31 December 2019


...And here it is - hot off the press - the news you have all been waiting for. Cue drumroll and stretch the dramatic pause. The overall winner of The Laughing Horse Blog Awards and therefore the Blogger of the Year for 2019 is none other than Jenny O'Hara from Nova Scotia, Canada. She is the brains behind "Procrastinating Donkey" which was first launched in March 2016.
Hit donkey with stick
to go to "Procrastinating Donkey"

This is how Jenny describes herself:  "Wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, and cat servant. Part time employee and full time short person. Nature appreciator and avid reader. Crafter. Chronic procrastinator. Stubborn like a donkey. Now posting on Mondays and randomly otherwise. Oh, what a weird and wonderful world we live in."

Whereas the previous winner, Mary Moon is ready to bare her soul and share the ups and downs of her life in a frank and literary manner, Jenny O'Hara is much more circumspect - preferring to keep her private things private. There is much that we do not know about her. We are not even sure that her real name is indeed Jenny O'Hara and if you search for her in Nova Scotia bookkeeping you will find nothing. Nonetheless, The Awards Committee is almost sure that she is real and not a Russian bot.

This is what The Awards Committee had to say about her: "In order to become Blogger of the Year there must be regular blogposts - at least weekly - and Mrs O'Hara certainly fulfils that criterion. The Committee have particularly enjoyed her Poetry Monday posts which have aroused much interest and creativity within the blogosphere. There is pleasantness and humanity to be found in all of her offerings. However, winning this prestigious award is  not just about the production of great blogposts, it is also about engagement with other bloggers. In that regard, Jenny has shown much loyalty, much interest and much kindness - responding thoughtfully to other bloggers' posts. She is involved with the program."

Early this morning Jenny was transported by limousine to Halifax to receive her award from Arthur J. LeBlanc, the current Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia.

In an emotional ceremony, Governor LeBlanc admitted it was, "One of the proudest days in Nova Scotia's proud history".

Joyful Jenny, who was wearing her girl scout uniform and looking much younger than usual said, "I am so thrilled I can hardly speak!"

They are pictured below:-


The Laughing Horse Blog Awards 2019
This year, The Awards Committee, have struggled to determine the overall winner. In fact, they are still in conference mode as I write this blogpost. 

However, they have just passed me a "highly commended" memorandum listing five nominated bloggers who have failed by a whisker to make the final cut. 

Blogging is a highly individualised pastime. As in real life, every one is different and so it is perfectly natural that each blog will be different from the next. This core factor makes The Awards Committee's task all the more problematic. They are not comparing like with like.

The five "Highly Commended" Blogs listed on the parchment in front of me are "A Yorkshire Memoir" by Tasker Dunham, "Sparrow Tree Journal" by Jennifer Barlow, "Diary of a Nobody" by JayCee from the Isle of Man, "North Stoke" by Thelma from Normanby in North Yorkshire and "Eagleton Notes" by Graham Barry Edwards on The Isle of Lewis. A huge "Well Done!" to all of them.

You will notice that none of the five "Highly Commended" bloggers have been overall winners in the past. Those who have been "blogger of the year" should not feel slighted by this news. It is just Awards Committee policy. Please refer to page 127, paragraph 11b.

This year's five highly commended bloggers are now entitled to copy and then paste the coveted 2019 widget into their blogs completely free of charge! Sidebar presence is recommended:-

  MEDIUM VERSION                             SMALL VERSION

The overall winner will be announced later today. Watch this space. I understand that secret arrangements may already be underway to deliver the "overall winner" widget to the winner's home territory for presentation.

30 December 2019


A lavish ceremony in The Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas had been planned for this year's Laughing Horse Blog Awards ceremonies - with bloggers flying in from across the world. However, following heated debate within the organising committee, it was eventually decided to scrap the Las Vegas plan on environmental grounds. 

The carbon footprint for The Las Vegas event would have been as large as Liechtenstein or Luxembourg - especially when you factor in all the air miles. Most bloggers known to the Yorkshire Pudding organisation really care for our planet and demonstrate that care through recycling and energy reduction measures. So how could we in all honesty have gone ahead with the Bellagio event? It would not have made sense and we would have been pilloried by the tabloid press and Fox News as climate hypocrites.

In consequence, the organising committee have instructed me to apologise to all bloggers who were looking forward to an orgy of the senses in Nevada's Sin City. Any hotel fees that were paid in advance will of course be refunded just like the air tickets that were part sponsored by The Isle of Lewis Tourist Board in partnership with Ludwigsburg Rathaus.

You may recall that last year's overall "Blogger of the Year" was none other than Mary Moon, author of "Bless Our Hearts" out of Lloyd, Florida. It will soon be time for Mary to pass her cherished crown to someone else. Her amazing year will be over. The highlight was surely her June visit to The White House where she took tea with Melania, The First Lady. They spoke about many things, even comparing the merits of their respective husbands. There is no truth in the rumour that Mary was escorted from the premises yelling Anglo-Saxon epithets at the Slovenian ice maiden.

Can you wait for tomorrow? That is when The Laughing Horse Blog Awards for 2019 will be announced here on this most ancient blog. To whet your appetites, here's a list of previous  Bloggers of the Year:-


2008 – Arthur Clewley for “Arthur Clewley”

2009 – Daphne Franks for “My Dad’s a Communist”

2010 – John Gray for “Going Gently”

2011 – Ian Rhodes for “Shooting Parrots”

2012 – Kate Steeds for "The Last Visible Dog"

2013 – Tom Gowans for “A Hippo on the Lawn”

2014 – Meike Riley for “From My Mental Library”

2015 – Lee George for “Kitchen Connection”

2016 – Steve Reed for “Shadows and Light”

2017 - Keith Kline for "Hiawatha House"

2018 - Mary Moon for "Bless Our Hearts".

29 December 2019


“I often thought there was too much time there. That the place was sick with it. Haunted by it. Time didn't leak away as it should. There was nowhere for it to go and no modernity to hurry it along. It collected as the black water did on the marshes and remained and stagnated in the same way.”                                                 ―  Andrew Michael Hurley "The Loney"

I picked up "The Loney" in a Sheffield charity shop a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't heard of it before and I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Andrew Hurley's first published novel.

From the very first page, I could tell that it was going to be well-written. Words were embroidered into the fiction with purpose and artistry. Hurley is clearly a writer who loves words and will not carelessly throw them away. Each word counts.

Set in a neglected coastal area of north western England, you might say that "The Loney" has a gothic character. Like the swirling waters of the incoming tide, there are dark mysteries beneath the surface of the story. Some things are suggested but never fully explained but what we do know is that the narrator's brother, Hanny, is no longer a simple-minded mute. 

Hurley attends to the natural elements contained in his novel - the bracken, the sand, squabbling gulls, grey skies and the wind. They contribute to the gothic atmosphere in which unhappy human beings play out their roles.

I won't say much more about it for I don't wish to give the game away. However, what I will say is that "The Loney" made for a most enjoyable read. It belongs loosely to a genre that I would not normally enter but the gothic element does not overwhelm. It is subtly delivered. I end this blogpost with  another short extract:-

“We walked down onto the beach, following a ragged trail of debris. Seagulls had 
been strangled by the sea into sodden, twisted things of bones and feathers. Huge grey tree stumps, smoothed to a metallic finish, had been washed up like abandoned 
war-time ordnance. All along the beach, in fact, the sea had left its offerings 
like a cat trying to curry favour with its owner.”

28 December 2019


The Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park
We are home now. 

Christmastime on Lavender Hill in London went well. Ian was the perfect host and prepared a fabulous vegan Christmas dinner which Shirley and I enjoyed as did Frances and Stewart and Stewart's parents - Cheryl and Pedr. 

Christmas Day dawned mild and sunny so I took the opportunity to have a nice walk even though I was feeling a little unwell. Everybody else stayed back at the house helping to prepare our vegan feast.
In Battersea Park looking to the big residential development at Battersea Power Station
Meantime I wandered through Battersea Park and then along by The River Thames - looking across to Chelsea Embankment. I saw many things in the park including herons, a robin, runners, dog walkers, The Peace Pagoda, a gorilla carved from wood and a lithe young woman performing her yoga contortions in the centre of the sportsfield. Not what you might expect to see on Christmas Day morning.
Suitable exercise for all bloggers after Christmas excesses. Give it a try!
I walked back along Culvert Road through a pocket of social housing and as I headed through a tunnel under one of the railway tracks that leads to Clapham Junction, a young black man approached me from behind but he didn't stab me and steal my camera. Instead, we enjoyed a pleasant if brief dialogue about our lives and our interests. Then we shook hands and wished each other a Happy Christmas as I headed up the ramp to a pedestrian bridge that crosses yet more railway tracks.

Not far from "The Crown" public house on Lavender Hill I came across another black man - probably with a Caribbean heritage. He was sitting on a bench, wearing shorts and swigging from a bottle of red wine. His dreadlocks hung down to his waist. I smiled and reached out my hand  to him. We wished each other a Merry Christmas and as I walked away I reflected upon how different his life must have been from mine.
On Boxing Day I felt worse. It was an exciting day because the new Bosh! book came out - "Healthy Vegan" - the fourth book that Ian has jointly authored. We watched live football matches on TV as Ian cleverly manipulated social media channels to bolster sales. However, by the early evening I knew I should do something about my poorliness.

Ian drove me to the NHS Walk-In Centre at Clapham Junction. I filled in a form then filled a plastic container with urine before being called into a consulting room. There I met a nurse called Laura. She took my temperature, asked me questions, tested my urine and wrote out a prescription. The entire visit lasted ten minutes and the service I received was faultless.
Then Ian drove me to a nearby pharmacy where in less than five minutes I picked up my free prescription. We were back in his house half an hour after leaving it. By the way, I was suffering from a urine infection - a nasty ailment that impacts on one's general health and sense of well-being. Lord knows what happened to sufferers before effective medications were concocted. Slow death would have been a serious possibility.

Yesterday, I was feeling much better as we headed homeward from south London via the tortuous "Circular" road and the similar stop-go of the congested M1 motorway. It had taken three and a half hours to drive to Ian's house but five and a half hours to get back home.

 It had been a different kind of Christmas which I enjoyed in spite of my feverishness. Shirley gave me a resin fox called Fred - in memory of my old vulpine friend. He is now guarding our sheep. If you follow this humble Yorkshire blog you will see him before too long. I promise.
View to Chelsea Embankment across The Thames

24 December 2019


At Christmastime, I have got in the habit of e-mailing a "card" to known people who mean something to me but are not on our list to receive physical mailed cards. This year's e-mail "card" uses a photograph I took in February of this year when walking near the town of Mirepoix in the foothills of The French Pyrenees.

Among others, I sent it to blogging friends Graham Edwards, John Gray and Kate Steeds but if I had had all regular visitors' e-mail addresses, I would have sent it to them too.

It is just turned midnight on Christmas Eve and in ten hours Shirley and I will be London-bound.  It will be the first time in thirty five years that we have not enjoyed Christmas at home with a big, fat turkey. Instead, we will be having a vegan Christmas dinner this year with our son Ian. We'll be staying with him for three nights - returning on Thursday afternoon.

I won't be taking this laptop with us so it is possible that I won't  post again till later in the week. In the meantime, I wish you all a Happy Christmas wherever you are and whoever you are with. Let's hope we all make it safely to Christmas 2020.

23 December 2019


T.J. Lloyd as Nicely Nicely Johnson
Saturday evening saw your intrepid correspondent visiting The Crucible Theatre in the company of  two dolls - the adored wife and the beloved daughter. We were there to see a professional production of "Guys and Dolls" - a musical I had never seen before.

Though first performed on Broadway in 1950, Frank Loesser's show was built upon stories about New York written in the 1920's by Damon Runyon. The Sheffield production was slick and joyful with several brilliantly choreographed dance numbers and two songs I immediately recognised - "Luck Be A Lady" and "Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat" - the latter making the best section of the evening for me.

Here's what "The Guardian" had to say about it:-
I was entertained but not wowed. The plot is so simple and predictable but I am a serious-minded guy  and for me the best of theatre is when it grabs me by the throat and draws me in - immersing me in what is happening on the stage till I forget myself. Somehow I felt emotionally removed from "Guys and Dolls".

Afterwards we stopped off at "The Stag's Head" on Psalter Lane for post-theatre drinks. Naturally my two dolls had loved the show and felt uplifted. Those two pints of "Lord Marples" by Thornbridge Brewery did the trick for me.

21 December 2019


Going up the hill, our next door neighbours are Tony and Jill. They have been our neighbours for three decades. If there was a national award for "Top Neighbours" I would gladly nominate them for it. They have been brilliant. 

Tony is ten years older than me. He was an academic at The University of Sheffield - working in metallurgy - an area that has special associations with the city's traditional industries. He has a gentle, unassuming nature and a variety of interests that he has developed further since his retirement. For example, we often hear him practising his trumpet. He belongs to a local brass band.

A week never goes by without me having a chinwag with Tony - usually when we are getting things from the boots of our cars. After thirty years there is an ease and mutual respect in our communication but the other day he said something a little surprising. It was along the lines of the fact that whenever he speaks with me the conversation always seems to turn to serious subjects.

We laughed about that and he admitted that his family often accuse him of being poor at small talk. Like me, he doesn't go in for tittle tattle and light-hearted gossip. We wondered if there might be evening classes that men like us could sign up for - evening classes designed to improve our small talk ability.

I wondered if  YouTube instructional videos in small talk are available and Tony said that there might be a gap in the market. Perhaps I should make some. But how could I launch videos about small talk when, after sixty six years of life, I am still rubbish at it?

Anyway, I have done some investigations and research and I have come up with a script for the first video which will be called, "At the Dinner Party".

NARRATOR At dinner parties, it is important to relax and smile at the other guests. Don't touch upon controversial topics that might cause offence or disagreement. Remember to establish eye contact with the other guests and avoid speaking when your mouth is filled with food. Stick to inconsequential subjects as in the following example...

GUEST ONE Oh this lobster thermidor is delightful Graham...If you don't mind me asking, where did you source it?
GRAHAM I bought it at Tesco.
GUEST ONE Tesco? Oh what a  splendid supermarket chain that is. Don't you agree?  The checkout staff are so obliging. They never fail to ask me if I need help with my packing  even when I have only bought a loaf of bread. I remember a Tesco I visited long ago in Harrogate. There was a winsome dog tied to a post outside and I patted him. Then his owner appeared and she said that he was a rescue dog.
GRAHAM And so what happened next?
GUEST ONE Well I said goodbye and acquired a shopping trolley before manoeuvring it around the aisles. I collected numerous items including soap powder, baked beans and a six pack of quilted toilet rolls.
GUEST TWO The last time I visited Tesco, I also bought toilet rolls. I prefer the cream coloured variety to complement my bathroom tiles. That reminds me, we need to do some regrouting. Perhaps we should get someone in.
GRAHAM Well, we are having a splendid time aren't we? More wine anybody? 

NARRATOR You can see that GUEST ONE is relaxing into the evening. He has picked supermarket shopping as a conversational topic. Other inoffensive topics you might select include: gardening, fitting new curtains, making porridge, bird watching and hiking in The Lake District. You should avoid torture, illegal immigration, plastic pollution, homelessness, gun ownership in America, Boris Johnson and FSM. Such subjects would undoubtedly ruin a pleasant evening of civilised human interaction.

19 December 2019


Three people had separately recommended "Knives Out" to me in recent weeks. This afternoon I went to see it without much idea of what I was about to witness.

It enjoys a star-studded cast including Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee Curtis and Daniel Craig. It is mostly set in a grand country house somewhere in Massachusetts. That house is owned by a successful murder mystery writer called - almost bizarrely - Harlan Thrombey.

Why did Harlan Thrombey die on the night of his 85th  birthday party?

It is a clever, sometimes amusing modern take on the traditional "whodunnit". There are twists and turns, an intuitive private investigator (Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc) and a surprising conclusion. Some of it verges on the unbelievable - deliberate melodrama by the writer/director  Rian Johnson.

When it comes to the world of film we all have different preferences. If you enjoy crime drama and "whodunnits" in the vein of Agatha Christie you will probably be blown away by "Kinves Out".  However, it simply was not my cup of tea.

I get sick and tired of film dramas and TV shows that are built around murders and the activities of clever detectives. To me it is a tired, rather boring formula that I have difficulty relating to. I prefer gritty realism or films about everyday life that are either tender or disturbing. Why does there always have to be killing? I don't come across killing in my real life so why should it keep cropping up in cinema listings?

Good stories do not have to include  death  and rich drama that truly resonates with audiences can be drawn from the unlikeliest of situations by talented film makers who avoid opting for the lowest common denominator.

18 December 2019


We have lived in this house for over thirty years. In all that time I have been a good friend to the wild birds that visit our garden. Unless we are on holiday, there is always bird food out there - waiting for them. It's the least we can do.

We have a homemade bird table, fat ball containers and a small hanging table with a little roof on. I also put food on the lawn as some birds prefer to feed from the ground. With that food I make a point of putting it in the middle of the lawn in case of surprise attacks by domestic cats.

Over the years we have seen many different avian species including wrens, robins, hedge sparrows, wood pigeons, collared doves, blue tits, long-tailed tits, coal tits, thrushes, jays, magpies, blackbirds, rooks, starlings, a sparrowhawk and earlier this week a hen pheasant!
Hen pheasant in Ceredigion, Wales by Roger Kidd (Geograph 2017)
I have often seen pheasants in the verdant countryside and farmland that surrounds this city but I have never before seen one in our garden. Our house is about a mile from the edge of the city and between us and the countryside there are busy roads, suburban streets and gardens, vehicles thundering by and thousands of people going about their daily activities.

It is hard to imagine the journey that bird must have taken before arriving at our house. She spent ten minutes pecking at the birdseed I  had left out the day before. Now I missed most of this because I was sound asleep but Shirley saw it and ran upstairs to tell me the news. Bleary-eyed, I looked out of our bedroom window and there she was - a magical creature in unfamiliar territory.

Shirley used her i-phone to capture the top and bottom  images. I wonder where that hen pheasant is now. It is hard not to fear the worst.

17 December 2019


Good heavens! The things you can find in the bowels of the internet! There is no respect for politicians, royalty or famous celebrities. Everybody it seems is fair game. What happened to decorum, to deference and respect? 

As you will surely be aware, the leader of our sceptred isle is now Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. A New Yorker by birth - just like President Trump, this gifted Churchillian figure is a true man of the people, ready to lead our embattled kingdom to a better future after his sweeping general election victory. There will be dancing on the village green and bees will hum once more.

And yet, and yet...this is how he has been portrayed:-
I share the disturbing image with you simply to illustrate what the internet is capable of coughing up. Bacon sandwiches will never be the same again.

16 December 2019


Roasted potatoes from Nosh!

Red potatoes (Mozart) peeled with cheese slice - a tip I inherited from my late mother.
Bring potatoes to the boil. Only five minutes. Do not over-boil. They should still be firm.
As soon as the potatoes are put on the stove, get your roasting tin ready. I like to mix up oils. Put in some rapeseeed oil, a glug of olive oil and a knob of lard. You will need enough hot oil to baste the potatoes properly. Put the roasting tin in the top of your hot oven.
Above, our pork joint is roasting under foil with the potato roasting tin heating up on the top shelf. Soon the foil will be removed from the joint giving it about forty minutes of open roasting to brown.
At this point I somehow lost one of the key photos. I had drained off the par-boiled potatoes and tossed them in rosemary, salt and pepper and sieved cornflour. Then with lid firmly on the saucepan, I shook the potatoes vigorously for thirty seconds to make sure they were all coated. Then hot roasting pan out of the oven. Potatoes coated in oil - using the perforated spoon.
 Back in the top of the hot oven for half an hour. Bring out and turn them over.
Back in the oven for a further fifteen minutes and then turn again. Back in  for a further ten minutes or so.
And here are the finished roasted potatoes on our Sunday dinner plates along with roasted pork, roasted carrots, brussel sprouts and small homemade Yorkshire puddings that I had saved in the freezer. There was only homemade gravy and apple sauce to add - but they were waiting on the dining table.
Mmmm! Crispy all over, browned without being burnt and soft inside.

15 December 2019


On Thursday I was on duty at the local polling station for sixteen and a half hours. During that time more than five hundred electors came through the door. From first time voters and students to doddery pensioners with walking sticks.

A portable polling booth had been set up in the middle of the church hall. It was divided into four secret quadrants.

In the middle of the afternoon a furtive man stepped haltingly into the room. He looked this way and that and had a slightly wild expression on his face. We gave him his voting slip and then he went to the farthest quadrant to cast his vote. We could see his legs  but not the rest of his body. There was no one else in the polling station at that time.

And then we heard him making a series of animal-like grunts as no doubt he read the list of candidates. It took him a couple of minutes to complete the process and when he finally emerged I fully expected him to have taken on the appearance of a werewolf with  fur all over his face and bloodshot eyes.  My colleague had thought the same and we chuckled about it when the gentleman departed: in cinemas now - "The Polling Booth Werewolf".

There are other tales I could tell about the day but what I mostly want to say is that my colleague and I agreed that 99% of the people we met were pleasant and well-mannered. They smiled, they said "hello", they looked you in the eye. As a small sample of England's current  population they suggested that civility and decency remain the norms in this country. To me these people represented the silent majority  who don't get airtime or headlines but go about their law-abiding lives with dignity, pursuing achievable dreams, seeking happiness and contentment. It was nice to meet them - even the werewolf!

14 December 2019


You may recall that I recently won the "picture of the week" competition over at the geograph photo-mapping site. As is customary, my reward is to pick the next winning photograph. I have narrowed my choice down to the following four images taken in different locations on this island between November 30th and December 6th.

Please tell me which picture you like best or put them in your rank order.

(Picture A)

(Picture B)

(Picture C)

(Picture D)

13 December 2019


Tonight I am feeling as low as I felt that night in 1979 when Thatcher grabbed the keys to 10 Downing Street. This time the British electorate have apparently given their support to Johnson and his baying Tory mob. I am looking at television and the writing is already on the wall. The Conservative Party is about to enjoy a solid majority in The Houses of Parliament. They will be gloating and guffawing as only Tories can gloat and guffaw.

How on earth could British voters have allowed themselves to be fooled like this? I shake my head in despair. Five years of Johnson ahead and  no chance whatsoever of  returning to the European fold. That ship has already left the wharf.

I spent Thursday working at one of our local polling stations,  arriving there at 6.15 in the  morning and departing at 10.30pm. I had been hoping that the day would bring a hung parliament with a chance of  achieving a second European Union referendum. But that dream is over.

The Tories are in and as I say I  feel terribly low tonight. There are food banks in our country. There are rough sleepers on our streets. There is continuing division. The NHS is in crisis. We are breaking away from The European Union. Thousands of children are living in poverty. And yet, and yet...British voters fell for Johnson's lies, false promises and buffoonery.  

He kept saying over and over again "Get Brexit Done!" and an army of fools listened. Hope is lost now. We are entering an unhappier world  with  kindness in retreat. BoJo The Clown is pulling the strings now. Save our Souls.

11 December 2019


Mostly, I like to walk in the countryside. But just occasionally it is nice to go urban walking. As in the countryside you never know what you might encounter in a city.  Over the years, as revealed in the dusty cobwebbed annals of this ancient blog, I have shown visitors lots of images of England's steel city - Sheffield.
There's a general election on Thursday. I heartily concur with this message.
On Sunday, I went plodding in the heart of this ever-changing city with so much safety gear I might have crippled myself. Wilhelm the St Bernard kept barking at the traffic as rough brandy swilled around in the little barrel under his chin.

I walked beside The River Don - up to Blonk Street Bridge - I wanted to photograph the confluence of The Don and The Sheaf. As it happens, I was facing bright sunlight so my confluence pictures did not work out too well but you can see how the Sheaf emerges from a culvert close to the bridge. I could hear the sound of water rushing over a weir within the culvert which is half a mile long.
Sheffield became a steel city largely because of its little rivers. Firstly they powered small cottage industries and forges. Scythes were sharpened and iron was smelted, then steel and later stainless steel. In fact, this is where stainless steel was invented and first produced. Sheffield cutlery could be found in every corner of the largest empire the world has ever known - The British Empire. Through the nineteenth century, Sheffield's steel industry became enormous and the Lower Don Valley led the world in a range of such dirty, brutal and ingenious metal-related businesses.

More pictures. The next (Reedesque) one is specially for Mrs J.Barlow in Florence S.C..
Paradise Street corner looking to the old central fire station:-
On Bank Street with a reflection:-
I noticed carved figures on the facade of a building in Fitzalan Square - celebrating some of the city's traditional metal working skills:-
And that was that. Clint carried me home to prepare our Sunday roast dinner as Shirley visited the Christmas market at Sharrow Vale with an old friend. Though I say it myself, my roasted potatoes have finally reached a state of culinary excellence - crispy, bronzed and rosemary flavoured. Much depends on the potato variety you select. Eat your heart out Jamie Oliver!

10 December 2019


Around two hundred people gathered at the local crematorium to say farewell to the young man who took his own life on November 21st. It was a non-religious gathering led by a humanist celebrant.

There were images of the young man projected on to a screen. Images from a comfortable life in the suburbs surrounded by his family and friends. There he was smiling at us. And there were images from his short marriage to a young woman who was his girlfriend from the age of thirteen. Separation had occurred months before his final tragic act. Personally, I would not blame her at all. The self-destructive urges and blue thoughts were happening long before their break up.

His father and five known others carried the coffin into the building. His tearful older sister and younger brother read out suitable goodbye verses and there were two songs that the young man had requested in his final notes - "One More Light" by Linkin Park and "Chocolate" by The 1975 - along with another song - "Lifted" by The Lighthouse Family.

The sun shone brightly on the sharp December morning. A pair of rooks strutted on the cemetery lawn. Afterwards mourners made their way to a pub in Nether Edge where there was a buffet and drinks and conversation. 

The young man is already entering history. Months will pass and then years and some time in the far distance there will be days when his mother, father, brother, sister and estranged wife do not fall asleep at night or wake in the morning thinking about him and the space that he has left behind.

He was born under the sign of Taurus in Sydney, Australia in 1988.

9 December 2019


WD40 is one of the most magical products known to mankind. You can fix just about anything with WD40. Squeaky hinges? Try WD40. Nut and bolt seized up? No problem! Just squirt some WD40. Dandruff? Hair loss? Lawn mower problems?  Tar on your car's body work? Tap washer stuck? No matter what your issue is - WD40 can solve it.

Is there a home in the western world that does not possess a spraycan of WD40? Another splendid thing about WD40 is that the cans are everlasting. I have had my current can of WD40 since 1982. As I say - WD40 possesses magical qualities.

I was wondering. What is WD40 and who invented it?

Norman B. Larsen - the possible inventor
of WD40. I could find no images of Iver
Norman Lawson
It seems that it was invented in the early nineteen fifties in connection with the production and maintenance of Atlas rockets in San Diego, California. The letters "W.D." stand for "water displacement" and the number "40" suggests that the magical spray which went into commercial production was in fact  the 40th formula tested..

The inventor of  WD40 may have been Iver Norman Lawson but it  could have been Norman B. Larsen. There is a continuing dispute about who was responsible. The product was never properly patented.

Similarly, there is continuing disagreement about what WD40 actually contains. What are its ingredients? The American explanation is rather different from the European Union's analysis but both agree that a petroleum derivative makes up the bulk of the recipe.

Some critics of WD40 have suggested that because of its water displacement properties, WD40 is not a suitable alternative to oil. Sure - it will make moving parts operate more smoothly for a while but in the long run it will have a deleterious effect. However, I expect that all of these critics will have cans of WD40 at home. As most of us know from experience - WD40 is magic!

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