Thursday 27 October 2011

For the Love of Chocolate.

    Regular readers of this blog know I fall back on re-reading my 1985 diary for inspiration when all else fails. Two entries from October 1985 I find interesting.
   'Tudgie' was a much loved uncle who influenced me greatly in my fatherless formative years. He had many health issues in his life, including cataract operations when such operations were far more traumatic than today. You had to suffer a blindfolded existence for several days after an operation, with no certainty that an operation was to be successful. 'Tudgie' was a patient in what I believe was called The Birmingham Eye Hospital, the date would be not all that long after the war. (1945-50?)

     'On one occasion the frequent  theft of sweets and chocolates was traced to a nine year old patient. Tudgie's answer was simple but effective. Laxative chocolate was attractively wrapped in silver foil and placed in full view on a locker top. As expected it soon vanished. The young suspect was located and encouraged to participate in strenuous games within the hospital grounds. With grim satisfaction Tudgie and friends waited for nature, with help, to take its course, relenting only as far as to inform matron of the possibilities. It came to pass, literally and one little boy spent one busy morning more or less permanently upon a toilet seat, ruminating on the fact that, whilst crime might seem to pay, one also has to pay for one's crime.'

I make no comment as to the rights and wrongs of such actions. Suffice to say it was probably indicative of a bygone era and certainly not 'PC' by today's standards. I would love to hear what you think.

'I pay one of my infrequent visits to town. Ten amusing minutes are spent answering the banal questions of a pleasant South Wales lady involved in market research. I watch a brief video and am expected to answer, intelligently, questions concerning the product, Terry's Moonlight chocolates. My feeble efforts are rewarded with a twenty pence bar of chocolate!'

What a simple, unexciting life I lead in1985, that I recorded such matters! Out of interest, can you still buy Terry's Moonlight chocolate?

Finally, a 'choclaty' story', as Kenny Everett would say, 'In the worst possible taste'.
A chocoholic old man lay dying, drifting in and out of conscientious, dreaming of chocolates to the bitter end. So vivid the picture of luscious, creamy, chocolate, Thorntons Continental Limited Edition, Burdick's Handmade and Harrods Marc De Triumph Truffles  that he mustered the last of his strength, arose from his bed and staggered downstairs in search of chocolate. His breathing was painful to behold, but, driven on by the dream of chocolate, he approached the lounge and opened the door. And there, a spread to rival all spreads. Plates of chocolates: After Eights, Ferrero Rocher and the full Kshocolat Collection. Surely, he thought, I must at last be in heaven. Summoning the last of his strength, he staggered towards the table. He reached out for the plate with the best selection. His eyes fell on a dark chocolate orange thin and his hand, clawlike, lovingly reached out for it. And as he did so, a crazed smile lit up his ancient face, just as his wife's voice boomed out of the kitchen, 'Leave them alone, they're for the funeral.'


Thursday 20 October 2011

A Ramble Round the Body; Fingers, Toes, Even a Nose.

    For no particular reason fingers made the news recently; medical research brought into the spotlight some interesting suggestions. Most men have ring fingers that are longer than their index fingers. Most women have longer index fingers or fingers of approximately the same size.
    Now the fun starts. Some research findings, I suspect to be taken with a pinch of salt!
Lesbian women tend to have longer ring fingers than straight women; longer ring fingers are also linked to success amongst female athletes. In men evidently longer ring fingers are associated with more aggressive behaviour and also with greater susceptibility to prostate cancer and autism. It's all to do with prenatal exposure to testosterone. Clever stuff, in a way, and how many of you have just looked at their fingers! But do reseachers use some facts and figures and discard others to back up their studies? Research, for instance, suggests homosexual men have an 82% greater chance of being left handed or ambidextrous. (I'm left handed, by the way, as far as I know I'm not homosexual!)
    Scientists might be clever, but nature and all that implies is in a different league. Don't they say nature's magic number is 1:1.618 and much in our natural world revolves round this ratio. Leonado DaVinci was no mug and he had no computer or internet to help him out. Didn't his Vitruvian Man with outstretched arms fit exactly into a square. Measure from fingertip to fingertip, your arms outstretched and it will be very, very close to your height, if you're relatively normal. Plus three times round your head will be, surprising, also your height. (The art world of course, is allowed poetic licence, depicting people differently to 'normal' beings for effect.)
    I'm not clever enough to be a scientist. I'm just someone fascinated by life and the idiosyncracies of people. Millions watched Strictly Come Dancing on television last week. The intricate dances, the skill, the glamour, the razmataz. And do you know which bit fascinated me most. The fact that Audley Harrison has size 17 feet! I remember a pair of boots in a shop window in Derby made for a man in Melbourne; they were size 22! Now why would I remember that from probably fifty plus years ago!   
But lose that curiousity and you might as well give up on living.
    I have some small toes that are longer than my big toes, if you know what I mean. Somewhere back in history an ancestor must have had that trait and it is being repeated, presumably for ever and a day; isn't nature clever. (Or perhaps someone picked me up out of the pram by my toes.) My eldest daughter has a party trick. She can touch the end of her nose with her tongue. Try it, is there anyone out there who can do this? Or anyone out there with a party trick they wish to share! Come to think of it, looking at my faltering visitors of late, is there anyone out there full stop!
    Talking of noses, a clip that might well amuse. A blast from the past, Chick Murray and his 'long nose' story. Some of you may well be amused; who nose!! 

Thursday 13 October 2011

Cheerio September, Mad, Bad and Sad as Usual. Grumpy's Alternative News.

    So much to reflect on, where to begin. A couple of bankruptcies, definitely not a subject mentioned before. The Solicitors from Hell website has been declared bankrupt. (You could put complaints on their website for a fee.) Result, sixteen libel actions against them, result £150,000 in outstanding judgements. And a breeder of micro pigs in King's Lynn has been made bankrupt because many of her pigs grew too big and wrecked gardens so so she refunded the £650 they cost.
    Let's talk some more money. A road safety camera in Cardiff, cost to install,  £20,00 went off once last year, realising £60. (89 fixed cameras on the M4 in South Wales brought in £706,020.) And a £1,000,000 note, one of the only two ever printed sold for £67,000 at auction in London. (Issued by the treasury in 1948 in connection with the US Marshall Aid programme.) By the way, a survey has recently shown over 90% of Britons do not know what a BANK SPREAD is. Include me in the 90%! Talking of surveys, a recent survey by Debenhams suggested 85% of British women were wearing the wrong bra size. Grumpy's full of useful information! 
    Anything else you wish to know. Scotland, England, Wales, take your pick. A woman from Inverness has become the mother of Britain's biggest baby girl, weighing in at 12lb 9ozs (5.7kg). A rare ladybird, the 13 spot ladybird, thought to be extinct for over 60 years has been found in Devon. A school in South Wales, the Glyn Primary is to stay open for the rest of this academic year. It has two pupils and a head, a deputy head, a part time teacher, a teaching assistant, a dinner lady, a cleaner and a caretaker!
     The wife of MP John Hemming, MP Lib Dem for Yardley, breaks into his mistresses house and steals her kitten. (caught on CCTV). Evidently he leads a life style that has no regard for what is thought of as 'normal'. He thinks of himself as well above the little people, ie voters, who have put him in a position of power.
    Keith Zakheim, chief executive of Beckerman PR in New York announces he will fire anyone of its 60 staff not replacing the milk in its New York office. Evidently he means it! Tough if a job is important to you, Mr Zakheim's milk is far more important than your welfare. (Reminds me of Scrooge in 'Christmas Carol'.)
    Leaked US diplomatic cables throw an interesting light on Mayawati, the most senior politician from the Indian 'Untouchable' caste. One cable relates her sending her empty private jet to retrieve new sandals from Mumbai. Described as 'a first rate meglomaniac', she made a state minister do sit-ups as punishment for minor errors of protocol.  
Three examples of the saying, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    Just one or two other items that caught my eye. Deborah Hunt, an unemployed financial advisor, drove, not one mile, not five miles but twenty three miles the wrong way up the M5. She said her recollection of the event was 'hazy'! James Ellis, 18, stabbed his girfriend to death in Liverpool. It must have been something of great importance to cause such a terrible crime. Oh yes, it was an augument over garlic bread! What an horrific example of total loss of self control. 
    Finally I see we 'oldies' are more than holding our own. Charles Aznavour has set out on a three month tour. Not bad at eighty seven. Plus Johny Hallyday, a mere sixty eight, opened in Paris in Tennessee Williams play, Kingdom of Earth. Many more 'oldies', seventy plus, come to mind: Sir Michael Parkinson, Michael Winner, Sheila Hancock, Sir Terry Wogan, Dame Vera Lynn, all have very active lives. Evidently Kirk Douglas still blogs regularly on his MySpace account at ninety four. Mind you, it ends one day for us all, rich or poor. And I hope we all go with dignity. Joy Tomkins, aged eighty one from Downham Market has no desire to stay when her time's up. She has had the message 'Do Not Rescusitate' tattooed across her chest, and in case medics miss the message, 'PTO' across her back!
    Death will certainly curtail most of your activities but fear not, travel need not be one of them. William and Alice Green always wanted to travel. So when they died their daughter advertised via Craiglist, the classified ad site for people to transport and scatter small portions of their parent's ashes to wherever they wish in the world. Never one's to travel when alive, the have now posthumously visited Paris, Amsterdam and Las Vegas. And when visitors to Hawaii, England and Australia are found, the Green's world tour will recommence. Happy travelling, folks.
Don't forget you read it here first! 

Thursday 6 October 2011

That's Life.

    This is not actually the post I intended. But in researching material for Grumpy's Alternative News for October I became sidetracked. (The October News item will be my next post.) I noticed several news items that made me think about luck, fate, call it what you will. Now I know that there are people out there who believe our lives our being, our ending is pre-destined; when your times up, your times up.(Presumably all worked out in advance by an all powerful being some refer to as 'God'.) And who am I to interfere with personal beliefs. (See post dated 4th August, And After Creation For My Next Trick.) The suggestion is that FATE is a course of events that will inevitably happen in the future. LUCK seems to be what will happen, good or bad, due to chance, FATE or fortune. The subtle difference is that FATE cannot be changed, it is your destiny. I could no doubt find examples of 'FATE' to prove a point or otherwise from anywhere or any time. But these are instances from September's news that brought on this deep, deep philosophical debate. (Somewhat tongue in cheek examples, it's not Einstein writing this blog, it's Grumpy Old Ken for goodness sake!)
    Bristol. A man stabbed his wife with a 14 inch kitchen knife. Her life is saved because the blade caught the wiring of her bra, enabling her to fend him off and escape. A good job she wore a bra!
    High Wycombe. Four British tourists holiday in Peru. They book a flight in a Cessna 185 from a remote site. A last minute arrangement, the pilot is flustered, and is over the alcohol limits for pilots. He forgets to switch on the fuel, the plane almost immediately crashes, all are killed. Couldn't happen to me, I only go to Skegness. Wait a minute, Skegness does flights round the town and back!
Bradford. A man falls backwards into a clothes-dryer; the dryer collapses. His head lodges between the rails. He struggles to free himself, makes matters worse and he suffocates. A coroner said the incident was 'probably rarer than being struck by lightning or struck by a meteorite'.
    Connah's Quay. A Mr Michael Dunn from Connah's Quay, Wales goes all the way to Australia for a military exercise in Brisbane. He goes to use a portable toilet. The toilet explodes whilst Sergeant Dunn is inside. Cause unknown but probably a fuel spill. No matter, Sergeant Dunn is killed and is awarded a full military funeral.
    Cardiff. Mohammed Ali Ege has problems with a man who owes him money. He is a bad man, is Mohammed Ali, and pays two men to kill the debtor. The two 'hitmen' are not over bright, plus high on drugs. They go to the wrong house, in the wrong street and kill the wrong man. Sadly very much a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    Galway Michael Fahery, aged 76, was found totally burnt in his home. The only damage to the property was above and below him. The coroner's verdict, he died of 'spontaneous human combustion'. Now some say such a thing is impossible, but a coroner is a learned man; you cannot take his verdict lightly.
    There you have it. All examples of FATE? You tell me. And just for a complete tease. Niall Pawsey, a law student from Cheltenham had a bet with friends that he could go for a month without drinking alcohol. He won his bet and they all celebrated. A further bet was that Neil could swim across the Thames at Kingston in Surrey. Unfortunately Niall lost this bet, his luck??? was out and he paid with his life. Jeni Anderson, a 23 year old student fell overboard, in the dark from a ferry 20 miles off Scarborough. A lifeboat from the ferry picked her up thirty minutes later, cold and frightened, but very much alive. You could truthfully say her time was NOT up. What do you reckon?