Some Memorable Posts

Posts from other blogs that have stuck in the memory

Although it’s over four years since I started this blog, I don’t have many readers or followers. Would I do better by being more like other bloggers?

Sadly, in my case, the answer is almost certainly “No”. No one would be interested in the beauty products I use, or pictures showing my repertoire of appealing facial expressions. I’m not sure anyone would want to know how comfortable my ten-year old M&S underpants are, or that I have had three Shredded Wheat for breakfast almost every day for the last forty years. I’m not qualified to give tips on how to get thousands of followers in just one week, or how to find commercial partnerships and get paid to promote products. As for hints on parenting and lifestyle, my kids would go ballistic if I posted those childhood photographs of them nude in the bath.

I have explored linkies, retweet accounts and facebook boosts, but it seems to me that the main beneficiaries of these things are the people who host them. They get them going and within a few weeks are pestering you to say they have “teamed up” with this or that product to bring you the latest feminine lingerie, slimming aids or facial filler creams.

There are, however, some wonderful blogs I do admire, and would like to mention posts from the past few years that left a memorable impression… (read full article on Blogger site)


Research Before The Internet

possessionAs evoked by
A.S. Byatt – Possession: a Romance

The novel, Possession, evokes for me exactly what it was like to carry out research before the age of the internet, when we had to go to libraries to look things up in books and journals, and even use primary sources.

It may also be the cleverest novel I have ever read: in fact I read it twice, partly because I enjoyed it so much and partly because a lot of it went over my head the first time through …

(Full post on Blogger site …)

The Morecambe and Wise IRA Sketch

MorecambeAndWiseLostTapesIt’s hard to believe what I saw on television last night: two Morecambe and Wise shows from 1968, believed lost, recovered from a forgotten film canister found in a cinema in Sierra Leone, and broadcast now for the first time in over fifty years.

The second of the two shows had a sketch in which the Northern Irish singer Ronnie Carroll played an IRA commander testing the Irish credentials of Eric, Ernie and writers Sid Green and Dick Hills by asking them to speak in an Irish accent and dance a jig. The running joke was that Eric Morecambe was unable to do these things and therefore kept getting beaten with shillelaghs.*

The writing, the timing, the general silliness – it’s one of the funniest things I’ve seen for some time, but can you imagine anyone on television today daring to make fun of the Irish Republican Army and speak in a mock Irish accent? Admittedly, the show was originally broadcast before the riots in 1969 and subsequent deployment of British troops, but even so, would it not today be greeted by howling accusations of bad taste, political incorrectness and even xenophobia, and taken off air?

My children have applied for Irish nationality. They can because my wife’s father was born in Bray near Dublin. They are fearful of losing their right to work and travel freely throughout Europe after Brexit. The likely outcome is that all the family except me will be Europeans, and that I will have to pay for a permit to set foot across the Channel.

Their applications required extensive supporting documentation – identity documents, witness statements, ancestral birth, marriage and death certificates, and large cheques – which took quite some time to put together.

If all you had to do was to be able say “Top of the morning” in a fake Irish accent, dance a jig and set out with me shillelagh under me arm and a twinkle in me eye, I might have had an outside chance of getting in. ‘Tis a shame, to be sure, bejabers!

The Morecambe and Wise Show: The Lost Tapes is available on BBC iPlayer for the next month: is the episode described above with guest Ronnie Carroll. is another episode introduced by Michael Aspel who appears as guest on the show.

* Shillelagh: an Irish word for a stout wooden cudgel, immortalised in a song by Bing Crosby who had an Irish grandmother and released L.P.s full of sentimental songs with Irish themes, e.g.

Get Tret Better


English is a strange thing, especially in its regional forms.

Yesterday, BBC Television News had a report about how insurance companies ramp up premiums so that customers who renew their policies year after year end up paying far more than they should. One poor chap who had kept his home insurance with the same insurer for twenty-one years received a renewal bill of £1,930, but after shopping around he got the same cover for £469.

They asked people at Doncaster Market what they thought about it, including two ladies behind a food stall:

“Well,” said one in comforting Yorkshire tones, “I think it’s a disgrace, actually, because I think loyal customers should get tret better.”

“Tret better?” I wanted to rush straight to Doncaster Market, give her a big hug, and sit beside the stall listening to her all day. It’s what my mother would have said.

I’m no grammaticist, but I suppose it’s like met instead of meeted, sat instead of seated, or het instead of heated, as in I’m all het up.

At one time I would have said “tret better” too, but, sadly, I’ve had it educated out of me.

Not The Best Policy

DictionaryOfQuotationsThis year’s Christmas story is a tale of deception gone wrong.

“You idiots, you scoundrels, you rogues and vagabonds! Be sure thy sin will find thee out!”

Brendan’s impression was spot-on. It was as if Grimston Stewart was right there in the room with you spouting his pretentious, second-hand drivel. It was all there: the rhythms, the cadences, the clipped intonation, the rolled ‘r’, the arrogance.

Brendan could stretch and twist his face to look as silly and pompous as Grimston too, with all the quirks and mannerisms you didn’t notice until pointed out. You could imagine Grimston in his Noel Coward dressing gown, posturing like some vain intellectual exhibitionist … (read more …)

Does Anyone Want Some Drinks?

185113Returning to Yorkshire on the First TransPennine Express yesterday after a family day out in that wonderful city of Liverpool, a man came along the train with the refreshments trolley and asked: “Does anyone want some drinks?”

We wondered how one should answer this oddly-worded question. He seemed to be inviting each passenger to have several drinks … (read more…)

Significant Plagiarism Detected


Vainly looking at my blog statistics (both in vanity and in futility), I noticed quite a lot of hits from web site called PlagScan, a plagiarism detection tool. Had someone been scanning me for plagiarism I wondered. Well, scan away. I don’t pinch other people’s stuff.

Or do I? I went on to PlagScan (what an ugly name), uploaded the text of my post about Paul McCartney’s Ram L.P. and clicked ‘>Check’. The result: 96.2% plagiarism! What? How can that be? …

Plagiarism has clearly become big business. At one time colleges and universities preferred to pretend it didn’t happen … (read more …)