, taken from one we recently completed:  “Muddle (3-2)” with the cryptic clue “Heard Michael got out of bed in the confusion.”  The answer was of course Mix Up which I thought was pretty clever.

Did you hear about the crossword compiler who reached his hundredth birthday?  The Queen sent him an anagram.

Here’s another thing……… mosquitos.  I am a regular blood donor and was due to pitch up at my local Bleeding Centre recently to give them a pint of high quality unleaded life-juice.  They refused to take it because I had just come back from Greece.  Apparently this is now a danger zone for West Nile River Fever which is carried by the mosquito.  So we have Malaria, West Nile River Fever, Zika Virus and Dengue fever to name but four (apparently there are at least eight mosquito borne diseases that I can look forward to catching).

Two mosquitoes were buzzing around when they saw a drunken man.  One said to the other, “You bite him, I’m driving.”

How about this re the continuing saga that is Brexit?  The British Government has been warned by the Irish Government that any attempt to fortify the border between Northern Ireland and The Republic will simply not work.  The Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, Charlie Flanagan insisted that the two countries must keep the “invisible border” that presently exists, after Brexit.  Now there is an interesting concept.  We have to keep something that is invisible in order to maintain the status quo with a neighbouring country.  A bit like the “Entente Cordiale” or the “Special Relationship” that don’t exist either, one assumes.

In other EU News, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, was visiting France recently. The customs officer asked, “Occupation?” The Chancellor replied, “No, just visiting.”

Elsewhere in the EU, five Brits in an Audi Quattro arrive at the Italian border. The Italian Customs Officer stops them and tells them: “Itsa illegal to putta fiva people ina Quattro.”
“What do you mean it’s illegal?” asked the driver.
“Quattro he meana four” replies the Italian official.
“Quattro is just the name of the car,” the Brits retort disbelievingly.  Look at the papers: this car is designed to carry 5 persons.”
“You can’ta pulla thata one ona me,” replies the Italian Officer.  Quattro means four. You hava fiva people ina your car and you are therefore breakin’a the law”.
The driver replies angrily, “You idiot! Call your supervisor over – I want to speak to someone with more intelligence!”
“Sorry,” responds the Italian official, “He can’ta come.  He’sa busy with 2 guys in a Fiat Uno.”

I bet you did the accent!

Ciao for now my European chums and happy motoring.

August 2016

Big Business, Holiday Friends and The Antipodies

 My Dear Chums,

Here’s another little story of big business and the way it operates from the shadows.  Upon a recent visit to a large supermarket with the Sainted Mother-in-Law, she dropped a jar of honey which she had secreted in her coat (only kidding).  It conveniently failed to bounce.  She then looked for an assistant and explained what had happened.  She was advised that no instore cleaner would be available for many hours (this being late morning) because the increase in the minimum wage had been introduced that day and the cleaners had seen their hours cut proportionately to save the store money.  Alas, a true story and an outrageous one my friends.

So this 80 year-old woman was arrested for shoplifting in a supermarket (no relation). When she went before the judge he asked her, ‘What did you steal?’ She replied, ‘A tin of peaches.’ The judge then asked her why she had stolen them and she replied that she was hungry. The judge asked her how many peaches were in the tin. She replied that there were six. The judge said, ‘Then I will give you six days in jail.’ Before he could pronounce the punishment, the woman’s husband stood up, and asked the judge if he could say something. The judge said, ‘What is it?’ The husband said, ‘She also stole a tin of peas.’

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I paid a visit to Bridgwater the other day.  I am not sure when the “E” was dropped from its name but there we are.  One of the striking things about the town-centre apart from an eerie lack of people on a Saturday afternoon was the proliferation of barbers and hairdressers.  We lost count after about 30.  Now this is either the centre of the UK hairdressing trade or everyone had the same idea at the same time.  Bizarrely the local populous did not look particularly well-coiffured so I don’t know what was going on – oh and they were all closed on a Saturday too.  Weird.

We also pitched up at the Millennium Centre recently to watch the much acclaimed musical Billy Elliot which was sensational.  However, about a week later I overhead the following conversation in our local hostelry, the Bull and Brexit, spoken by two older ladies:

1st lady: “I saw Billy Elliott last night”.
2nd lady: “I remember him, used to live in our street”.
1st lady: “No, not him, the ballet dancer”.
2nd lady: “There used to be lots of dances in Barry”.
1st lady: “Not Barry, oh f…..orget it.”

I cannot let these scribblings pass without a mention of the splendid way the Welsh Soccer team, management and fans acquitted themselves both on and off the pitch at the recent European Championships.  I am not a soccer fan per se but viewing this as we did from our rented idyll in Greece, it warmed the soul (which is precisely what we needed in 42 degrees of heat).  The UK may have been out of Europe but Wales was firmly in it.  For the Belgian match I was the only guy celebrating the goals in a bar full of Brits, quite eerie.  Fortified by a number of Mojito cocktails and in the safe knowledge that She Who Must Be Obeyed was packing the usual kind of weaponry she carries around in her handbag, I felt pretty safe.

Staying with our recent holiday, plenty to report, but my pick was probably when we encountered two Northern Ladies who started to talk to us at our favourite beach bar (below).  Not a bad picture eh?

For the non-disciples out there, we go on holiday to get away from fellow Brits and do not pal up with them, go for drinks with them or agree to meet them for breakfast in the Hawaiian Ballroom.  We have even pretended to be German in the past just so we didn’t have to enter into mindless discussions about reality TV or the State of the Nation.  This latest experience was mercifully witnessed on our last day.  We were sat here minding our own business when two ladies who were new arrivals tried to engage us in conversation.  We were of course polite.  Well, She Who Must Be Obeyed was polite.  They informed us that “Nobody were on’t beach as tide wer’t coming in.”  I looked up from the large beer I had been studying and mouthed “That would be the tide-less Aegean Sea then”.  Not content with this they then proceeded to put their feet (and shoes) on the above chairs to make themselves more comfortable.  You will see from the picture below where our shoes were placed.   Whereupon the bar owner, Costas, told them politely but firmly to take their feet off his furniture.  They then turned to us and said “Must be’t cultural thing.”  “Yes I said, the Greeks are famous for the cultural thing.”   At this point we made a sharp exit using these very feet to a favourite local Taverna, The Feta and Phoenix where we hid for a few hours until the danger had past.

Finally, in personal news, Son and Heir has announced that his four-year tenure in Qatar is now over and he is on his way home via the Seychelles and Madagascar, where he stopped off to play rugby against their National Rugby XV, as one does.  Much celebration in Chateau Nolan as you can imagine.  However, he has since announced that he will soon be off again to take up a very decent job in Sydney.  Not sure if this is a comment on our parenting skills, but short of him becoming an astronaut, he could not be further away from us if he tried.

Just to put us in the right mood I have a found a list of 10 Australian slang sayings he may benefit from learning:

Cya this Arvo – See you this afternoon – Cya this arvo in work!
Daks – Trousers – I got some new daks yesterday at the shop.
Dunnie – Toilet – D’ya know where the dunnie is, mate?
Earbashing – Constant chatter/talking – Her earbashing while I tried to study was driving me crazy!
Fair dinkum – Genuine/ real – Claire’s a fair dinkum Aussie.
Heaps – A lot – Thanks heaps for your help.
Hooroo – Goodbye – Hooroo mate, see ya tomorrow.
Rellies  – Relatives – The rellies are in town this weekend and we’re going to the beach.
Spiffy – Great-looking – Those blue thongs are pretty spiffy, I think I’ll buy them.
Thong – Flip flops – I need a new pair of thongs, these are about to break.

God Help Us and Gooday Cobber’s.


July 2016

Democracy, Stealth Writing and Capital Punishment

My Dear Chums,

It’s Election Time again and I have a number of comments to make.  So let’s start with our recent our Assembly Elections?   I should emphasise at this point that I have no particular political affiliation but I have a number of overseas clients and trying to explain to them the outcome of the Election made me look at what really happened in a more critical way.

The turnout was 45% of those entitled to vote.  This meant that (wait for it) 1.2m couldn’t be bothered to vote.   Of those who managed to stumble a few short yards (or metres if we are still in the EU) to their Polling Station, 34% voted Labour making 336,000 in total from a voting population numbering some 2.2m.  Scary stuff, but it doesn’t end there.  Plaid Cymru then decided that although they had secured only 6 out of 60 seats against Labours’ 29 it entitled their Leader to stand as First Minister, as she had quietly won the support of the Tories and UKIP despite having said previously that her party would not work with the other “right-wing” parties in the event of a hung Senedd.  Until of course, there was a hung Senedd.

Fear not, Dear Voter, the problem was catching.  UKIP managed not to win a single Constituency Seat but racked up 7 new ones under our quasi-proportional representation arrangements.  Rather than celebrate what was being seen in many quarters by political analysts as a new dawn for Welsh politics, the new incumbent AM for Mid and West Wales, Neil Hamilton, quickly forgetting his public fall from the Conservative Party in the Cash for Questions scandal, (which he always strenuously denied of course), decided to carry out a coup against his own Leader in Wales whilst simultaneously sacking the campaign team which sent 7 new faces including his own fizzog  to Cardiff Bay for the first time.  And all of this carried out from his HQ and home in the West Country!

Not to be outdone, the EU Election then reared its’ ugly head too (at the time of writing it is pre-election).  If ever you have wondered about the honesty and integrity of some of our politicians you need only have watched in increasing awe the direct and indirect affects that staying or leaving the EU would have on you and your as yet unborn great-grandchildren.   There were some lighter moments though.  A leaflet we all were sent claimed to give us all the UK and EU facts.  At last I thought, until I read it.  Within the same short document it claimed that:

  • Over a year the UK contribution to the EU is enough to pay for 38 state-of-the-art hospitals and
  • If we left the EU it would save us enough money to pay for 35 NHS hospitals (not state-of-the-art apparently) and
  • The EU costs us £350m a week which is enough to build a new hospital every week, (which I calculate to be 52 of them) but not sure which type.

Confused?  That was the idea.

Anyway, returning to all things domestic and Welsh, She Who Must Be Obeyed asked me if I was having an affair with a woman from Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch.

I said: “How can you say such a thing?”  I offered an apology of sorts for making her doubt me.  I wrote it in dots and dashes.  It was Remorse Code.

I would describe myself as an avid reader which amounts to many books per year.  The trouble with this is that it becomes increasingly easy to see when the writer has had enough because the book peters out quickly after a promising start.  Another trend I have both read about of late and noticed for myself, is where successful writers of numerous bestsellers syndicate their work to a team of hopefuls in order to produce more bestsellers more quickly, or “Stealth Writing” as I call it.  The trouble with this of course is that plots become thinner and accuracy and believability go out of the window, door and up the chimney.  Picture if you will, my latest detective read featuring a “British Bobby” and set in “London, England”.  Already my back is up and I know I have been conned with the “author” never having left downtown Biloxi.  One of the characters tells his Lieutenant (a rank we do not have in our Police Forces), that his suspicions “don’t amount to a hill of beans,” whatever that is.  Anyway, the plot develops and a body is discovered.  Our Bobby tells his Lieutenant “It looks like we have got us a Jane Doe.”  Oh please.  Next up we see our intrepid hero following a lead when he says “I was driving the boondocks in London.”  (No idea).  Finally on making an arrest he says of the accused “He is one whole meatball.”

 Long live our special relationship with our chums across The Pond!

Staying with law and order, I don’t know if you were aware that the President-Elect of the Philippines has said that he wants to bring back hanging ford the worst offences.   Whilst this certainly discourages repeat offending, there can be miscarriages of justice and many object to the barbarity of execution in so called civilised societies.  Whatever your stance on the subject, President-Elect Roderigo Duterte (pictured) wants to take this to a whole new level and is reported as saying that those convicted of more than one capital crime should be hung twice.  The first execution would kill them and the second “ceremony” as he calls it, would decapitate them.  Senor Duterte, please do not give Presidents-Elect any more crazy ideas.  Oh, and Roderigo, if you are going to kill somebody try putting the magazine which holds the bullets into your gun like Mr Trump has.

Finally, I saw an advert saying “Hairpieces from £5”. I thought, “That’s a small price toupee”.

How does the man in the moon cut his hair? Eclipse it.

And finally…………Is lambo phobia the fear of small sheep?

Bye for now.

June 2016

Doppelgangers, Tigers and Estate Agents

My Dearest Chums,

Is it just me or is there more than a passing resemblance between Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes to Hollywood fame and our World no 1 rugby referee Nigel Owens?

Talking of singers, what about Gloria Leicester Fan?  Very popular of late.

Staying with showbiz, I read that the recently departed David Gest was in the UK to tour in his musical show “David Gest Is Not Dead, But Alive With Soul”.  I must confess to having no idea who he was but “Not Dead”, who is he kidding?  In other medical news, the man who invented throat lozenges died last week.  Apparently there was no coughing at his funeral.  Talking of ailments, my Doctor has given me some anti-gloating cream.  Now all I want to do is rub it in.

I purchased a sandwich the other day from a local supermarket.  I know, my life is one long party.  Anyway, it purported to be “Wiltshire Cured Ham” (with salad accoutrements and on granary bread of course), so I “Bought British”.  However, closer inspection of the labelling revealed that I had in fact purchased “Danish pork cured in Wiltshire”.  I didn’t even know it was ill.  This got me thinking about our EU position and one of the lesser discussed issues about our membership, “Protected Designation of Origin”.  There is even a badge.

Essentially this has meant that Champagne can only be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne Region of France.  I know you have been battling with your consciences over whether we should stay in Europe or not so this Protected Designation of Origin could make all the difference to you.  The people of Caerphilly, Cheddar, Melton Mowbray and Bakewell would be up in arms if we were to leave the EU never mind the people of Glamorgan and our famous Sausage.  Didn’t think of that did you?

Ignoring the obvious political implications of the EU vote, it has been interesting to observe our neighbours and alleged allies for their reaction to the prospect of us possibly not wanting to be part of the European Family.  It did not take long for the old battle-lines to be drawn once again.  The Germans have said “out means out” and started lampooning our Queen on a TV programme.  Of course they seem to have forgotten that her family name was Saxe Coburg Gotha and they came from Wettin in Germany.  The French have said they will close the refugee camp at Sangatte in Calais with the implication that it will then be next stop UK.  Finally, our US “special relationship” chums have said that “we will be in the back of the queue when it comes to a trade deal with them in Europe.” If this were to involve President Trump that’s probably just as well.

Staying with the business sector, I thought that the Advertising Standards Authority had long since prevented estate agents telling tall-tales about properties they were marketing.  You remember the type of thing:

  • “Good transport links” – Built on a motorway.
  • “Close to local amenities” – Above an all-night takeaway.
  • “Peaceful and unspoilt location” – In the middle of nowhere.
  • “Would suit DIY enthusiast” – Falling down.
  • “Development opportunity” – Fallen down.

So imagine my surprise when a major Cardiff Agent recently advertised the following:

“Luxury Cardiff Penthouse with panoramic views across the sea towards Bristol and even over to Ireland”.  Oh please!  I remember curvature of the earth stuff from my geography days.  This of course limits the distance we can see.  Ireland is 150 miles from Cardiff as the crow flies (other birds are also available).  So by my rough calculations, this penthouse must be about ten miles high at least or to put it more simply in a language we all understand:

(R + h)2= R2 + OG2


OG2 = (R + h)2 − R2 .

As you all know, if we expand the term (R + h)2 = R2 + 2Rh + h2, the R2 terms cancel, and OG = sqrt (2Rh + h2).  It’s customary to use the fact that h < R at this point, so that we can neglect the second term.   Then OG ≈ sqrt (2Rh ) which is the distance to the horizon, neglecting refraction.  Not only don’t I understand any of it but these equations also use keys on my laptop which have never been used before and are unlikely to be used again.  However, I think that proves my point (don’t write in).

Whilst we are talking about shifty business practices, what about the recent revelation of the 11.5m stolen files from a Panama law firm which allegedly revealed billions of dollars of tax avoidance and money laundering on a global scale?  I am self-employed, pay my taxes and recently had a threatening letter and an invoice for £62 of unpaid tax being the difference between what my accountant had calculated I needed to pay and what the HMRC said I should have paid.  I am thinking of setting up offshore banking facilities on Flat Holm in order to avoid future issues.  Anyone want to join me?

Q:  What is the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion? A:  Jail.

And another thing, I hear tell that a recent survey established that there are more tigers in the wild than were originally thought to be (up by 1,000 to 3,890).  This set me wondering who had the gig of counting these critters?  Can you imagine:  “One, two, three, now all stand still a minute guys.  Where was I?  Oh yes:  One, two, three, run……………………….”

Finally, I have been reading a very interesting autobiography written by Marty Feldman.  He had an unusual but refreshing take on life.  He observed that people often use religious belief as a kind of “Cosmic Scapegoat” when things go wrong which I think is a rather neat observation.

And you cannot see Ireland from Cardiff, no matter how tall you may be, don’t start me.

Bye for now.


May 2016

 The Law, Salvation, Franco and a Headless Dragon

My Dearest Chums,

I am given to understand that a number of Senior Lawyers read this drivel every month (by which I mean the drivel wot I write rather than the eminently more readable stuff my fellow scribes put together for your delectation).  It is only to be hoped that no Senior Psychiatrists do the same or my days of freedom may well be over.

Anyway, the law is an interesting area.  I have been embroiled in litigation of late and whilst very stressful, I have rather enjoyed it.  I always fancied myself as Rumpole of the Bailey hence my references to She Who Must Be Obeyed in my scribblings.  However, whilst waiting to go into Court recently, I witnessed a young bloke of circa 18 approach the Clerk and say “I am supposed to be in Court today but I don’t know why”.  My practiced legal eye told me he was no stranger to the surroundings but either an inability to read or a startling bout of memory-loss had conspired to prevent him from being properly prepared to risk his liberty.  I quickly formed the view that his only sensible defence would be to claim he was Napoleon and in full retreat from Moscow at the time of the alleged incident.  However, it was then that my sympathies went out fully to the legal eagles who had the task of defending him.  How do you do it and all for £3.50 per day Legal Aid or thereabouts?

Incidentally, as I am sure you know, the She Who Must Be Obeyed phrase made famous by Rumpole in the 1970’s originated in a 19th century novel written by Henry Rider Haggard. This referred to Ayesha, a fictitious queen who featured in the novel.  Apparently this has now been abbreviated by all you BookFace and Titter people to SHMBO.

This is a similar phrase pertaining to our much loved Editor, Louise.  SWMET as we say on the Interweb thing.

I was musing with The Leader of The Opposition (ha ha), the other day, about the Salvation Army.  To be clear I am a great fan of their work and long may it and they continue.  However, I wondered why there had never been a Salvation Navy.  Guess what?  There are no original ideas left in the world or in my head for that matter.  There was once a Salvation Navy in the United States (where else).  During the 1920’s Aimee Semple McPherson managed to become the most popular radio and tent evangelist in the United States.  Apparently, part of her appeal was her ability at true showmanship or presumably, show-womanship.  She even had some 1920’s cars converted into boat-hybrids where she would dress as a navy captain and her co-workers as sailors.  Take a squint at this picture if you don’t believe me.

Alas I was unable to find any lawyer/Salvation Navy jokes so how about this as a decent compromise:

The Salvation Army bosses realised that they had never received a donation from the city’s most successful lawyer so one of their volunteers made an appointment to see the lawyer in his lavish office.  The volunteer opened the meeting by saying, “Our research shows that even though your annual income is over two million pounds, you don’t give a penny to charity (no Legal Aid work there then). Wouldn’t you like to give something back to your community through the Salvation Army?”

The lawyer thought for a moment and said, “First, did your research also show you that my mother is dying after a long, painful illness and has huge private medical bills that are far beyond her ability to pay?”

Embarrassed, the Salvation Army volunteer mumbled, “Uh… No, I didn’t know that.”

“Secondly,” said the lawyer, “did it show that my brother, a disabled ex-soldier, is blind, confined to a wheelchair and is unable to support his wife and six children?”

The stricken volunteer began to stammer an apology, but was cut off again.

“Thirdly”, the lawyer said, “did your research also show you that my sister’s husband died in a dreadful car accident, leaving her penniless with a mortgage and the burden of supporting three children, one of whom is disabled and another who has learning disabilities requiring an array of private tutors?”

Completely beaten, the humiliated Salvation Army volunteer said, “I’m so sorry.  I had no idea.”

And then the lawyer said, “So, if I don’t give any money to them, what makes you think I’d give any to you?”

General Franco the former Spanish Dictator is not exactly remembered fondly by historians but I read this the other day reputedly said by him:  “You are the slave of what you say and the master of what you do not”.  Interesting bloke. His full name was Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco Bahamonde,…… a hell of a score in Scrabble I think you will agree.  Below we have a picture of him, who having dropped the roll of carpet from under his arm, asks Mussolini why the Italian has more medals than he has.

I have since read that the author of the above saying is unknown.  If this is the case, I should like to claim it as my own along with the credit and royalties for penning Greensleeves, a more famous anon claimed by many, (mainly him), to be the work of Henry VIII.

And finally, back in the real world, I was previously employed by the Welsh Development Agency before its’ premature and ill-conceived demise and was recently able to discuss with a Welsh Government Minister over a leisurely coffee why many politicians thought this a good thing.  When asked for my thoughts on the matter I was able to say, quite unrehearsed:  “When you remove the head of a Dragon, it is difficult to see how it can breathe smoke and fire again”.  Still awaiting a response, but our economy could still do with a fire-breathing dragon.

Exasperated dragon on the field of battle:
“Mother said there would be knights like this.”

Bye for now.


April 2016

Breathalysed Academics, Clever Pelicans and the Debt Culture  

Now you have to agree that as titles go, this is one you won’t see every day.

I have just been reading about a convicted benefits fraudster from South Wales who cheated you and me out of over £50,000 and has been ordered to pay it back by the Court at £2.66 per week until the year 2384 when she will have achieved the ripe old age of 416!

Staying with the same subject, I was recently engaged in a conversation with the landlord of our local pub, The Fleece and Four Skins and he told me that they had been burgled.   Apparently they have a spiffing CCTV system which works and which enabled clear pictures to be shared with the local constabulary.  In an effort to drag crime-fighting into the 21st Century our landlord also posted the pictures of the miscreant on BookFace or some such other personal media forum.  When lo and behold, over 100 people came forward and all named the geezer.  He was arrested, prosecuted and jailed for persistent offending.  British justice at its’ best you might think.  Alas no.  The pub lost goods to the value of £580 and was offered £80 in compensation by the court which was to be paid over an indeterminate time by the guilty party as he was on benefits and could not afford to pay compensation.

Something needs to be done.    

So where does the saying “Lo and Behold” come from?  I use it quite a bit so I consulted a dictionary and found the following:  “Humorous – something that you say when you tell someone about something surprising that happened.  Example – I was in Vienna, sitting quietly in a café when, lo and behold, my cousin walked in”.  Pardon me for asking but what is remotely humorous about that?  Austria is not exactly noted for its’ thigh-slapping jokers mind.  A better example of the use of this phrase would be:

“I heard a rumour that Cadbury is bringing out an oriental chocolate bar.  Lo and behold, it could be a Chinese Wispa”.

The world really is going mad.  You may have read that the UK Government is considering lowering the amount of alcohol we can consume in England and Wales, before driving, in order to bring us in line with the Scots.  One assumes that there are lots of border incidents when unwitting English drivers blunder across the border only to find they are over the Scottish limit.  Conversely, in a large exodus south, thousands of Scots can no doubt be seen migrating towards the nearest pub for that extra drink before realising that they cannot then drive home.  Wales should have its own limit just to make it even more confusing.

Anyway, fear not, we are ahead of the game in other drink related matters in this noble country of ours.  Cardiff University Students Union are breathalysing  would-be patrons on entry to their salubrious facilities.  Apparently, if you are over the limit to drive you will not be allowed in.  In other words you cannot drink anywhere else as a student before using the Union Bar or your disloyalty will see you banned from entering.  However, do not despair, young academics.  You will be allowed to drink as much as you like once you have gained access.  You can then pour yourselves out onto the streets of Cardiff and behave as students should, but don’t drive because you may be over the limit depending which country you come from, or possibly, you may not.   To help, please see the non-technical student breathalyser DIY kit below.

Whilst I do not write about rugby these days I could not help but notice that for the recent Wales match against France, David Smith was originally picked to play on the wing because wingers Teddy Thomas and Marvin O’Connor had both been ruled out with injury,……….. for France that is.  Sacre Bleu where were they born?  Samoa, USA and Australia it seems.  European rugby at its’ best.

Don’t start me on Europe.  Well, since you have, it is an interesting conundrum.  Conundrum is also interesting coming as it does from the 16th Century and being of unknown origin.  Does this make it a conundrum in itself?  Anyway, the EU – 28 Member States at the last count, all suitably divided by language, history, belief, wealth and poverty but seemingly united in the view that the UK must never again win the Eurovision Song Contest and that the Germans are plotting something.  I think I have managed to grasp the fundamentals of the two main issues.  With a vote in the offing in Britain, this has now of course become a personal matter, with far reaching economic consequences if we get it wrong.  But don’t let that worry you, no pressure.  Remember that the dodgy geezer down your local pub has the vote.  He will help decide the economic future of millions of yet unborn Brits.  Have you noticed that nobody has produced any definitive literature to illustrate in calm and non-political terms what an in/out vote will mean for us?  The reason for this is that the politicians are going to blame us if it goes badly wrong afterwards and don’t want any evidence to suggest they may have influenced the outcome.

You will also have noticed that already, old battle-lines have been drawn up within the EU.  The Scots want independence if the UK votes out so that they can vote back in.  The French have threatened to kick our Customs Officers out of Calais because they are scared that this will leave the Germans free to expand their borders once again.  The Irish, Portugese, Spanish, Greeks and Cypriots are all keeping their heads down as they have been bailed out by the EU and cannot afford not to toe the line, with the possible exception of the Irish who do not rely on tourism from the UK to prop-up their economy.  Meanwhile, the former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Belusconi is doing porridge for tax fraud and the Welsh are looking to appoint disgraced former Tory MP Neil Hamilton to the Assembly as an AM for UKIP who will definitely want out of Europe, I think.  Any clearer now?

Now here is a great banner headline I read recently read in a business paper: “Pelican Invests in Sterilisation Unit”.  Pretty clever these water-birds.  Actually this refers to Cardiff based company Pelican Feminine Health.

What do you call a pessimistic Pelican?  A Pelican’t.

Bye for now.

March 2016

The Newtown Panda, Dance and the House of Mystery

I was recently engaged in a meeting with a mate in North Wales and travelled back down through Mid Wales.  As we were driving through Newtown we passed the train station and I happened to glance at the train and the bored commuters.  When lo and behold, I spotted the almost extinct Newtown Panda.  I kid you not.  There was a life-sized Panda sat in a seat on the train (and no, I hadn’t been drinking).  It must be a regular occurrence as nobody seemed unduly bothered.  I wondered if the “Travelling Chef” had any bamboo shoots to give him.  I knew they had successfully introduced a Red Kite breeding programme into Mid Wales but I wasn’t aware that they had done the same for Ailuropoda melanoleuca (you look it up, I had to).

Talking of Pandas:  Did you hear about the party at the Chinese zoo?  It was Panda-monium.

What goes black, white, black, white, black, white?  A panda rolling down a hill.

All you devotees of the worlds’ stock markets will know of the Dow Jones in the US and the FTSE in London but did you know that the French equivalent is “The CaC”.  Something to remember there before you make your next investment in Europe.

Here’s my latest beef – property programmes.  By which I mean a couple seeking new housing via an auction, in the countryside, on the coast, somewhere overseas or possibly on the dark side of the moon.  She Who Must Be Obeyed earns an honest crust working in commercial property and so has a vested interest in such matters but we still watch these programmes with increasing alarm.  They can be a bit formulaic and whilst some are very good the worst ones have a number of common themes.  These include:

  • Appointing a presenter who has no knowledge of property matters.
  • Appointing a presenter who completely ignores the brief the lucky couple gives them. You know the sort of thing “We need a four bedroom house with room for a pony”.  They are shown a top floor flat in an inner city area” with the presenter wittering on about how ideal it would be.
  • Alternatively, the lucky couple cannot agree about what they want and then slag off everything they are shown throughout the programme. This leaves the presenter looking for a new/ old farmhouse with and without beams, with a ménage and nowhere near horses, within a five minute to three hour commute to their offices.  Get a divorce…… it will be cheaper and easier in the long-run.
  • And another thing, the said couple have not sold their own property and so are in no position to seal the deal if by some quirk of fate the presenter manages to find them that igloo which doubles as a lighthouse on the side of a volcano in the centre of Paris.
  • And as for the mystery house, it’s a mystery why the presenter chose something that nobody had even loosely asked for.
  • I haven’t finished yet. The bit that really caps it all is when the couple always insist on having a large enough house for entertaining with sufficient bedrooms to house their family and friends when they come visiting.  Have I got news for you!  Given the clear social inadequacies and annoying behaviour you have demonstrated throughout the programme (and these are the highlights we are being shown remember), your family and friends (if you have any), cannot wait to see the back of you and will be holding a party themselves once you have moved.  They will not be visiting and you will not be entertaining anyone.

Phew, I feel a bit better now.

Well my friends we have just booked our Summer Holibobs to Greece once again and will be staying in Kassiopi, again.  As part of our extensive research into the area I came across this advert on a Kassiopi Restaurant website.  “The view of the sea is a combination of the natural landscape and the history that give the suitable calm with the music to travel you in a world of senses”.  We love our Greek friends and there are many nuggets to be found like this one but we can forgive them the language issues, after all, they invented most of it.  Efharisto, as they say.

However, in related matters……….My Leader of the Opposition is an accomplished dancer and treads the boards along with her friendly coven, on a regular basis, which people pay good money to watch.  Even if I say so myself, they are very good and if you ever have the chance to attend one of their soirees I would encourage you to do so.  However, I have to report chums that I was again confused having read a recent article in the newspaper which described a no doubt highly skilled and professional dance show which aired locally.  I know I have made comments like this before but instead of saying how good they were and encouraging us all to go and see them, we were given:  “They take us on a journey to understand our collective identity and our desire to mark out a name for ourselves, asking questions we all need answers to.” So it’s not just the Greeks then?

Talking of exotic places, my friend told me he was going to a fancy dress party as an Italian island.  I said to him: Don’t be Sicily.

I don’t know if you were following that story where a dad and his boy took a selfie with a smiling horse in the background which subsequently won them a photographic competition and a free holiday courtesy of Thomson.  This was the one where the owner of the horse then claimed that she should share in the prize which was a sentiment supported by her equally deluded father.  I am glad to say that common sense has prevailed and there has been a victory for the people who actually do something in order to be rewarded.  In the first instance Cardiff based Capital Law confirmed that the horse owner had not one equine leg to stand on in the intellectual property stakes (see what I did there).  More importantly though, a Thomson spokesperson said:  “Despite the questions over foal play the family will be receiving their holiday and we are sure they will hoof a good time”.  Hurrah.

Next up, is it attempted fraud to knowingly claim a lottery win when you do not have a winning ticket?

And finally, what about this for a piece of art entitled “Freedom” by Zenos Frudakis.  He might be Greek too.  A new one on me but the rest of his work is pretty impressive.  You see art can be uplifting but no doubt somebody somewhere will be saying that this work represents the struggle from pupae to butterfly as we move from the clay that has formed us to embrace an all too short existence.  Whatever!


February 2016

A Caring Employer, Scottish Bonnets and No Room at the Inn

Much has happened over the Season of Good Will to All Men (and Women).  Here’s an extract for you starting with a career development interview genuinely overheard in my local pub, The Foot-in-Mouth, between a disgruntled lady employee and her boss.  I emailed this to myself having typed it into my phone in “real time” as the drama unfolded:

“I don’t want to mention individuals’, I just keep my head down and avoid contact”.
What about Shirley then?
“Oh, she’s a right bitch.  They’re all the same, jealous of my abilities. I’d like to see her doing my job”.
Well we thought we would give her a chance at doing it.
“Look, I don’t swear but you’re joking me!”
You need to be more professional instead of looking for conflict.
“I don’t look for conflict but her customer service is just not up to scratch”.
So when are you coming back off the sick.
“When I’m better and when you give me a chance to show what I can do. I get the impression you don’t want me to progress. You only see me as a receptionist”.
You are a receptionist and one who is not working at present.
“Well now you realise what you are missing”.
It’s not ideal but we are managing and you only work 8 ‘til 2.  You say you want training to progress but the sort of training you need sorts the men from the boys.
“What about the women from the girls?”
That was just a figure of speech.
“It’s sexism and you are discriminating against me on grounds of gender”.
No it isn’t and no I am not.

Enough there for you employment law specialists!  You cannot make this stuff up – straight out of David Brent and The Office.  It makes me glad to be self-employed.

I am currently working with a client who has offices in Stewarton in Ayrshire (no, I had never heard of it either).  Looks like a lovely place though.  It seems that Stewarton is in point of fact, the Bonnet Capital of the World.  What are the chances of that?  This short verse was taken from the 1934 Bonnet Guild Festival Guide and was originally an old song written 1859:

The Stewarton Bonnet 

“Noo as lang as oor bonnets are worn by us a’
We shall ne’er lei the pride o’ our aold bonnets fa’,
While we’ve heids tae baud up, may our molto aye be,
O, the Stewarton bonnet’s the bonnet for me.
O, cover our heid wi’ a bonnet o’ blue,
A bonnie blue bonnet o’ quiet haimert woo,
Than oor ain Scottish bonnet nae brawer can bea
O, the Stewarton bonnet’s the bonnet for me”.

Good eh?

We now have a belated Christmas Tale, again true.  Me and my chums went out for Christmas lunch.  It matters not where.  Our hosts were wonderfully generous, the food excellent, the company even better and we all had a spiffing time.  However, clear elements of Fawlty Towers developed as the day went on.  Lunch was booked from 12-2 which was a bit of a worry.  Our fears were soon realised since it came to pass that whilst we were still on the cheeseboard and “Time had ticked a heaven around the stars” as Dylan Thomas once said (he wasn’t a guest), we arrived at 13.50 and were physically moved onto another table.  Whilst not amused we bore it with great fortitude and British politeness.  Imagine our shock then as we were settling into our new surroundings when a sign was placed on our new table “Reserved from 3pm”.  Hmmm, whilst not the leader of our brave band, I asked the waiter what would happen to us come 3pm by which time we hoped to have finished the cheeseboard.  I was told we would be moved again.

Come 3pm and we were once again evicted and shown to another table.  In a very small and flippant way we began to understand a little bit more about the plight of the nomad, bounced from one place to another.  In a distinct déjà vu moment we settled down and a second eviction notice was placed on our table once again saying “Reserved from 4pm”.  My flabber was well and truly gasted at this point and aided and abetted by some non-alcoholic wine, I asked the waiter what would happen if there was no other place free for us to sit at, come 4pm.  He said “you can stand at the bar”.  Such Olde Worlde charm!  I said to him “you are assuming we are all able to stand” which confused him briefly.  Sensing blood, I then asked him whether they had a stable around the back since there was clearly no room at the inn.  Alas the biblical connotation was lost on him despite the Joyous Season.

I have no desire to enter the current battle over term-time holidays that is currently raging between parents, teachers and the Welsh Government.  It seems to me to be a highly emotive subject whichever side of Passport Control you sit on.  Believe it or not there is an organisation called:  “The Let Children in Wales Have a Family Holiday During Term Time Group”.  Catchy isn’t it.  In the interests of balance, I presume there is also one called “Don’t Let Children in Wales Have a Family Holiday During Term Time Group”.

In related matters of political correctness, a marvellous Winston Churchill quote came my way the other day:  “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the journey”.  Not sure whether the journey he refers to was made in term-time or not.

Take a close look at this clever picture.  You may have read that an abstract painting sold for £16million at Sotheby’s recently.  When asked what the picture represented, the artist replied, “How a fool and his money are soon parted.”

And finally, rowing news (that is in a boat as opposed to disagreeing loudly with the current Mrs Nolan):  there is a guy called Cox who is Vice Chair of Welsh Rowing.  How good is that?

Bye for now.

January 2016

Rare Swansea Tuna, Labour Saving Devices and the Bog

So I was in Sainsbury’s, Swansea Marina, hard at another well-deserved sandwich when one of life’s annoying little cameos developed in front of me.  Why is it that some people insist on sitting at a dirty and un-cleared table rather than find another one which is ready for occupation?   Anyway, a wife who was very much in charge, sat husband down amongst somebody else’s dirty crockery and then proceeded to complain many times about the
dirty table.  Eventually the husband, in despair, cleared the table by dumping its contents on an adjoining and hitherto clean table.   Madame then ordered a jacket potato with tuna only to be told that there was no tuna.  At this point I was forced to smile since I was eating a tuna sandwich bought in the same café not ten minutes earlier.
It was as much as I could do not to shout “Tuna over here!”  She of course complained and said that it was the second time they had run out of tuna and that there was plenty of it on
the shelves.  The Great Swansea Tuna Conspiracy I thought to myself.  She was told that to remove a can from the shelves would result in her being charged for it plus the price of a jacket potato with tuna.  She then muttered and mumbled for a further 20 minutes as her husband suffered indigestion whilst staring longingly at the Marina and the peace that could have been his reward if he had been able to steal a yacht and sail silently away into the sunset.

There are many serious issues in life my friends, but a self-imposed dirty table and a lack of tuna don’t even come close.

I have a client who is a really nice guy and who has designed the primary call-blocking gizmo for landlines which means that it automatically screens out persistent and unwanted sales calls.  Anyway, I recently attended a meeting with him and he asked me if I liked poached eggs.  Odd question from a telecoms entrepreneur I thought to myself.  Nonetheless, I consider myself to be a bit of an expert at poaching eggs, properly cooked but still runny of course.  Ignoring my culinary claims he insisted on giving me an egg poaching gadget which needs to be greased, loaded with an egg, placed in a saucepan of boiling water up to the fill-line on the gadget.  The saucepan then has to be covered and the water boiled for a full 6 minutes.  I explained that I boil pan of water, little vinegar, agitate the water, drop two eggs in and fish them out three minutes later, perfect.  No device required.  Labour-saving device, I don’t think so.

Next up and on home ground, he asked if we were ever bothered by unwanted sales calls at Nolan Towers.  I said we were not since we didn’t have a landline.  He said:  “get a landline and install this gadget, which filters out 90% of unwanted calls”.  I reminded him that I am not bothered by 100% at present and don’t have the cost of a line, handset or call blocking wizardry.

Finally, his phone rang and he looked at it and said “Who’s that?”  He did not recognise a caller on his own phone.  I suggested he bought a gadget which filters out 90% of unwanted calls etc, etc.  Just to finish off he then said:  “You’ve hit the nail right on the target there”.

Is it me attracting them?

Talking of jobs, my mate works in B&Q and this guy came in shouting and swearing about needing something to fill a big hole in his wall.  Needless to say, my mate showed him the door.

You may have read about the proposed Circuit of Wales Motor Racing Track destined for North Ebbw Vale.  A recent update in the Western Mail caught my eye when it was announced that the company responsible for the project had appointed Martin Whitaker as CEO who had previously enjoyed a senior role at the Circuit of Bahrain.  It went on to say that he had an excellent “track record”.  One assumes that this would have been a pre-requisite for all candidates.

You’ll like this.  I read that the planners in Barry have given the go-ahead for the development of the former Butlins’ site.  The article went on to say that the nearby toilet block, which had been closed for 15 years, has been given Grade II listed building status.  In other words friends, the bogs are of special architectural or historical interest and should be protected for future generations to enjoy.  Oh please!  Did somebody famous or infamous once utilise the urinal? Was some long forgotten character caught-short?  Did some Diva have a dump there? (or possibly instead, some prima donna have a poo there).  Probably not but the world has gone mad.

Not wishing to knock the build-up to the US Elections but please.  The outpourings of Mr Trump on foreign policy simply reveal the limited understanding he has of world affairs (and tonsorial matters of course).  His latest comments about areas of London being no-go to London Police because of radicalisation have drawn fierce criticism from all sides.  Our Prime Minister was clearly incandescent with rage when his spokesperson said:  “The Prime Minister would clearly disagree with this view”.  That showed those damn Yankees.  However, all is not lost.  It was left to Boris Johnson to put forward the diplomatic response when he said:  “Crime has been steadily falling in London and New York and the only reason I wouldn’t go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump”.  Touché, which is French, Mr Trump!

Talking of the rich and famous, I have just finished reading a biography of Peter O’Toole.  During his hell-raising days he sent his beloved leather jacket to the dry cleaners to see if they could try to remove the ingrained beer, food, vomit etc.  Alas they could not and they sent it back to him with the following note:  “It distresses us to return work which is not perfect”.  He then adopted this line as his preferred epitaph.

And finally………..what do the Millennium Stadium and Bambi have in common?

One is a Welsh idea and the other is a well-shy deer.

Happy New Year.