Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Mr Creosote


I was advised yesterday by cousin Mary to enjoy my birthday “without indulging in too much cake”. I replied ‘Please explain to me the concept of "too much cake", I admit to never having been a student of philosophy.’ 

She kindly replied ‘it might be more accurate to speak of physiology rather than philosophy in this instance! When your shirt-buttons start popping and you feel you may be "bursting at the seams", you have certainly had "too much cake"’

I was grateful for the reply but, alas, it did not satisfy me. The symptoms she described were, in my view, evidence of clothing of the wrong size or an inadequate metabolism.

Most of us are unable to devote much time to deep reflection on the essence of existence, being more driven to concentrate on those activities essential to survival – foraging for sustenance, getting the required daily 11 hours sleep, correcting errors on twitter and watching “Only Connect”. However, the current suspension of test cricket, the IPL and Super Rugby allows me a few moments of reflection.

On a similar theme to the cake conundrum above, I confess to being troubled by the simplistic “glass half full/half empty” explanation of the difference between optimists and pessimists (I have always favoured the third option, that of engineering, which posits the case that the glass is the wrong size).  Facts of which we are not informed include the size, location and contents of the receptacle.  If one were thirsty and the glass was to hand and contained some nourishing, thirst-quenching substance, then it might be safe to say that the position of seeing the glass half full was an optimistic one. Alternatively, if the glass contained a highly radioactive substance then the size of the glass and its proximity would be factors in determining degrees of optimism/pessimism.

It is not in my nature to bemoan the shortcomings of this creation. I am sure that the next upgrade, or version 2, will eliminate sweet potatoes, capitalism, carrot cake, reality tv, misanthropy, the cult of celebrity, racism and Ikea. We should not be too hard on God for his oversights, particularly if she only had seven days to complete the task. (This of course raises the troubling question of who it was who was powerful enough to set ridiculous deadlines that constrained an omnipotent being – Mary, see what your edict has unearthed?)

I hope that this helps.



Thursday, January 09, 2020

Darwin Award


I have been inundated with a letter, from a Mrs Virgin Australia of New South Wales and been forced to reply.

Dear Virgin Australia (winner of the oxymoron of the year competition 2016)

I was more than a little perturbed to find, upon opening my online calendar yesterday, that you have booked me on a flight from Newcastle (NSW) to Darwin via Brisbane on February 7th (your time). It is unclear how you see me travelling to Newcastle – the journey involves 22 hours of flying and 8 hours of waiting at airports at a cost of over £8000 first class. I have no idea what attractions Darwin holds that would make this time and expenditure worthwhile. I have never been to either Darwin or Newcastle and have only a passing knowledge of Brisbane which I found to be adequately pleasant in a truly unremarkable way. I have a very good friend who lives there. I have not been to Newcastle upon Tyne either. I have been to Newcastle under Lyme, which is just down the road from Talke Pits, home of the famous Development Company, very much the Bloomsbury Group of the early 1970s.

I note that there is a ward in Darwin called Fannie Bay. I should alert you to the information that I am far too seasoned and sensible to be allured by cheap inuendo. I can find little in the way of entertainment or culture in that time period, not even the Breast Feeding Education Class at the Palmerston Recreation Centre on the 15th has any appeal.

I can only conclude that someone has given you my email address in error. I am now concerned that just as his itinerary appeared in my diary so mine might appear in his. While I am sanguine about the prospect of his taking my place at either of both of my dental and urologist appointments (tell him not to get the two confused) I don’t want him pinching my tickets for Stewart Lee at the De Montfort Hall. Please do your best to contact him and whereas I would offer a warm Pom welcome should he appear on my doorstep, I do not want him messing with my busy social calendar.

Love and peace.



Wednesday, January 08, 2020

He shall have a square 'un


I am tickled pink to hear from Aaron who says:

Patient Visitation Group

Dear Brothers,

We are looking to update you on 3 areas.

  1. The concept of having a team so that when you are covered up with “matters” you can let others know that the hospitals are covered. This requires the Chaplin to be in communication with the team as well as the team being in communication with each member. This approach has worked very well in the areas that have been implemented. As you may be aware, there are multiple brothers currently assigned to each hospital. If you find that the brothers you are partnered with is unable to assist you, please notify me and let’s work on getting your team(s) built.
  2. We are sending you a template(s) for business cards. We would like you to personalize it and get it printed professionally so that you will have a card to use at the hospitals.
  3. If you do not have the link to the Google docs reporting tool it; it is as follows (link below). If you need training or having difficulty accessing the link, please let me know.

We have had many good experiences and developments with the PVG work and have received commendations from HLC for the work done. In particular, the brothers feel the love and we make Jehovah’s heart happy when we visit them.”


I have replied thus:

Hello Aaron

I trust that you have recovered from your somewhat prolonged journey across the desert.  I am not a theologian, and when the good book describes you as a “high priest” I hope that they mean exalted rather than under the influence of some narcotic. I have no issue with what folk do in the privacy of their own space, but feel compelled to express reservations about their suitability for the clergy. I recall the incident when dear old Loopy Longfellow applied for the position of Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, but failed the written exam because he tried to inhale the ink.

I deduce from your message (it isn’t entirely clear) that you propose to spread your message among the sick and infirm. I am sure that you are sincere in your objectives, but have you paused to consider the feelings of your visitees?  Were I to be lying abed just having had 28% of my giblets extracted or some appendage removed or been treated for galloping lurgy with wire-brush and Dettol, I suspect that the prospect of being targeted by a proselytiser, no matter how alluring, would be unlikely to stir feelings of a cordial nature. Indeed, I might be obliged to comment that the prospect of eternal damnation with which they were threatening me would be preferable to my current situation and state of well-being. Neither is the less-than-welcoming response limited to those sick of the palsy. The last time a member of your church called at my house they proffered a tract entitled “How do you view the future?”. “How do you view the future?” she asked. “Without tracts” was my brief but entirely veracious response, with which I closed the door. If folk do come bothering me when Rohit Sharma is on 84 then they should not have any expectations of lengthy conversation.

In short, I am not sure why you have tried to enlist my support.

I should add that I have turned down similar invitations from Mephistopheles who promised me dominion over the Earth. I told him to bugger off (I have retired and the last thing I need is more responsibility; I still have over 100 unread books on my Kindle). I believe this proves that I am an equal opportunities misanthrope.

I am not sure who HLC are. I immediately though of Harrogate Ladies’ College, naturally, but cannot see any reason for that fine body of youthful femininity to be impressed – they are non-denominational. Perhaps you may mean the village of Holton-le-Clay – just up the road from me in Lincolnshire. I should warn you that Lincolnshire is not the place to go for excitement, and its inhabitants are easily impressed.

Anyway, Aaron, old pomegranate, it was kind of you to think of me, and I reciprocate the warmth. Or perhaps you have the wrong email address?

Love and peace.