Ear, ear .. watch out for surprise visitors

Mister Summer’s arrived at our front doors for his annual visit, carrying a suitcase full of sunshine.

He usually hangs around for a couple of months and although his warm personality is always welcome, he can be a notoriously contrary visitor.

He has a tendency to unexpectedly pop-off on holiday at the drop of a Panama hat for a couple of days, allowing his greyer, rather more miserable brother Mister Rain to move in temporarily and dampen everyone’s spirits.

He certainly dampened my spirits the afternoon I left half a glass of vodka outside on the patio table during a thunderstorm and returned to find it diluted and undrinkable.

One thing I don’t like about summertime is the proliferation of ‘mini-beasts’ it brings out.

If I decide to relax in my garden with a coffee and newspaper, within minutes the creepy crawly clarion call goes up and my chair’s invaded by ants; woodlice; wasps; bluebottles; flies; beetles; big fat bumble bees . . . and spiders of varying size.

Although I’ve had a few unpleasant confrontations with insects and arachnids, thankfully I’ve never gone through what Victoria Price from Porthcawl recently experienced.

Suffering from a pain in her ear, she asked her husband Huw to take a look.

To his surprise (and her horror!) he found a live spider lurking in the ear canal. So, they went straight to the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend, where she was treated by nurse practitioner Sarah Gaze.

According to Victoria, “Sarah shone a torch in my ear, said ‘Okay’ and then went off to find someone who would take it out.”

Who was that? Indiana Jones?

Removing the spider was a straightforward task, involving tweezers, a steady hand and a lot of patience. As to how the spider got there, Victoria thinks it was hiding in the hood of a coat she’d put on after swimming in the sea.

Worryingly, this isn’t an isolated incident.

A couple of years ago, the singer Katie Melua kept hearing a scratching noise – and when she went to the doctor’s  she discovered to her shock that it was caused by a spider living inside her ear.

Worryingly, it’d been there for a week!

And hadn’t the decency to pay something towards the rent.

So, before you rest your head on your pillow tonight, check there’s nothing nasty scrabbling around in your bed and don’t let your ear become a web-site!

Enjoy life to the full in the face of evil

It’s very hard to crack a smile this week. There seems to be so much in the news to upset and worry us, on top of that its raining as I write this so that always makes you feel 10 times more miserable than you originally were!

So, what is going on?

An MP brutally murdered in her home town in broad daylight, it seems that now people can’t even feel safe on the streets where they grew up. But how much of this is made worse by the media? We are suffocated by images on the news, social media and newspapers, which makes us worry for our safety all the more.

The best answer to this in my opinion is to live every day to the fullest, look after your friends and family and enjoy life.

We can’t be scared by a minority of evil.

We owe it to Jo Cox and her family to keep her name alive and everything she campaigned so hard for.

May she rest in peace.

Major’s trip was out of this world

Wasn’t it fantastic to see Major Tim Peake, Britain’s first official astronaut, return back to Earth?

I wonder if he is suffering from the same jet lag as I am after returning from Vancouver last week?

Do you get jet lag after flying home from outer space? Answers on a postcard please.

On 15th January this year Major Peake became the first Briton to complete a space walk and on 24th April became the first astronaut to run a marathon in space, completing a virtual reality version of the London Marathon in a time of 3:35:21.

During his six months on the ISS Major Peake was able to talk directly with students and answer hundreds of their questions through the Cosmic Classroom live link up. Amazing stuff.

If that doesn’t inspire a whole new little bunch of future astronauts, I don’t know what will!

My favourite part of his journey though has to be when pensioner Betty Barker, 79, received an unexpected call from the International Space Station after Major Peake dials the wrong number.

Now that beats those boring PPI claim cold calls . . .

Distance is no barrier to sending you my column

You’ll be glad to learn that I safely made it.

I’m writing this week’s column from the comfort of my hotel room which is in the Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver. Isn’t technology great?

This means that I can be anywhere in the world and still communicate with the South Wales Evening Post and meet their strict printing deadlines.

Except for Rhyl, there is never a good wi-fi signal in Rhyl!

This Canadian hotel offers views of the harbour and mountains and actually reminds me a little of the Marina in Swansea!

It doesn’t quite have the same aroma though.

There are cruise ships coming and going and sea planes taking off and landing at regular intervals. I really should stop daydreaming now and do some work.

I wonder if I could learn to fly a sea plane in seven days?

That way, I wouldn’t have to get on that monster aeroplane for the flight home!

Who knows?

Keep an eye out over the Marina next week; I may just be flying myself home and landing on the river by Sainsbury’s!

Good policing is all we want – in any language

It’s Not A Fair Cop Guv.

A recent TV documentary focused on people who’d ‘had a go’ – from stopping an armed robbery to helping someone who’d fallen ill.

Some were glad they’d intervened, some regretted being Good Samaritans.

Was there ever a Bad Samaritan?

The consensus was . . . leave it to the police.

However, emergencies often require a split-second reaction.

If you saw someone’s life was in danger, would you wait for the Police or step in? I don’t think any of us know until it happens.

Should you ever need the assistance of the police, would you particularly care what language they spoke?

It’s a question worth asking because Dyfed-Powys Police are actively recruiting Welsh-speaking officers.

I’m a Welsh speaker, but if I was caught in the middle of a crisis that required the boys and girls in blue to get me out of it, I really wouldn’t care when the cops arrived, if they greeted me with “Wyt ti’n iawn?” or “You alright, mate?” and I don’t suppose you would either.

I’d just be thankful they’d turned up.

I have huge respect for the police, but shouldn’t they be ‘actively recruiting’ first-rate personnel who are able to react calmly and intelligently to the many different situations they’re expected to deal with, without giving specific preference to the language they speak?

It’s not just more Welsh-speaking police officers that Dyfed-Powys Police are concerned with.

“Another objective is to ensure staff and officers have the appropriate knowledge and resources to take into account its ageing population through service delivery and workforce management.”

Service delivery and workforce management?

Are they a police force or a B and Q warehouse?

You know those TV info-mercials flogging household appliances that aren’t available in the shops (“Ring now and ask about the £850 a month easy-payment plan!) and every time you think they’ve finished they shout “That’s not all!” and offer something more?

Well, “That’s not all!” Dyfed Powys Police have to say . . .

“Having specific objectives helps keep everyone’s mind focused and most importantly ensures that we are developing a service which our communities have had an opportunity to have a say in.”

Ouch! That wording’s so clunky, my head hurts!

It’s only a suggestion, but before they recruit more Welsh-speaking officers , it might be a good idea to hire someone who can write and speak clear, concise English.

I can make myself available on Tuesday afternoons.

Evenin’ all!

Making Hay while the sun shines

Make Hay in the festival sunshine was great fun,

Well, I have to say, the prospect of a day at the Hay Festival last Bank Holiday Monday was a daunting one.

I had heard that it would be full of gentlemen in straw boaters reading the Daily Telegraph and chatting about their yacht which was moored just off Saint Tropez.

How wrong was I!

What a fantastic day out.

The sun was blazing down on the beautiful town of Hay on Wye, the streets were jam-packed with all sorts of stalls including crafts, books, antiques, wonderful food and drink. There really was something for everyone.

The festival park was a great place if you are a lover of reading, with many famous authors on hand to sign a copy of their latest books.

I nearly tripped over Ruby Wax on my way to get a cake in the food tent; there was no way she was beating me to the last Welsh Cake!

A great day out was had by all. Well done to the organisers. I will definitely be returning next year for a few days. Who knows, maybe I’ll have written my own book by then?

We won’t get fooled again……. Will we?

We all have our favourite old sayings – or ‘maxims’ as they’re referred to in some circles and one or two London squares.

Here’s one of mine . . .

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and have it confirmed.”

Mind you, that’s not the best advice for a comedian when you consider the original name of someone whose job it was to tickle the funny-bones of ancient Kings and Queens was a ‘fool’.

Comedians aside, nobody wants to be thought of as being foolish or stupid.

“Oh, I’ve been such a fool!” they say and get all worked-up about what other people might think.

Why? I’ve always thought that worrying about appearing to be stupid is in itself pretty stupid, because it’s inevitable that we’ll do and say stupid things.

Even the Queen of England has the odd stupid day when, her mind reeling with affairs of State and what to cook Phillip for his tea (“Please Liz! Not flippin’ sausage and chips again!”), she takes her crown for a walk and wears a corgi on her head.

Just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it never happens.

Recently, visitors to the San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art were made to feel incredibly stupid because they’d been fooled into thinking a pair of black, horn-rimmed spectacles, placed on the floor of a gallery, was an art installation.

They gathered around the glasses, took photographs and in hushed tones, discussed the meaning of this minimalist exhibit.

Was it a comment on the limits of individual perception?

A reference to man’s short-sightedness with regard to climate change?

No.

In fact, the glasses had been left on the floor, below an official-looking card, as a prank by two teenagers –Kevin Nguyen and T.J. Khayatan – to see what the reaction would be.

They decided to do this after they’d viewed several exhibits around the building that were so bizarre, they questioned their artistic merits.

After puzzling over why the museum owners thought these oddities worthy of display, they came up with the simple but effective ‘glasses’ idea.

It reminds me of the time I visited the National Museum of Wales and was so impressed by one exhibit’s vivid colour and clever symmetry, I asked a staff member what it was.

He looked me up and down and said, “That, sir, is what’s known as a fire extinguisher!”

Muhammad Ali

To the long list of celebrities who’ve passed away in 2016, we add the name of Muhammad Ali aka The Greatest.

If boxers are modern gladiators, then he can easily be compared to the legendary Spartacus.

Not only did Ali display exceptional skill and boundless courage in the arena, he freed a huge number of people from the shackles of prejudice and repression.

Yes, some of the things he said and did were controversial, but his charisma, outspokenness and frequent public declarations of his own greatness – often done with his tongue firmly in his cheek – were qualities that made him attractive to the media and showbiz world for decades.

His fans included Presidents and entertainers – and at his funeral in his home town of Louisville, Kentucky, eulogies will be read by Billy Crystal and Bill Clinton.

Not all that he stood for was considered acceptable, but he had an unshakable belief system which no doubt assisted him in becoming a world class athlete and a man of considerable influence.

He suffered defeat in his sporting and personal life, but always fought back like the true champion that he was.

Up, up and away

Why is there such a need to make everything bigger?

I’m writing this week’s column from a London hotel in readiness for a work related trip to Vancouver, flying from Heathrow tomorrow.

I was happy up until this morning – then my companion for this trip informed me that we are flying on the new Airbus A380.

At first, this didn’t mean a thing to me.

Then, I discovered on the internet something that made my stomach turn.

It appears that this is the biggest passenger airline in the world.

I’m not a big fan of flying. Well, my arms get tired for a start.

I watched a video of this huge double-decker aircraft take off and land and its sheer size made it hard to imagine that such a thing can stay up in the air and land safely.

From what I can see, the wings are about the same size as the Swansea Airport runway.

I have already halved the contents of my suitcase to give this winged beast a better chance of staying up in the air. Wish me luck!

A ‘hole’ new way to enjoy some exercise

Readers, I started this week off by being very, very, confused.

I had just sat down to catch-up on some television when a friend telephoned me.

He asked if I would like to join him for a game of Footgolf!

Now, I have played football and I have played golf; both, very badly I may add.

But, I had never, ever heard of, or played, this new sport called ‘Footgolf’. So, my friend explained to me the rules of the game.

‘If you can kick a football, you can play footgolf’, he told me. And, once I had visited the new FootGolf course on Swansea’s Mumbles Road, I quickly realised that I could play. And, in doing so, I had a ball!

Footgolf is as easy as it sounds. It’s basically playing a game of golf using a football.

Yes, the balls and holes are a lot larger than those in golf, but there is a lot more fun to be had. And, although it is as easy as kicking a ball into a hole, with the least amount of kicks, I couldn’t help but enjoy the challenge.

I was also amazed by who was playing the game.

I had expected there to be sportspersons there, but it was not only these enthusiasts that were enjoying themselves. All walks of life were on the course: the young and the more mature. I chatted to businessmen who were on there for a teambuilding course; ladies celebrating a hen party, and also a charming, retired couple playing for exercise!

Yet, the one thing that really pleased me was to see the children playing in the fresh air.

They were getting fit and they were outdoors and away from their computer games and forgetting about their mobile phones whilst doing it!

The afternoon really reminded me of how we can all enjoy the simpler things in life, together. And, I can’t give a ‘red card’ to the attempt of anyone who tries to ‘tackle’ the sport.

There was a lovely feeling from being surrounded by the people of Swansea who were trying something new and having a great time whilst sharing the experience.

And, although I came second in the match with my friend, I felt I had won, because I hadn’t just sat in front of the television, all afternoon.