The selfie generation should take a long hard look at themselves

When I recently visited London for the first time in almost a year I couldn’t believe how tourist behaviour had changed.

Instead of taking photographs of their family/friends in front of famous landmarks, most visitors were taking ‘selfies’ using ‘selfie sticks’.

It doesn’t just occur in London. This ever-growing madness of taking selfies goes on everywhere . . . maybe in your neighbourhood. So be vigilant!

Because selfie-takers are narcissists who don’t consider that taking pointless selfie-after-selfie of themselves in the same position is annoying to people around them. I know you like me to give you an example . . .

A friend of mine went to see the “Peter Pan” pantomime at Cardiff’s New Theatre during the last week of the run.

The pantomime was excellent, but before the curtain was raised he was unintentionally involved in a pre-show show.

Two very excitable (i.e. annoying) young women in the row immediately in front of him took at least 20 selfies of themselves using a mobile phone that utilised a flash mode, like an old-style camera.

So, every time they put their empty heads together to take another selfie he had to suffer this bright flash.

They did exactly the same during the interval. Why? So they could look at all the ‘photos later and say, “That’s us sat in a theatre. That’s also us sat in a theatre. And that one is . . . us sat in a theatre!”

The official dictionary definition of a ‘Selfie’ is . . .

“A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.”

While the dictionary definition of “Selfish” is . . .

“Of a person, action, or motive lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”

Which not only neatly describes the ‘look at me’ brigade addicted to selfies, it also adds weight to my unofficial definition of a ‘Selfie Stick’ . . .

“A big piece of wood that people not addicted to taking pointless photographs of themselves every minute of the day should be legally entitled to bring down heavily on the heads of those self-obsessed individuals who are.”

It’s breathtaking out here on the piste

This week’s column has come to you from the top of a glacier in Gressoney, a beautiful part of Italy.

The views are breath-taking and this puts me in the ideal mood to come up with some creative writing without any distractions.

We are 2,608 metres above sea level, snow has fallen almost every day for the past month and continues to do so.

Transportation is good, buses and cars are running as normal. The local shops are well stocked with fresh food. Bread and milk are in abundance and there is no sign of any panic buying.

The temperature here is well below freezing, but the local residents and visitors alike are thoroughly enjoying the winter season and all that it brings.

Clearly, if this was happening back home, we would all be in shut down mode and a state of chaos and panic. Right, that’s enough taking the piste, I’m off to build a snowman!

Sad but strange

When two well-known people die on the same day, the person who gets more coverage in the newspapers and the TV and Radio news is often the one who deserves it the least . . . in my humble opinion, I hasten to add.

On February the 8th, an elderly man and a much younger woman, who were high profile in entirely different fields, both died.

He was 87-year old Alan Simpson, one half of the legendary comedy-writing team of Galton and Simpson who not only created the first British television sitcom “Hancock’s Half Hour” in the 1950s but then went on to even greater heights in the 1960s with “Steptoe And Son” which regularly attracted 18 million viewers. American TV made their own version called “Sanford and Son”.

The prolific Galton and Simpson also wrote films including the hilarious “The Wrong Arm Of The Law”, starring Peter Sellers; “The Rebel”, starring Tony Hancock; and two “Steptoe and Son” spin-offs – plus hundreds of episodes of radio and TV sitcoms.

The young woman who died on the same day – who I won’t name in case any readers knew her or felt some affinity with her – was described in her obituaries as a ‘socialite’.

I wasn’t aware of what a socialite does for a living . . . so I looked it up.

The thousands of pounds that Mater and Pater spent on my years at Eton weren’t wasted were they?

It turns out that a socialite isn’t actually a job description.

It refers to a person who’s well known in fashionable society and fond of social activities and entertainment. So, there’s no chance I’ll ever be called a socialite.

As she didn’t have a career, presumably the lady was able to maintain her fun lifestyle because she came from a rich family. Another reason I’ll never be called a socialite.

While many newspapers splashed on the young woman’s passing on their front and inside pages, they relegated Alan’s demise to a paragraph around page 20. It’s a funny old world, to be sure.

During the decades he created timeless, classic comedy, Alan Simpson helped to make it so.

Well, someone needs to point this stuff out.

Should we do more for the environment?

I’ve heard it all now. Prince Charles – aka the Prince of Wales, aka the Heir to the Throne –  has called on us all to put two bins in our bathrooms to help recycling.

Now I don’t know how big his bathroom is, but if I did that I wouldn’t be able to fit in the bathroom.

Absolutely ridiculous, many would say, but there are others that would agree I’m sure.

Dumping all our rubbish in one bin has become a thing of the past, fines for doing this are on the increase and the recycling police are extremely vigilant at the local ‘amenity site’, aka the recycling plant.

I paid them a visit myself on Sunday morning and witnessed dozens of people strategically disposing of their domestic waste in no less that 12 separate containers.

This was something of an event in itself and something that many are now doing on a regular basis.

Has this now replaced Sunday morning church or a walk in the park?

We do live in interesting times.

What’s all this Who-ha about then?

Since Peter Capaldi announced that, after four years he’s leaving the role of Doctor Who once he’s filmed the 2017 Christmas special, there’s been much speculation about who should succeed him as the Time Lord.

The fervour and excitement surrounding this story has been so great, questions have even been raised in the House.

Not the House of Commons. The house of my mate Terry – a ‘Whovian’.

No, he’s not half-man, half-vacuum cleaner. A Whovian is a dedicated Doctor Who fan(atic).

They’re sometimes called other things – but this is a family friendly post.

The questions raised by Terry – and the media – were the same ones asked when the previous two Doctors (David Tennant and err . . . cough . . . umm . . . wotsisname) admitted they’d had enough of being chased around Cardiff by a BBC Wales camera crew every Saturday night as they routinely saved the Universe with the aid of little more than a witty remark, a knowing smile and a screwdriver that’s almost as versatile as a Swiss army knife.

The Doctor also has unseen help in scaring-off alien monsters in the form of the relentless, bombastic musical accompaniment of the National Orchestra Of Wales.

The musicians always give the impression that the louder and faster they play, the more money they get.

Perhaps they spend it all on aspirins?

Prior to seeing a couple of the Capaldi episodes last year, I hadn’t watched Doctor Who for decades.

It was so long ago, the Doctor was still making house calls.

I stopped watching the show after sitting through a video tape of six episodes back-to-back and suddenly realised I needed something that I’d never have access to while I remained a Doctor Who fan. A life!

Anyway, these were the questions raised by Terry The Whovian and the entire British media . . .

Why can’t the next Doctor Who be a woman?

Why can’t the next Doctor Who be played by a black actor?

Why can’t the next Doctor Who be played by a black actress?

All valid and worth considering. But I just wonder . . . if Doctor Who is ever played by an actress, could it lead to other fictional male characters changing their sex?

Will our TV schedules and multiplexes treat us to the adventures of . . .

Jane Bond

Shirley Holmes

Mary Potter

Freda Krueger

Lucy Skywalker

Judith Ben-Hur

Mad Maxine

Darth Ada

And . . .

Indy Anna Jones.

Let me know if you think of any more . . .

More spare beds in DFS than NHS

Research has shown that we spend four days a year searching for a car parking space – unless you’re in Swansea Morriston hospital car park, then it’s four days a week!

No doubt, it will continue to be for years to come as the challenges faced with parking seem to be increasing on a regular basis.

Millions have been spent on new buildings and improved services, which it provides for thousands of patients in Wales and beyond.

The Morriston site is home to many unsung heroes, with a passion for making a difference, despite being grossly underfunded.

The overworked staff are stretched to the limit, but still manage to do a great job, many of whom perform at a level over and above the normal call of duty.

Last week, it was announced that the infamous ‘bubble tunnel’ was being demolished.

A tunnel that resembled that of the NASA space centre, built to link the old hospital with the new. Something I personally have memories of as a child.

Yes, the heat in that tunnel in the summer was reminiscent of my grandfather’s greenhouse.

So what’s the difference between DFS and the NHS?

Well, apparently you’ll find more beds in DFS!

Time to cut off call centres

It’s safe to say that I’m not a big fan of call centres, or cold callers, despite the fact that everyone has to make a living.

But I draw the line when unsolicited calls from such establishments come through on my mobile phone.

My mobile number is only known to close friends and family. So how did that happen?

Our privacy is slowly but surely being eroded. The caller advised that he had information on me that indicated I was due substantial compensation having been mis-sold PPI (payment protection insurance).

He said that the information that he had was accurate and had been provided by a regulated and reliable source and I just needed to answer a few personal questions.

So being me, I played along. He then wanted to know my address. Then my previous mortgage companies.

It was then that I reminded him that it would be rather foolish of me to provide personal and sensitive information to a stranger over the phone. He got annoyed and hung up on me.

I know I have never been mis-sold any financial products in the past, so the gentleman was clearly lying and not even very good at it. Now I have even less tolerance of call centres.

How did we end up in this Age of Stupid?

This world has struggled through many different Ages. Millions of years ago we had the Ice Age, followed by (wearing a bearskin and thermal boxer shorts) the Stone Age, which was replaced by the Iron Age.

The 18th Century was referred to as The Age Of Enlightenment because of advances in politics, philosophy, science and communications across Europe. That seems a very long time ago.

Today, as I look at what’s happening everywhere from the White House to Downing Street to my street, I get the feeling that The Age Of Enlightenment has been replaced by The Age Of Stupid.

Where to begin?

Some time ago I wrote about the idiotic trend for grown men to wear shorts all year round, even when the temperature’s below freezing.  What gets into them?

Apart from hypo-thermia?

I said they looked ridiculous and – in the case of the over-70s – they should do us a favour and cover up their pale, bony legs.

My opinions are so influential, that this January I saw more men in shorts on the streets than ever before!

And, as they walked around with that ‘Hey Girls! Look at how macho I am!’ swagger, they were, to a man, all wearing woolly bobble hats!

A bobble hat, coat and trousers combination looks fine. A bobble hat and shorts combination looks comical. It must be a new expression:

Cold knees . . . warm head!

Then, there’s the women who think it’s okay to go supermarket shopping wearing pyjamas, slippers and a dressing gown.

If you dare criticise them, they complain that you shouldn’t be looking at them. They’re too thick to understand the word ‘slovenly’ and that their behaviour wouldn’t have been tolerated 10/20 years ago.

You could make a small fortune by renting out the enormous space between their ears as warehouse storage.

I usually avoid mentioning politics, but as I’m writing about the Age Of Stupid, it seems that many of the ‘Great And The Good’ decided that (although the majority of the British public voted to leave the EU) simply because they don’t agree with the result, they’re doing all they can to stop it happening. What a cheek!

If this was a South American country the people who voted to leave would have started a revolution.

Here, they just close the curtains and switch on the National Ant And Dec Awards. Now tell me this isn’t the Age Of Stupid!

Hols – to book or not to book?

Over the past week I’ve been bombarded with summer holiday offers and special deals at a rate of three a day.

This is no exaggeration. My email inbox, Facebook account and Twitter feeds seem to be coming up with fascinating offers to tempt me, from both the big household names to some I’m sure have just been set up in someone’s front room, such as Gr8 Holidays 4 U and Flyjetsunbargains R Us.

In all fairness to them, they are putting their sales and marketing machines to good use and offering deals and destinations that are extremely tempting.

However, I do detect an element of desperation in their urgency at this time. Either that, or I’m getting more cynical with age.

But as I write, the weather is cold and damp with more rain on the way and the thought of a walk along the beach in a warm and sunnier climate is quite appealing as I apply my Deep Heat to my aching joints.

I’m all for a bargain holiday, but do I wait and book closer to the date or book early and take the so called offers now being presented?

What do you think?

Buy local and help keep communities alive

It continues to frustrate me to see local businesses and shops within our towns struggling to make a living.

Local small businesses (many of them family-run for generations) have been a part of our culture from as far back as many of us can remember.

But, we are now witnessing a staggering decline. More can be done, and should be done, to support our local communities. We can all play a part in this.

Our local councils should step up to the mark and make towns more accessible with cheaper if not free parking, which will enable our local traders to stand a fighting chance against the retail giants.

When a local business closes down, it rarely comes back and this is something that can clearly be seen in the towns and villages around us.

The character and community spirit is being eroded in our towns and many of us are watching this happen as if it doesn’t matter.

Well, let me tell you – it does matter. And we can up our game and make more of an effort to buy locally and demonstrate our commitment to keeping the heart of our culture and communities alive.