Thursday, 31 March 2016

And it’s goodnight from him…

So there goes another national treasure. The Two Ronnies kept me in stitches in my teens despite the surreal chaos that was Monty Python being around at the same time. It says something for the genius of the Ronnies that they could capture a teenage audience when the Pythons were at large, although in many ways their humour and sketches were made of the same slightly surreal material.

Ronnie Corbett sat in his armchair, rambling on about pretty much nothing, was a fascinating thing to watch, a monologue that seemed completely off the cuff and so easily done. It couldn’t have been though could it? So at ease and so self depreciating, I challenge you to watch him without laughing. Then there was The Phantom Raspberry Blower, Four candles, their funny songs and my favourite F.U.N.E.X? - Swedish made simple.

It works just as well as a script, but it’s really worth watching. Here it is, say it aloud.

Man: L.O.
Waiter: L.O.
Man: R.U.B.C.
Waiter: S.V.R.B.C.
Waitress: L.O.
Waiter: L.O.
Man: L.O.
Man: F.U.N.E.X.
Waiter: S.V.F.X.
Man: F.U.N.E.M.
Waiter: 9.
Man: I.F.C.D.M.
Waiter: V.F.N.10.E.M.
Waitress: A. V.F.M.
Man: R.
Waiter: O.
Waitress: C. D.M.
Waiter: O.S. V.F.M.
Man: O.K. M.N.X.
Waiter: M.N.X.
Man: F.U.N.E.T.
Waiter: 1 T.
Man: 1 T.
Waiter: O.K. M.X.N.T. M.X.N.T.4.1.
Waitress: V.F.N.10.E.X.
Man: U.Z.U.F.X.
Waiter: Y.F.N.U.N.E.X.
Waitress: I.F.E.10.M.
Waiter: S.I.L.L.Y. C.O.W.

So it’s goodnight from Ronnie, thanks for all the laughter. I don’t laugh enough these days, but you will always make me roar and that’s the mark of a true comic genius.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Socks for sailors...

Now I’m not a great fan of warfare - it tends to shorten people’s lives - but as many see it as a necessity there’s no point in pretending that it isn’t there - which brings me to socks.

My gran used to knit socks for sailors. I have no idea who these sailors were and I hope that she didn’t either, but she would sit in front of her few sticks of a fire and knit away whilst I listened intently to ‘Listen with Mother’ on the Home Service. Doesn’t that make me sound old; I guess I must be getting there.

My gran would knit and knit, sock after sock. She’d been doing it for years, parcelling up socks for the soldiers on the front in the first war, then later balaclavas for sailors in the second. You didn’t have to pay postage. Just knit and take them off to the post office and the post office did the rest.

Imagine that today, an act of unity and kindness supported by business and the government. Maybe it still happens but my cynicism tells me it doesn’t. Everything has a cost these days and everybody wants paying. Sometimes (often) I wonder what happened.

My mother in law knits blankets - well she did until recently - beautiful random things with wool we would get for her from the discount and pound shops; we couldn’t go in without checking for wool at a pound a ball. The colours never went together but they were made with care, mainly to give her something to do and keep her hands and brain moving.

But that was in the past, a long three weeks ago. Neither her hands nor her brain moves much now and when we go to her empty house to put out the bins and feed the birds I see her needles and the blanket she hasn’t finished and it makes me sad. It seems her life has ended coloured as randomly as one of her blankets.

In my drawer in Wales I have a pair of woollen socks that she knitted for me. Thick socks to keep the cold out like a fisherman out on the sea. They have lost their shape and don’t fit very well and I’m no fisherman, but they are made with care and they kept her hands moving. I think I may start wearing them again.

Ever feel like crying?

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

More of the same...

Sorry, but it takes you over.

Another day like yesterday and the day before and the one before that and so on and so forth. Everything is on hold, not that everything was very much in the first place, but this inability to move forwards through no fault of my own isn’t really me. After all, not moving forwards is usually my fault and that’s just fine and dandy, but this limbo is quite frankly horrible.

Of course it isn’t Joan’s fault either. All she was doing was a good deed by holding open that door for the woman that has destroyed her life and now even my stone heart breaks when I see her and what she is becoming. Of course there is always hope, but generally that turns out to be bollocks along with positive thoughts and God working in mysterious ways.

I’ve never been one for not knowing what to do and have lived my life by ‘do anything rather than nothing’, but there are times when there really is nothing to be done. I guess this is one of them.

I’ve become a ‘we’ll have to wait and see’ person for the first time in my life I think. My natural inclination is to rage and ‘do’ and rush around trying to make things better, but sadly (and desperately) there seems no better to be had.

‘Wait and see’ is such an unsatisfactory phrase. It promises something, but can just as easily yield nothing, more easily in fact as it’s usually a phrase for weasel worders and nothing doers. I should know; my childhood was full of empty wait and sees. Is that what I’m becoming then, just another wait and seer?

Perhaps I should not write this down. Perhaps by writing it down I just make things worse and whoever is in charge will decide to punish me for pointing out His mistakes and lack of fair play. But I tell you he’s not playing fair if this is what you get for being nice to others and seeing the result is simply wiltingly blank; like Joan’s expression when her eyes flick open for a moment.

You don’t work in mysterious ways you bastard. Thank God I don’t believe in you.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Bank Holiday Monday...

So what can I tell you about today? Just another wet Bank Holiday Monday, the grey clouds racing across the sky, sunny one moment, dark and raining the next like a troubled expression on a patient in a hospital bed. What goes on in there I wonder, her face as changeable as this weather but strangely without expression at the same time.

The wind blows and the trees tremble with small convulsions, the branches reaching up then falling quiet again. There’s a storm going on somewhere, but it will pass at some time we know. It's just a waiting game and we sit in the waiting room unable to change or influence anything.

We stayed a while and then the pointlessness of being there came crashing in again and we left and went back out into the rain. We hate this waiting.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Down the rabbit hole...

As if giving us four days holiday in the middle of March wasn’t confusing enough they’ve only gone and changed the bloody clocks again! Now not only do I not know what bloody day it is but I don’t even know if I should be eating breakfast or lunch.

What day is it? No bloody idea.
What time is it? Haven’t a bloody clue.
Help me, help me, I’m melting. I feel like a chocolate clock left out in the sunshine.

Of course there’s that whole thing about do they go back or forward an hour? I’m never quite sure, always forgetting that we should spring into spring and fall into autumn – or is it spring forward, fall backwards? I don’t know. It could be something else altogether like Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vane (is that rainbows?) or Men Very Easily Make a Jug Serve Useful Needs [People] (order of the planets - is Pluto a planet again?), or even People Desperately Need To See Pamela Anderson (some computer thing, although it conjures up an interesting image).

It’s all very confusing. I don’t know if I’m late, or early, on time, if it’s Friday, weekend, or a week next Tuesday. Should I eat breakfast, lunch, tea, or dinner and should I be asleep or awake? I feel like I’m in an episode of Doctor Who and falling down a Rabbit Hole.

When I woke up this morning I found that my alarm clock was in ‘being right’ phase. Yes, it really was 6.30 and not the 5.30 (with another potential couple of hours in bed) that I’ve grown accustomed to over the winter months. I never change my alarm clock because I like knowing that I have a sneaky sixty minutes or more to snuggle in bed on the cold and dark mornings. Obviously the change did not exactly fill me with joy. I was already tired, the result of staying up to until 1.00am watching bad films and running around the house changing clocks and losing a full hour in the five minutes that it took to do it; which hardly seems like a good deal.

Mind you, anything for the farmers, for they are blessed as they plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land. They need that extra hour in the evening (or is it in the morning?) to be able to see to milk their cows and hold up the traffic with their tractors.

British bloody Summer Time. I wouldn’t mind but it doesn’t exactly ring true given than most of our ‘’summers’ are one long extended rain storm. Maybe we should change the name to British Flood Time because that seems to be what happens during the summers these days. Oh for the days of standpipes, hosepipe bans, and shared baths.

Oh well, there’s no use complaining I suppose. In a week or so I’ll be used to this ‘new time’ again and stop knowingly saying ‘but it’s really five o’clock’ at four in the afternoon. I may even know what day of the week it is again or at least be able to differentiate one day from another by what’s on the telly once the bank holidays are over.

Here’s a thought, do you think I can get away with moving wine o’clock an hour or two forward?

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Let it go...

Does anyone else remember when the only dose of Disney that you got were those Bank Holiday specials on TV?

In the sixties and seventies you had to go to the pictures to see a Disney film and they didn’t seem to be shown that often. I remember watching Fantasia one wet Tuesday afternoon in a flea pit in Cleethorpes on holiday. It must have been almost thirty years old by then, but I loved every moment of it.

I’ve never really been a fan of Disney’s sugary take on the world, I preferred Popeye and those wonderfully weird Harmon-Ising cartoons, but the short film clips shown on the Bank Holiday Disney Time Specials was a much anticipated event and I really can’t understand why. Watching a few minutes of a movie on a wet Monday or a dull 25th of December wasn’t really very satisfying and it wasn’t until years later that I saw some of the films in full. In fact there are many that I’ve never seen and don’t really want to,

I remember the Walt Disney Special on TV one Christmas Day presented by David Tomlinson in the sixties. I must have been about six I guess. I remember it clearly; David Tomlinson introduced clips from Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Treasure Island, The Adventures of Mr Toad, Swiss Family Robinson, 101 Dalmatians, that bloody Mary Poppins, and the Sword in The Stone. What probably firmly fixed it in my mind is that a few years later I met David Tomlinson whose two sons boarded at the school I went to.

I think the Disney Special went on into the eighties and nineties, but by then you could get Disney on video and we used to rent them from the mobile video man who called once a week at the house. I remember being very disappointed in Tron and watching Jungle Book over and over. I was never sure why Disney was so protective of his films being shown on TV. Or maybe it was just that the BBC couldn’t afford to buy them, but it wasn’t until the mid eighties that old full length Disney features began to be shown on ITV.

These days it seems that no sooner is a Disney film released than it appears on TV on Christmas Day afternoon after the Queen has done her bit. It’s kind of spoilt the Disney excitement and mystery that I felt as a child. Kids today can play their favourite Disney over and over and don’t have to wait for a bank holiday Disney fix. Is that a good thing? I don’t know, but maybe I should just let it go, let it go…

Friday, 25 March 2016

Bloody nonsense...

I was dismayed to see this today. No, not because Cadbury are dropping the word ‘Easter’ from the name of their chocolate eggs, but because the tiny bit of copy by the side of the huge headline reads, ‘The word Easter has been shamefully axed from the boxes of millions of Brit chocolate eggs to avoid causing offence to other religions.’

Now The Sun is a shit paper, but this is shittier than most of the shit it publishes. By using the word ‘Brit’ they are hoping to raise the heckles of all those misguided Christian patriots who believe that the word Easter is important to a chocolate egg, and by using the words ‘other religions’ they mean anyone who isn’t a Christian which in the current climate will mean Muslim to pretty much all of their readership.

Now I don’t care what anyone calls a chocolate egg, but it did get me thinking about Easter and the religion that goes with it. Let’s forget that eggs are not the sole property of the Christian faith and have been symbolically given in religious rituals for thousands of years prior to the Christian Easter.

Let’s forget about that and think about why Jesus was crucified in the first place.

Firstly Jesus wasn’t a Christian, he was a Jew. He live in troubled times in the Middle East and rather than being the thin, white, long haired, brown bearded figure we were all taught about in school, he would have looked remarkably like many of the refugees who are fleeing that area today. His hair would be coarse and black, his skin and eyes brown, and his build sturdy. Remember this was a real man and not the myth that the Christian Church and religious artists have built up around him and he definitely would not have had blue eyes or a halo.

He wasn’t a preacher but he was a great orator like his mentor John the Baptist. Jesus lived in a place and time that was a hotbed of political unrest. The Romans ruled his lands and Jesus was the self-proclaimed King of the Jews.  He had the right background to be a zealot (terrorist in today’s terms) and he talked, lived and died like a zealot. Rather than a man of peace leading a group of religiously minded disciples, he was the leader of a group of tough talking Galilean militants, men who were angry that the Romans had stolen their Holy land. Jesus wanted to free his people from Roman rule and create a glorious Israel. Sound familiar in any way?

It’s not me saying this; the evidence for this is in the Bible. “I come not to bring peace but a sword,” Jesus said – and he meant it. Like John the Baptist (who was beheaded as an enemy of the Roman state), Jesus mixed with known terrorists, in particular his close friend Simon the Zealot.

Of course today our current government’s crackdown on non-violent extremism would have had him imprisoned and silenced in a jiffy. Jesus was leading and whipping up bands of extremists in an attempt to make the Jews rise up and overthrow Roman rule. Back then though, instead of imprisonment the Roman’s favourite way of getting rid of troublemakers was crucifixion and they crucified tens of thousands of troublemakers, in fact anyone who opposed them.

Jesus was a part of a movement that preached organised religious resistance to Roman authority that ultimately led to violent revolution and civil war. He wasn’t a peaceful democrat. He wasn’t a woolly liberal. He didn’t believe in human rights or sexual equality. He wasn’t a man of peace. He was at best an agitator, and to the Roman’s he was a dangerous terrorist. No wonder they executed him. After all, Jesus the Rabbi was preaching the same sort of message that many Middle Eastern groups are preaching today. He was one of the figures enabling and teaching the religious army of the Zealots, and the assassins of the Sicarii, who went around stabbing innocent Romans and even fellow Jews if they believed that they were Roman collaborators.  

And that’s my story, most or all of it historical fact. I may not believe it or I may, but it’s easily as plausible as a man born in a stable from a virgin that could walk on water, feed thousands of people from a few scraps of bread and fish, make the dead rise, and finally came back from the dead to prove he still lived in the hearts of his followers so that they would continue his work.

That’s why I don’t care if they drop the ‘Easter’ from ‘Brit’ Easter eggs. It’s all bloody nonsense.

Thursday, 24 March 2016


Would be fascist world leaders preach race hatred in America, fundamentalists blow up innocent people in Belgium, thousands are turned away from safety in Europe and sent back to danger, Russia flexes its world muscles after keeping it local for years.

I don’t know what’s coming, but it doesn’t feel good. It always starts with a mad megalomaniac or two, and let’s face It, we have more than enough of those around at the moment. Trump or Putin, Kim-Jong Un or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, it makes no difference. Each believes that their way is right and each will stop at nothing it seems to make their beliefs a reality.

In the event of global war where do we stand in all of this? Will we be with America or with Europe? Make no mistake, Europe isn't the easily recognisable place it was fifty years ago and the world isn’t the relatively simple place it was back when Kaiser Bill or Hitler decided that they deserved to have everything. What if Trump were to become US president? If he does as he promises then the world will be thrown into chaos. How will Putin react? Those two are likely to go at it like a Frankie Goes to Hollywood video or worse still form a terrible and deadly alliance for a while. How will Hu Jintao react? And what about all the little guys when they are given their head as the big guys are distracted away. Will Mamnoon Hussain decide it’s time to settle an old score? Will Rajendra Prasad decide to get in first? And what about Israel, those volatile and numerous African countries, Columbia and the rest? Will Argentina take their chance and invade the Falklands again? Will we go to war to keep them?

The world is like a playground. There are big kids and little kids, strong kids and weak kids, nice kids and nasty kids, kids who want to be friends with everybody and kids who want to be friends with nobody. There are kids who want to play and kids who want to fight, there are kids who want to stop other kids fighting and kids who want to watch other kids fight. There are kids who want to give what they can and kids who want to grab what’s available. There are kids that want to help and kids who want to harm. There are all sorts of kids in the playground.

It looks like it could be playtime again, but in the playground there’s also usually a teacher to keep order. Where’s ours?

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Circus morning...

I awoke this morning and decided that I would run off to the circus. Well, it has to be better than what I’m going through at the moment, jumping through hoops and juggling whilst waiting to fall from the high wire into a net that isn’t there. Circumstance and events have conspired to make things desperately frustrating and sad, and the circus ring seems a far more palatable option than hospital visits. 

I don’t know where they all are at this time of year but I’m sure that I could find one holed up somewhere if I look hard enough. I have this idea that the circus goes to the seaside in the winter, deserted places with tall concrete nuclear power stations, Dungerness or Sellafield. Huge expanses of gravelled beaches under even bigger skies with plenty of sea scrub for the horses to feed on. What matter if the lorries leak a little oil on the shingle? The sea with come in and lap it away when we are gone.

I’d have to decide what to be. Ringmaster is out – I don’t suit a top hat - and the days of the lion tamer are long gone due to the animal activists. I’m not strong enough these days to be a strong man, I can’t ride a horse and I don’t like dogs, so I guess maybe I could be a clown. Maybe a sad faced clown.

Of course I didn’t run away to the circus. I just put on my sad face and went to the hospital. 

Tuesday, 22 March 2016


Yesterday, March 21st, was World Puppet Day. I didn’t exactly miss it, but I came to the party very late so didn’t have time to get a puppet or two out and pull on their strings until they came to life. 

I have quite a few puppets somewhere. Probably upstairs in one of the cupboards – kings and queens, witches and gamekeepers, pirates and goatherds, a dragon I think. There’s even a papier-mâché puppet horse I once made for Holly when she was at infant school.

One Christmas Holly and I made a puppet theatre out of a washing maiden and some old curtains and we put on a Christmas puppet show. Those were the days. Now those puppets lie neglected and the last time I saw them their strings were all tangled. I suppose I should restring them someday - how hard can it be?

I’ve always had a thing for puppets and there were a lot of puppets in my childhood. Now I come to think of it there were more puppet shows than you could shake Mr Punch’s stick at. Ever since I watched Andy Pandy, The Woodentops, Torchy and Twizzle on our old black and white TV in the early sixties I’ve been hooked. My favourite was Rubovia and then there was Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds and let’s not forget Pinky and Perky. I don’t think I questioned that they were just puppets even though I could see the strings and Sooty and Sweep seemed almost believable in the hands (literally) of Mr Corbett. I didn’t really like that silly lambchop though, Shari Lewis’ voice got on my nerves and her nose was a little too Bewitched.

In the summer at the seaside I could hardly wait for the Punch and Judy show with its sausages, policeman, ghost, Judy, Toby the dog and of course the baby. ‘That’s the way to do it. That’s the way to do it,’ screeched Mr Punch as he beat the baby to death with his stick. I’m not sure how that would go down with audiences today, but I seem to remember laughing. Once we had an Indonesian shadow puppet theatre visit our school. It wasn’t quite Punch and Judy but it made a huge impression on me and I spent weeks after trying to make shadow animals on my bedroom wall. But my floppy eared rabbit and flying dove were nothing compared to the shadow theatre dragon breathing his shadow fire.

Later came the Muppets, Spitting Image, Fraggle Rock and all the rest, but by then I was busy turning myself into a puppet and tangling my own strings. But that is another story as the say. Anyway, that’s my celebration of World Puppet Day and I’d like to leave you with this worrying thought – Muffin the Mule.

Monday, 21 March 2016

What are words worth?..

I was listening to Radio Four this morning and to the politicians arguing about the latest Tory cock up. I listened to their words and realised that they had no real meaning. In a week or two they will be forgotten as we all move on to the next thing. Is it their fault or mine I wondered? If their words meant something to me should I not remember them?

It got me thinking about all the words that have been spoken over the years. Did they really make any difference? Did Winston Churchill saying, ‘We will fight them on the beaches,’ really help us to win the war? Did Kennedy proclaiming ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ cause the Berlin wall to come tumbling down? Did Jesus telling us, ‘Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone’ stop us from picking up those rocks and flinging them?

Now I’m great lover of words, can’t get enough of them, love to spout them, full of one of them some might say. I even hear words when I think, my voice telling me what I am thinking. At least I hope it's my voice. Sometimes I wonder what thought without words might be like and is that the way some others think? Animals can't use words to produce thought, so how do they do it? Do they think at all or is all instinct and habit?

I spent the afternoon with a person who has lost her words. The odd sound she made reminding me that inside her head she may or may not still be thinking. If she has lost the words in her mouth has she lost the words in her head too or are are they still going on inside there, trapped and wanting to get out? 

They say that actions speak louder than words and it seems to me that it’s true. You can say anything you want, talk a good game, make promise after promise, but if you don’t back it up with actions then the words mean nothing, so why bother to say them at all? Why not just do it? 

I have two options. I can either shut up or I can start doing as I say and neither option is simple for me.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Lost spring day...

The first day of astronomical spring and with it came sunshine and warmth. I felt as if I wanted to go out looking for skipping lambs, wade through drifts of golden daffodils, and go searching for Blodeuwedd the Celtic spring goddess, created by magic from nine spring flowers. Instead I spent it at the hospital and worrying about Luna who, uncharacteristically, went walkabout for six hours when normally she checks in every forty minutes or so. On the Joan front progress is slow. She’s a tiny bit more able to open her eyes and is trying to speak a little, but it’s impossible to hear her words and she hardly seems like Joan at all.

Somewhere between my cat and Joan something in me got lost as well and even the sunny day couldn’t lift my spirits. I hate the uncertainty of it all even though my rational mind knows that there are no certainties. Each time Luna goes out I know that she might never return and looking at Joan this afternoon I know that is true of her as well.

I did see daffodils and lambs in the fields on the way back from the hospital, but Blodeuwedd remained elusive despite my muttering of the ancient words: ‘Nine powers of nine flowers. Nine powers in me combine nine buds of plant and tree. Long and white are my fingers as the ninth wave of the sea.’

So that’s my first day of spring – a missing cat, a missing mother in law, a missing goddess, and a very grumpy me.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

In a spin…

Do you remember when you used to get dizzy for fun instead of it being a hazard of getting up from the chair too quickly? What were we thinking of? And why does spinning around and around make us dizzy? Even though the Earth is spinning all the time it doesn’t cause us to reel about like a drunk. Going around and around a racing circuit in a car doesn’t make us fall over. Even sitting on a fairground carousel doesn’t often leave us grasping for invisible handholds in the air just to find our balance.

It’s a localised thing. I remember at the park when I was a boy that getting dizzy was the thing. There was a few ways you could do it. The slide didn’t do it, that just made you want to pee yourself with fear because it was so tall. Nor did the long scary-smiled rocking horse with handles and seats for eight or nine children, that just made you feel sick with the up-down motion of a landlocked sea. Of course the swings were a different matter. You could sit on the seat and wind the long chains around until they were tight as a spring, then lift your feet and off you would go in a clanking whizzing spin, then back again and back again - clockwise then anti-clockwise - with a guaranteed result of extreme dizziness when you fell off and tried to stand up.

Of course in our park, Elms Park in Thame, there was an old wooden roundabout exactly like the one in the picture, although that isn’t it. The - not at all child friendly - slide behind it is almost as high as the one I used to climb too. We piled onto that roundabout pushing it around with one leg and clinging on for dear life. It would get faster and faster, the girls sitting on top and clinging on for dear life too. We would pedal it so fast that it felt like we were going to fly off and we’d work it for ages, the park a blur of green and brown as we span. Then we’d leap off and try to walk. Of course that was impossible and sometimes the dizziness would last for minutes. Why we laughed as we stumbled around on the cracked concrete (no rubberised floors back then) and falling over and over I have no idea, but we did.

So why does it happen? Basically it’s an inner ear thing. When you spin for a prolonged time the hairs in the ear get used to the spinning and when you stand still they continue to send the spinning message to your brain. But who cares? It was fun and I wish that I could still do it today without fear of broken bones and concussion. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

Death and…

So here comes the sugar tax. Oh, I know it’s all very worthy and is being heralded by the likes of Jamie Oliver as a breakthrough on the road to reducing obesity, but really? Is that what Georgie (piggy snake eyes) Osborne is really interested in? I hate the nanny state and the brainwashing it spews out. Salt is bad for you, fruit is good for you, sugar is bad for you, wholemeal bread is good for you, alcohol is bad for you, blah, blah, blah. Yes I know all that, but it isn’t really your bloody business.

Of course it won’t stop with sugary drinks. It’ll be cakes, biscuits, wine, even the sugar we put in our tea before long. Then it will be fat, salt (again), white bread, cheese, red meat, processed foods. In fact we will get to a stage where we can only buy government approved foodstuffs without paying extra for them. It will be lettuce and bean curd for tea again then.

Osborne is only interested in extra revenue and reduced spend pure and simple. He’s not interested in health benefits to make people better. In fact he’s making a whole lot of people’s health and wellbeing worse with the cuts and taxes he’s bringing in. Our corrupt politicians have always been good finding new ways to stealing money from people, even if it means making their lives worse not better.

None of this crap is new though. People like to play games so in the 16th century playing cards were taxed. Then in 1710, the English government dramatically raised taxes on playing cards and dice and people made their own to avoid the tax although, if they were caught, they were charged with forgery. This tax was not removed until 250 years later in 1960.

In 1660, Parliament put a tax on fireplaces. This tax led to people bricking up their fireplaces to avoid paying a tax they couldn't afford and just froze to death instead. A few years later, in 1696, light was taxed when window tax was brought in, taxing houses based on the number of windows they had. This led to many houses having very few windows in order to avoid paying the tax and you can find bricked-up windows all over the country to this day. Eventually people were building houses with so few windows that it became a health problem leading to the tax’s repeal in 1851, over 150 years later.

So, there we all were sitting around in the dark during the day and freezing our codpieces off. At least at night we could all huddle around a candle or two. But not for long; the window tax made houses dark inside so people lit their homes with candles rather than stumble around and break their necks falling over stray sedan chairs. But that was short lived because, not wishing to miss a taxing opportunity, in 1789 a tax on candles was introduced and people were forbidden from making their own candles unless they obtained a license and then paid taxes on the candles they made.

Of course (no pun there) bricking up windows cost the government money, so in the 1700’s they decided to tax the bricks the houses were made from. Builders soon realised that they could use bigger (and thus fewer bricks) to pay less tax. But the government caught on and placed a larger tax on bigger bricks. This one lasted 150 years and changed the way houses were built. Even interior design was targeted. In 1712 a tax on printed wallpaper was imposed. This led to people hanging plain wallpaper and then hand-painting their own designs on their walls.

There was still some money in peoples pockets though. So in 1784 they brought in the hat tax and to avoid this tax hat-makers stopped calling their creations ‘hats’ which led, a hundred years later, to a tax on any headwear including caps, bonnets, and bobble. The tax was repealed in 1811 and a new age of hats began. Tax is a a real fashion driver. Along with the reduction in hat wearing in 1795, and to make sure that heads were really cold (whilst they sat in the dark without a fire) they put a tax on the aromatic powders that men and women put on their wigs so people stopped wearing them altogether, apart from high court judges who were exempt.

At least those old politicians were up front about it though.They didn’t pretend to be trying to improve people’s lives through faking concern for their health. They just wanted money to build gunships. Salt was a great product to tax because consuming it (despite what we are being told by the medical profession today) is necessary for humans to survive, especially in hot climates. The good old British Parliament decreed a tax on salt throughout the Empire which killed swathes of those bally natives, gaining worldwide attention when Gandhi staged protests against it.

Back in blighty, we are the only country in the world to have a tax on televisions. If you own one, you must pay an annual fee (a television license or a tax by any other name) even if you don’t watch the BBC. Even blind people have to pay fifty percent of this tax and let’s face it most TV is crap. And of course we are still paying tax on bricks, candles, hats, wallpaper, and all the rest. It’s called VAT and applies to just about everything from digital books to tampons currently.

People used to joke about being taxed to breathe fresh air. No, that could never happen could it? But if we ever clean up all the pollution in the atmosphere to make it fresh just watch the government tax us on it… Oh, they already do don't they. It's called green tax.

And with that I am done. It's all too taxing to continue.

Thursday, 17 March 2016


I knew this would lead me to verse eventually. It’s hard to believe that only a week or so ago Joan was being her normal annoying self and nagging me to change her watch battery. Of course when I went to my watch battery stash I didn't have the right size and made a mental note to get to the pound shop and get some. Then with all that kafuffle with her hip I didn't get there, but that didn't stop her nagging me about it. Then came the stroke and now there seemed to be little point in changing when she can't lift her arm to look or even see the time if she could.


I have a watch,
It’s not mine,
And if you were older
This would rhyme with eighty-nine.
But you are not
And that bloody clot
Makes my changing of the battery
Just how many times have I changed it?
Keeping you in time with your life again?
I don’t know,
A few times at least,
You really can be a pain.
So here’s the deal,
If you want to know the time
Don’t ask a policeman.
Just wake up.
I’ve put that bloody battery in.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Foot signals…

For the last few days since her stroke, Joan has seemed to be in a deep, deep, and very uneasy sleep. Her expression blank, eyes closed with the odd involuntary movement of hands and feet or a twitch and a thunderous snore. She’s must be there somewhere, but I think we had decided she wasn’t. The incident with Joan and the woman in the motorised mobility carriage and the subsequent stroke have made us even more pessimistic than usual.

But then this afternoon she seemed to be trying to open her eyes. We couldn’t be sure, but then her lips moved as if she were trying to speak. She didn’t say anything but a sound came out which was more than a breath and not the snore that we’ve so quickly become so used to. It wasn’t much but it gave me an idea; one I’ve used with people undergoing a hypnotherapy session with me who I’ve put in trance.

Sometimes I ask people to lift a finger or had in response to a suggestion. They always do so I asked Joan to lift her foot if she could hear me and she did. It was a jerky spasm of a lift, but it really happened. We tried quite a few times over the next couple of hours and, although it wasn’t a hundred percent, ninety percent of the time her foot lifted.

She’s in their somewhere, stuck in some sort of trance brought on by the stroke, but she isn’t gone completely. She can hear what we say I think and she’s able to respond. Maybe this is the start of getting her back. Well, I’m hoping so despite her driving me mad when she is here.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Extra portion...

Another day and another futile attempt to make sense of things. Joan lies in a hospital bed and isn't Joan at all. She's not there really, but I know (given the way she gives me as good as she gets) that somewhere deep inside her she'll be fighting. Joan is, if nothing else, tenacious with just a hint of bloody minded.

For my part I feel a bit useless. I'm close to tears sometimes, although I don't know why, and at other times angrily fighting the red tape and silly processes of the NHS. As a for instance, today I got a letter from Trafford Trust (PAL'S) asking me to get Joan to sign a form so I could act on her behalf. Firstly she is in a coma. Secondly the stroke she has had means she can't hold a pen. Of course my word wasn't enough for the process so we delayed the investigation further for a few hours or days maybe whilst they talked to the nursing staff to be sure I wasn't exaggerating. But I really had to push this. Meanwhile, a week on, the truth is going cold so thank God I involved the police on day one because their detective has already investigated and hopefully can fill in their blanks.

I never thought I would be thanking a policeman. But then I never thought that wearing mittens so that you couldn't rip out the tube that was feeding your stomach via a tube through your nose was an invasion of civil liberties. But it is if we aren't given a document explaining it.

The world turns and Joan, on the edge of that disastrous spin, clings on.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... Calm down, calm down, I keep telling myself. But I'm not really calm and when I feel helpless I try to compensate through wine and not letting anything pass me by. I think they call it belt and braces with Merlot. But there it is, that's me.

So there's the update people. Some movement forward I guess but nothing to make Joan even a little more Joan-like and at the end of the day, who do I cook that extra portion of dinner for now? You can't eat through a tube forever.

I wish she would open her eyes and speak even if it was to criticise me about my cooking.


I took a walk this morning to the end of my road and turned left. It was a sunny day and I needed to get out of the house. Things were closing in and I needed a breather, besides I had an errand to run and sometimes I am so fooled that even I believe it could turn out okay even when all the signs and warnings say that it won't.

Ah well, another day, another delusion.

At the end of my road is a village, well village is the loosest of terms. The villages of my youth were not full of hipster barbers, shabby chic florists, wine bars, restaurants or charity shops where you can buy a Christian Dior suit for ninety quid and as always the shoes of the women matched the colour of their cars. Range Rovers and Ferrari were parked on the pavements like a dog had taken a shit (well, when I say dog I mean poodle) and jettisoned its biscuit allowance for the month. But it did look pretty and quaint even if there was no ducking stool or pond to duck in.

I’ve lived in my house thirty summers, but come here only once or twice a year and usually through necessity like a trip to the post office. It isn’t that it isn’t lovely or as close as close can be, it’s just not (or is) me. In my head I stand out like a running sore and I know (despite the foresight and hard work so that I can be here living the Hale life) that I’m lucky to live in this most sought after area. It is so la-di-da (applause, applause) and if I wanted there are fifty restaurants that I can walk to in ten minutes and all of then great, five stars on Tripadvisor. But I generally cook and eat at home.

Anyway, enough of that; I just needed to get my errand done and get home to continue with life and all the tribulations of the last few days. Things are not so great at the moment and the blue sky and air did me good even if when I got back home the phone rang with more bad news. For a moment though, as I walked under the Scottish crosses made by the jets, watching men in suits hurry along the street making deals, I almost felt happy - it’s the detail you see and not the experience.

The rest of the day went downhill from there and fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. but I can always walk into the village again.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

On pirate ships...

I live and learn and stare out of the window. Of course when I look out I don’t always see what exactly is there. Reality can be so boring and there’s far more to see than what’s in my line of sight. Some people can do this all the time. They are called visionaries. Well, I’m no visionary but sometimes I see a thing or two in the sky (a pirate ship maybe) or the shadows on the wall (a tiger!) and I escape for a few moments. It’s like dreaming whilst being awake. At school I was often marked down on my reports for daydreaming. They said ‘I could do better’, but of course I really couldn’t and why would I want to? It’s my daydreaming that has got me to where I am now and, despite the plumbing in this house and my obvious addictions, it isn’t such a bad place.

So parents, if you see your kids staring out of the window, when they should be doing their economics homework, don’t shout at them. Let them dream. Reality will bite soon enough.

Saturday, 12 March 2016


We are all just suitcases awaiting labels. Yes, I know it sounds like I’ve lost it again, well I am a bit of a case, but think about it. We come into this life pretty much a blank sheet of paper and as we move through our allotted mortal span pick up labels like a travelling suitcase on a journey.

Of course some of those labels are with us at birth and not created by us. They are not really part of our journey at all, just something that came with the suitcase, an internal label if you like: white, black, Christian, Moslem, American, French, boy, girl, straight, gay. We are all classified even before we start living.

It’s a pity really. I wouldn’t choose any of the labels I was born with and have spent my life trying to cover them with the other labels that I’ve chosen or had thrust upon me along the way. Husband, father, boss, fat, sarcastic, alcoholic, argumentative arsehole. All part of the journey that I’m on, all stuck to the suitcase that is me. I’d have probably picked some better labels for my suitcase if I could. Star, billionaire, astronaught, hero, idol, sage, leader. But alas that was not to be. I’m more hand luggage than sturdy portmanteau it seems.

Of course our labels can change and be rebranded just like any other product. Some brands become unacceptable over time and others are brought in to replace them. Playboy started its journey as Stag Party, Best Buy was The Sound of Music until the mid 80’s, and Google started out as Backrub. We change our labels too. Currently people who used to be coloured then black and African American are now people of colour. We have Isis , Isil, IS or is it Daesh? Some gay men who used to hate to be called queer now prefer queer to gay and the word feminist is fast becoming a negative term and in need of a new label probably. It seems that the rebranding never stops.

I wonder what we will label ourselves next?

Friday, 11 March 2016

Eggs, chips and beans...

So in a week where George Martin died, my mother in law was mowed down in a hit and run invalid carriage incident and is now in hospital with a broken hip, and I slipped into my penultimate year before hitting sixty there would seem to be plenty to write about, so why am I asking you to join me in thinking about sausage rolls?

Well, not just sausage rolls; sausage rolls, chips and beans to be exact. This was the food I was brought up on although today it would never occur to me to bring together this trio of delicacies and serve it for a meal. Other great childhood teas included the wonderful egg, chips and beans alongside sausage, chips and beans, the Saturday lunchtime pie, chips and beans, scrummy fish fingers, chips and beans and of course the very special burger, chips and beans. It seemed it was all chips and beans back then, which was good because it meant I was at least getting two of my (yet to come) five a day.

I’m sure that we ate other things, including those dreaded Sunday roasts, but my abiding memory is of things cooked with chips and beans. One of my favourites was rissoles, chips and beans, although I haven’t seen a rissole for years. We also regularly had battered spam, chips and beans (a hangover from the war years I expect) and fish cakes, chips and beans. Of course I didn’t mind. Well why would I want green vegetables (Sunday fare) when there were beans to be had?

This was long before cooking programmes were the norm on TV. Spaghetti bolognaise, curry and chili were not even a rumour in my house and Fanny Craddock used ingredients – like garlic and black pepper – which were not easily come by anyway. Ready meals simply did not exist unless you counted powdered Vesta curries and beans and sausages in a can. Even the humble pizza, now a staple in so many homes, wasn’t available in our High Street.

It really was a different world. It was a world of beans and chips and where that dirty foreign muck was scorned. Of course today isn’t so very different despite having just about every ingredient on earth to hand at the supermarket all year around. Pizza seems to have become the new chips and beans, and burgers now come fast in buns and on the run rather with chips and beans on a plate. We are all preached healthy eating, but most of the time most people don’t, preferring to snack and graze rather than sit down to a meal.

Thinking about it I think there’s a lot to be said for egg, chips and beans. I quite fancy it for my tea.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Positive thoughts at 59…

So it's my day, my wonderful day, a day to ring bells my fat fertile aunt and to consider what I have learnt over this expanding lifetime. Fifty nine! A miracle some might say, a pity cry some others. Well, la di da and who gives a shit anyway?

A year off sixty; not so old in these days of living until ninety kept alive by drugs and doctors who should know better. I read recently that reaching a hundred will soon be commonplace for people who are in their twenties currently. Whatever happened to live fast, die young? Is fifty really the new forty?

So what have I leant? What? What? What? Well I know that my least favourite crisps are roast chicken flavour and that ready salted pretty much go with any sandwich. I know that you need to protect yourself from the rosy colour of the past because it is just your mind polishing places and people who never existed. I also understand that blood is not thicker than water, it fact it has no substance at all. I’m sure that religion, all religion, is nonsense with no truth behind it. In fact I now understand that there are no truths, only opinions and perspectives. I’ve learnt than cynicism is a luxury that only the young can afford because they have their whole scary lives in front of them and won’t need to be optimistic until their youth is almost spent.

At a year off sixty I have learnt to be optimistic but to meter it with horrible honesty so as not to have any illusions. I have learnt that people are good, except the ones who are bad. I have learnt that no matter what your plans are ultimately we are all mice. I have learnt that society is so busy trying to be well and correct that it forgets how to enjoy itself. I have learnt that there is pleasure in the smallest of unimportant things if you seek it out. I have learnt that nothing lives up to expectations because expectations are not real. I have learnt to never give in if you know that something is right, but only if you are prepared to lose. I have learnt to cut through the bullshit, even through my own bullshit sometimes. I have learnt that honesty isn’t always the best policy and that saying nothing often is. I have learnt to accept myself but not to accept others who don’t accept me. I have learnt that one day there will be nothing to worry about, so worry or don’t worry while you can.

In short, I have learnt nothing apart from that roast chicken/plain crisp thing or course. One year off sixty and at least I know that. So it hasn’t been an entire waste.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Talking to the cat...

Okay, so I talk to my cat and answer myself in a cat voice. Is that so very strange? Some people talk to the dead, others to themselves, so talking to your cat is okay, right? At least Luna is another sentient and living creature and it’s better than talking to vegetables, which I find myself doing sometimes, particularly carrots, maybe it’s the colour orange because I don’t feel the need to talk to onions.

Talking, what a strange gift it is. I used to talk all the time particularly in meetings. Of course I never actually said anything and in many ways it was like talking to cabbages because nobody was really listening. These days though, when I’m not talking to carrots or cats, I keep most conversation to a minimum; or at least a minimum for me as I do have a tendency to be verbose. As I often say, ‘Why use one word when you can use a whole dictionary, lexicon, vocabulary, or thesaurus worth?

Sometimes I gabble, my words running out of my mouth without me really thinking about it. This can be quite dangerous because, although my brain is engaged, the part of my mind that stops me saying what is in it seems to shut down. It’s like my conversation becomes a machine gun with the safety off and I rat-a-tat out words based around what I want to say and not what people want to hear.

Quite often I say things that aren’t even meant to come out and sometimes they are things I didn’t even realise I was thinking. It’s a bit like mild tourettes except I’m sure that I could control it if I thought about it. And there is probably the nub of the matter, it’s not that I don’t think about what I am saying, it’s just that I don’t care how people hear me.

Perhaps I should simply put a sock in it, shut my gob, close my cakehole and keep shtum. Or maybe I should just keep on talking to my cat.

Face swap...

Despite swapping faces my daughter Holly and I hardly look any different. How scary.

Friday, 4 March 2016

F*** off...

F**k it, 1984 is here and those b******d thought police are all around us.

Manchester 2016, a few f******g years on from 1984, but it’s caught up with us and that t******g Big Brother seems keen on controlling what we think, what we say, and now even the words we use. What a crock of s**t, whatever has happened to this once great and liberal land of ours?

Some of our most ancient words have been f*****g banned by those f******s at Salford council. What a bunch of c***s. Salford City Council have really p****d off human rights charity Liberty by introducing a Public Space Protection Order at Salford Quays. Now, if you say the ‘F’ word (let alone the ancient and mystical ‘C’ word) out loud (rather than in your head like we all do from time to time) you will be fined on the spot.

The order was passed with the backing of local residents who complained that rowdy behaviour, mainly from football fans on their way to Old Trafford, was making their lives a misery. What a bunch of miserable f*****s. Perhaps they should have f*****g thought of that before they bought a b****y posh flat near a football ground. Stupid f*****g b*****s. Now, because of this small group of t***s, just 76% of a paltry 130 local residents, it is now deemed a criminal offence if anyone is heard using ‘foul and abusive language’ around the Quays.

What the f**k is the world coming to and who is going to write the list of offending words and deem what and what isn’t foul? Is c**k s****r foul (pun intended)? How about a******e, b**k, b****y, g*t, j**k, w****r, t*t or t**t?

Now I know a foul word or two (see above), but Shakespeare’s insults, put downs and cussing were second to none. He used many of the very same words considered ‘foul and abusive’ by those t*****s at the council offices, words that were in common usage until the Victorians decided they were swearing and sent them to Coventry (think about it). He also used words considered abusive in his time but would not raise an eyebrow today, cockered, toad-spotted, clack-dish, and fen-sucked to name but a few.

By the way, did you know that the word berk, quite often used in an affectionate and joshing way, is cockney rhyming slang and a shortened version of Berkeley Hunt?

Then there’s the question of body language? Will they arrest you if you flip the finger or present the reverse victory sign? Does it count if you swear in the sign language deaf people use and is it okay to semaphore, Morse tap, or smoke signal your insults?

To my mind, each time national legislation is used to shut us up, stop us using a word or phrase, or make it illegal for us to swear, we are one step closer to living in a police state where every word is monitored and nobody speaks out for fear of repercussions. How does this end? Well, for a start the authorities will be monitoring our calls and written communications, then there will be a list of approved words and words we are not allowed to use, and finally we will all speak in a meaningless drone saying nothing really just in case we offend anybody.

Oh fuck! We’re already there aren’t we?                                 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Tackling the problem...

There’s been talk in the press of banning tackling from the game of rugby for school age children. I used to play rugby for my school and county and I loved it. It was about the only sport that I’d ever been good at; except for a brief growing spurt where I seemed to be able to run faster than the wind.

Rugby, like lots other competitive team sports, has lots to offer. It’s a great team game and teaches you a range of skills from strategy and hand-eye coordination through to singing a good sweary song in the showers. Unfortunately, according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the structure at the heart of the game, namely the collisions and tackling involved that moves the game forward, has a ridiculously and frightening high injury rate.

One piece of recent research followed 825 school-aged rugby players for one academic year. There were 426 injuries, of which 204 - almost a quarter of the total - kept the children from playing sport for 28 days or longer. It also found that there were 81 diagnosed concussions – that’s ten percent of the players in the survey. Thinking back I probably realised this when I played, in fact in my day it was probably higher.

We live in a society where kids are coddled. They don’t climb trees or play out late. They don’t take themselves off to school aged seven and hardly any of them have ever swum in a river on a hot summer’s afternoon. Parents wrap children in cotton wool and health and safety, along with the fear of litigation, stops schools from allowing almost anything in the playground including conkers. Of course rugby isn’t conkers. It’s an extreme contact sport more dangerous than boxing and many more schoolchildren play rugby than put on the gloves.

I’ve done both and I have to say, although my dalliance with the ring was short lived, I didn’t get the weekly injuries I did playing rugby. Nor did I end up in hospital flat on my back for weeks waiting for my inverted collarbone to fix itself back in place.

Thinking about my rugby playing schooldays I realise now just how much injury and pain it involved. Dislocations were common, bruises and bloodied noses not worth mentioning, and the pitch was often strewn with boys who had knocked each other out in a hard tackle. Once I heard the crack of bone as a femur snapped from twenty yards away and on one sad season a boy was killed. I still loved playing though. I loved the winning, the team, the muscles I developed and the thrill of finding myself on the team when I checked the notice board under the library. It made me one of the lads and girls were pretty impressed too.

Looking back though, it seems mad somehow. Why put yourself in so much danger and pain for a game? I was young, but I wasn’t stupid and after the incident with my collar bone I didn’t play much because I couldn’t go in hard on the tackle for fear it would pop again. I shouldn’t have played at all according to what the hospital said, but I still did for a while even though my collar bone threatens to come out even today when I lift a heavy box.

So where do I stand nowadays?

Rugby is a great game, but I wouldn’t want my kids to play the game the way I used to play it. You can get the benefits of the sport without the hard tackling that our team was infamous for back then. We were a fearsome side, went in hard, took the blows, and our aggression was legendary in the county. We were a big team too, and the competition didn’t really stand much chance as they were about half our size even though they were the same age.

Rugby is inherently dangerous and these days I believe that some form of touch rugby would be better; especially for the under 16’s. There really is no such thing as a safe tackle, any more than there is a safe punch in the ring. Tackling is an essential part of the game at an adult level, but not for ten and eleven year old children.

The alternative is that rugby will eventually die out in schools and that would be a terrible shame.

What's that?..

We had a few flakes of snow and Luna was so confused. I don't think she realised what they were. It looked like she thought they were butterflies or something and as she tried to catch them in her paws. She looked so shocked when she caught one and it disappeared in her paws.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The search for spring…

Damn it, I blinked and missed the start of spring. It was yesterday, St David’s Day, mind you it was just another fake. Meteorological spring isn’t the real McCoy, it’s just a mark in time in order to have a nice orderly seasonal world; something just for the met men really. Mind you it was a reasonable day, rain first thing and then a little sunshine. Cold though, really cold, but then we haven’t really had any winter yet which probably explains the snow today.

So when does spring really start? Most people go by the astrological spring that they find in their diaries. That spring is all to do with the position of Earth in relation to the sun, taking into account equinoxes and solstices of course. This year it won’t be for another few weeks and will finish halfway through June, which is summer to my mind anyway.

I keep hearing that the seasons are changing. Well, perhaps they are and perhaps they aren’t, but it does seem like they are all over the place. But are they? Can a season really have a drop dead date? For me spring isn’t a calendar event like Christmas or an astronomical event like an eclipse; it’s a feeling, an experience in the same way that a Van Gogh painting isn’t only about what you see, it’s more about what you feel.

I’ll know that spring is here when I feel the urge to start planting sunflower seeds and getting serious about my tiny backyard garden. I’ll know that spring has come when my bones don’t ache quite as much as they do at the moment. I’ll know it’s arrived when I wake up with a whistle and a smile instead of my grumpy winter face.

Spring will be here when I feel it; it’s as much a state of mind as anything else. I can’t wait for it to get here. 

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Seeing things…

Sometimes when I post my blog I check on Google for visually similar images. It’s easy to do you just right click on the image and pull down to ‘search Google for image’. I don’t know why I started doing this, but I find it fascinating to see what pops up. Take yesterday’s frog for instance. It’s clearly a frog so maybe you might expect Google to bring up some frogs in its check. But no, instead it considers a duck, a wobbly elephant, a naked lady, a cow, a boy in dark glasses, a red haired child walking a goat, numerous birds, waves and monsters - but no frogs.

Maybe it sees my sad soul? I don't know.

It makes me wonder about what each of us see when we look at something. Google is obviously interpreting the image in some way, filtering and interpreting the image, and basically that’s what our brains do. I’m not saying that if I see a frog you might see a cow, but I’m sure the frog that I see is different from the frog that you see. Our eyes process light slightly differently so the colours will vary, very much so if you are colour blind, and we interpret what we see based around our own experiences. I quite like frogs, so I see a cute little creature. But if you once had a frog forced down your back by a bully at school or a shit of a father proving who's boss, metaphorically speaking, the reality is far worse, then you may see a frog quite differently to the way I do.

I don’t think seeing things is quite as simple as it seems, it isn’t simply a visual thing. Witnesses who give statements to the police are proof of this. The thief was fat, thin, of average build. He was tall, short, usual height. He had blonde hair, brown hair, no hair, was wearing a hat. They all saw the same man, but each of their minds interpreted what they saw differently. They all saw the thief and know exactly what he looked like. But in reality they saw what their minds – their experience and interpretation – made them see.

It seems to me that there is no shared reality. Seeing doesn’t necessarily mean believing and what is as plain as the nose on your face often isn’t. Even if you did see it with your own eyes and as clear as day we all see a different frog, and a few of us may even see a cow. It seems that illusion is all around and the only reality we can really trust is inside us.