Friday, 30 December 2011

New Year's Eve

As we fast approach the biggest night of the year, if you haven't already decided what to wear, now is a good time to give it some serious thought.

There are many ways to celebrate the ending of one year and the beginning of another, from a quiet meal for two, to a massive party ball. What you do will direct what you wear. There are too many permutations for this post to cover, so perhaps just a little New Year’s Eve guidance for a night out in the bars and clubs of your town.

First thing to think about is the weather. This is becoming much more important ever since we started having these snowy and cold winters. I have checked and the forecast for Saturday evening (New Year’s Eve) and it is warmer that of late. In my homeland possibly as high as 7C as an overnight low. Positively tropical!

This is a great help as helps solve the first problem - coat or no coat.

The general rule to follow for coats, is that over 0C it is fine to go without coat, whereas any temperature with a minus in it - you really should think of some sort of upper body covering.

This rule of course does not apply to my friends living in more southerly locations, where the general advice is, unless it is the hottest day of the year, you must wear a duffel coat at all times just in case a tiny square inch of your flesh is exposed to chilling night air.

For your New Year's Eve outfit, you should consider the following key points:

  • Your chosen fashion items for the night should be selected from the most expensive items you own;
  • Consider buying something new for the event, but make sure you had given it a trial run first, New Year’s Eve is no time to find out that your new outfit drains all your colour and makes you look like Baby Jane Hudson;
  • There is a great temptation to wear black. This is often considered to be 'sophisticated' and gives the impression you have been somewhere more glamorous first. This is incorrect, it just looks like you have given your outfit no thought and since 90% of other people at your venue will also be wearing black, you are unlikely to stand out. Also, unless you are very skilled in this area, you will look like staff - so don't be surprised if someone asks you if there are any vol-au-vents left;
  • As it is New Year’s Eve, some sort of embellishment is quite in order, whether it is tiny fleck of sparkle or full on rhinestones;
  • Wear layers so they can be removed as bars and clubs become more crowded; avoid hite, you are likely to have gained a few pounds over the holiday period, and nothing shows this more than a white figure hugging outfit;

  • It might be cold, but try and avoid wearing a hat scarf and gloves combination - it really does make it look like you would rather be home in front of the fire and the TV. You may of course wish you were at home, but as you are out, it is best to just get on with it and enjoy yourself.
Although not strictly fashion advice, I do have a tip for a safe return home after a New Year night out. Consider placing a small sheet of paper with your address on it and a £10 note into a sealed envelope. This can be handed over to the taxi driver when you go home. Thereby avoiding an awkward scene where you try to describe where you live but can’t quite get the words out due to the amount of alcohol consumed.

Have a good night and Happy New

Celebrity Week

A look at this week’s celebrities:
  • Chloe ended up in accident and emergency after the TOWIE Christmas night out;
  • Chloe has a look of Michael Jackson without her make-up on;
  • Dawn and Jennifer told Anne to shut her mouth - amen to that one;
  • Jordan had her first Christmas as a single woman - this was just a technicality and had something to do with the coincidence of the alignment of planets and a two day strike by newspaper reporters;
  • Beyonce might have had her baby;
  • Katy and Russell aren’t having problems again;
  • Harry and Kate wore Wellington boots;
  • Dawn wore a skirt above the knees - well all skirts are worn above the knees, I mean that the hem line ended before reaching her knees;
  • Dawn wore tights with baggy knees;
  • Dawn isn’t used to wearing clothes that show her knees;
  • Katherine and Gethin aren’t engaged any longer - aawww;
  • David and Victoria had a pie and some potatoes - well David did, Victoria watched;
  • the beach Boys are back on the road - saints preserve us;
  • Donna Douglas settled a lawsuit over a doll - who is Donna Douglas! Oh keep up; and
  • Rihanna was in a bikini - must have been doing the housework.

International Date Line

You might have heard about Samoa moving the International Date Line today (you read it here first a few months ago). Well today is the day.

I have my reservations about all this. As far as I can find out, they don’t seem to have asked anyone if they can do it - they are just doing it.

It is all very well for them, stuck out in the middle of the South Pacific as they are, but what if everyone started doing it.

Just suppose France (and I wouldn’t put anything past them) suddenly decided to move the International Date line a few miles to the west, today it would be tomorrow over there but over here it would be yesterday.

And knowing the French, they probably wouldn’t tell anyone they had done it. It hardly bears thiking about it.

No, on balance I think they should leave the International Date Line where it is!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Shopping

Popped into town for a couple of items and have a look at the sales we hear so much about on the news.

What a load of tat - didn't get anything.

But I did spot my arch nemesis in the distance. Didn't see her full on, but I know it was her, I'd recognise that scarecrow hair-do and scrawny neck anywhere.


Although what she was doing in Bainbridge’s new beauty treatment area I have no idea - I’m surprised they didn’t chase her off!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Dear David - Boxing Night Party

Dear David

Any tips on arranging a family party taking place tonight.

David Responds

For the Boxing night party much depends on who is invited, whether there will be children present or not.

If children will be present, turn down the formality and make it a family party atmosphere. Wear chunky knits and woollen scarves. Arrive with that final present for the children. Make sure there are plenty of colouring books and crayons to keep children amused, and some discrete alcoholic drinks for adults. Consider a punch with lots of vodka - but make a children’s version with lemonade and red coloured pop.

If children will not be present turn up the glamour.

For city parties, high gloss lipstick and dramatic eyes, diamonds and plunging necklines with as much glitz and sparkle as you think you can get away with.

For country dwellers, don’t miss out on the glamour stakes, why not take off your Barbour jacket and give your Wellington boots a wipe over with a damp cloth?

For Boxing night party food - give yourself a well earned break and have a buffet style affair. You can prepare all you need during the day and the wise guest will turn up with a meat and potato pie to add to your festive offerings.

Whatever your style of party, have a great night but remember, no tiaras on Boxing night.

Dear David - Boxing Day 2


Dear David

Why is Boxing Day so called?

David Responds

There are a number of theories around the answer to this one. The general view is that it goes back to Victorian times where many poorly paid people were required to work on Christmas day. At the end of the day their employers would present them with their ‘Christmas boxes'.

Another view is that it comes from the opening of ‘Alms boxes’ in churches - always done the day after Christmas and the money distributed to the poor.

Also in the 18th century Lords of the manor would ‘box up’ their left over Christmas food and give it to the poor.

So take your pick - and there are probably other versions as well.

Dear David - Boxing Day

Dear David

Just a small note to request some advice...

What is one supposed to do on Boxing Day?

Much obliged

Still full and slightly groggy, Worksop

David Responds

As yes Boxing Day, the much forgotten and maligned partner to Christmas Day.

We spend so much time, money and effort into arranging Christmas Day that many forget Christmas is a two day festival and hardly any thought goes into what to do on Boxing Day.

This is why so many people spend the day after Christmas walking around dreary retail parks looking at sofas.

When making your Christmas plans you should give equal thought to this second day of Christmas. It is a day for visiting friends and family and swapping gifts with the people you don’t like as much as the people you spend Christmas Day with - although you might want to keep that thought to yourself.

For the Dear David household, I look on Boxing Day as a continuation of Christmas Day where you are allowed to remain in your dressing gown until 08:30. Maybe have a Cadbury’s flake before breakfast. Just generally treat the day as Christmas Day, but hold back a little on the rich food - maybe just two helpings of sherry trifle for tea instead of three - that sort of thing.

Have a quieter day than Christmas day, maybe reflect on some of the things you said the day before, like ‘Well you said you didn’t want anything’. Think of the wisdom of such things and what you have learned for next year.

A personal tradition is to start a book I have been saving up all year - don’t rely on starting a book you might have been given for Christmas, that is much too open to chance.

Whatever you do, have a quiet, gentle peaceful day - it won’t last.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve Visitor

Had her from next door round this afternoon, she must have been looking out for me when I got back from the gym. I had hardly taken my coat off and she was knocking on my front door - no kids with her this year, he must be looking after them.

And just for the record, last year I did not make her little girl cry because I said the reindeer she drew me looked like a cow. I only said that as she hadn’t drawn antlers on it, some people might think it was a cow.

Anyway made a nice cup of coffee which she offered to help me make. I knew she was after a root around the kitchen to try and find my gypsy creams, but I was onto that one. A bit of fast footwork and I had a packet of digestives open before she could say a word.

We normally stick to swapping boxes of chocolates, but this year she has bumped me up to an electric carving knife. I think she is trying to show up my box of Guylian sea shells, but I bet that knife is a ‘re-gift’!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

To all my readers

Gym on Christmas Eve

Popped into the gym - on Christmas Eve, how good am I?

Bit busier than normal and the place was full of men, not a single woman (well apart from her that has a funny hair-do that makes her look like a Labradoodle), in sight. I suppose they must all be giving the gym a miss today and staying in roasting turkeys.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Celebrity Week

A look at this week’s celebrities:

  • Ola and James aren’t doing the Strictly tour;
  • Price Harry had a night out with James Cordon - he must have better friends than that, I'd rather stop in;
  • Harry won strictly - not that Harry the other one;
  • Abbey and Peter left a kitchen window open - again;
  • Holly is getting married;
  • Coleen has a new fringe;
  • Melanie someone or other won the first US X Factor;
  • Jennifer and Justin sent a joint Christmas card - cheapskates;
  • Scarlett always wears make-up and isn’t the sort to ‘slop around in sweatpants’;
  • Scarlett doesn’t have to get up at 6 in the morning to spend her day on the checkout in Tesco;
  • Mark won Sports Personality of the Year - it says here;
  • One Direction started their UK tour - yes really;
  • George is feeling better and is back home;
  • the ‘orange one’ seems to have gone out without her skirt on;
  • Jason arrived in Australia;
  • Tobey left Australia (there is no connection); and
  • Jon Bon denied he had died during the week.

Dear David - Christmas Day

Dear David

I will be on my own all over Christmas. You seem like a nice person, can I spend Christmas day with you?

David Responds

No you can’t. Sling your hook.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Dear David - Santa Letter

Dear David

I forgot to send my letter to Santa Claus, is it too late to send it now?

Sarah age 5

David Responds

Yes

Dear David - Gift

Dear David

I have been invited out for Christmas Day. I want to take my host a present to say thank you. I thought of taking a hard boiled egg or some nuts. What do you think?

I am 93 and only have a small pension

David Responds

Oh bless you dear, I am sure your hosts are not expecting a present and wouldn’t want you to go to a great deal of expense.

Why not give them one of those string bags of Satsumas? Open the bag and wrap them in individual pieces of silver paper to make them look festive.

Christmas Update

Time is running out for your final Christmas preparations. If you:
  • haven’t already sent Christmas cards and or presents by post;
  • haven’t made your Christmas cake\pudding;
  • haven’t ordered your turkey\goose;
  • don’t have your tree in place and decorated
it’s too late so don’t bother.

For the last couple of days you need to:
  • Concentrate on food shopping;
  • Make or put final touches to your Christmas food and
  • Wrap those last few items you plan to give in person on Christmas day.

You might also wish to prepare a small basket of Christmas goodies to take around your neighbours on Christmas Eve. 

You will be invited in for a drink in exchange for a box of your home made mince pies. This is very kind, but decline the offer. The drink will invariably be sherry and rotten QC or Harvey’s Bristol Cream at that. This is poor return for your beautiful mince pies. Much better to leave the neighbours feeling guilty about taking your present but giving nothing in return. You can exploit this all next year – a much better return!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Ramsay at Christmas

I see Ramsay has a Christmas programme.  He is going to swear at us and show us how to cook Christmas lunch, live on TV on Christmas day (Channel 4 10:00 to 14:00).

Times must be harder than I thought if he has to work on Christmas day to get a bit of publicity on TV!

Dear David - Magnets

Dear David

I often use a magnet in my daily routine but wondered if I could wear out the magnet and it might lose its magnetism.  Could this happen?

David Responds

I can't possibly imagine what you would use a magnet for in your daily routine, but it is possible for a magnet to lose its magnetism, but it is unlikely.

Loss of magnetism can be caused by heat.  Heating to a high temperature (known as the Curie point) could cause a loss of magnetism but you are unlikely to encounter this temperature in your daily life - unless you put your magnet in the oven.  Don't put magnets in the oven.

Another possibility is Via a demagnetising magnetic field.  This involves coercivity and is a little complicated to explain here, but to be safe, best keep your magnet away from other magnets displaying an opposite polarity.

The last way is by a shock, such as by dropping or hitting with a hammer. This only affects older magnets, so if your magnet is new you should not encounter this problem.  To be safe, don't his your magnet with a hammer!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas update

Christmas draws ever nearer, check my update to make sure you are on track (and Miss P I hope you have caught up!)

You should
  • by now have interviewed your turkey\goose and placed your order with your butcher;
  • have your routine for lighting indoor candles (lighting up and blowing out times) should be established and in place;
  • have confirmed you list of invitees for Christmas Day and Boxing Day;
  • have confirmed you full menu for Christmas Day;
  • decided your TV viewing\Radio listening schedule (if you are doing these activities) to avoid arguments on the day;
  • have your Christmas food shop list completed and ready to purchase - remember the shops will be closed for eight minutes over the holiday period so you need to buy a quarter of ton of food in case you run short;
  • considered your medication requirements for the holiday period and have a stock of headache tablets, digestive remedies, an elasticated leg bandage (don't ask, high jinx last year involving a pair of roller boots, a dvd of Dancing on Ice and an industrial strength catapult) and an elastoplast.

Brian Cox on the Box

I like the occasional science programme on TV and particularly ones about quantum physics, so I was looking forward to a programme with Brian Cox on Sunday night.  Don't know if you saw it, but I learned lots of new things.  For instance if you pour sand through a slit in a sheet of cardboard it will fall through to the other side.  And if you wait long enough, a diamond will jump out of a box unaided

If you missed it, catch it on iPlayer.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Christmas Candles

As you know I spent last week putting up my three Christmas decoration - well two as I thought three was a bit too much so I put one of them back in the cupboard - I have now decided to fully embrace the season of lights in the dark by buying some candles. They are now placed in strategic points in my house.

Next year I think I might light them!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Mince Pies

Finally managed to track down some mice pies made to my preference - no lid but with an icing topping in Fenwick’s, (£2.50 for box of six).

I know it is early but had to taste test one - purely in the course of duty to inform via my blog of course.

Verdict - the icing was hard and thick, shortcut pastry was stale and dry and the mince meat filling was miniscule to the point of non-existence.

The overall experience was as if eating a solid block of icing sugar, not pleasant.

Does anyone want a box of five mince pies?

The search for the perfect mince pie continues.

Celebrity Week

A look at this week’s celebrities:
  • Peaches is getting married - again;
  • Elizabeth sold her jewels for $115 million;
  • Kerry has a new man and he is 'the one' - again; and
  • Britney a new man too;
  • Shane hurt his hand;
  • some annoying group won X Factor - thank goodness that is over;
  • Sam wore a furry hat and sunglasses;
  • Nigella had a night out in a little black dress - I don’t mean she had a night out inside the little black dress, I mean she wore a little black dress on a night out - and anyway the neck didn’t fit; while
  • Jude has been wearing lots of hats;
  • Sylvester went for a walk with a friend in Beverly Hills;
  • Gwyneth got a bag full of clothes off Philip;
  • Harry and Chelsee are in the Strictly final, oh and Jason is there too; and
  • Rebecca lost a pair of Christian Louboutins.

Christmas update

If you are starting to feel a little pressure with the approach of Christmas, I will be issuing updates on where you should be and what you should be doing over the next week.  First update:
  • your Christmas tree should be in position and decorated;
  • your internal house decorations should be in place;
  • Christmas Radio Times should be in your position;
  • Christmas parcels should have been posted - last posting date was Wednesdayy and
  • The single bag rule is now relaxed until Boxing Day.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Dear David - Hilda Approach

Dear David

I have heard of the ‘Hilda Ogden’ approach to random callers, but I don’t know what it is. What is it?

David Responds

As yes, technically it isn’t a Hilda device, it was demonstrated in a role played by Jean Alexander, but the character is much the same.

Use this approach if you are at home and don’t want to be disturbed by unannounced visitors.

Whenever someone comes knocking, put on an overcoat before going to answer the door.

If the caller is someone you are happy to see, take off your coat and say you have just come in.

If the caller is someone you don’t want to see, say sorry, but you were just on your way out! You might have to play this one out and go for a walk around the block, but that is a small price to pay for a quiet afternoon undisturbed to watch Diagnosis Murder.

It was the weekend before Christmas ...

Getting close to the last weekend before Christmas … but there are dangers ahead. 

I am going to have to keep a sharp eye out for her next door on Saturday morning otherwise she will be straight round and sit there all morning drinking all my coffee and making her way through my Gypsy Creams. And then she will casually ask 'oh you couldn't look after the kids for an hour while I pop into town could you?'

I am ready for her this year, and time for the Hilda Ogden approach I think ….

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Dear David - Bucket

Dear David

I saw your recent letter about carol singers and in your reply you seem to say that red buckets for collecting money are not acceptable. Why is that?

Also I have a galvanised steel bucket for daily use, is that the correct type of bucket to use?

David Responds

No one buys a bucket to go out carol singing, so the implication is that carol singers carrying a bucket already have said bucket in their possession. I have difficulty imagining the kitchen\utility room that would support a bucket in bright red. You are much safer with a grey bucket.

Technically your bucket should be made of metal, and galvanised steel would have been my recommended option in days gone by, but unless you want forearms like Ma Broon, you should probably go for a plastic bucket.

Dear David - Haircut

Dear David
My wife is always on at me about my hair. She says I should get a more modern cut. What do you think? (picture enclosed).

David Responds

Thank you for your question - and your photograph. Your hair is err … very nice, but not everyone can get away with the 'I was a prisoner on Devil's Island' look. Perhaps you should think about upgrading. Go online and check your local area for hairdressers and pick one where you have to make appointment. 'Drop-in' arrangements are not suitable for hair-cuts.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Dear David - Spangles

Dear David

I have been trying to find selection boxes containing packets of Spangles, but without luck. Where can I get them?

David Responds

1974.

Dear David - Carol Singers

Dear David

We often get carol singers around our way, but I never know how much to give them or if I should even encourage them. Can you give me some advice for handling carol singers?

David Responds

Ah yes carol singers, no Christmas film or play would be complete without this seasonal accompaniment.

As to your question, much depends on how you feel about carol singers and whether you enjoy them or not. For myself, I think of them much as I do Halloween callers, to be avoided at all cost, but if you like standing on your front doorstep in the dark, while all the heat escapes from your house and you miss the last ten minutes of Coronation Street, then follow my seasonal guidance for carol singers:

  • Once you open your door, carol singers will launch into a half hearted rendition of a song of their choice. This is wrong, you are paying for the service, they should sing a song of your choice;
  • It is Christmas so be flexible, tell them you are happy to negotiate on song choice, but you will not accept any carol that contains any of the following concepts, Santa Claus, reindeers, sleighs, robins (rocking or otherwise) or jingle;
  • Allow your carollers a few moments to select an appropriate carol, but be quite firm, tell them you want two verses and three full choruses.
When deciding how much to give, start off by considering a donation of £1, but make the following adjustments

  • If they are carrying a plastic bucket for contributions, reduce the amount;
  • If the plastic bucket is red, reduce your amount further;
  • If your carollers are all wearing woollen hats, scarves and gloves, increase the amount;
  • If hats, scarves and gloves match, increase the amount further;
  • If your carollers are wearing track suits, or anything that can be bought at JD Sports, reduce the amount;
  • If your carollers bring offerings of warmed mince pies, increase the amount;
  • If it snows during your impromptu carol service, increase the amount;
  • If they have a small child in the front shivering with the cold but joyfully singing along, increase the amount;
  • If they have a lantern on a stick; increase the amount; and
  • If the lantern holds a lit candle, increase the amount further.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

X Factor Competition

Bit of a competition on X Factor tonight. You could win lots of tickets to see some people I have never heard of all around the world - and some more people you have never heard of right here in the UK. Plus you get £10,00 to do it with. Think I’ll have a go.

Some lad sang a song and you have to guess the missing word.

The song went like this …

‘I’m walking on ????'

The options are

A - Sunshine

B - Eggshells

C - Water

Hmm tricky one this. I don’t think it is A - Sunshine, as you can’t walk on sunshine because it is high up in the sky.

Not sure about B - Water. I know Jesus had a go at that, but I don’t think anyone else has done it, although maybe David Blaine has done it?

But I think the clue is in the programme. All the finalists are nervous so I think it is B - eggshells.

Christmas Presents

A few years ago I got involved in one of those schemes where you buy and donate a Christmas gift for local disadvantaged children. Not sure what they mean by disadvantaged, but if they think they get nothing for Christmas now - wait till they get older.

Anyway I usually get something, but I struggle a bit with what to get for children, I have no idea.

But this year I think I have a triumph.

I bought some lovely napkins from Bainbridge. I can’t wait to wrap them up and donate them.

Admittedly they weren’t their finest quality napkins, but they are only children!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Gardener's World

Caught a bit of Gardner’s World tonight, not one of my usual programmes, but the remote was at the other end of the room and I couldn’t be bothered to get up for it.

Anyway it was a Christmas special and there was this mad woman on it with red hair. She said there had been a stray windfall plant in her garden during the year and she liked it a lot so she took some seeds from it.

She then proceeded to give all the other presenters a little envelope filled with free seeds as their Christmas present.

What a marvellous idea, I must get some seeds!

Celebrity Week

A look at this week’s celebrities:
  • Times are hard at X Factor, the finalists are singing with their mentors - thank goodness Kitty isn’t in the final!;
  • Kelly isn’t that fussed whether Amelia wins X Factor or not - we already knew that, as you kicked her out in the first week;
  • Simon says he might watch the final;
  • Duggie won the jungle thing; and
  • Robbie left the Strictly thing (aaaww);
  • one of the little lads in One Direction is going out with some bird you have never heard of;
  • Jenny lost a shoe as she left a party; and
  • Angelina cought her shoe in her dress;
  • Declan got a new car;
  • Kim Cattrall or Samantha Womack might be on Britain’s Got Talent;
  • Bear wore some slippers when he met the Queen;
  • Tom thinks he might make another Top Gun film - I haven’t seen the first one yet!;
  • Central Perk’s sofa is on sale;
  • Charlize wore a red dress - that was last season lovey;
  • Sian is thinking of leaving the BBC while Christine thought ‘oh there might be a job going.

Dear David - Father Christmas

Dear David

We hear a lot about Santa Claus these days but not much about Father Christmas. Why is that and is there a difference?

David Responds

There is very great difference and you pick up on an issue of much sadness for your blogger. Father Christmas is an early European mystical figure with great tradition and sophistication. Santa Claus (or worse, the bile inducing 'Santa') is an American abomination probably derived from the Dutch Sinterklaas when New York was a Dutch colony.

The contemporary incarnation of Santa Claus is largely a coca cola invention and would be unlikely to be the source or have an involvement in hundreds of years of European magical Christmases.

Please, by all that is sacred, stop using the appalling Santa and let us at least bring back Father Christmas!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Storms

You might have seen the really bad storms north of the border on the news.

Apparently it is the worst weather in Scotland since the back end of July!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Dear David - Christmas Baubles

Dear David.

I want to buy some new baubles for my Christmas tree. I was thinking of having some engraved ‘Jill and Jack’s first Christmas 2011’. Do you think this is a good idea?

David Responds

No. Have them engraved ‘Our first Christmas’ then you can use them again in the future.

PS If you are called Jill, you shouldn’t be dating someone called Jack!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Christmas Radio Times

When is the Christmas Radio Times issued?

I need to know the order in which all the programmes that were on last year are going to be shown this year. 

I also need to know which film I am going to fall asleep in front of and miss on Christmas day.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Christmas Decorations



Time for my Christmas decorations. I have spent the weekend rounding them up and assembling them for consideration and allocation.

To avoid 'over decoration' I think I will display them across three different rooms.  But which goes where ...

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Dear David - Saving Money at Christmas

Dear David.

We are in a recession and money is tight for us all. Do you have any tips for saving money this Christmas?

David Responds

Yes times are hard and Christmas can be especially hard on the wallet, so follow my top tips for making your money go further this festive season:
  • When doing your Christmas food shop, ask yourself ‘do I really need this item’? If your answer is yes then fine buy it, but if you answer ‘no’, put it back. If you answer ‘yes’ just in case’, then you should put this back on the shelf also. The shops are only closed for three and a half minutes on Christmas day, you will not leave yourself open to a culinary disaster;
  • Also remember at least 25% of the food you buy for Christmas will end up in the bin!;
  • For your Christmas Day meal, save money by not having specially ordered and prepared table decorations. Make your own. Take an orange and stuff some cloves in it. Your family will gasp in admiration when you tell them you made it yourself;
  • If you are having a buffet for friends and family over the holiday period, put out your food, but don’t slice large items like quiches and pizzas. Your guest will feel reluctant to ‘break-in’ to an ‘unstarted’ food item and with a bit of luck you might salvage a meat and potato pie for another day;
  • For your party, consider having a ‘Christmas jumper’ theme. This will get everyone in the party mood and allow you to turn your heating down a few degrees;
  • If you have children, send them out carol singing. This is a great money earner as you can set off what they bring in against their pocket money. Hope for snow or a howling gale, frozen children shivering with the cold trying to sing Good King Wenceslas will bring in more money from your neighbours;
  • If you have a party occasion coming up, save money by wearing last year’s little black dress, no one will notice you wore it last year (well I might but I won’t be at your party). Dress it up with some polka dot tights and borrow a killer clutch from your girl friend. For that extra special wow factor, add a brooch and a chiffon scarf.
I hope I have given you some things to consider, and I am sure you can think of many more ways to make your money go further this Christmas!

Sainsbury's

Popped into Sainsbury's this morning and I notice they have a new 'Charity Book Table'.

How very thoughtful - so I took one!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Celebrity Week

A look at this week’s celebrities:
  • Christine is packing it in on Monday; and
  • Gary will probably be packing it in next weekend as well;
  • Christine is getting £280k compensation for not having to get up at 4 in the morning and sitting on a sofa next to Adrian;
  • Katy has denied her marriage to Russell is in trouble - again;
  • Peaches has a new hair-do;
  • Simon might be coming back to do X Factor again, but not until 2013;
  • William, Kate and Harry are getting lots of free tickets for the Olympics,
  • Stella is going to be on Ab Fab;
  • ladies in Liverpool are getting celebrity eyebrows;
  • Demi isn’t in a relationship with her beauty guru - you’re kidding right?;
  • the vile Osbourne kept covered up - thanks Sharon;
  • Headline News - ‘Zac is in LA’ - isn’t that where he lives?;
  • Kell;y wore some hot pants;
  • Kelly danced with a dancer - I guess that is what they do;
  • Russell got a tattoo - there is no truth in the rumour it said ‘Next!’;
  • the jungle programme rumbles on - is it finished this weekend?;
  • her that used to be her off of Birds of a Feather, but is now her off of Emmerdale has lost a bit of weight; and
  • a few of our TOWIE favourites might not be in the next series.

Trailer

I have just been watching a trailer for a new ITV drama called Without You.

Rather a lengthy trailer, so I get the gist of the story and needn't bother watching now.

Can we have more of these, will save me loads of time!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Dear David - Gifts for Him

Dear David

What on earth can I buy for my husband for Christmas? He has no sartorial sense so clothing is off the agenda. More golfing paraphernalia than I can imagine and his DVD/CD collection is complete. I am a stuck confused woman!

David Responds

Oh dear confused this is a difficult one. But there are answers.

Much depends on what you want to achieve from the present(s) you give. If you are sick of the sight of your husband in the same old tat, then the fact he has no sartorial elegance is immaterial. Decide what you want to see him in and buy it for him.

If he really has no fashion idea then he won’t notice the difference and wear what you give him, and in a single stroke you may have started the long road to fashion decency.

If he is only pretending to have no fashion sense because he can’t be bothered and doesn’t like what you have bought him, he will still have to wear your chosen items at least once to keep the peace. When he doesn’t wear your present again, all next year whenever you feel like it you can say ‘you never wear that shirt\jacket\suit etc I bought you’. This will put him at a disadvantage and he will have to go and put your bought item on!

If you are fed up having your husband under your feet at the weekend, Christmas is a great time to get him to take up a new hobby. I see you have made a start on this and have him interested in golf, but you can’t make him play golf every weekend.

Buy him a telephoto lens. This is especially effective if he doesn’t have a camera. He will have to go out and buy a camera, thereby ensuring his buy-in to his new hobby. With a new camera and telephoto lens he can go far and wide at the weekend taking dramatic photos of the countryside. Leaving you in peace to enjoy your valuable weekend time.

Why not arrange a mini weekend in London. Arrange travel and hotel accommodation and tickets to your favourite show. This is a great gift for your husband as you get to go too!

I hope I have given you some ideas - and remember a gift isn’t about what the person wants to receive, it is about what you want to give!

Dear David - Christmas Present

Dear David

Thank you for your advice on what to buy my wife for Christmas. I had bought her perfume and chocolates, but I think your suggestion of an iron and ironing board is much better. But now I am stuck with a box of chocolates and some expensive perfume. What should I do?

David Responds

I am pleased to be of help. All is not lost with the gifts you have already bought.

After your wife has opened her new iron and ironing board you can show her the perfume and chocolates you have already bought. Offer them to her at a discount - say 50% off - your wife will be so pleased with the gift already opened she will readily buy these items off you.

Everyone is a winner, your wife gets some reduced price perfume and chocolates and you get some of your money back to spend on manly things like a monkey wrench or a socket set (whatever one of those is).

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Dear David - Christmas Gift Ideas

Dear David

I am stuck for ideas for a Christmas present for my wife. I know she does a lot of ironing, so I was thinking of getting her a new iron. What do you think?


David Responds

This is an excellent idea, and depending on your budget, why not get a new ironing board as well? Go for one with adjustable height settings for added luxury.
For that extra special gift why not add an ironing board cover. They come in all sorts of colours and patterns. Imagine your wife’s squeal of delight when she opens her presents.

If you are still around in the New Year, let me know how you get on.

For more advice and tips on gifts for this Christmas, contact Dear David at the usual address.

Stationery

Bit of an incident in stationery when I asked for a small hole punch. The lady brought me back a punch, but I said it wasn't what I wanted, what I wanted was a small hole punch.

This started a bit of a discussion as she said it was a small hole punch.

'No' I replied, 'It might be a small punch, but the hole it produces is large, what I need is a small hole, punch.

She gave me a look like thunder and snatched it out my hand - she nearly had my fingers off.

Anyway she disappeared and came back with a different punch - this time one that makes small holes!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Christmas City Lights

I have to say that there is quite a bit of doom and gloom around as we head into the Christmas season.

I have read that some local authorities are cutting the number of Christmas lights on display in town centres to save money there is even talk of some authorities cancelling celebrity ‘switch ons’ and having the mayor do it instead.

There is however no truth in the rumour that Miss Diane off of Crossroads has been cancelled and her switch on ceremony in Clacton will go ahead as planned. There is some doubt over the booking for Jeanette Krankie in Nantwich and Su Pollard has definitely been cancelled for Bridlington.

This is all very depressing as we rely on these celebrity switch ons to brighten up the dark days of December. If your town is facing such savage cuts, then don’t just let it happen. Take action by donating a light bulb to your council. Tell them you don’t want paying for it, and you are happy to lend it to them for the festive season. If everyone in your town does the same, there will be more than enough lights to bring a lot of festive cheer to all.

Top Tip - write your name and address in marker pen on your light bulb so it doesn’t get mixed up with all the others and so the council will know where to return it in January.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Laughing Donkey - A Birthday night out

Bit of a night out and a birthday excuse for a few drinks in the Laughing Donkey this week.

Things are picking up busy wise in the bars as we head towards Christmas and the Laughing Donkey even had the heating on. No Christmas decorations yet - but according to my friends the Boulevard Christmas show is running now until the New Year. (Other shows are available and can be booked online).

A couple of drinks and then over to the Bag of Spanners for a ‘cabaret show’ …it says here. If you haven’t been before, our host does a cabaret act of a few tunes, she unfortunately has only a small repertoire of Bette Midler, Julie Andrews and Lady Gaga. Although she did manage a Cilla tune - but wearing her Bette Midler wig (she doesn‘t get long between acts to change). Still it is free and the drinks are cheap. Although Rusty pet you might want to lose the Lady Gaga act as your outfit is getting a bit baggy round the knees. And I’m not too sure about your prop for your rendition of Julie Andrews ‘Lonely Goatherd’, it looked more like a cow to me.

Talking of drinks, special thanks to my friend who managed to get what seemed like a whole bottle of vodka into a single glass - I say glass, but in the Bag of Spanners the glasses are plastic - classy joint.

So after a bit of cabaret it was back to the Laughing Donkey - but no sign of the one that looks like her off of On the Buses, but we did have a group of girls who were the double of Little Mix - but a bit more like Dolly Mix.

We also had a lot of glass on the floor - the bar was remarkably glass free on our first visit, but the mops and buckets were out in force on our return.

So a few more drinks, in between the broken glass, and I vaguely remember going to a club - of some sorts, but I might have dreamt that bit. I do remember getting very wet on the way home, at least I think I did …

Friday, 25 November 2011

Continental Market

I had a bit of a look around our German Christmas Market, (although I think we call ours a Continental Christmas Market) to see if I could find any mince pies, (the ones with no lid and an icing topping). Made my way through all the stalls but I couldn’t find any - my quest continues.

But I did spot a stall with some nice looking pastries and speciality bread - at £3.50 a loaf it was a bit steep (times are hard and I’m not made of money) but it did look nice. Quite a few varieties to choose from, but after a little deliberation - organic wholemeal and rye it was.

My lady assistant was most pleasant, dark eyed and very fetching. Which part of the southern continent was she from, Milan, Barcelona or maybe mysterious Catalonia.

Had a bit of a chat (no queue) and she was indeed from the exotic south - Middlesbrough!

That took the edge off my £3.50 loaf but it was too late to put it back as she had it in a bag and ready to go in seconds.

She was a bit heavy handed and she flattened my carrot cake and my strudel Danish had seen better times by the time I got home.

Oh and the bread - hard as the hobs of hell.

So if you are going to the Continental Market give that stall in front of the Eldon a miss!

Celebrity Week

A look at this week’s celebrities:
  • Daybreak finally gave up the ghost with Christine and Adrian - and I can‘t believe they think the answer is to stick Eammon Holmes into it!;
  • Kitty lost her voice before going on stage at G.A.Y - so not all bad news;
  • Matt isn’t going out with Daisy anymore;
  • Pete is heading back into the jungle- and co-incidentally Katie is on the front page of a newspaper with the latest disaster to hit her;
  • George has pneumonia in Vienna and had to cancel a concert;
  • Gary says Amelia shouts her way through her songs - I said that weeks ago;
  • Harry popped into see David while he was in LA;
  • Someone bugged Katie’s pink Range Rover - wouldn’t have thought you would have to bug it, am sure you can hear it coming from miles away!;
  • Elle went outside without make-up on - but she was a little tired;
  • Stephanie decided she had so much to do that she couldn’t stay in the jungle any longer;
  • Lewis wants to get back with Nicole;
  • Rihanna spent Thanksgiving in Ireland with 100 turkeys;
  • While J-Lo was spending Thanksgiving in Hawaii.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Dear David - Grapes

Dear David

I sometimes buy boxes of grapes, after a day or two some of the grapes fall off the main stems, is it ok to eat these grapes?

David Responds

In the past these ‘windfall’ grapes would have been discarded, but times are hard and we must all make do and mend.

So rest assured, these grapes are quite safe to eat.

Dear David - Pies

Dear David

Is a mince pie a mince pie without a top or with just a star of pastry half covering it. Is it a mince pie when it is a 2" high puff of pastry with a bit of mince in the middle?

Yours pieless

David Responds

You raise some very important questions, especially at this time of year.

Although pies usually have a lid, technically, a pie does not need to have a lid to qualify as a ‘pie‘.

There is a temptation to call pies without lids ‘tarts’ but that is just a distraction and a different subject altogether.

Also there is a view that pies have to be savoury, but again this need not be so.

So to answer your first question, yes a mince pie without a lid is still a pie (even if it has a woeful topping as you describe).

Your second question is yes it is a pie, although it is a con as the puff pastry is an excuse to give the minimum amount of filling. This is a particular issue for your blogger, as I like flaky pastry mince pies but usually find the ones on offer a disappointment.

The best mince pies are the ones without lids on but have an icing topping - but getting these is next to impossible.

A further con is bar room meals where you order a beef pie and you get a ceramic dish with only a pastry lid on - that is not a pie!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Dear David - Christmas Pies

Dear David.

I have been trying to find those mince pies with an icing topping instead of a pastry lid, but I can’t find them anywhere. Can you help?

David Responds

These are my favourites too, but I am not sure they make them anymore. I think Fenwick’s of Newcastle used to make them like that years ago, give them a try.

If you find any, get me some.

Dear David - Christmas Party

Dear David.

I need a killer new look for the work Christmas party, but I don’t have much money. Please help.

David Responds

Ah yes the nightmare that is the work Christmas party. Polka dots are massive this year, but get the Stella McCartney look at a fraction of the price by teaming up last years’ little black dress with polka dot tights.

Go small with the polka dots for a classy look.

German Christmas Market

As you might already know, your blogger isn’t really a great fan of Christmas, it seems very complicated and an awful lot of work to me, but you can’t help noticing the increase in popularity of German Christmas markets. We have one in my home town, although I think ours is called a Continental Christmas market.

In fact they are becoming so popular I think I might go and have a proper look around for myself.

I did almost stop and buy something as I passed a stall last year (or was it the year before), but they wanted £5 for an apple pie. £5!

I might go later in the week when I am off work, but if I buy stuff now, it will have gone off before we get to Christmas. But if I leave it until the week before Christmas, it will be packed and they will have nothing left - see what I mean about complicated!


Oh - does anyone know if ours is there yet?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Twiggy

Just noticed Twiggy has a new album out for Christmas.  Thanks for the warning ITV1, I can’t bear her at the best of times. But hang on, how long has Twiggy been a singer?

She is even having a crack at Someone to Watch Over Me - God help us!

Note to friends and family, if you are plannig to buy me this rot for Christmas, I would rather have a box of Maltesers

Friday, 18 November 2011

Celebrity week

A look at this week’s celebrities:
  • Kitty created the most embarrassing moment on TV for ages;
  • Chantelle might be having a baby - you might want to wait until he has divorced the orange one first;
  • Kerry got chucked, because she is a nightmare to go out with - who would have thought that!;
  • apparently Justin isn't a dad;
  • Alex got £1 million for being married to the orange one for 11 months - which is about £100,000 a month so not a lot for a hazardous job;
  • Frankie had a night out with some scantily clad ladies - it does say ‘ladies’ here;
  • Martin isn't England coach anymore;
  • Nick is going to be new Countdown host;
  • Harry didn't want Peaches’ phone number;
  • Cheryl isn't doing Children In Need with Gary because she was sacked from X Factor - oh no sorry, it is because she isn’t well;
  • Trevor had a night out with his wife;
  • Kitty has been catty about Amelia;
  • Fergie will soon leave the Black Eyed Beans;
  •  Demi and A shton are definitely splitting this week;
  • Rihanna wore a snuggie - whatever one of those is; and
  • Lady gaga is round the twist.

Radio 4

I was flicking through the radio stations and stopped on radio 4 for a moment (I know!). This chap was singing a bit of a gloomy song and it seemed quite old.

When he had finished the announcer (they have announcers on radio 4) said to tune in later for more, and other of Queen Victoria’s favourite songs.

No thanks, your alright mate!

Dear David - Heavy Legs

Dear David

I have been told I might have 'heavy leg' disease. Can you tell me anything about it? I am very worried.

David Responds

I can see how you might be worried if you think you have this distressing complaint.

This is an alleged medical condition, described as an "unpleasant sensation of pain and heaviness" in the lower limbs. It occurs mainly in France (I am not surprised and I wouldn't put anything past the French), and to a lesser extent elsewhere.

The cause may be venous insufficiency or peripheral arterial disease, but it is generally thought to be all in the mind - not the legs.

Remedies (if you can have a remedy for something that does not exist) include drinking lots of tea, essential oil massages or walking in the sea!

Also you might want to think about avoiding ice skating of frozen rivers during the coming Christmas season and I would probably give up tap dancing lessons until your condition has cleared up!

Colds

As we head into the Colds and Flu season, I thought I would take this opportunity to clear something up.

If you have a cold\flu and feel dreadful and tell me about it I will be sympathetic.

I will ask 'have you taken anything for it?'

If you say yes, I will remain sympathetic.

If you say - no, you like to take care of your body and don't like to take drugs made of unknown chemicals and you will just carry on as best you can. Then I will not remain sympathetic and tell you to get a grip and take a pill - that is what they are for.

And in due course I shall remind you that you declared body was a temple and chemical free the next time I see you knock back 10 pints of lager and wolf through a doner kebab covered in chilli sauce.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Dear David - Hug

Dear David

I believe strongly in the power of giving people a hug. So far in my life I have hugged over 30 million people. I am currently in the UK and I would like to give you a hug, may I?

David Responds

No you may not.


Dear David - Moving House

Dear David

We are moving house soon and wondered if you had any advice to make the move easier.

David Responds

Moving house is never easy, so best prepare yourself for a difficult period and just try to get through it as best you can. But there are some things you can do to make the process easier. Follow my tops tips for a happier moving house experience:
  • This is a great time to move house as it gives you the opportunity to do some early Christmas shopping. As you pack your things, you are sure to find possessions you forgot you had and some you never wanted. Some clever re-wrapping and placing in a nice box with a big Christmas bow, will have your friends breathless with excitement when you give them their Christmas gift - and it will have cost you next to nothing!;
  • Collect all the junk china figurines and glass vases your great aunt Dolly has been sending you for years and place in a single box. Make sure the box is flimsy and write FRAGILE in big letters. Your removal people are sure to chuck it in the back of the van on moving day. If not, it is easy for you to identify when you arrive in your new home and you can drop it out of a window yourself;
  • Alternatively if you have to give Christmas gifts to people you don’t like - see the first tip above;
  • Take moving house as a new beginning for your wardrobe. Sort your clothes and mark for recycling\disposal anything you haven’t worn in over a year. Do this before you move. Don’t do what many people do and do this after you have moved. Doing it later rather sooner means you end up packing and paying removal charges for junk you are going to throw out!;
  • If you have pets make individual name tags to put around their necks saying ‘living room’ or ‘outhouse’. Your removers will think you are cute and take extra care with your belongings;
  • Separate out your Royal Doulton with the hand painted periwinkles and your fine china, take these to your new home yourself, don’t expect a remover to take extra care;
  • When you are packing, invite friends around for a cup of tea. Once your friends see what you are doing, they won’t be able to resist helping you pack. Let them pack your books and heavy items, while you sort through your jewellery.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Dear David - Facebook

Dear David.

Can you provide a beginners guide for 40 somethings new to Facebook?

B

David Responds

Ah yes, catching onto Facebook can be a bit of a challenge for anyone, not just middle aged men.

Knowing what to do can be a little difficult at first, if it was easy, Facebook would have understandable guidance on their help pages.

The area that causes most confusion is over who can see what.

I shall try to explain, (you might want to put your pipe down for this bit).

When you update your status all your friends can see what you say.

If any of your friends comment on what you say, their friends can see their comment and your original comment. They can also see all the comments anyone else has made on your original comment.

In the same way, if you comment on anything any of your friends say, then all of your friends can see the status update and your comment.

The best thing to do is assume lots of people will be able to see what you say, so keep it light, keep it friendly, and if you possibly can, keep it interesting!

For the options about posting information (or status updates as Facebook calls it), the main status people see is as described above.

If you want to see what is going on without accessing Facebook directly you can set a status to receive texts whenever anything exciting happens on your account. Check out account settings.

Posting on someone’s wall is much the same. A common mistake is to think Wall post are only viewable by the person involved - this is incorrect. I think only ‘messages’ are between the two people involved.

For your profile, keep it simple. If you record where you went to school, all the ratbags from school will be able to track you down and want to be your friends.

Ditto for place of work (no offence).

For your date of birth, at most put day and month, leave off the year to foil harvesters. Check out Privacy settings and I would suggest having the most secure settings until you become familiar with how Facebook works, then refine your settings as required later.

Watch out for Facebook suggested friends, this is quite clever, it is too complex to explain here, but the system will offer you people it thinks you know to make as friends on your account. Don’t rush to make everyone your friend, unfriending someone at a later date can be quite tricky.

Most of all - post something now and again!

Homebase

Bit of a to do in Homebase.

All I said to the woman was 'have you got a powerful stun gun'.

She went mad, said she was going to get the manager and everything.

She knew I meant staple gun!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Dear David - Getting Ready

Dear David

I am always having arguments with my partner over how long it takes me to get ready for a night out. Please can you settle this for me, what time should I start getting ready for a Saturday night out?

David Responds

Thursday.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

X - Factor competion

How exciting - a competition on X Factor.

You could win a prize of going to Marks and Spencer in Barbados. You only have to find the missing word in the following song title.

‘the only girl in the ‘blank’

A - Kitchen

B - World

C - School.

This is trickier than it looks. It can’t be B - World as there are lots of girls in the world so that doesn’t make sense.

I don’t think it is C - School as there are always lots of girls in a school. Unless it is a boys school and then there wouldn’t be any. But it doesn’t really say whether it is a boys school or if it is mixed, so not sure, but I don’t think it is C - School.

That leaves A - Kitchen. It is a bit sexist, but I think that is the answer!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

iPod

Just been looking at a friend's collection on his iPod.

Where did he get that music from - not so much an iPod Nano, more an iPod Nana.

Get some new tunes!

Dear David - Groups

Dear David

Are Feetwood Mac and Pinkl Floyd the same group?

David Responds

Yes they are. Although I think these days they are called 'bands' not 'groups'.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Celebrity Week

A look at this week’s celebrities:
  • Abbey wore a cut away dress;
  • Tulisa is being pushed to the limit - it is so gruelling sitting next to someone you don’t like for a couple of hours a week;
  • Samia got divorced;
  • Christine and Adrian could be on their way out of Daybreak - again;
  • Lewis might have a new girlfriend;
  • I’m a Celebrity list has been confirmed as - Stefanie Powers, Mark Wright, Jessica Jane Clement, Freddie Starr, Crissy Rock, Willie Carson, Antony Cotton, Fatima Whitbread, Dougie Poynter, Lorraine Chase (I am sure some of these have been in before!;
  • While they were heading in - Frankie was heading out!;
  • Apparently Big Brother is still on TV - Is anyone watching it?;
  • Mike isn’t playing for England anymore;
  • Pippa had a row;
  • one of the first four act to leave X Factor is going back in;
  • Gary Barlow has done himself no favours working on X Factor;
  • Nicole has a pair of legs;
  • Anna and Enrique were on a boat;
  • the Queen had a day out in Margate, but the day was spoilt by having to spend it with Tracey Emin;
  • Theresa has had better weeks;
  • Jimmy spent all week getting buried;
  • Liz and Shane were at a London Ball;
  • while Jennifer and Justin wore matching outfits; and
  • Chelsey wont be telling us what it was like kissing Harry.

GM Daybreak TV Competition

Another GM Daybreak TV completion, you could win a car and gadgets you will never use worth £57,000 - and I think I have a chance of winning this one!

Which country is famous for reggae music?

A - Jordan

B - Japan

C - Jamaica

Well I have never heard Jordan sing reggae music and Jamaica is famous for ginger cake, rum and I think they play cricket.

So the answer must be B - Japan

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Dear David - Early Christmas Tree

Dear David

I noticed yesterday that, to my dismay, one of the houses on my street has already put up their Christmas tree. Would I be justified in requesting that the house occupants be sectioned?

Yours despondently on 10 November.

David Responds

You don’t say whether the tree is indoors or outdoors, but either way this is a most distressing situation.

I have long campaigned for an agreed, single, nationwide date for unveiling Christmas trees. This would end the uncertainty over when to display your tree, and give a magical ‘instant Christmas’ appearance to the whole country.

I have made little progress in my campaign for 15 December to be designated National Unveiling Christmas Tree Day, so unfortunately there is little you can do in your current difficult situation. But obtaining a section order would seem a reasonable course of action.

But please note you usually have to obtain signatures from two appropriately qualified medical practitioners for a section order to be valid.

Jimmy Savile

As you know, your blogger isn't really one for mixing with celebrities, but this week I was very firmly thrown into the glittering world of the stars.

I regularly stay at the Queens hotel in Leeds, and even the casual observer of the news in recent days can't have failed to notice the Queens has this week been the setting for a preview of the no longer with us Jimmy Savile.

There has been much speculation on this event, and in an attempt to dispel some of the myths here are some facts on the event witnessed at first hand (yes indeed) by your blogger:
  • Jimmy arrived on Tuesday morning and I was there to see the arrangements being made for his arrival;
  • I had a bit of a chat with one of the preview arrangers;
  • I wondered how they were going to get him through the revolving door at the front of the hotel;
  • On Tuesday evening I was there to see the lady from Look North (not sure who it was, I think it might have been Cathy Secker) do her 'piece to camera' (technical term);
  • The lady from Look North had a new black jacket for the occasion;
  • Look North items are not transmitted live, I saw the lady say some words at 18:20 and then in my hotel room five minutes later I saw her say the same words on the TV
  • The coffin was not made of solid gold (this disappointed one lady visitor, not sure she realised how heavy and expensive a coffin made of solid gold would be);
  • The coffin was not 'gold coloured', it was brown gilt at best;
  • Jimmy was held on display in the bar;
  • There were no bowls of nuts on the coffin;
  • Jimmy was not in the hotel overnight;
  • The visitors to see jimmy were a very distinct group;
  • There were not thousands gathered at any point;
  • A service was held at Leeds cathedral on Wednesday;
  • Jimmy is to be buried at a 45 degree angle in Scarborough on Thursday so he can see the sea;
  • Eternity is a long time to spend standing at a 45 degree angle;
  • The 16:57 to Scarborough was delayed on Wednesday (coincidence).

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Dear David - Santa

Dear David

I want to send a letter to Santa. Can you please tell me where he lives?

Sarah age 6

My mummy helped me write this letter

David Responds

I can’t tell you where he lives - he doesn’t exist.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Jimmy Savile

You might have seen Jimmy Savile in the news today as he is … what's the word  … on display at the Queen's hotel ahead of his funeral tomorrow.

As it happened your blogger was staying at the Queens the very same day!

I arrived early to leave my case and already there were cameras set up outside the hotel.

Inside the place was swarming with lots of serious people in black suits.

I made my way across reception and this lady with a clip board zeroed in on me.  Well I knew she wasn't staff (I know all the staff at the Queens and apparently I am quite well known in the hotel - wonder what that means?) so I was having none of it.  She asked me if she could help.

'No thank you' I said 'I'm just waiting to leave my case'.

'Oh' she replied helpfully 'I am sure the porter won't be long'.

This was intolerable - I said 'This is the Queens, it is a Concierge service not a porter.

Flaming cheek!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Greece

You might have seen the economic situation in Greece over the last few weeks\months and now with things getting out of control in Italy I am struggling to keep up. I thought the best thing I could do would be to write down what is happening and see if I can make sense of it all. Here goes.

Greece borrowed a lot of money so Greece owes a lot of money.

Greece doesn’t make a lot of money but Greece spends a lot of money so Greece has to borrow even more money. I’m with it so far.

Greece has borrowed so much money it can’t borrow any more so it borrows money off the rest of Europe to make up the money it hasn‘t got.

The rest of Europe want to help Greece out so it says there is no need to pay back everything it has borrowed, so Greece only has to pay back half of what it owes.

But that means that the people who loaned the money in the first place won’t get it back.

So if they only have half the money they thought they had, they wont have enough to lend Greece the extra money Greece needed to pay the rest of Europe back.

If Greece doesn’t pay back what it owes, then the countries that loaned Greece the money in the first place will have to borrow money to make up the shortfall.

That is what I think is happening now in Italy.

I think all Greece has to do is borrow some money off Italy and lend it back to Italy at a slightly higher rate of interest rate than Italy has loaned it to them and we should be all right again!

Elements

Exciting news in the world of physics with the announcement of three new elements in the Periodic Table.

The new elements are 
numbered 110, 111 and 112 and are called darmstadtium (Ds), roentgenium (Rg) and copernicium (Cn).

Just for information - Copernicium has been named after Prussian astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus and not after the character played by Kenneth Williams in Carry On Cleo!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Dear David - Asteroid

Dear David

I have seen on the news that an asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier is going to pass between us and the moon this week. Should I be worried?

David Responds

I too saw this news item and the scientist interviewed said it would appear from one direction and leave in the opposite direction. Very helpful!

But I have looked into it further and it would seem that this interaction with the asteroid is quite safe and there is no need to worry - although there might be a slight ‘whooshing’ noise on Wednesday.

But you might want to take the following precautions:
  • If you live on high ground consider having your TV aerial taken down for a few days in case the asteroid clips it as it goes past;
  • Similarly if you dry your clothes outdoors think about taking your washing line down for a few days;
  • Joan - you might want to bring your hanging baskets in until the weekend;
  • If you are quite tall, then keep an eye out when your outside, and it is probably best if you don’t wear a hat until the weekend.

Laughing Donkey - Fire Night

Bonfire night in the Laughing Donkey was quiet after all the excitement of Halloween last week.

I suppose they can’t really have fireworks indoors so it was to be expected, even her that looks like Olive off of On the Buses wasn’t out.

Still with fewer people out it gave your blogger a good chance to take a close look at what we are wearing for the coming season.

In case you missed it, top of your shopping list for autumn should be a large chunky knit jumper. These were much in evidence in the Laughing Donkey.

These ‘chunky knits’ are not to be confused with ‘hoodies’ or ‘coats’ worn by the newly arrived student set, acquired since the start of the new academic year. These visitors from distant lands like Manchester and Glasgow have yet to learn that coat wearing is not allowed in the North East.

No these chunky knits are a fashion accessory and need to be considered as such.

And as worn tonight by our very own high end fashionista Mr J, who was wearing his white cable knit in a bit of an ‘off the shoulder look’. Very fetching as it revealed his low slung vest and extensive body tattoos.

This look isn’t for everyone so think carefully before having a go.

I think his friend had had a few and there was nearly a fight when some drinks were knocked over (well if you will dance with your boyfriend in a tiny bar wearing an off the shoulder cable knit, you should expect these things). But fortunately it came to nothing as there was already more than enough glass on the floor!

Other than that it was a quite night with only Mr J’s cable knit jumper to brighten the night … still it will soon be Christmas.

I am already taking bets on the date the Laughing Donley Christmas decorations will be put up … how exciting!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Celebrity Week

A look at this week’s celebrities:
  • There was shock in a Hollywood club when Debbie Harry sang a song wearing only one glove - I don’t mean she was wearing one glove and nothing else, I mean she was only wearing one of two gloves that came as a pair;
  • Sinitta might be heading to the jungle;
  • Justin has a new hair-do;
  • Hugh had a baby girl - being a celebrity, we aren‘t trying to guess the name of the baby, we are trying to guess the name of the mother;
  • While Stephen and Alex had a baby girl too;
  • Justin might have had a baby - but that can't be true, can it?;
  • Wayne made his acting debut;
  • The Saturdays turned on Oxford St Christmas lights on Monday - which is confusing;
  • Kelly is feeling better;
  • Robert Vaughan is to join Corrie - yes indeed!; he is to be love interest for Roy's mother after she meets him on a cruise;
  • Anton said he didn’t’ think Nancy was a very good dancer;
  • and Holly isn’t in love with Artem;
  • X Factor gets ready for a double eviction - can we have a double eviction every week?;
  • Katie wore a ‘sexy Santa’ outfit - god help us!;
  • Kate wore a black dress and had a hole in her tights;
  • Renee wore a red dress - red dresses are so last season; and
  • Ronan is looking more like Beckham - but not quite.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Dear David - St Paul's ... again

Dear David

I currently work in St Paul’s Cathedral and a load of riff raff have camped outside. They are becoming very annoying, how can I get them to go away?

David Responds

Oh dear this must be most distressing, you don’t say how many people are outside but I think I saw something on the news and there looks to be quite a few of them.

Have you tried tapping the window and making a ‘shooing’ motion with your hand while at the same time slowly saying ‘Go Away’?

If this doesn’t work, try going to your front door and standing on the step and shouting down that your mam says they have to go away.

If they still refuse to move then you need to take more forceful steps. You will need to try and make your uninvited guests want to leave.

Have you tried standing on the steps giving sermons for several hours at a time, or passing a collection plate around the tents. Both of these used to work at my church and were great ways to get people on their way!

Dear David - St Paul's

Dear David

I am currently living in a tent outside St Paul’s Cathedral, but I‘m getting fed up with it. Do you have any advice on how to make the experience more bearable?

David Responds

Yes living in a tent can be fun (although your blogger can’t see how, but some people like it) but pitching your tent in the middle of London in November can have its drawbacks.

Try the following to get the most out of your rather unusual experience:

  • I have seen some of the tents on the news and they look rather drab, so I suspect you might be missing some of your home comforts. Brighten up your tent with some new curtains. You have plenty of time on your hands so think about making your own. A few metres of material and some thread will make a world of difference. With any left over pieces of material make matching cushions for that fully co-ordinated look;
  • Christmas is coming so with lots of time on your hands and no TV what better time to make some gifts to give to your friends on Christmas morning. If you are new to crafting, try a range of things, tapestry, knitting, macramé, there are so many to choose from, I am sure you will find one that suits you;
  • Now is the perfect time to take a critical look at your wardrobe, be ruthless and mark for recycling anything you haven’t worn in the last year;
  • You are sure to have met some lovely new people during your stay outside St Paul’s so give some thought to entertaining. It might be a little tricky to hold a large dinner party in your tent, but a small gathering with a few hand picked special new acquaintances will be a great boost to morale and give you lots to talk about in the coming days. And living so close together there will be no worries about getting home, so open a bottle of wine and make a night of it.
Let me know how you get on, I’d love to hear all your news!

Torquay

Reading a report in the paper it said that they think humans got as far as torquay 40,000 years ago.

Well they must have booked ahead or it was in the winter because it's always packed!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Dear David - Bonfires

Dear David

I have been invited to a firework display on Saturday, but I have never been to one before. Is there anything I should know about this event?

David Responds

Ah yes now the clocks have gone back we have lots of rituals and festivals celebrating light.

The event you refer to - bonfire night - isn’t one of my favourites, not really into celebrating the torture and execution of a man, but a nice fire on a dark cold autumn night can be fun.

But be aware, bonfires can be fraught with danger. Follow my top tips for a successful occasion:


  • Organised bonfires are invariably held in the middle of a muddy field, this can seriously damage your christian louboutins, so take the glamour look down a notch and wear something a bit more serviceable;
  • This does not mean Wellingtons;
  • It is likely to be cold and wet, this isn’t an excuse to wear any old tat, you are still required to dress suitably for a night out;
  • Don’t go too far down or you might find yourself on top of a bonfire;
  • If you see some old sofas lying around - be aware these are not for sitting on;
  • If your event provides cooked food like burgers and sausages, avoid them like the plague. Eating dead animals off an open fire is not a good look;
  • Instead ask them if they will do you a baked potato, if they say they don’t do baked potatoes, hand over a couple you prepared earlier and brought with you, they can hardly refuse to stick them on the fire for you;
  • Be careful with sparklers, they can burn like mad!;
  • When the fireworks go off, don’t point and go ‘oooh look at that one’, everyone is already looking!

Savile

You might have spotted in the news over the weekend that Jimmy Savile is no longer with us.

I am not really a ‘celebrity watcher’ so I don’t really have many ‘claims to fame’ other than once years ago spending an evening with Dannii Minogue (long story) and an occasion when I was stuck in a lift with Miss Su Pollard (don’t ask).

I am sure this is a sad time for those connected to Mr Savile, but he wasn’t one of my favourites so I had thought this news would pass me by.

Until today.

I now learn that Mr Savile is to be in the Queens hotel overnight on Tuesday next week before his funeral on Wednesday. Which is where I will be staying that night.

I’m not sure what to make of it all!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Dear David - Poppy

Dear David

I was just watching the weather forecast on ITV with Sian Lloyd (you know, the one with a fixed smile which is just a little scary; like someone on coke). She was wearing a poppy and I thought - that seems a little early. Am I wrong with my etiquette here? Is there a 2 week period for poppy wearing which I have not been observing?

Please advise

David Responds

This year’s Poppy appeal was launched on Thursday 26 October 2011 with poppies available to buy on Saturday 28 October 2011.

They are however distributed before that date so ‘early wearers’ may have bought one that way.  Wearing one before poppies go on sale might leave you open to the charge that you are wearing 'last years'.

But as to your question, wearing a poppy is a personal decision, although some people seem to take it as a personal affront if one is not worn by some that they decide should wear one, for example BBC newsreaders.

I suspect Sian was showing support for the poppy appeal, but also mindful of the grief BBC staff can get if they choose to support the appeal in their own way which does not include wearing a poppy.

Laughing Donkey - Halloween

Bit of a night out for Halloween, not that I was dressed up or anything, but thought I would pop out for a couple.

The Laughing Donkey was packed when we arrived about 10ish and they had gone to town dressing the bar for the occasion, with cobwebey things on the windows and a couple of white Christmas bells hanging over the door. Not sure what they were for, but I think they will make a second appearance in a few weeks.

The bar was really busy with lots of people making an effort to get into the Halloween theme. Her that looks like Olive off of On the Buses was out, but I’m not sure if she was in fancy dress or not.

And the bar staff had made a supreme effort with ghosts and ghouls a plenty. Although the young slim lad should probably have chosen a different outfit, he came as a skeleton but his outfit was about two sizes too big so it was a bit big and I’m not really sure you get baggy skeletons?

The bar was too full so we popped over the road to the Bag of Spanners where we bumped into a couple of friends that had just left. They said the bar was full to the door, but we had a look anyway and it was indeed full to overflowing so we gave it a miss and went the Rusty Bucket instead. Bumped into mr Shaun who was made up as, well not really sure who it was (I suspect he might have been a character from a horror movie, but I don’t do horror movies so I have no idea), but it was very nice, and nice to have a bit of a chat.

After a bit of a resurgence the Rusty Bucket seems to have gone back a bit and was relatively quiet, so a quick drink and back to a packed, but a little quieter Laughing Donkey.

Apparently there was a bit of an event on behind one of the bars, but I couldn’t find it.

And anyway you needed a wrist band to get in (at the cost of a fiver no doubt) and after the performance the last time when I paid out a fiver to stand in the freezing cold with a friend and three other people in an empty back parking lot, I wasn’t going to do that again!

So the evening ended as it began, busy, noisy but now without me, home to bed!

Halloween

I’m sure I’ve mentioned on here before that I don’t really do Halloween, but I have decided this year I am going to get take part in all the fun.

Technically people shouldn’t come calling until tomorrow, but I have a feeling, it being Sunday and the first full night on GMT, we might get one or two around to night so I have a load of treats prepared.

I have found four Quality Street left over from last Christmas, and I am prepared to give them all to neighbours. I have also made some glasses of dilute orange. I have made it quite weak as I don’t want the children to get too excited and hyperactive. Also I bought a bag of Satsumas on Saturday and one of them looks a bit green, so I have peeled that and torn it into segments. The children can have a piece each.

So I am now all ready and waiting for casual callers.

My only worry is that this will set a precedent and they will come back year after year!

A List

If the likes of Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt etc are 'A' listers, what letter list are you on if you are a 'celebrity' guest on 'Something for the Weekend'?

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Dear David - Urgent message for 'headphones'

David Responds

I am really sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you, but how was I supposed to know your ears are on the wrong way around.

Please write to me again privately with a photo of your ears and your headphones and I will advise you of the best way to handle this distressing condition.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Dear David - Headphones

Dear David.

I have noticed my headphones have right and left on them, does it really matter which ear you put them in?

David Responds

Yes honey it does, you should put them in the correct ear as marked - unless your ears are the wrong way around!

Celebrity Week

A look at this week’s celebrities:
  • Phil is Celebrity Masterchef 2011;
  • Joey wore some shorts - twice;
  • Shane has a new hair-do;
  • while David was showing a little grey;
  • Susan wore a warm hat and coat in New York because it was cold;
  • Ashton and Demi might not be splitting after all;
  • The queen wore the yellow dress she wore to William and Kate’s wedding on a day out in Australia - she says she put it in on a cool wash and it came up like new;
  • Kelly went to America after X Factor;
  • Kelly is still America as she has a sore throat;
  • Kelly might not be on X Factor again;
  • Stacey is with Child;
  • While Amy has a fuller face;
  • and Carole has a fuller face too;
  • Mark might be going in the jungle;
  • Nicole wore a dress after she chucked Louis;
  • Rhythmix is now Little Mix; and
  • Michelle wore a dress for the fourth time.

Dear David - Halloween ... once more

Dear David

I have to attend two Halloween 'parties' this weekend. I have discovered that there is a dress code at the first, which rules out my outfit from last year. (Should I even be recycling Halloween outfits, is there an etiquette?) anyway, this is a party where at the beginning there will be small children and the parents are worried that the children will be scared if the adults look too frightening. Is it gauche of me to point out that:
a) frightening is the point of Halloween;
b) some of those kids scare me anyway;
c) some of the brats could do with a good bloody frightening; and,
d) some of the people on the invite list are already spooky looking before they even start to dress up, so why are they even invited?

I need spooky support please xx

Frightened

David Responds

Oh dear frightened what a nightmare. This is a great example of why I have my reservations about Halloween.

Yes there is an etiquette for Halloween event (there is an etiquette for all things, only not many people understand that). To take your points in order:
  • You cannot implement a dress code for Halloween parties, that defeats the objective, it would also make your invitations rather unseemly, writing ‘no fake blood’ (for example) on the foot of a gilded invite is not good, so feel free to break this silly dress code;
  • Halloween outfits can be expensive with limited opportunities for re-use so it is a little thoughtless of your hosts to put you to the additional expense of buying a new one, (remember etiquette is about making your guests feel comfortable not you),
  • Dig out your outfit from last year, no one will remember who wore what, but give it an update by adding a chiffon scarf or a nice brooch. If you want to add the ‘Gok’ look then add a statement big belt to give you an hour glass shape;
  • Avoid any party that allows small children to attend. If you must attend, go later when the little horrors are safely tucked up in bed and out of sight. Do what the Queen does and develop ‘a slight head cold’ to explain your late arrival, and explain that you felt really poorly earlier but felt a bit better later and didn’t want to disappoint your host by not attending;
  • Small children are frightening at the best of times, perhaps you could suggest to your host that they should all be lined up and placed in a locked cage (they might want to call it a children’s play area) for the duration. This can add to the Halloween theme and ensure the children have a good time too!;
  • It is a sad fact that some of our fellow earthlings are a little challenging in the ‘looks’ department. If there are any other party goers that do have unfortunate looks then be a little tactful when chatting. Don’t launch in with a gushing ‘oooh I love your outfit’, make sure they are wearing an outfit first!
Follow my top tips and do have a great time!


 
 

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Dear David - Halloween ... again

Dear David.

Following your recent response to my Halloween dilemma I have decided to go for it. Is there anything I need to be aware of?

David Responds


I am pleased you have found my advice useful and I hope you have had a chance to check out my letter response on fancy dress.

But for Halloween there are one or two additional things you need to consider. Follow my top tips for a good time on Halloween:
  • Although Halloween has a set date of 31 October, Halloween events can be held on any number of days before the event, this makes deciding when to wear your ‘scary outfit’ difficult to calculate - the Saturday before 31st of October is probably the post likely date for most festivities, but be warned it could be any of several days beforehand;
  • Choose your ‘scary’ outfit very carefully. Your outfit will not be scary so you need to make sure it makes you look glamorous;
  • If you want to go minimal, try a black lipstick with a heavy mascara - this look works equally well for girls and boys. Try L’Oreal Voluminous for a stunning heavy killer look. (Although if you are blond you might want to try a practice run first);
  • If you are tall you might want to give the ‘axe in head’ look a miss, could make venues with low ceilings a bit tricky;
  • If you want to try the ‘ethereal floating volumes of white see-through chiffon‘ look, make sure you wear secure under garments, (and don’t make that wailing 'woo woo' noise all night it is just annoying);
  • Consider your shoes - Egyptian mummies did not wear high heels, nor did they wear trainers;
  • If you are going as a duo, stay as a duo, for example Gomez and Morticia, stay close to your Morticia or you will look like a Chicago gangster;
  • If you are not participating and you do not wish to entertain ‘trick or treaters’ (or demanding money with menaces as I prefer to call them) keep all your curtains closed and lights off from 28 October until 1 November!

Dear David - Halloween

Dear David.

We are getting close to Halloween and everyone seems to make a big fuss about it. I just don’t get it - am I getting old?

David Responds

Yes I am afraid you are.

In the olden days Halloween was more or less a day like any other in the year. 

True it was dark early in the evening as the clocks had just gone back and you might make a bit of an effort by hollowing out a turnip and sticking a candle in it, but that was about it.

I think once as a child we put the lights out and lit a couple of candles, and that was quite exciting, but that was about it.

Things have changed and now people ‘celebrate’ Halloween. Technically I’m not sure you would want to celebrate the resurrection of lots of dead bodies, but there you go.

You have two choices, either embrace this new festival and take up an invite to some party or event, get yourself an appropriate outfit for the evening (but see letter about fancy dress parties) and have fun.

Or ignore it completely stay in the house with the lights off (to discourage casual callers), your favourite box set of DVDs and a box of chocolates.

If you decide to go for it let me know as there are some addition points you need to know.

Europe

Lots in the news about Europe and great fun re fighting the battles of the past. 

We even had a bit of a chat about it in Parliament to decide if we should all vote on whether we should be in Europe or not. I thought we had had one of those in 1975, or is it one of those things you keep voting on until you get the answer you want?

Anyway I don't want to get into that argument, but I do have a bit of a question - for those that don't think the UK should be part of Europe, precisely which continent do you think we should be part of?

There are not a lot to choose from (and to make it easier you have to be in one of them). 

I don't think we could be counted as part of Africa, and Australia is way too far away. 

We are not really Asia and America is 5,000 miles of ocean away. (For the purposes of my blog I am discounting Arctic\Antarctic - they weren't counted as continents in the olden days and anyway they are too clod).

So if we are not part of Europe what are we? Or are the 'not European' lot so deluded they think we should be a new separate continent on our own?

And again on Europe, there is all that money we haven't got. Can you just 'write-off' billions of pounds? Will the people that were expecting it not want it back? And all the people that got the money - what have they dont with it, where is it? 

I've looked everywhere - I don't think I understand …