Aug 11 2017

Paucity of posts

I know, I know…

I haven’t written anything here for ages. As a result, I’ve had complaints.

But, it happens: sometimes, my blogging mojo just ups and leaves me.

But it usually comes back.


So, what’s been happening in the Masher household during this lack of posts?

Bugger all, that’s what.

The mutt is still getting bigger and is starting to look like a proper pooch now. But, she’s going through her adolescent stage – yep, that’s a thing, apparently. She gets stroppy and disobedient and sulky, whenever it suits her. So, now I have three teenagers in the house. Arrgh!

However, it’s not so bad at the moment, as Mrs Masher and the kids have gone down to the south of France, so me and muttley have had a week to ourselves and, as a result, she has had some serious ‘instruction’.  I’m pleased to say, that she is picking it up quite quickly now.  Just as well, as she is about to spend the next week with my brother-in-law, as I am off now to join the rest of the family in French France.

I’ll bring you back a croissant.

Au revoir

Jul 23 2017

Welsh For A Day

Yesterday, was my future brother-in-law’s Stag do.

Coming from the valleys – as he does – and being surrounded by us English taking the piss out of him all the time (yakki dar), we all decided to be Welsh… just for one day.

To make him feel at home.

And so we went to a local golf driving range – golf being one of his passions.

But we went wearing tee-shirts and pants (over our trousers) emblazoned with the Welsh flag, and with the words “Welsh For One Day” across the back.

And we carried sheep with us.

Inflatable ones.

Unsurprisingly, this drew interested stares from those around us, but after the fourth pint of wife beater, I wasn’t feeling self-conscious anymore.

And despite never having played golf, it turns out I was actually quite good. Actually, I was rubbish, but I did manage to hit it in the big holes several times. I’d have probably got an even higher score had I not been experimenting to see which bat worked best for me.

Back at HQ, silly games, beer, barbecues, beer, more silly games and more beer all ensued.

All washed down with beer.

As midnight got closer, I couldn’t handle any more alcohol, and switched to softer, warmer drinks as we continued to raucously play silly games and impossible quizzes. Because I’m a light-weight, nowadays, and I think ten hours of drinking is enough for any liver.

This morning, I have awoken to find that my head – and somewhat inexplicably, my legs – are really hurting.

If that’s what it’s like to be Welsh, then you can keep it.

Jul 03 2017

Another Tom

This weekend – the one just gone – the current Mrs Masher and I went on a cruise.

Just a quick one.

Down the Thames.

And a very pleasant evening it was too.

Top notch grub, served and eaten to the sounds of a live jazz band, whilst taking in the sights of London as we gently motored down the river. It doesn’t come much better than that.

Except, it does, because we did it all in good company.

And beer.

Best night out I’ve had for ages.

And now for a quick mutt update:

As per the picture above, she’s getting bigger.

Jun 30 2017

Film Review: Ant Man

I was quite late home from work last night and Mrs Masher instructed me to pick up a McDonald’s as: “I’m not gonna start cooking now!” Dutifully, I did so and arrived home, laden with chicken nuggets and burgers and fries and cokes.

I flopped exhausted onto the sofa with my meal and noticed that a film had been cued up on the telly and was paused in readiness. “We’re watching Ant Man”, Harry said. “Is that OK?”

I nodded wearily, but was also aware that this gave me an opportunity to squeeze at least one more review in.


Ant Man.

Not one of the Marvel Superheroes that I’ve ever been interested in, really. But I did reluctantly see this at the pictures last year, at the kids’ insistence, and I remember enjoying it to a point, but not being particularly impressed.

However, second time round I found it much more enjoyable. There is, of course, plenty of action; there’s a plot line that I can actually follow, and there’s humour.  More humour than Marvel typically go for in their Superhero films.

And there are ants. Hundreds and thousands of CGI ants.


And the fight scenes on Thomas The Tank, as seen from an ant’s perspective and then ours, made me actually guffaw.

Played excellently by Paul Rudd, Ant Man was well worth a second look and is probably worth a second film.

Jun 27 2017

Theatre Review: Penn & Teller UK Tour

In a dramatic re-interpretation of the rules of this month’s challenge – in which I am going to fail, anyway – I thought I’d do a review on a show I saw on Sunday.

Live at the Hammersmith Apollo (or the Eventim Apollo, as it is now called), the American magicians, Penn & Teller, wowed 3000 of us with their zany, off-the-wall brand of magic.

Watching it with my mate, Paul, we couldn’t fail to be impressed. In a turn around from their TV series, I’m pleased to say that Penn & Teller fooled us.

At least some of the time.

The silent Teller is the real magical maestro of the pair – a fact that Penn Gillette will readily admit – and his sleight of hand skills are unsurpassed.

The trick with the goldfish: Wow! I was amazed when I saw it before on TV, but seeing it live on stage, just a few metres away from me, left both me and Paul even more impressed.

And we know how they got the lady’s phone inside the dead fish, but we can’t agree on how they managed to get it under someone else’s seat.

It was an excellent set from the pair and a thoroughly enjoyable show, marred only by having to sit through it all in an uncomfortable sweat, due to there being no air-conditioning in the theatre.

And afterwards, they waited outside the theatre to greet their fans and have selfies taken with them.  A nice touch.

Jun 24 2017

Get out of my ear!

I’ve got an ear-worm.

I hate that term. It sounds like some sort of gross infection.

I prefer to call it “I’ve got a song stuck in my head”.

Which I have.

I don’t know where it came from, but Ultravox’s hit, Vienna, somehow made its way into my consciousness some weeks back.

I managed to lose it, last week, but then I received a report by email at work, that had not yet been explained to me.

I replied to the sender: “Lovely report, but I’m afraid this means nothing to me”.

BANG! Midge Ure’s dulcet tones were straight back into my bonce. Aarrgh!

But then, it slowly faded over the next couple of days and disappeared again. For a few hours.

I then received an email from my mate Gavin (that’s him, up on my extensive blogroll), saying that he was no longer in Bangkok as he had relocated to… Vienna.

BANG! Aarrgh!

And it is still there now. It’s been nearly three weeks, I think.

And it’s not even the whole song, just the same bit repeating over and over: “… it means nothing to me / it means nothing to me / Ohhh, Viennaaaa / dummm, dum duddah / dummm dum duddah…” And repeat.

It’s there, all the time, just slightly louder than my tinnitus.

And it’s slowly driving me bonkers.

Jun 19 2017

Film Review: Wonder Woman

We saw this yesterday, as part of a Father’s Day present – followed up with a meal at Chiquito’s, which was all rather splendid.

So, Gal Godot stars as our eponymous heroine, and really, what’s not to like there… on Father’s Day?

Set during WW2, we see Wonder Woman grow into the fighting machine that she is: strong, fast and with lightning reflexes and yet still with her femininity intact. And of course, fabulously shiny hair.

Introduced to the war by an American British spy (played perfectly by Chris Pine of Captain Kirk fame), she and her little band of misfit soldiers save London from a terrible fate… and she defeats a naughty god whilst she’s at it.

The epithet ‘Wonder Woman’ isn’t yet attached to her in this movie, and I guess they are saving that for a later installment. I do hope so, because this film was the best thing to come out of the DC Universe studios for a long time, and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing the next one.


Jun 15 2017

Film Review: The Nice Guys

Touted as being the new Lethal Weapon partnership, Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe play a downbeat private detective and a downbeat not-quite-a-private-detective partnership, set in the 1970’s.

The plot felt a bit convoluted and is set around a porn film that… well, everyone who is  connected with it, gets killed and ends up as a stiff (yup, had to squeeze that one in!). And toward the end, I kind of lost my way with it, as it turned into a gunfest – how come bad guys with machine guns are such bad shots? – with everyone seemingly shooting everyone else and I didn’t know who were the good guys anymore..

There were some nice humorous bits though and I thought the dynamic between Gosling and fatty Crowe (I don’t know whether he purposely piled on the pounds for this movie, or whether he’s just let himself go) worked well. Gosling’s daughter – in the film, not his real one – steals the show for me though. Played perfectly by Angourie Rice.

And watching the credits at the end – to see if that really was John-Boy Walton playing the baddie (surely not!) – I was surprised to see Gil Gerard’s name scroll past: he played Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, which I briefly mentioned in my post last week. Huh, you don’t mention an actor for 25 years and then he gets two in a week!

Jun 13 2017

You know when you come in halfway through a conversation…

… well, that happened to me this morning, as I was flicking through the channels and found two old boys chatting away.

OB1: “I struggle with the fingering because of the arthritis in my hands”

OB2: “Well funnily enough, I found that my fingering improved my arthritis”

And they both continued to talk – oblivious to the innuendo – about how they were learning to play the clarinet.

Jun 10 2017

Film Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

The kids were keen to see this at the pictures when it came out some months back, but somehow or other, we managed to avoid it.

I picked it up on DVD as part of a two for a tenner offer last week, and – having watched it this weekend – I’m glad I hadn’t shelled out for a family ticket at the Odeon.

Because it’s a terrible film.

To mark it out as different from the original, it has four women as the main protagonists, and they are all a bit zany and playing it for laughs, but it was only the lone male (Chris Hemsworth) who managed to get more than a snigger from me.

Yes, it has plenty of one-liners, and some of them were pretty good… but most of them just failed to deliver.

The special-effects are – of course – a big step up from the original, but that’s about the only point on which it betters its predecessor. Obviously, as a reboot, it lacks the originality of the erm… original, but for me, it also lacked the charm and the humour.

The best bits for me were the music – which did remain faithful to the 1984 version – and the cameo roles from the remaining members of the original Ghostbusting team.

The original Ghostbusters film has stood the test of time and is still very watchable today. Sony should have left well alone.

Jun 09 2017

It’s the drink talking

Last night I went to the pub, for one of our regular BT Curry Night get-togethers.

It’s the first one I’ve been to for quite a while now: sometimes, by the time I’ve struggled home from work on the motorway(s), I just can’t be bothered to go out again, despite knowing that I’ll have a good time once I get there.

So last night, I made the effort. And it was good.

The curry was good. The beer was good. The company were good.

We laughed and we drank and we talked:

Films that stick in your mind
Kids films that play better to adults
People we used to work with (“Now, what was his name?”)
Getting old
The Conservative candidate for Harpenden
Is the space between a nucleus and it’s electron really empty, or is it actually full of custard?
Cheap radios
Talcum powder mines
The Beach Boys
TXE4 Cyclic Stores and EEProms
Table tennis
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
The Six Million Dollar Man
Sam Fox is a lesbian? Really?
Paper thicknesses and weights

… are just some of the things we chatted about. I can’t remember the rest.

And it’s just as well, if that list is the best bits!

Jun 03 2017

Film Review: The Terminator

Our Welsh correspondent, Bren, has laid down a gauntlet. Foolishly, I picked it up.

Bren has set himself – and by extension, me and Dave – the challenge of producing 10 film reviews during the month of June. Only ten? That won’t be too hard, I thought, as I accepted the challenge.  But, I’m not a film reviewer – because that requires proper writing and shit – so we’ll have to see how this goes.

We watched this film as a family last week. It was Harry’s idea: he’s picked up a few Arnie soundbites from the internet and was keen to watch some of his films… if only to hear the oft quoted phrases that he’s heard elsewhere, put into some sort of context. “Get to the chopper!”

Mrs M streamed the film onto her phone and then casted it to the TV – all very modern.  Personally, I was all for just buying the DVD from ebay – it would have probably been cheaper – I can’t believe that we paid 8 quid to watch a thirty year-old film on the telly!

Anyway, the film has aged well, with the ingenious storyline – full of plot holes as it is – holding up well against more modern time-travel offerings. It has to be said that special effects-wise, the film looked very dated. Not so much the blurring-the-lines-between-real-and-fantasy CGI that we get today, but rather ‘a-bit-like-Morph’ stop motion. And yet, back then, those sort of effects were ground-breaking and we lapped them up in a popcorn-eating frenzy.

Arnie plays the villain of the piece. Dark and menacing – you would not want to meet the T-900 Infiltrator down a dark alley. Or a brightly lit alley, for that matter. But, it’s hard to think of anyone else who could have slotted into that role – a role that he has become synonymous with.

Linda Hamilton plays the central role, around whom the film revolves, and she plays it well – dodgy eighties haircuts and all.

And there are – of course – plenty of action sequences to lap up.

It’s been a while since I last saw The Terminator – the film that arguably catapulted Schwarzenegger into Hollywood A-list status – and I have seen it several times over the years, but I still thoroughly enjoyed watching it again. We all did.

Arguably the best of the franchise  – but I think it’s a close run between T1 and T2.

So, that’s my first film review of the month, just nine more to go.

In the words of The Terminator: “I’ll be back.”


May 31 2017


I ordered a couple of tapes for my labelling machine, from Amazon a couple of days ago.

That’s them in the first picture, alongside a pen… to give a sense of scale.

Small enough to fit through the letter box in a jiffy bag, no?

Well, no, apparently not. The second picture shows the box that they actually came in.

Come on Amazon, we’re not going to save the planet this way, are we?

May 28 2017


Here’s an updated picture of Saber. She’s growing quickly now and has settled in nicely.

Having had her second set of injections, she can now go out, so we have taken her on short walks… with mixed success. She loves the park, when we get there, but she is not so keen on the walk to reach it. I daresay that will soon change.

She has met lots of other people and a few other dogs now and she has not been fazed by any of it, I’m pleased to say.

Apart from doggy stuff, it’s been a busy Bank Holiday weekend, so far.

Lots of walking, courtesy of Geocaching – and Saber, of course.

A nice ride out to Jack’s Hill Café.

Shopping – both food and retail.

Running in a new burglar alarm cable because the old one got accidentally cut by the double glazing people.

And an aching back, thanks to some gardening that Mrs M made me do today. Well, I say ‘made’… but really, I just felt guilty after watching her hard at it with a shovel for two hours, so thought I’d better chip in.

So, when it came time for dinner, Mrs M was too tired to cook and we were all knackered anyway and couldn’t be bothered, so I drove up to our local McDonald’s for some veg-out-on-the-sofa-in-front-of-the-telly grub.

It took a bloody age to arrive. I watched as the girl went back several times to check whether it was ready.

Mrs M’s 5-piece Chicken Select meal came very quickly, as did Harry’s 3-piece meal. Amelia’s chicken nugget meal arrived almost immediately.

It was MY order that was causing them such a problem.  Had I ordered something out of the ordinary maybe?

No. I’d ordered a Big Mac Meal.

Their signature dish, so to speak.

The burger meal that the whole brand was built upon.

And it took them three attempts to get it right.

Think I’ll go to the kebab shop next time.

May 13 2017

Alliterative Arses

Spending the amount of time that I do, driving on the M1 and around the M25, I tend see some terrible driving.

I may have mentioned this before.


On many occasions, the offenders tend to be young lads in VW Golfs, who think they own the road, but of course, I should mention that other vehicle owners are available.

For my own amusement, I have taken to calling these drivers alliterative names, as I see them transgressing the rules of the road and, indeed, general motoring etiquette.

“Git in a Golf”, is ubiquitously used, of course. “Fuckwit in a Focus” is also quite popular.

“Bastard in a Beemer” and “Arsehole in an Astra” crop up regularly, along with the occasional “Prick in a Prius”.

I was also quite pleased recently when I spotted a “Twat in a Twingo”.

Lorry drivers get away with “Lughead in a Lorry”, as that’s the best I could think of.

But, yesterday morning, I was astonished when several cars in front and around me had to brake suddenly to avoid an accident, as a small black Corsa cut across all four lanes at high speed, in an attempt to not miss the exit.

I struggled to come up with a suitably insulting name.

May 07 2017

Dog tired

Well, we picked up the new little mutt on Friday night and I’m impressed with how quickly she has adapted to living with us.

The only problem we are having at the moment is night time. She wakes in the night and starts whimpering and that quickly escalates into fretting. And so we have had to take it in turns into going downstairs and giving her some attention until she falls back to sleep. It’ll take a few days I guess, for her to get used to being alone at night.

But, she had me up three times last night, so here I am at eight o’clock in the evening, struggling to keep my eyes open!

The vet has checked her over and given her a clean bill of health, so we are very happy with that, and Mrs M is weaning her off her current food onto that recommended by the vet and the little thing seems to be coping with it admirably.

So, now we just have to get her house trained – inevitably, there have been a few little accidents.

She has only been with us a couple of days, but she is already part of the family and the kids love her to bits.

I’m quite attached, myself.

May 04 2017


I’ve mentioned before that the business park where I work, has several empty buildings and that a couple of the larger ones are often used for filming – I’m guessing an offshoot from Pinewood, which is just up the road.

It’s quite fun when driving into the estate, to see props and the like laying around the forecourts.

When they filmed part of the latest Transformers movie here, about six or seven months ago, we saw lots of British Police cars being driven in on the back of a car transporter. A couple of weeks later, we saw them being carted away, all dented and bashed up – obviously having got in a fight with some bad robots!

At the moment, they are filming the latest Jurassic World installment and the forecourts are littered with wind machines and large perspex domes – amongst the many trailers being used by the actors.  I haven’t seen any actors yet – although I have seen a couple of chauffeured Rolls Royce’s driving out – but several people claim to have seen Chris Pratt wandering about.

Security has definitely been increased, with security guards on hand each morning checking that we work there and directing us to our usual parking bays to make sure we don’t stray where we shouldn’t.

I wouldn’t go anywhere near the film set anyway, I’m not stupid: I’ve seen Jurassic Park and those dinosaurs are bloody dangerous!

May 01 2017

“Hooray, hooray, the first of May…

… outdoor fucking begins today.” So sang Shag Larkin, a radio engineer that I had the good fortune to know, many years ago.

I’d oft wondered where the phrase came from, and so today, I have looked it up.

It seems it’s a traditional folk song.


And in other news…

Well, it seems there isn’t any. The pic above was taken from the BBC News website this morning.  Apart from some sport, nothing has happened in the world for three days, according to their top 10 news stories, which are all dated April 28th.

In other, other news:


Well, apart from me becoming officially old today – thank you Google and Classic FM for reminding me! – not much has happened around here either, that would be considered newsworthy.




The new dog that we haven’t yet got, is already costing a small fortune and Mrs M has visited the local pet shop to get advice, so many times, she is now on first name terms with the staff there. She’s spent an abundance on food and blankets and bowls and leads and chews and just about anything else that the good people of Pets At Home felt it was worth showing her.

I’ve just shelled out several hundred pounds for a new garden fence, as the old one had holes in it that a small pup could squeeze through… and we don’t want that.

And Amelia has spent all of her pocket money on doggy treats and toys, and has chosen the name Saber (sic). Even though Mrs M and I think it sounds like a boy dog’s name – we’re getting a bitch – we seem to have gone with it and it’s now engraved on her collar.

As it’s my birthday, I believe Mrs M is taking me over to exotic Hemel Hempstead later today, for a film and dinner.

So much for outdoor sex then.

Apr 19 2017


They’ve been pestering me for ages, for years, but I have always stood firm and said “No”.

But the badgering never abated.

It continued on relentlessly, until, eventually, I capitulated.

The pressure on me was too much. Browbeaten to the point of surrender, I caved in and agreed that now was about the right time.

Now we are mature enough as a family, to cope with the rigours and responsibility that such ownership brings.

We’re getting a dog.

Apr 02 2017

Being social

“Ha ha! Look Dad”, said Amelia, flashing her phone in front of my face for a second, before snatching it away again. “I’ve found my teacher on Instagram.”

I cast her one of my ‘not impressed’ looks, as I continued to wash the breakfast things. “You know all that social media crap doesn’t interest me one little bit, Amelia”, I said.

“Yeah, but it’s cool, because I can follow Miss Sullivan now and see what she gets up to.”

“Miss Sullivan? Isn’t she your science teacher?”, I asked, my interest piqued.


“The young, blonde lady I met at Parent’s Evening last week?”


“Well, show me, then.”

Mar 26 2017

Spring has sprung…

… the grass is riz…

It most definitely is, because I cut it yesterday!

There are many things to indicate that Spring has arrived: plants; animals; insects, all sticking their heads out.

Buzzy bees buzzing around; the daffodils and crocuses (crocii?) in full bloom and an increase in the amount of roadkill littering the lanes, is all a sign that Winter is over and that Spring has finally arrived.

But round these parts, they know it is Spring, when Mr Masher finally gives in and cuts the back lawn. The sound of the noisiest Flymo in the world, being dragged around my garden for forty minutes on a Saturday afternoon, is as accurate an indicator of Spring’s arrival, as anything else.

Another good indicator, is the increased number of motorcyclists on the roads. And today, I added to that number.

I pulled the dustsheets off the bike and was pleasantly surprised when it started first time – having not been used since last November. And then I took to the roads and rode to Hitchin, for a pre-arranged meeting with a couple of guys I had never met before, but had spoken to on Saturday, on the radio.

Pete and John turned out to be a most amiable couple of chaps and we took a very pleasant ride through the back streets of Hertfordshire, before ending up at a biker’s cafe on the A10 for a bit of breakfast.

I look forward to meeting up with them again, some time soon.

And now that Spring has snuck up upon me, I really must pull my finger out and get my latest Geocache puzzle built, before Autumn suddenly arrives and I’m too late.


Mar 19 2017

Getting old

Many of the people I work with in the office are of a younger generation.

Whilst I’m not yet in my dotage, I have, several times, noticed that I am the eldest in the room, in whatever meeting it is I am attending.

Over the past year, the fact that I am older than most of those around me, has become more apparent to me.

Not because I am hobbling about or because I can’t get up the stairs – I’m still quite sprightly in that regard – but usually something that I’ll say in conversation, will draw blank looks.

This happened yesterday whilst I was in a meeting. Presenting a spreadsheet up on the large screen, I said “… now if we scroll down… down, down a bit further… down down, deeper on down…. then we get to this section…”

“Never had you down as a Quo fan”, said my boss, who, whilst being younger than me, is at least of the same generation.

The young girl – and when I say ‘young’, I mean twenty-something – seated next to him looked confused.

“Status Quo”, I said to her, “You must have heard of Status Quo”.  She shook her head.

Every time this happens, I feel a little older and a step nearer to the Wurther’s Originals.

Tony Hancock; Anne Diamond; Alma Cogan; floppy disks; CHiPs; Catweazel; and more, are all things or people that I have mentioned in conversation, that have drawn looks of non-comprehension and I can kind of understand that.

But not knowing the Quo?

Now I feel really old.

Mar 14 2017

To let

The office where I work, is currently having a refurbishment.

This has caused quite an upheaval, as whole departments have had to up-sticks and relocate in other parts of the building, whilst their section is being overhauled. It’s like we are playing musical offices, or something.

But, everyone is mucking in and sitting on each others’ laps and getting on with it.

However, one of the major sufferances that we have had to put up with whilst the work is going on, is a reduction in the number of toilets that are available to us. The men’s toilets, for instance, have reduced from six to two.

That means, for the first time ever, we are having to put up with something that women have to put up with all the time: queueing for a wee.

It’s ridiculous! There have been several times when I have been so desperate to go, that I have considered nipping round the back of the building and peeing in the bushes.

But the smokers might complain.

Last week, I desperately needed a poo. I don’t normally do that when I’m at work, but a large meal at the Toby Carvery the night before, meant my morning routine just wasn’t enough.

With both of the men’s toilets having a red indicator on the door showing that they were engaged, I decided to risk the downstairs uni-sex toilet.

I say “risk” because it has a dodgy lock, so only the most desperate tended to use it, but I was touching cloth at this point, so in I went.

I did my best to make sure it was locked, pulling on the handle to see if it opened… which it didn’t.

Quickly, I plonked myself down on the crapper and started to go through the motions.

I’d only been in there twenty seconds when I heard the outside door open. Immediately, I tried to put my foot in front of the door, but I couldn’t reach, and it suddenly burst open as the busted lock gave way to the heavy shove it had received.

“Oh, I am sorry”, said Linda, looking slightly embarrassed as she turned and fled.

I sat there with my trousers around my ankles and the unreachable door slightly ajar, as I finished my business.

Out in the lobby, Linda was seated at the reception desk. I smiled and she gave a knowing nod as I walked past, but we’ve not spoken since.

I’m sure we’ll be fine… once she gets out of therapy.

Feb 28 2017


Now, I don’t want to say I told you so

… but I did.


Feb 27 2017

Heavy breather

Many years ago, when I was roughly half the age I am now, I visited our family doctor as I had a wheezy chest.

He diagnosed me as having asthma.

Personally, I never felt that I was asthmatic, but well, I’m not a doctor.

As the years passed, I have had to visit the doctor many times with my wheeziness and at the surgery that I currently visit, it’s pot-luck as to which doctor you will get to see.

But each doctor has done exactly the same thing: they have looked at my notes and said “Ahh, you have asthma”. I think that once it is on your notes, that’s it. No further diagnosis required.

“I’ll prescribe you a new inhaler”, they say.

I explain that the inhalers do nothing. So they prescribe a different inhaler. I’ve had all the different colours: blue, brown, pink, purple.


The last time I visited the doctor with this particular ailment – last year – I kicked up a bit of a fuss when he again prescribed me an inhaler. “Hmmm… this HAS been going on for a while. Perhaps we should send you to see a chest specialist”, he said.

Hooray! At last!

And so, over a period of some weeks, I visited a very nice man at the local hospital.

He put me through a series of varied blood tests and lung capacity checks on special breathing apparatus.

And a CAT scan.

And another CAT scan.

And at the end of it all, he told me something I already knew: I don’t have asthma.

What I do have is bronchiectasis.

He then prescribed me a different inhaler. Different from any that I’d tried before.

He also gave me some breathing exercises to do.

And you know what, my chest feels the best it has been in twenty-five years.

Feb 26 2017


Did you know that it’s actually safe and legal to drive at high speed on the hard shoulder, if it is empty and the three lanes of the motorway are at a standstill, so long as you put your hazard lights on.

No, I didn’t know that either.

But I know it must be true, because I have seen so many people doing it recently.

And if you are a motorcyclist, it is OK to drive between the lanes of motorway traffic, at stupidly high speeds, as long as you have your hazard lights on.

Because they will protect you from someone pulling out in front of you.

And if you are driving along a busy road and you want to pull over to the kerb, then the best thing you can do is put your hazard lights on and then pull over, because the car behind will have instinctively figured out where you are going.

Best motoring invention ever.

Feb 25 2017

Close shave

Having a shave is a pain in the arse.

Which means that I’m probably doing it wrong.

I don’t enjoy shaving. It’s a bind. But I have to do it, because I’m not man enough to grow a beard and I don’t look good with stubble: less like David Beckham and rather more like a tramp on his first day out.

Over the years I’ve tried all different sorts of razors.

I’ve had a range of electric razors, but they are just never as good as a wet shave… despite Victor Kiam’s claims.

A few years ago, Philips brought out an electric shaver that could be used in the shower, giving the best of both worlds. I bought one of them too.

Load of rubbish.

Nothing beats the simplicity and closeness of a wet razor… and there are plenty of them on the market to choose from.

Over the years, I have vacillated between the two main protagonists, Gillette and Wilkinson Sword, as each bought out their latest multi-bladed, swivel-headed, contoured razor, costing stupid amounts of money.  And then I’d swap again, once I’d seen the extortionate price of the new blades.  Wilkinson Sword even brought one out that had 5 blades.

Five! The head was so big, it felt like shaving with the spine of a paperback book against your face!

And then there’s all the different soaps and creams that can be used to lather up the beard in readiness.

I remember buying a tiny, tiny little bottle of shaving OIL for 8 quid, after reading in a men’s magazine how this was the very bestest thing for a close shave. Didn’t seem to make any difference to me. At all.

I’ve tried creams and soaps and foams from all the different manufacturers, and they are all much of a muchness.

But, I’ve finally hit upon a winning formula (well, for me, anyway).

A Palmolive shave stick that costs 75 p from the chemist and some disposable Gillette razors that come in a pack of 8 and cost only a fiver when Sainsbury’s has them on offer.

Lasts me three months that lot does.

And my face is as soft as a baby’s shaved bum.

Feb 24 2017

Happy Friday!

When I worked in cable TV, back in the nineties and early noughties, I spent some time working with Little Jo – so called because her name was Jo… and she was quite short.

Little Jo had a similar sense of humour to me and we got on quite well as a result.

One day – a Friday, it so happens – she wished me a good morning as I came into the office. “Happy Friday!” I replied back. She laughed and the following week we both greeted each other with “Happy Friday!”. And the next. And the next. It became a bit of a thing.

Nowadays, I often hear people say it in the office and I’ve heard it said on the telly, and I wonder whether I actually coined that phrase and it spread through people hearing Jo and I say it way back then. Because back then, it wasn’t a phrase at all.

Could have happened.

All phrases and sayings probably start with one person saying it and then it spreads, so maybe it propagated through Jo and I saying it to each other and to others. Who knows?

Similarly, I am old enough to remember when Diet Coke became a big thing in the UK, all them years ago.  And I can remember feeling quite pleased with myself when a barmaid asked if I wanted normal coke or the new diet coke. “Diet? I don’t want anything that’s diet”, I said, with more than a little indignation. “I’ll have the full-fat coke please”.  And she laughed and then I heard her mention it to a fellow barmaid.

Again, most everyone calls it ‘full-fat’ nowadays. And whilst the logical jump between ‘diet’ and ‘full-fat’ is a simple one that many people could have made around the same time, I like to think that maybe, just maybe – even though it’s unlikely – that that’s one of mine too.

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