Hooked on caravans? Not me, thank you!

As I’ve grown older and wider…err…wiser, I’ve been able to answer many questions that once baffled me, such as . . .

“Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?”

The answer is now blindingly obvious.

It’s because your pockets are full of birdseed.

And . . .

“If a picture paints a thousand words, why can’t I paint you?”

Because I failed my G.C.S.E. in Art.

But some things still have me scratching my head, apart from dandruff.

The most vexing question of all being . . . what is the strange madness that insidiously persuades a normal person to purchase a touring caravan?

I just don’t get it.

They take over your driveway and have to be hooked-up to your car so you can head off to a faraway campsite where you can sleep in a smaller, cramped version of the larger, more comfortable home you couldn’t wait to get away from.

It can’t just be me who thinks this is bonkers, surely?

Just last weekend as I was headed down the M5, a designated HR – indicating ‘Holdups . . . Regularly’ – I was accompanied by an army of cars towing rectangular metal homes on wheels, all the way to my coastal destination, where their owners would sleep in smaller, cramped versions of the larger more comfortable home they’d . . . well, you get the picture.

I, however, booked into a smashing B and B supported by foundations, not wheels.

The incident that put me off caravans forever happened when I was staying with some wealthy, caravan-loving friends around the time they were looking for a grander, more expensive replacement for their then-current state-of-the-art, four-berth model.

Being an agreeable fool, I foolishly agreed to accompany them while they spent a very long afternoon wandering around an enormous caravan sales site, forensically inspecting every inch of every single model on display, as their non-stop commentary on every ‘delightful’ space-saving item that caught their eye got me thinking of various dramatic escape plans, like fainting . . . or death.

As the hours dragged-by I noticed that every caravan’s furniture, fixtures and fittings were just miniature reproductions of what my friends already had in their house!

I wanted to shout: “Stay at home and enjoy the additional space!”

By the time I’d seen inside the umpteenth caravan I was so bored that to break the monotony I adjourned to the coffee shop and completed an application form to join the Caravan Club.

The coffee wasn’t up to much either.

Is this really a ‘hate crime’?

Every day I read or hear something that makes me wonder if it’s me or the world that’s going loopy.

Here’s what Nottinghamshire Constabulary are currently considering calling a ‘hate’ crime.

“A sound made with pursed lips in appreciation of superior beauty.

It is in two parts; the first a rising note and the second a falling note”.

In other words . . . a wolf-whistle.

I thought ‘a sound made with pursed lips’ was a distant memory of when cheerful milkmen and spotty butcher’s boys whistled tuneless melodies.

But apparently it’s still a crude way of expressing approval of ‘winsome ladies’ by fat, shirtless men on building sites.

While it’s wrong for workmen to intimidate young women by wolf-whistling them, it appears some females of all ages feel that being whistled-at ‘objectifies’ and ‘de-humanises’ them.

That‘s a debate for another time and a longer article.

However, when so many appalling atrocities around the world are created out of hate, by considering the wolf-whistle is in the same category, Nottinghamshire Constabulary do us all a disservice.

Watch out – it looks like Christmas is on the way

It’s only July and people are already planning for their festive celebrations.

What’s going on?

Many of my comedy chums – including myself – are already having enquiries for bookings for Christmas shows, which is unusual for July.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a lovely position to be in, but I’ve never come across people being so organised and forward thinking.

What better way to end the year than to be part of an event that lifts peoples’ spirits and instills the feel good factor by looking at life through the eyes of a trained observer?

Yes, that’s what we do. We observe our surroundings and the views of the world whilst often saying what many are thinking, but often not brave enough to say.

It’s a bit like walking a tightrope at times. Challenging and surprising, yet maintaining the entertainment factor so that people can escape from the day to day stresses that sap all of our energy and joy.

“Life is like a box of chocolates,” Gran used to tell me. “Eat too many and you’ll end up with your Grandad’s backside!”

The naked truth can be hard to stomach

If you’ve been a regular reader of my random thoughts for the past couple of years, I’ve got two things to say to you.

Firstly . . . thank you! It’s gratifying that at least one person doesn’t immediately turn to the next page when they see my name at the top of this one and enjoys reading what I’ve written – even if you don’t agree with everything I say!

Secondly . . . you’re obviously highly intelligent, with a discerning taste in journalistic content.

That being the case, presumably you’ve read about the new London restaurant that caters for naked diners?

That’s right – a place where you have to be nude to eat the food!

When I first read about it, I had the same horrific mental picture as you just did, of a crowd of exhibitionists in their saggy, baggy birthday suits, stuffing their faces . . . with all their bits and pieces on display.

Pass the sick bag!

Remarkably – and worryingly – at the last count, it has a waiting-list of 46,000 people!

As it’s only open for the summer months – presumably because winter heating bills would be astronomical – it’s bound to be a success.

I couldn’t eat in a place where I and my fellow diners were completely starkers.

From a practical point of view, where would we keep our credit cards to pay the bill?

No answers on postcards, please!

Not to put too fine a point on it, before I sat down I’d have to be assured that immediately after the previous diner had vacated it, my chair had been thoroughly disinfected, steam-cleaned and fumigated by a HAZ-MAT hazardous materials team.

And then given a light dusting with a flame-thrower!

London seems to have gone nudism crazy, because on the same day The Queen attended the Trooping Of The Colour Ceremony, several hundred nude cyclists pedalled through the capital on ‘World Naked Bike Ride Day’.

No, it wasn’t marked on my calendar either.

The organiser (a bicycle-spokes-person?) said, “It’s a celebration of the bicycle, the power and individuality of the human body and a symbol of the vulnerability of cyclists in traffic.”

I do hope that immediately after he said that, a boggle-eyed motorist, stunned at the sight of a thousand wobbling pink bottoms, didn’t suddenly swerve, knock him off his bike and send him sprawling face down in The Mall just as The Queen drove past.

“Oh, look, Phillip! What an unusual place to park one’s bike!”

Bare-faced cheek!

Time for topical telly return?

What a week it’s been.

The way change is taking place at the moment – in six months time we may easily be mistaken for living on another planet.

The newspapers have never had it so good – stories and breaking news on a daily basis. At this rate, we may even have enough material to bring back that amazingly topical satirical Spitting Image TV show. Now there’s a thought!

Another lady at the helm and a Prime Minister that the nation hadn’t banked on up until the last minute.

Margaret Thatcher must be looking down, smiling and thinking, “all we need now is a woman in charge of America and the future will be safe.”

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. There is so much more that could be said here but I’m playing safe and quickly running out of column inches.

One thing Theresa May seems to be saying with her cabinet reshuffle is that the previous Government really was rubbish. Just an observation, obviously.

Now there’s an idea brewing somewhere

Each week my aim is to come up with interesting, challenging and sometimes colourful content to fill column inches for you, the reader.

Often this content flows easily, but at times the brain is not as creative as one would like, therefore inspiration is needed to kick start the process, hopefully leading on to something that will be worth reading.

What often helps is the various fascinating meetings I have during the week, many of which are also held in some interesting places.

Having said that, one of my oldest and dearest friends, John Howell from Llansamlet, Swansea, who is a character that closely resembles ‘Victor Meldrew’, and could easily be mistaken for the grumpy character in Last Of The Summer Wine, often contacts me to say that for yet another week, I have failed to mention that I’ve been in a coffee shop.

Now then – let me set the record straight. Much can be seen and gained by spending time in such surroundings. In fact, some of my best material and ideas started life in a coffee shop.

So, if you do see me in one that you frequent, please say hello.

Just choose your words carefully!

IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT, THEN DON’T LIGHT THE FIRE!

If someone swore at you in the street, threatened you and insulted your character, you’d feel justifiably annoyed and upset.

You’d probably call the police and have him locked-up.

Depending on the size of the person in question, you might want to give him a ‘punch up the bracket’ as my Uncle Billy used to say in the rasping Cockney accent of an old Covent Garden costermonger with a face burnished from decades of working outside in all weathers.

We never understood why Billy spoke like that, because he was only 35 and a window-dresser from Aberystwyth.

Today, people don’t insult you in the street.

They do it through a laptop or smart phone via ‘social’ media.

Some of the ill-informed bile that’s unleashed on Twitter by trolls is nothing short of disgraceful.

But it’s not just anonymous keyboard junkies who let rip their unfiltered opinions on other people.

Charlotte Church – Voice of an Angel; Language Of A Docker – recently let rip with a turbo-charged, foul-mouthed rant about Nigel Farage on Twitter.

Her children must be so proud of her.

I’m apolitical and think it’s unwise to become publicly involved in either politics or religion – as I remarked to Carwyn Jones while dining with the Pope at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s two-up, two-down.

But staunch ‘Remainer’ Charlotte gave the world her opinion of Farage and his ambitions for the U.K. to leave the E.U.

Then surprise, surprise, the poor mite was ‘shocked’ to be criticised for it on Twitter.

I’m not condoning the vile threats she received, but surely common sense dictates that if you insult 17 million people who voted for Brexit, some of them are going to feel peeved.

On her Facebook page, she said:

“Maybe I shouldn’t have lowered myself to calling Farage names but the messages of abuse and threats I’m getting are horrifying.

“I’ll be reporting them to the police. I understand many of us have different opinions on this but let’s try and stem this swell of hate.”

In her desire to be seen as the offended party, Ms Church chose to ignore that she was the one who created this particular ‘swell of hate’.

I use social media all the time, but I never abuse it and choose my words very carefully.

And none of them would upset The Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Carwyn Jones?

Show of community spirit

Last week’s highlight for me was performing my Phil Evans and Friends show at the Llangwm Festival in Pembrokeshire.

This was the sixth time I had been invited back to perform a comedy evening in this beautiful part of Wales, in a village community where everyone knows each other and continues to pull together for the benefit of the community as a whole.

It was like stepping back in time to the way that towns and villages used to engage with each other many years ago.

The age range was from 16 to 80 and, luckily for us as performers, we were able to tickle the funny bones of every generation and our efforts were truly appreciated.

The community spirit in many parts of the country is not always as good as we witnessed last weekend but so much can be gained by a handful of determined people pulling together for the benefit of all to make a difference in the community, thereby setting an example for future generations.

We are writing the Christmas show now in readiness for special venues such as Llangwm.

Yes, Christmas. Yes, only 23 more weeks to go!

Rushing into a blunder

In my job, I do a lot of driving up and down the country and much of this time is spent on motorways, where you really have to have your wits about you. It seems to me that the nation’s driving is getting worse; everyone seems to be in a rush.

Now then, here is one thing that never fails to amaze me.

A few times recently I have been happily travelling along within the speed limit and out of nowhere, right behind me appears someone who is in much more of a rush than the rest of the universe. I can’t see their number plate as they are so close.

When they pass me, I can clearly see the likes of ‘Bob’s Plastering Service’, ‘Pete’s Plumbing’, accompanied by their email address and contact number.

Now forgive me if I’m wrong, but driving like an absolute plonker while advertising your contact details on your van is not the ideal way to promote your business, is it?

Just a thought.

We can’t do anything about the decision!

It’s the news story of the century that sent shockwaves through the UK and far beyond.

Before it hit the media, millions of people wondered if it could happen, while millions more hoped that somehow The Gods of Common Sense could steer our future into a safe harbour and ensure that it just wouldn’t happen.

As the magnitude of the earth-shatteringly momentous decision began to sink in, feelings of dread and panic began to ripple through every strata of British society.

The great and the good and the lowest of the low were worried how it would affect them, their loved ones and their day-to-day lives.

When they got wind of what was going on, even the great financial institutions had a temporary wobble.

You could say that when the penny dropped, so did the pound.

But the decision has been made, we can’t do anything about it, so we just have to gird our loins and accept it.

Yes, dear friends and readers, from next year, “Coronation Street” will be broadcast six nights a week!

Here’s what an ITV spokesman said . . .

“We’ll be going on air with six episodes in the autumn of 2017. As it’s a year away it gives us the opportunity to define a bespoke Coronation Street solution for how we’ll achieve six, while carefully maintaining and enhancing the quality of what we do.”

No, I’m not 100% sure what he means either.

Currently “Corrie” has five episodes a week, but as I don’t watch it now, I certainly won’t be visiting Weatherfield six nights a week.

I’ve never been a huge soap fan, so don’t understand why people want to come home from a hard day’s work and watch 30-minute slices of misery, argumentative finger-pointing . . . and most hideous of all . . . some very dodgy acting.

I occasionally watched “Corrie” when it was only on Monday and Wednesday evenings and featured believable, sympathetic characters, memorable storylines that gripped the nation and laugh-out-loud comedy moments.

But, I stopped watching when the Battersbys arrived because they seemed to have been brought-in to rival the belligerent, confrontational families in “Eastenders”.

When Les and Janice moved in, I moved on.

By avoiding all TV soaps – including “Casualty” and “Holby City”- for 20 years, my viewing schedule and my life has been ‘de-cluttered’.

I recommend it. Just one question:

Does Meg Mortimer still manage the “Crossroads Motel”?