Friday, 30 September 2011

Christmas advances ...

On one of the hottest days of the year, just spotted another sign of the advance of Christmas - a furniture advertising their new range and guaranteeing delivery in time for Christmas!

Celebrity Week

A look at this week’s celebrities:
  • Peter and Abbey bought Freddie’s old house for £4.5 million;
  • Kate bought a new outfit at Topshop - but decided against the £8.50 earrings;
  • Rihanna was in Belfast to make her new music video;
  • Rihanna had to go somewhere else to make her music video;
  • Gordon is selling frying pans on a shopping channel;
  • Rio lost a court battle over a kiss and tell case,
  • while Carlos said he doesn’t even get out of bed for less than £250,000 a week, and even if he does he doesn’t come on late in the second half;
  • Carlos was punished by being told he can’t play for two weeks and to make it really severe, he will be paid while he is suspended;
  • Carlos has just been given £500,000 for doing nothing;
  • Tara had a night out with her new nose;
  • Ashton might have a new lady friend - or he might not have;
  • Ben got a beard and had a cigarette;
  • Shia listened to his headphones when he had a coffee in a café;
  • Katie Holmes has hip muscles;
  • David had an extra doughnut he shouldn’t have had;
  • Chris had a beer after he said he wasn’t going to bother anymore and 
  • Susan has been singing Enjoy the Silence.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

New Windows

Had some workmen around today to fit new windows. They arrived right on time at 8:00 which was my cue to leave them to it. I have no qualms about leaving workmen to do what they need to in my house - after all I don’t like people watching me when I am working.

I did though make a bit of a tactical error, I had meant to buy some digestives at the weekend for their mid-morning cup of tea (plain not chocolate, times are hard and I’m not made of money), but I forgot. So I had to leave them with my gypsy creams, when I got back, they had wolfed the lot! Not only that, my stock of low calorie diet water had taken a bit of a hammering as well.

They are coming back tomorrow, but I will be watching them like a hawk!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Mint - Feedback ... again

You might remember I had a bit of bother at the Mint a couple of weeks ago.  They offered to take extra care of me if I went back.  I wasn't going to but a sudden change of work plan gave me little choice - I went back. 

But I thought I would write to them again ...

Dear Sir or Madam

I thought I would update you on events since our little disagreement of a few weeks ago.

I had decided I wouldn't bother going back to your hotel, despite your suggestion of a free upgrade should I do so.

Events conspired and I needed to visit the city at short notice - so I changed my mind and decided to take up your kind offer.

I checked in and was told my room had indeed been upgraded - room 435. How exciting!

Everything worked - they key in the door, room service without a request for cash before they would hand over my tray, and even the heating could be turned off.

My only slight disappointment was in detecting the upgrade. To my (admittedly inexperienced eye in these matters) the room looked the same as your other 'standard rooms'.

Where was the chaise longue, the fluffy slippers, or individual coffee pot.

Was I expecting too much?

That said my stay was comfortable and efficient I may even come back!


I see Rihanna has been in the news.  Apparently she was making her new music video (I think the technical term is 'shooting') in a field of barley just outside Belfast (no idea) when the farmer who owned the field thought she had taken off too many clothes and asked her to stop.

Rihanna was a bit disappointed - there mustn't be any barley fields in Barbados!


In the Olden Days, when you saw adverts for Weetabix on TV they always showed a bowl with (presumably) the standard serving of two biscuits.  I notice in the new Weetabix adverts the standard serving has been bumped up to three biscuits.

When did that happen?

Monday, 26 September 2011

Dear David - Speed of Light

Dear David

I saw an item in the news the other day about something or other being able to travel faster than the speed of light. I am very worried, can you tell me a bit more about it.

David Responds

I have had one or two letters on this subject so I will take this opportunity to answer a few points.

Miss J Newcastle - No it does not mean that when you put a light on the room will become bright before you press the switch, so there is no need to worry about how your light bulbs will know you want to switch them on.

Mr R South Shields - If you are trying to calculate how much faster than light the neutrinos travel, it is 60 nanoseconds. Nanoseconds are quite small. If you want to measure a nanosecond try pressing the button on your stop watch twice very quickly.

Mrs R Whitley Bay - St Mary’s Lighthouse should be unaffected by this development.

Mr C Cramlington - The experiments have yet to be validated and I very much doubt they will prove to be accurate, in the meantime I suggest you open and close your curtains as you do now, there is unlikely to be a significant change in the amount of daylight we receive.

Mrs M Washington - You will not need to make any adjustments to your Christmas fairy lights, unless you bought them last year at Clay’s in which case they probably need to go in the bin.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Laughing Donkey ... and a new bar

Wasn’t going to go out last night but the promise of a new bar lured me out to the Laughing Donkey.

It was a very quiet start to the evening, as expected a new bar in town was having an immediate impact on takings, but more of the new bar later.

After a while it started to pick up and we got a fancy dress party in. The theme seemed to be ancient Egypt (a la Wilson Keppel and Betty - ooh I‘ve just thought of a new routine for Betty Legs Diamond‘s next show), although I’m not sure the ancients went much in for bri-nylon.

Still they had gone to a lot of effort to get matching outfits, but there seemed to be more High Priests of the Temple than there were slaves. At one point I had a bit of a chat with Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile.

You might remember from history that Cleopatra was considered to be the most beautiful woman in the ancient world. I’m not being funny, but the death of Mark Anthony seemed to have taken a heavier toll on Cleopatra than I had thought!

I was looking for that one that looks like Olive off of On the Buses, but I couldn’t see her - later my friend told me she saw her in Wyke after almost running her over coming out of the Coach and Horses.

Had a bit of a chat to Mr M’s friend that I met last week after an awkward incident he had just had with some bird that looked like Madge off of Benidorm. I think the lady in question had been trying to chat my friend up - this so wasn’t going to happen on so many levels!

So after a couple of drinks it was off to try the new bar.

The Bag of Spanners is across the road from the Laughing Donkey and has taken over a bar popular from about 10 years ago. (Is it 10 years since we used to go to that bar - yes, I guess it is!).

They have built a stage area just inside the main entrance, although I think there was a bit of a stage there before, and hung up a curtain. There is also a rostrum for our host to stand behind. This seems to be the trend in new bars. I couldn’t really see the point when I was there, but I am sure a longer stay would reveal all. There was also a very strong light shining on our host - and I’m not sure that was such a good idea.

The bar was packed and it was a nightmare trying to get served. Actually now I think about it, getting served in this bar was always difficult as there is such a small bar serving area considering the size of the bar. The small serving area makes it difficult for bar staff to work service efficiently. They can’t see who has been waiting the longest and serve accordingly (I am assuming bar staff still do that - but I am not so sure), so this was all it took for this ratbag to push in front of me and get served first.

I was going to say something but she looked like Jackie Pallo in drag so I decided to let the moment pass.

Eventually drinks obtained we found a spot to stand.

I couldn’t see many that would normally have been in the Laughing Donkey and to be honest the place was a bit of a bear pit so it wasn’t long before your blogger was ready to leave.

Back to familiar surroundings where we bumped into my friend Mr M. Not my friend Mr M from last week - he is a different Mr M. My policy of not naming people in my blog (unless they specifically agree) gets a bit confusing sometimes, but I am sure you can follow. Anyway we bumped into Mr M and his straight friend, a bit of a rarity in Laughing Donkey circles (apart from rotten hen nights) but he was a most charming addition to the evening. 

It was about 3am by this time so another end to an evening in the Laughing Donkey - I know I got home as I woke up there, but no idea how!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Speed of Light

You might have spotted an item in the news about an experiment they have been doing at CERN in Switzerland.

Apparently the experiment has found particles (I think they are called neutrinos - I need to look into neutrinos, 'cause I don't think I understand them) that travel faster than the speed of light.  This has led to all sorts of excited speculation about the possibility of time travel.

It is also a bit of a shock in the world of physics.  Einstein clearly said (in 1905 General Theory of Relativity) that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.  His marvelous pronouncement was demonstrated by the simple equation E=MC2.

Regular readers will know I have ambitious plans for the universe.  I think it needs tidying up a bit (I want to re-order the planets in the solar system so they are in size order, move the sun back a bit so it isn't so bright in the morning, that kind of thing) so it would be a bit inconvenient if these new experiments prove to be accurate. 

I understand these particles only travel an extra 6,000 meters a second but I have spent a lot of time getting my calculations right and this throws everything out.

I suppose I could 'round up' where necessary, but that doesn't sound very scientific. After all the above calculation is quite precise - it isn't 'E=MC2 rounded up to the nearest mile'.

Anyway I don't believe these experiments are reliable - in due course we will find out there has been a calculation error. 

Einstein's theory is far too elegant to be wrong and the notion of time travel is too fanciful and completely ignores the paradoxes it would introduce.

No, I think all will be restored to its correct order in due course!

Celebrity Week

A look at this week’s celebrities:
  • Brad changed his mind a bit and said Jennifer wasn’t that boring;
  • Mike played some rugby and went for a drink with some friends after;
  • Mike had a bit of a chat with a blond in a bar;
  • Zara was shocked;
  • someone explained to Zara that Mike was a rugby player;
  • once that was explained Zara said she wasn’t that bothered;
  • Zara said Anne wasn’t very happy;
  • Mike said he would get a giant size Toblerone at the airport for her on the way home;
  • Michael won’t be doing next year’s BGT; and
  • David probably won’t be doing it either;
  • Mark has been working on his body for the new series of The Only Way Is Essex;
  • Arg hasn’t been working on his body for the new series of The Only Way Is Essex;
  • Coleen is selling her new range of jewellery in Argos;
  • Jennifer and Justin went on a date; and
  • Geri wore a white dress;
  • One Direction might be making a film - a blockbuster for £150,000;
  • Kimberley is getting ready to take over from Amanda;
  • Celebrity Masterchef’s move to daytime TV might have been a bad idea;
  • while Heston has been out a date as well;
  • Ryan has put his house on the market for $1.6 million,
  • while Sharon has put hers on the market for $9 million.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Cherry Tree ... again

Does anyone want a bag full of cherry tree blossoms?

Tetley's brewery

If you have been following my blog for the last couple of years, you might remember that in early days working in Leeds I had a very glamorous working location in the office - stuck in a corner over-looking the car park and facing Tetley's brewery (in the Tetley family since 1822). 

I eventually moved from that spot, but some exciting news about the brewery - apparently they are planning to turn it into an art gallery.

I am sure once they have removed the smell of hops it will be very pleasant!

The Only Way Is Essex

Everything is Essex this weekend. 

There is a new series of 'reality TV' based in a school in Essex, I was going to give it a miss but I think I might give it a go. (Thursday Channel 4).

But the really exciting news is the new series of  The Only Way Is Essex starting on Sunday ITV2. 

I can't wait ... and I shall be thinking of you my Essex friend ...


I see that US rock band REM have decided to call it a day and have split up.

I am sure this is very sad news for all of their fans, but I don't think I have ever heard an REM tune so I am not sure I will miss them.

Dear David - Belt

Dear David

I have arrived at work and just realised I have forgotten to wear a belt.  What should I do?

David Responds

Go home or buy a new one.


You might have missed the news of some super model or other having a bit of trouble and falling over on the catwalk.  There was much concern amongst industry insiders saying this could be the end of her career.

I think this is a bit harsh.  It is bad enough falling over with everyone looking at you, but to lose your job over it seems a bit extreme.

But then thinking about it again, if all you have to do to make a living is wear nice frocks and walk up and down a bit, then I suppose it is reasonable to work to a minimum requirement of not falling over!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Dear David - New Outfit ... again

Dear David

I think your response to my question about my new work outfit was a little brief and harsh. Could you expand on your reply please.

David Responds

Giving detailed advice with only limited information has its challenges, but I shall try and expand on my answer by making some assumptions.

For those who missed the original letter, my correspondent was seeking my view on a new work outfit consisting of grey pants, blue shirt and black tie.

I assume your blue shirt is navy blue and your pants are light grey in colour.

This is a trap that is easy to fall into. Dark colours on top of light colours will give you a ‘top heavy’ look, shortening the legs and increasing the body size. For a more slim line and elegant look, you should reverse the colours with dark at he bottom with light at the top.

A black tie also has its challenges, and wearing a black tie with a dark shirt is just one of them. I have a general rule that says ‘light shirt = dark tie and dark shirt = light tie.

I often see dark ties with dark shirts and the overall look is self-defeating as generally you cant see a dark tie when set against a dark shirt, the same goes for light tie and light shirt). Even more so if they are the same colour, for example a black tie with a black shirt (a particular bete noire for me) this is fine if you want to look like Johnny Cash. But not everyone suits the ‘I was an inmate in San Quentin’ look.

But all is not lost, swap your navy shirt for a lighter colour and accent with your black tie. This will give you a dramatic and eye catching look.

You can now pair your new navy shirt with other pants and tie and have two new outfits for the price of one!

Dear David - Work Outfit

Dear David

I have a lovely new outfit for work, grey pants, blue shirt and a black tie. Do you think this combination goes?

David Responds


The Mint - Feedback ... again

You might remember last week I had occasion to raise one or two issues with my hotel.  I have just received a reply - the letter is full of apologies and assurances that such things have never happened before and steps will be taken to ensure they won't happen again blah, blah, blah.

But I was most interested to see how or if they responded to my positive feedback about their coffee pots.

They did indeed respond to my comments about their coffee pots - they sent me a link to a site where I could buy one.

I think they missed the point!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Dark Matter

I sometimes comment on the world of science, not as often as I should as I find it endlessly fascinating, but I don't really understand it all.

If you are interested in all things 'Universe' you might be interested in a report in some of today's papers about dark matter.

You will probably be aware that scientists have said for sometime now that there is dark matter in the universe.  This dark matter is so called because it is dark and you can't see it.

They have also concluded that there is a lot of it - even more than the normal matter that we can see - but they just don't know where it is.

Anyway apparently they have done this experiment with some crystals cooled to almost absolute zero (I don't know how cold 'absolute zero' is, but apparently it is quite cold), and they think they have found 67 particles of dark matter.

Now I know it is early days and I'm not one to be negative, but 67 particles doesn't seem very many. Also the article doesn't explain whether scientists knew where the dark matter was and have lost it or whether they never knew where it was in the first place.

This is all very worrying, but I shall keep you informed of any developments.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Laughing Donkey

It was a funny old night in the Laughing Donkey. Normally it is quite quiet at the start of the evening (about 10ish) and doesn’t get busy until later on. But this week there were lots of people in the bar when I arrived and there were even people standing in our spot!

I think there was a wedding party in (which is a bit unusual for the Laughing Donkey) I am not sure who was getting married, but judging by the age and state of some of the birds I think it might have been Barbara Windsor.

If you have ever been in the Laughing Donkey you will know it is quite small and there really isn’t the floor space for Scottish dancing, but that didn’t put our wedding party off - it was like New Year’s Eve in the Wild West.

And this old bird who seemed to be the centre of attention was attempting, well I’m not sure how you would describe it, perhaps 'freestyle highland reel'. I don‘t really understand the Scottish dancing thing, but she seemed to be putting it in when she should have been putting it out - I thought if she doesn’t calm down she will have a heart attack - and I’m not giving her CPR.

Fortunately the dancing was brought to an abrupt end when we had a bit of a leak of water through the ceiling, and it must have played havoc with the electrics as the music kept going off. Still on the positive side there wasn’t much glass on the floor.

This was a good point to pop next door to the Rusty Bucket. Not been there for a while and we spotted Betty Legs in the corner having a chat - oh and just had a flash back, I think I was chatting to one of her boy dancers later in the evening, but I think we will skip over that bit.

So after a brief drink we went back to the Laughing Donkey where after a clean around with a mop and a screw driver to fix the electrics we were back in business.

Couple of points for the evening, Mr M your friend is quite charming, if a little (how can I put it) eccentric, and Mr N the subject of an earlier blog about one of my adversaries was not our mutual acquaintance and your former flat mate - I had forgotten all about her!

And bit of breaking news a new cabaret bar opens on Thursday - does this spell the end for the Laughing Donkey …

Great North Run

I still think that if you are going to do the great North Run, you should start at South Shields and run towards Newcastle. That way you will avoid all the crowds at the finish line and me much nearer to home at the end.

Well done to all those taking part.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Cherry Tree

You might remember a while ago I bought a flowering Cherry tree. 

It has been nothing but bother since the day I got it.  It is always the last tree in the street to flower, the flowers are too large and the wrong shade of pink.

Now, in the middle of September it has stated to blossom!  Are they supposed to do that?

It is very embarrassing - I'm am going to have to go out after dark and cut the blossom off.


I occasionally review products on the market.

This week I am looking at Boots No 7 for Men Gradual Tan Face SPF 15.

The pack says 'This clever lotion adds a tan every time you use it. No streaks, no fuss, no giveaways'.

Assessment - No tan!

Friday, 16 September 2011


Popped into Boots this week for a sandwich (I know!) and while at the till paying the lady next to me asked her assistant for some advice about a mascara. She wanted to know should she get black, brown or black\brown.

Now I have nothing against shop assistants, in many ways they are a vital link in my life, but you shouldn’t ask them for advice on make-up, you must leave that to professionally qualified personages. After all you wouldn’t ask a plumber to service your car. So why ask a checkout assistant for advice on such an important matter.

To prove my point the reply was ‘Well I always use black so you should get that one’.

The lady in question was so clearly a ‘brown mascara’ lady making this such outrageously wrong advice I had to step in.

‘Oh no, you must get brown’ I cautioned

I was met by a stunned silence and then nervous laughter. I wonder why?

But she did compromise and get black\brown.

Celebrity week

A look at this week’s celebrities:
  • (sorry ladies) George has a new girlfriend;
  • Doris became the oldest person (87) to have an album in the UK top 10;
  • David went to the Calvin Klein show only days after swimming the Thames;
  • Nicola has a new tune out - and is surprisingly good;
  • Nicola has long hair - but she needs to do something about the parting;
  • Brad wasn’t very nice about Jennifer - oh get over it - it was years ago;
  • Scarlett wore dark glasses and a baseball cap - I have blogged about baseball caps before, some people just take no notice, but in the circumstances I will accept it is ok - but just this once;
  • Victoria wore shoes while she was carrying her baby;
  • Kat went to the hairdressers before Emmy award ceremony;
  • Cheryl went to Afghanistan:
  • Natasha got some new drawers, while Ryan got a draw;
  • David got a new bike;
  • Lorraine lay on a bed of onions (no idea); and
  • Halle was in Glasgow wearing a wig.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Mint - Feedback

Regular readers will know I spend some of my time in hotels. I try not to be difficult, but I have standards. This week I popped into The Mint in Leeds. I have unfortunately had to stay there before (if anyone has tried to get a hotel room in Leeds this week you will understand the difficulty).

I had a few issues but I spotted a little form in my room. 

It said quite clearly on it that they wanted feedback on my stay ... well they did ask

Dear Sir or Madam

This is not necessarily a complaint, but I was asked to give feedback on my recent stay at The Mint.

I understand that it is not within your control if lots of people turn up to check in at the same time, but check-in was slow and ponderous. I finally got to my room to find my room key didn't work. I had to take all my luggage back to reception to get another key and back to my room again. In all it took over 20 minutes to get to my room.

I ordered room service - which was prompt and a nice meal, although the omelette was a bit under cooked for my tastes. This was made up for by a good side salad.

However getting to the meal required another hurdle to over-come. I was informed I would have to pay cash for my meal as I had not made financial arrangement at check-in.

I had no intention of paying cash for my meal as I had left card details at reception and had a receipt to prove it. A call to reception was required to sort out the issue - which might explain why my meal was cold by the time I got round to eating it.

The last time I stayed at your hotel exactly the same thing happened and I was told then it would not happen again. It did happen again.

Décor in room (and throughout the hotel) is bland and functional. The bathroom is quite nice, but you might want to have a re-think about your sink plugs. I do not particularly want to stick my finger down a plughole to empty my sink.

The heating in the room was good (a bonus as I have spent far too many night is cold hotel rooms) although on this occasion a little too good. It was impossible to turn the heating up, down or off. The noise of the Air Conditioning was far too loud for anyone to sleep, so once again I was on the phone to reception.

There was only one solution to my issue and that was to change my room.

This was extremely tedious. I spend my life packing and unpacking and I hate it at the best of times. As I had just unpacked all my belongings it meant I had to re-pack everything and unpack again in my new room.

I would like to thank the gentleman who carried my belongings to my new room.

It was over two hours after arriving at you hotel before I finally had a key that worked, a room with functioning heating\air con and an account that allowed financial transactions.

The welcome at breakfast was fine, but I prefer to take a seat of my own choosing. I do not like to be herded to a seat of your choosing. I cannot see any harm in allowing me to choose where to sit and I dislike being made to sit next to the last person who arrived and sat down. At home I do not have my breakfast squashed together with 30 strangers - I see no reason why I should have to do it when I am away from home.

Breakfast was fine - although I only have museli and fruit juice so there is not a lot to go wrong. But of my normal preference for museli - there was no sign. The choice of cereal was poor Weetabix, corn flakes and something apparently called 'Rice Krispies'.

The coffee pot was nice and I would be grateful if you could let me know where you get them from as I would like to buy one.

Overall would I stay at the Mint hotel through choice? Not for a gold clock.

Oh and if I do have to stay at The Mint hotel again would you please do something about the cockney gentleman resident with the loud voice who insisted on letting the whole restaurant know about every tedious detail of his tatty little business.


Off to Leeds again today and picked up by one of my usual drivers.  We had a chat on a couple of his favourite subjects - foreign holidays and the weather.  We sometimes talk about his caravan, his wife and his dogs.  The caravan is somewhere up the North East coast but I think the wife and the dogs are kept loser to home.

But today we mainly talked about the weather. 

We agreed it was getting darker (both in the morning and the evening) and that it was getting colder.  With the long range weather forecast to get colder still. 

I think I said something about how you couldn't accurately predict weather much further than five days into the future.

This was readily agreed to, 'marvellous' I thought we can have a nice discussion on Chaos Theory. 

In case you missed it in earlier blogs, Chaos Theory is one of my most favourite theories.

But my hope was short lived as he said 'Yes, the man on Countryfile gave the weather for the week ahead but said to check it out further after Friday'.


You may have seen one or two signs of the approach of Christmas, here is another one. Lincoln is having a Christmas market (third and fourth Sundays in December) only £22 leaving Leeds at 8:30.

Marks and Spencer

I am not a great fan of the store, but I do like the new TV advert (Billy Paul singing Me and Mrs Jones in the background) well I should say I like the big mirror in the dressing room the lady looks in when she is trying on her Marks and Spencer outfits.

Star Wars

If you are a fan, you might like to know that the films are about to be released on Blu-Ray.  I don't really know Star Wars as I have never seen any of them. If they are on over Christmas I might give them a go - so don't tell me what happens!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Politician's Jokes

Politicians telling jokes isn't new. But I have noticed a recent increase in joke telling amongst politicians, this would be ok, but the thing is, these jokes are rarely funny.

You might have heard Cameron telling one or two in the House of Commons ('Calm down dear' was a recent example, and not the funniest joke I have ever heard), but I think it is George Osbourne we have to watch out for as up and coming stand up deliverer.

You might have seen his recent attempt at the GQ Awards.  I won't repeat the joke here, (you will have to go elsewhere if you want to find out what it was), but suffice it to say, Osbourne is truly the master of the Single Entendre!'

Monday, 12 September 2011

Dear David - Getting Old 2

Dear David

I was a little worried by your answer to my letter where you said my experiences showed I was getting old. Are there any other things I should look out for?

David Responds

Getting older is (clearly) a gradual process, so you will not experience all the effects at the same time. There are many things to look out for, here are some:
  • at Christmas you will be quite pleased if someone gives you socks as a present, in fact you may find yourself thinking ‘ooh I hope someone gets me a six pack of socks’;
  • you have a subscription to a Word Search (or similar) magazine; 
  • you don’t have an elderly relative with a funny name (for example uncle Cecil or great aunt Lettice) this means you are the elderly relative with the funny name;
  • your ‘going out’ outfit is the same, or a slight variation of, your ‘going out' outfit of 20 years ago; 
  • you think the music they play in boutiques is too loud; 
  • you use the word boutique; 
  • you wear cardigans – not because they are fashionable, but because you have done so for years;
  • you think Lulu looks good for her age;
  • you have heard of Lulu;
  • you can remember when Elton John and George Michael were straight - ok maybe not George Michael;
  • you can remember when 'Reality TV' used to be TV about things happening for real; and
  • Celebrities were celebrities because they had a talent for something! 

Dear David - Getting Old?

Dear David
I was supposed to be going out Saturday night but it was cancelled, but I was more than happy to stop in. Then on Sunday I went to buy a new lawnmower which I then discussed at length with my neighbour over a cup of tea whilst we put the world to rights. Am I getting old?

David Responds


Sunday, 11 September 2011

Laughing Donkey

It was a quiet start to the evening in the Laughing Donkey until I realised Miss Dolly Parton was on at the arena, which was quite a trick as she was performing live on strictly no dancing at 7 o’clock - she must have got the express.

So we had a bit of peace and quiet for an hour or so until they chucked out across the road. I am sorry to say that without our usual patrons, adding glamour to my Saturday night venue, some of the clientele tonight were a bit ‘rough and ready’. Spotted one classy bird drinking Newcastle Brown ale out of the bottle. I have never tried Newcastle Brown ale and have nothing against it but I am sure you are supposed to drink it out of a glass. Still maybe she drinks it out of a straw on special occasions like weddings or New Year’s Eve.

And it was a second visit to the Laughing Donkey by that one that looks like Olive off of On the Buses. This time she was not in her hen night outfit, you will remember last week she turned up as Cheryl in the red drum majorettes outfit. So it looks like we might have a new regular. Not sure she has much of a sense of humour, I asked her for a 6d one to the viaduct and she didn’t laugh. If she is going to make the Laughing Donkey a frequent stop on her Saturday nights out, I’m going to have to have a word with her about her hair - she needs a decent conditioner.

Talking of hair I got a farewell Hollywood kiss from an acquaintance - well to be fair there were lots of those in the evening - but in this one I caught a distinct ‘parfum’ in the air. I commented on its origin and was told it was …actually I can’t remember what he said it was, but I had thought it was Head and Shoulders.

If you are not familiar with a Hollywood kiss, they are the ones where you kiss but don‘t actually touch.

They must have had a promotion on at the Boulevard as everyone seems to have been there tonight - and a good time seemed to have been had judging by the state of them all by the time they got to the Laughing Donkey. Or maybe they had been putting alcohol in the drinks at the Boulevard? No sign of Betty Legs Diamond (in civvies) in the Donkey or the Rusty Bucket - I think the summer show is taking it out of her and she must have gone straight to bed.

Ooh and exciting news I hear there is to be a new bar opening soon - run\owned by the one that used to be the DJ in the Laughing Donkey but left to work elsewhere.

I will of course keep you posted and maybe the Donkey will have a rival!


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Eva Cassidy

Exciting news in the world of live entertainment. After a period of refurbishment - Billigham Forum Theatre is now open. 

Launching the new theatre is the Eva Cassidy story with Sarah Jane Buckley (no idea) and Maureen Nolan.  (Is there a Maureen?)

The show then goes on international tour to Consett and Whitley Bay. How exciting!


Have you noticed when your wearing headphones at the gym (or anywhere else for that matter I suppose) and someone wants to speak to you - they get your attention and then they whisper.

Why do they whisper?

... it's a funny word that - whisper ...

Friday, 9 September 2011

Celebrity Week

A look at this week’s celebrities:
  • Rafael decided to leave a press conference sooner than originally planned;
  • Princess Charlene of Monaco was in Leeds - well she wasn’t in Waterstones, because I never saw her;
  • Sarah decided she wasn't going to marry Tom anymore;
  • Eddie is going to do the Oscars;
  • Strictly 2011 contestants have been unveiled - and what you can hear is the noise of scraping barrels - Isn't Gavin doing it again this year?;
  • Strictly will be a big no no for your blogger - except maybe Dan;
  • Pamela has gone into the Celebrity Big Brother house, just after everyone else has left it - I think she is doing it wrong;
  • while Paddy won Celebrity BB;
  • Chelsy has a new boyfriend - until Harry comes knocking again …;
  • Gywneth had 'fritto misto' followed by whole wheat spaghetti with anchovy sauce for lunch;
  • Beatrice Graduated;
  • Kelly looked glamorous in a low cut black dress;
  • Kate (Winslett not Duchess of) looked glamorous in an optical illusion dress;
  • Gloria didn’t look glamorous in the same optical illusion dress;
  • Nancy is still with Trevor;
  • while everyone wondered if Simon was still with Mezhgan.

Rugby World Cup 2011

Oh the joy of eight weeks of Rugby World Cup. I like a bit of rugby so I might catch a bit of it.

I see England has its first game on Saturday at 09:00, this is great news for the players. They can play their game and still have the whole afternoon to go shopping!

Red or Black

I haven't been watching this one so not sure what it is about. I think it is one of those shows where they tell you who has won it before you watch it - but you can win £1 million. How exciting!

Anyway the latest winner of £1 million has said he will marry his girlfriend, get a new house and buy two pigs.

No necessarily in that order!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Dear David - Money Saving Tips

Dear David

In these difficult financial times can you give me some advice on how to make ends meet?

David Responds

Thank you for your letter but your question is a little general and not specific in the area in which you wish to save money (fuel costs, food, housing and so on). There are any number of ‘money saving experts‘ out there that are just dying to tell you how to save money, so I have to wonder why you have written to me for advice.

After all a simple trawl of the internet will give you lots of tips on how to stretch three sausages to make a meal for a family of four.

But no, I think you are looking beyond the usual money saving ideas and searching for some different advice. Follow my top tips for saving money:
  • Treat yourself to an expensive bar of soap. Spending £20 on a bar of soap may seem a great extravagance in these difficult times, but a quality bar of soap will last for ages, especially if you put it somewhere nice on display and don’t use it; (just remember to dust it now and again);
  • Have Christmas early, send all your Christmas cards out in the next few weeks and invite all your friends and family to your house for Christmas dinner on 25th October. Your friends will think you have gone quite mad but they will not know what to do. They will humour you by turning up on October 25th bearing gifts and wine. You will have to provide a meal for them all but this is a small price to pay for lots of lovely early presents. Plus your friends will be very wary and they will not be expecting a full Christmas dinner so you can get away with a few sandwiches and a cup of tea. When 25th of December comes round you can turn up for all your friends celebrations safe in the knowledge that you have already done your bit for Christmas and now it is your turn to be wined and dined for free;
  • This is a tricky one so I caution it is only for experienced fashionistas - consider missing a season. If you have not already bought your winter wardrobe, consider buying nothing for the coming season. This will put your current wardrobe under extreme pressure but with a well developed plan and some fancy footwork you could just about get away with it. This will save you a whole seasons clothes budget and you can re-launch yourself in the Spring with a spectacular collection with the money you save. For this tip there are some extra things you need to consider to make it work, for example;
  • Your wardrobe will be greatly reduced so if you have children, consider them carefully and when you leave the house, only take ones with you that go with your outfit. So for example, if you have a child that is strawberry blond then don’t take that one with you if you are wearing red, take one that is brunette. This will make your outfit more sophisticated and the casual observer will hardly notice it is last years fashion. Similarly if your children are a bit older and are now taller than you, take the smallest one with you, this will give you more definition and from a distance give a proper perspective thereby adding to your overall fashionable look.

Central Bar

An exciting evening for me with my first ever trip to the Central Bar in Gateshead. If you are unfamiliar with the bar it has a fairly unique architecture - being that it is almost triangular (isosceles not equilateral) and has for as many years as I can remember stood almost derelict (although open!). It now has new owners, is fully refurbished (on the outside) and open for business.

The outside may have a new lease of life but the inside is exactly how I imagine it was in the 1940s.

If you are intrigued by this bar then have a look at this clip from Women In Love and Miss Glenda Jackson. The bar in the background is the Central Bar - and it looks exactly the same!

Oh and Miss Pink - I think this might become a new regular haunt.

If you are concerned I was drinking alcohol on a work night - I had a glass of water (warm, no ice no bubbles).

News International

I see News International is selling its UK headquarters.

From what I saw of it on the news it looks like an old 70s prefab shack - I'll give you £50 for it

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


You might remember a while ago I brought you exciting news about a competition where you could win a Le Creuset flan dish worth £23.

Well I have just heard about another up coming competition to be launched by Ecover. The prize is a stay in a meadow keepers' cottage. How exciting!

What's a meadow keepers cottage?

Monday, 5 September 2011

Dear David - Pedicure

Dear David

I have been wondering about the latest fashion for fish pedicures. Are they
a) cruel to animals;
b) unhygienic as there might be other people's skin in the water (gip); or,
c) fine and stop being silly and just do it?

David Responds

This craze first started in America (like so many others) around about 2008. When I first heard about it I thought it was some sort of horrendous joke. Even now, just thinking about it makes me feel quite faint.

For those not familiar with the concept - the idea is that you put your feet in a bowl of water containing small fish … and I can hardly bring myself to say it, so lets just say the fish in the bowl conduct your pedicure.

There are several things to think about if considering this procedure:

  • Revealing your feet in a communal area is fraught with danger. I have particularly photogenic feet but others are not so lucky. Removing your socks or stockings in public could leave you open ridicule with cat calls of ‘oooh look at her with the unsightly feet’ or ‘oooh look at them trotters wrap them up and I’ll have them for my tea’. No one could survive such name calling;
  • If you follow a person with particularly large feet or major problems in the ‘skin as smooth as silk area’ you may find your fish can’t be bothered tackling another pedicure quite so soon. This could be embarrassing as the casual observer may think you suffer particularly badly in the ‘foot odour’ arena;
  • Half an hour is a long time to spend surrounded by strangers with your feet in a bowl of fish. Striking up a casual conversation with your fellow clients whilst maintaining your dignity in this environment is quite challenging. Should you decide to go for this treatment I would suggest keeping clear of politics and religion as topics of conversation;
  • Make sure you know where your shoes and socks are at all times and ask for a towel to be placed next to your seat. This will be invaluable should there be a fire alarm during your pedicure - standing bare foot in the street is not a good look.
Take all of this into consideration, but really my best advice is to avoid this rather unsavoury novelty and buy a pumice stone!

Christmas Cometh

More news for regular readers.

You will all know how much I just love Christmas, well for all of my readers who do eagerly anticipate the festive season - I can report the first sign of Christmas.

Sainsbury's has a newly arrived and assembled big display of tinned sweets (of the Quality Street and Celebrations variety). 

A bargain at only £5 a tin (please note the celebrations tin isn't actually made of tin, but we won't go into that here).

You have been warned ...

Tyne Bridge Tower

Regular readers might be wondering what happened after the Tyne Bridge Tower was removed under a veil of secrecy.

Well I can now report that where it used to be is now a green field. Very nice

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Off of

Have you noticed how the (English speaking) world splits into two groups?  Those who say 'off' and those who say 'off of', as in 'that's her off of Coronation Street'.

I never used to say 'off of' so I would say 'that's her off Coronation Street'.  But I think it is funny when people say 'off of' so I'm going to say that from now on.

If there are any English teachers out there I would be interested in the correct form - but I will still say 'off of'!

Saturday, 3 September 2011


Bit of a change of plan this morning.  I was going to go into town to get those lovely Kurt Geiger shoes I spotted a few days ago to go with the jeans I found I never knew I had.

But it is raining - and everyone knows you can't go shoe shopping when it is raining!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Celebrity Week

A look at this week’s celebrities:
  • Petra got married;
  • Fergie (Duchess of not Black Eyed Beans) was invited to Petra’s wedding;
  • Fergie wore a pink sleeveless dress to Petra’s wedding;
  • Fergie should have had a cardi over her shoulders;
  • Jessie was supposed to get married on Bank Holiday Monday, but called it off at the last minute;
  • Pippa got a ticket for leaving her car where she shouldn't;
  • Ronan's wife is getting back together with her multi-millionaire husband;
  • Kate and Pippa are trying a new face cream - £57 if you fancy giving it a go;
  • While Madonna has a new face and Shane says his new face is all natural;
  • Madonna wore a nice dress with her new face;
  • Katie launched her own magazine called … Katie - how exciting!;
  • David won't be doing Britain's Got Talent anymore;
  • while Cheryl is making a Hollywood film about being a talent show judge - would it not be easier if Cheryl was a talent show judge over here and David was a talent show judge over there?;
  • Louise went for a walk without any make-up on;
  • Lauren was asked to leave a nightclub because Mark was already there;
  • Mark looked a mess in the nightclub with badly fitting jeans and ratty old cardi over his plunging neckline t-shirt;
  • Jude was seen 'mysteriously' leaving a theatre and walking through the streets of London in the night;
  • Jude was seen walking through the streets of London in the night with a 'mystery woman;
  • Jude has been starring in a play and goes home in the evening when the play finishes;
  • Ronan has been swimming in the Irish sea;
  • Dolly has a new album out and has been promoting her tour and
  • Dannii is loking fabulous with a new hair do.

Dear David - Train Delay

Dear David

I'm stuck on a delayed train with nothing to do. Any suggestions?

David Responds

Yes this is a great opportunity to delve into the archive of my blog. Happy reading and swift journey home!

Dear David - New Clothes

Dear David

I need some new clothes for the new season, but I hate shopping for clothes as I can never find what I am looking for. Can you give me some tips on how to shop for my new wardrobe?

David Responds

It is great that you are planning to shop for the new season (although it is a little late to get the best buys) but I fear you need to adopt a new approach, which is I guess why you have written to me.

A clue to your difficulty is given in your question. You say you can never find what you are looking for - this is your difficulty. Firstly I suspect you don't really know what it is you are looking for, therefore you will never find it and secondly if you limit yourself to looking for a specific thing then you are setting yourself up for a disappointment.

We are all driven by what is in the latest magazines but what the magazines don't delve too far into is availability. And we have all seen some fashion editor who has found a Dior outfit for a fiver - but that just doesn't happen in real life.

Time to try a different approach:

  • Don't buy for the current season, so if it is August - don't buy summer clothes. All the best items have long gone and you will get little wear out of your new clothes (and you won't wear them next Summer);
  • Have in mind the general theme for the coming season, are skirts long or short, ties narrow or wide etc, but don't get hung up on the detail;
  • This is the key point - choose from what is available, don't try to look for something that might or might not exist;
  • Visit as many shops as you can, this will give you a full view of everything available and a wide price range to fit any pocket.

If you still find the thought of a shopping trip fills you with horror, then give yourself something to look forward to - perhaps a treat of a cream tea in a lovely café (not a chain).

Enjoy your day, but please remember the 'one bag' rule!

Twining Teabags

Regular readers of my blog will know I have had one or two issues with tea bags in the past.  This simplest of objects has caused me much concern in recent years.

I now feel I really must write to Twinings.
If you are not familiar with Twinings (perhaps you only drink PG Tips or another popular brand - personally I couldn't bring myself to drink tea made from tea bags that had a picture of a monkey on them, but it takes all sorts) you might not know that their teabags come in 'twos' separated by a helpful perforations so they can be separated easily.

The problem is that they seem to have either increased the distance between each perforation or the paper bag is made of stronger stuff.

Whichever it is, it is now almost impossible to separate the bags without tearing a hole in one of them.

This is a little inconvenient as it renders the teabag with a hole in it useless.

I wouldn't mind, but I stocked up when Sainsbury's had them on buy one get one free.  But at this rate I don't think I am saving any money!

Still some good has come of it as I now give the torn teabags to the homeless!


Well it is a 'happy holidays' message to my friend from work who is off on a Caribbean cruise around the Mediterranean. 

My friend reeled off a list of lovely places she was visiting.  I can't remember most of them, but I think she said she was going to Ephesus.  She said she was going to go to where the Temple of Artemis used to be.

I couldn't see the point myself, but she seemed quite excited about it!

Thursday, 1 September 2011


If you read a lot of books as I do, you might be dismayed at the news from Waterstones.  They have decided after many years, to end their 3 for 2 offers.

This is going to increase the cost of my half dozen books every month - but on the other hand, finding that third book to take advantage of the offer can take a bit of doing!


I think I mentioned a while ago there is a new Sainsbury's in Leeds station. Which is very nice, but there has been a development.

They seem quite keen on self-service at the till point, so they now employ a man to stand at the checkouts and if you are in the queue waiting to pay for your goods and a self-service point becomes free, he makes you use it.

Or rather, he tries to make you use it. He tried it with me - it didn't work.

It is bad enough that I have to pick my items off the shelves and pack my own bag. I absolutley draw the line at waving my items under a scanner and putting my money into a till. If they get away with this, the next step will be to make you unload the lorry delivering your groceries to the store!