Mystery of a good walk spoiled

It’s a mystery to me. Remember “It’s A Mystery” sung by Toyah back in 1981? What she actually sang was “It’s A Myth-tery” due to her pronounced lisp – which is pronounced ‘lisp’.

Why someone with a lisp would choose to sing a song with ‘s’ in the title is itself a mystery and the world loves a mystery.  Want evidence?

Most weeks, the Number One best-selling paperback is a crime novel and we’re all gripped by films like “Gone Girl” and TV shows like Broadchurch, Happy Valley and the long-running Midsomer Murders, which is sold to more than 200 countries.

As I said, the world loves a mystery.

‘Real life’ mysteries also intrigue us, like UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, The Abominable Snowman and why the BBC continue to inflict The One Show on us five nights a week when they could replace it with something more entertaining. May I suggest a blank screen?

But the mystery that’s had me baffled for decades, is the continuing popularity of….golf!

I just don’t get it.

I meet people all the time who say “We must have a game of golf some time, Phil. What’s your handicap?” *

When I tell them I don’t play, it’s obvious from the look of pity in their eyes they think I’m missing out on one of the world’s greatest pastimes.

* For those of you who, like me, have no interest in golf, a handicap is a  numerical measure of a golfer’s potential playing ability based on the tees played for a given course.

I almost fell asleep from boredom just typing that paragraph.

I can’t imagine how mind-numbingly tedious it would be to spend hours traipsing around an 18-hole golf course, dressed in pastel-coloured clothes carrying a leather bag full of metal sticks, pausing every now and then to try and hit a small white ball from one green to the next in the hope it might drop into a hole.

If I want a healthy walk, without the burden of a golf bag and a cerise polo shirt, give me a five-mile saunter along the Llanelli’s coastal path every time.

Then there’s the all-male ‘golfing’ trips that use the smokescreen of ‘superb golf courses‘ to visit exotic destinations like Thailand.

Ladies, if you think your husbands/partners are going there purely for the golf, have a quiet word with them…

I also have a problem with golf clubs which are so ‘exclusive’, they require your entire family history going back to Ethelred The Unsteady (Ethelred The Unready’s drunken brother), medical records and PIN number before you’re accepted as a member.

As I’m typing this, I’m being distracted by a football match on the telly, so I need to adjust the sound and vision to the standard I require.

Job done.

I switched it off.

Don’t get me started about football….!

Youngsters deserve praise

Many young children get so much bad publicity these days, it’s time to sing their praises when they do well. Too often we put them down for sitting in front of computers and not being able to communicate, but this outstanding group of youngsters prove just how wrong we can be.

Ysgol Iau Llangennech have fought off stiff competition and won the junior school choir final on the prime time TV series Songs of Praise.

This just goes to prove that hard work, talent and commitment can bring people together, instil community spirit and bring the feeling of pride and a sense of achievement into the lives of so many. Their time, effort and dedication has certainly done them proud.

Their performance on the TV show was faultless, their voices blend together to make a magical sound for such a young group and I’m not ashamed to say that at one point I felt a lump in my throat.

Don’t miss festival fun

Last week I was thrilled to bits to receive a personal invitation to attend the Clydach Summer Music Festival, which will be held at the New Inn in the village of Clydach, on Saturday 13th June.

My research shows that this debut event is something that has been talked about for many years and now it’s going to happen, showcasing some of the best performers in Wales.

This promises to be a fun filled day out for all of the family. There is a whole host of talent appearing along with a few of my own personal favourites, John Adams, Raspberry Jam, The 2 Tones and Dusty Road.

Alongside this talent, there will be stalls including clothing, jewellery, plenty of food and drink, face painting and even a mini wonderland.

Just like every other successful music festival, tickets are selling out fast and I wouldn’t mind betting that this event will be a total sell out, so don’t miss out!

Elderly driver failed the test

What a week it has been!

I very narrowly avoided being knocked over on the pavement by an elderly gentleman driving a rather big car, who decided to mount the kerb, collide with a bin and remove it from its footings, the impact of which then managed to bounce his car back onto the street. With the street packed with shoppers of all ages, it was by sheer luck no one was hurt.

His defence? Poor eyesight and confusion…..

I’m now more convinced than ever that people over a certain age should be retested…

I am sure this isn’t the only age bracket that causes problems on the roads, but it is uncanny that most near misses I have personally witnessed recently haven’t involved young drivers.

DVLA sources show that 14,000 people aged over 70 were banned from driving on health grounds last year and my sources inform me that the figure could be even greater for this year. Following this incident, it is clear to see why.

Elderly driver crash

I never chose to have so much TV choice

I did something this week that I haven’t done for years. Steady now! This is a family newspaper; the only boobs on display are my spelling mistakes.

‘Money To Burn’ Evans splashed the cash on a TV listings magazine.

I can’t say which one because then I’d have to mention all of them. Suffice it to say that its Big Bold Colourful pages weren’t just informative about the particular hour each TV show started, but also mentioned the radio times.

I’ve always relied on the South Wales Evening Post television page to inform me what’s on my massive 14” telly, perched over the fireplace so I always get a warm reception.

And once I start watching a series I like, I usually remember when the next episode’s on. If I don’t like it, I’m even better at remembering never to watch it again. As with a recent four-part ‘thriller’ that the trailers promised would be ‘Appointment TV’. It was. Half-way through the first episode, I switched off and telephoned a colleague to make an appointment.

So, I bought a listings magazine to help me plan my viewing. As I settled down with a mug of tea to glance through the schedules, something immediately hit me between the eyes.

It was the teaspoon I’d left in my mug.

Then, checking the listings using a magnifying glass – because some channels were only given a quarter-inch square – it became apparent the number of channels available is phenomenal.

Movies; comedy; horror; science fiction; drama; crime; game shows; arts; lifestyle; sport and loads more.

All crying out to befuddled viewers…“Please watch me!”

When we only had BBC One and Two and ITV , if your two favourite programmes were on at the same time on different channels, you had to choose one and miss the other. Tough cheddar!

So when Channel Four started in 1982, we thought it would lead to chaos! Luckily VCRs appeared around the same time to save our world.

But the choice today has reached a ludicrous level. How can you choose from 600 + channels? Is it possible that the trend to give us ‘More Choice’ is self-defeating?

It certainly is in my case.

I put the listings magazine in the recycling, made another mug of tea, sat back and listened to a soothing CD to ease my headache.

Yes. I’d hit myself between the eyes with that spoon again.

Polish this gem

On Sunday, I decided to blow away the cobwebs with a trip to Pembrey Country Park. We are so lucky in Wales to have places like this on our doorstep, with activities such as dry slope skiing, pony trekking, archery and acres of beautiful open fields and woodland to explore.

Let’s face it; Mother Nature has supplied us with the foundations of a great day out, so why do the council then spoil it by charging £5 per car to park (I witnessed two cars full of families turn around and drive away instead of paying).

Yes, times continue to be hard. The cafe area was very run down, toilets were dirty and on speaking to a few other people there, apparently the shower facilities were shocking on the caravan site, with only two showers for the whole site!

We have the makings of a gem of a day out here. Come on, Carmarthenshire Council, start getting creative by making this park accessible to all and something to be proud of.

Ten tips to live your life by

No doubt you’re familiar with the saying “With age comes wisdom”, but that’s only the opening line of Oscar Wilde’s epigram. The second line, containing the subversive wit that Wilde is known for, is rarely quoted.

As someone who appreciated irony – and not just any old irony – the fact that his epigram has been misunderstood for many years would put a great big smile on Oscar’s face.

As he died in 1904, that’d look pretty darned scary…

Here’s the full version…

“With age comes wisdom. But sometimes age comes alone.

In other words, just because a person has managed to reach an advanced age, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re cleverer, wiser or better-informed than they were at 21. In fact, at some point through the years they may have gained an ‘A’ level in Advanced Ignorance. And we all know someone like that, don’t we?

I never blow my own trumpet – not since the neighbours sent the wardens around to stop me practicing at three am.

They said I was being anti-social, whereas I thought it was better to practice when everyone was asleep than when they were watching TV.

But I think, as I’ve matured, like a good wine – or depending on whether you’ve seen my act, a ripe cheese – I’ve definitely become a little wiser, having learned lessons from the good and bad things that have happened to me along the way, So, I thought I’d pass on to you some of pearls of wisdom I’ve learned over 35 years.

Well for the first 20 years, I failed to learn anything.

1)

If you’re not sure if you’re a “Glass Half Full” or “Glass Half Empty” type of person, drink straight from the bottle.

2)

You will always encounter people who might want to put you down. Take no notice of them. Except if they’re a qualified vet.

3)

He who laughs last… should never sit in the front row at one of my comedy nights or it’ll totally ruin my timing.

4)

It’s not an apple a day that keeps the doctor away. It’s his receptionist.

5)

Never look a gift horse in the mouth. And be even more careful when examining the other end.

6)

If you receive an e-mail from an African Prince, promising untold riches if you send him £5000 and it takes you more than three seconds to decide what to do….send him the £5000.

7)

Humans are divided into two types. Thought-ful and Thought-less.  And those who are hopeless at maths

8)

Whenever you’re feeling hard done by, depressed or just had a rotten day, take comfort in the fact things could be much worse.

You could be Jeffrey Archer.

9)

If you can’t tell a book by its cover, why do books have covers?

10)

There are three special words that will help you to get through life:

Please.

Thank you.

Sorry.

There is a fourth special word….but that should be held in reserve for specific occasions. Like when you bang your thumb with a hammer.

And it all goes quiet again

Well, it’s all over for another five years. It is safe to say that I won’t see or hear from any local councillors for at least another four years and six months.

I’ve seen more of my local MP in the last four weeks than I have in the last four years!

I don’t think a day went by in the last month when I didn’t get a knock on the door from a political candidate, or a handful of flyers dropped through my letterbox.

My recycling bag is very overloaded this week. I got more flyers from the Green Party than all of the others put together!

I’m quite disappointed that the SNP didn’t go into a coalition government with any of the other parties, as I was quite looking forward to the opportunity of a joint Welsh Valentine’s Night and Burns night celebration which would have given me the ideal opportunity to wear a Cwtsh T shirt and a kilt at the same time.

Is it for fitness or for fashion?

Occasionally, I do visit the local gym with a view to keeping reasonably fit and healthy, despite the fact that many of you reading my weekly column think that most of my time is spent in cafes and coffee shops. Now that’s a surprise for so many of you. Not only do I get fitter in the gym, it’s a surprising source of entertainment.

Young men wearing the latest designer Lycra tights and shorts, spending half the time admiring themselves on the wall to wall mirrors, whilst drinking large quantities of protein shakes, which I’m told helps the body building session.

Ladies, who could be sales assistants in Debenhams cosmetics department, all glammed up – touching up their makeup in-between and during training. No sweat in sight!

I think their eyelashes have more of a work out that they do.

Half an hour later, I see the same group of people drinking coffee and eating cakes in the coffee shop next door. Just don’t ask me how I knew they were in there! I love people watching.

Green issue is red hot

If you’ve got your finger on the pulse of what’s occurin’ in this big world of ours, then you’ll be aware that recycling is a hot topic. Maybe not as hot as the hottest thing known to man . . .

That title goes to a McDonald’s apple pie, but just like one of those devilish desserts, it’s a burning issue . . .

If you’ve never had a McDonald’s apple pie, I can tell you they make molten lava erupting from a volcano feel like an ice-cold, bone-chilling wind, blowing in from the Russian Steppes. Before attempting to eat one, leave it on your plate for a while. Say . . . er . . .48 hours.

It’s expected of us that, despite our busy work and family commitments, we have to recycle almost everything that comes in through our front doors, in a never-ending effort to help our planet.

That’s quite a big ask. Unlike Kim Kardashian’s rear, which is a big….err…now where was I?

As we’re constantly badgered into recycling by our local council, politicians and environmentalists, there’s no need for millions of pounds to be spent on scientific research into why we’re all feeling so tired these days.

The fact is, we’re worn out from lying awake at night wondering if we’ve put our recycling in the correct receptacles ready for collection day.

Because if we haven’t and they find out, your local council now has the power to have you publicly flogged and your home repossessed.

Think I’m joking?

Hang on to this page for five or six years, re-read it and then see if I’m exaggerating.

Personally, I got into the habit of recycling several years ago.

Every week I put out a box of cans & glass bottles; a bag full of plastic items; a box of food scraps; a box of newspapers and old clothes; a bag of cardboard items and on alternate weeks, either a bin full of garden rubbish or a bin full of household rubbish. Yes it takes some organising, but a man’s got to have a hobby.

When it seemed that there was absolutely nothing left for us to recycle, the City Council of Bristol, the U.K’s first European Green Capital, have come up with a recycling scheme that many people might find distasteful. In fact, you might well turn your noses up at the thought of it.

So if you’ve just eaten, are about to eat or are tucking into a Gregg’s pastie as you read this, you might want to come back and finish the article later in the day.

Bristol is the first British city to operate a bus that’s powered by human sewage.

I don’t know exactly how it’s done, but the process involves sewage being transformed into biothemane gas which powers the ‘bus. Brilliant!

I’m not going to make any cheap toilet jokes or even raise the delicate question about what might be expected of the passengers if the ‘bus suddenly runs out of fuel.

But what I have to point out – because it’s absolutely true – is that the first ‘bus in Bristol to be powered by you-know-what… is a Number Two.