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 …)

Jokers Wild


Leeds 1970. Mondays. Back to work. Accountancy 8.45 to 5.30. I’d better get used to it because it could be for the next forty years. But there was one good thing about Mondays: Jokers Wild. The show had returned for a second series in March, 1970. I could be home for 6.15 when it went out on Yorkshire Television (read more …)

Sir Philip Green and Ancient Phones

Philip Green checks his phone at Commons Select CommitteUpdated version of post from June 2016

In the news recently: gasps of astonishment as billionaire Sir Philip Green, answering MPs’ questions about the BHS department store, checks his texts on a cheap, twelve-year-old Nokia 6310. Surely, you would expect him to be able to afford the latest Diamond Rose iPhone.

All kinds of reasons why he might be using such an obsolete device were suggested, including: the Nokia was made to last; battery life is outstanding; he does not want constant email interruptions; pre-GPS phones are not so easy to track; he is penny-pinchingly mean; he likes playing Snake 2.


Who knows? Maybe all of these. But I’m with you Sir Philip. Here’s mine – a Siemens A55 bought October 2003. Even older than yours! It’s a phone. It does texts. It works. And no, I do not play Stack Attack, Balloon Shooter, Move the Box and Wacko.

With O2 Pay As You Go, if you don’t top up at least once every 999 days you lose your account along with any credit balance remaining. My diary notes I need to add £10 on 13th July. It should keep me going for the next 999 days.

There is also a usage requirement. A weekly text from the bank meets that. Some weeks it’s the only time I switch it on.


I am still using my ancient mobile phone and topped it up in 2016, as above, and again this year. However, in light of recent revelations I must add that I do not share Sir Philip’s other attitudes and behaviours. I do not, for example, iron creases in my jeans (I wish I could add for comic effect that my wife does it for me, but I iron my own jeans).


RAMcoverWhen Paul McCartney’s long playing record Ram came out in 1971, a lot of people hated it. They were especially irritated by Linda McCartney’s astringent vocals, and the sight of her standing woodenly and self-consciously on stage was embarrassing. Why was she on the record anyway: as if it were a primary school music class where everyone has to join in enthusiastically banging tambourines and triangles, even the talentless? She was even accredited fully as co-creator, which no one really believed.

I simply dismissed it. It was not The Beatles. I was fed up with it emanating from Brendan’s room in the shared house. I was after all a knowledgeable connoisseur of serious rock music, particularly Jethro Tull who had just released Aqualung. How could the McCartneys’ frivolous and inconsequential warbling possibly compare?

The only legacy, for me, was that even to this day, whenever we drive past a certain cut-price supermarket I sing the following mondegreen:

Lidl Lidl be a gypsy get around
Get your feet up off the ground
Lidl Lidl get around.

I mentioned this recently in commenting on another blog about post-Beatles Paul McCartney. I looked up the lyrics to discover that the actual words are “Live a little” from the track Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey who “had to have a bath or he couldn’t get to sea” – another misheard lyric, it’s “berth”.

One thing led to another and I ended up recently getting the CD as a birthday present (I don’t do streaming). What a revelation! Dismissing it as inferior to Jethro Tull was being Thick as a Brick.

I now think Ram is amongst Paul McCartney’s best and most innovative output: so rich in ideas, almost every part of every track is different. It‘s an amusing, joyful record, a bit late-Beatles, like the brightest parts of Abbey Road and The White Album.

Another reviewer describes it as a “domestic-bliss album”. Despite personal and contractual pains in disentangling himself from the Beatles, Paul was now living a contented and enviable lifestyle, very happy with Linda and children in their rural retreat. You hear it throughout. And Linda’s voice is OK too.

Maybe I liked it all along but did not want to admit it.

Review – Erich von Daniken: Chariots of the Gods?

ErichvonDanikenIn 1974, Book Club Associates sent me Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Daniken, which has remained on my bookshelf ever since.

The central proposition is that at one or more points in our pre-history, the earth was visited by aliens with unimaginable powers who influenced early human culture. We may even be descended from them.

I would dearly, dearly like to be able to believe this but, well, let’s not kid ourselves … (read full review…)

Mists – a tale for Halloween

cemeteryEnding a family walk through the sun-dappled woods of the Sussex countryside, we headed to the village shop for an ice cream, a reward for our exertions on the hottest day of the year. My son chose a bottle of Coke, the real thing, cold and misty from the fridge, thirst-quenchingly irresistible. I decided to have one too.

“Do you know what it is?” He sounded worried. “Are you sure you can handle it? It won’t send you hyper will it?”

I had never seen him look so concerned … (read more …)