At the risk of repeating myself – we’ve seen it all before!

Even if you don’t subscribe to Sky, Netflix or Amazon Prime, when you plonk yourself in front of the telly, you have a bewildering choice of programmes to choose from on Freeview.

For starters there’s BBC One, Two & Four; ITV One, Two, Three & Four; Channel Four, E4 & More 4; Channel 5, 5 Star, 5Spike and 5 USA . . . Challenge, Dave, Drama . . . and let’s not forget ITVBE.  On second thoughts, let’s . . .

Then there’s Film Four, Movies 4 Men, and Talking Pictures TV, home of old British films and currently the most-watched digital channel.

Despite all these choices and more – plus whatever’s in your planner and those unopened DVDs on the shelf – I bet you’ve complained there’s nothing ‘decent’ to watch.

So, I was surprised by the findings of a recent survey which asked people (they didn’t ask me– how about you?) what TV shows from the last 20 years they’d like to see revived.

The Number One choice? Foyle’s War.

I was surprised because ITV 3 have been showing old ‘Foyle’ episodes every weeknight for some time.  You’d think viewers would have had enough of the great Michael Kitchen’s understated acting, facial tics and large trilby hat.

Other shows people wanted revived were Mackenzie Crook’s well-observed sitcom The Detectorists and Count Arthur Strong, which, to be honest, I never quite ‘got’, but which must have had its fans.

This all ties in with the unveiling of Britbox, the new streaming service which will be available to subscribers later this year.

While Britbox will eventually make new programmes, initially it’ll just feature old BBC and ITV shows.  But hang on! That’s what ITV 2, 3 & 4 and subscription channel Gold do right now!

Gold couldn’t exist without old BBC and ITV shows.  Some Sundays they screen so many back-to-back episodes of Only Fools And Horses, you can see David Jason age 20 years and Nicholas Lyndhurst grow 12 inches between breakfast and dinner!

When we only had three or four channels, people complained there were too many repeats.  Now we’re expected to pay extra for the privilege!

Bad manners and ignorance

Call me old fashioned, but I’m a big supporter of please and thank you.  It costs nothing to be polite and to appreciate an act of kindness.

Far too often I witness such acts being totally ignored.  Take last week, for instance.  I saw a young man hold a door open for a middle-aged lady in a busy Swansea shop and was shocked to see that this gentlemanly gesture was totally ignored.  Fair play to him, he just smiled and went on with his day.

This also happens on our busy roads.  If I’m stuck in traffic, I often let people in to the lane if safe to do so, but unfortunately very few people acknowledge the gesture.

Are we becoming a nation of arrogant individuals, or is it that we are so preoccupied in our own little world that others don’t matter or deserve acknowledgment for being polite and courteous anymore?

Write and let me know your stories if this has happened to you.  The best story will win an extremely popular gift from Evans HQ!

Good luck and get writing!

Bare essentials for Uncle Cled

I’ve mentioned my Uncle Cledwyn a number of times and, although I’ve not always been kind to him, he never once complained.  Now, the old fellah’s gone to a much better place.

He moved out of his care home and now lives in a small but comfortable cottage deep in the Wye Valley.  Which is where my story starts …

Having had some business to attend to in Monmouth, I thought I’d surprise Uncle Cledwyn, call in to see him on the way back home and take him a bottle of his favourite topple.  I mean ‘topple’ and not ‘tipple’ because it only takes one glass and he falls over.

Anyway, I pulled-up outside the cottage and knocked on the door, prepared to wait a while for him to answer because he’s not as spry as he used to be.  Plus, I knew “Tipping Point” hadn’t quite finished and he’d never leave the telly until he knew whether the jackpot had been won.

When he came to the door he was visibly shocked to see me.  But not as shocked as I was to see him. . . . because he was stark naked apart from a battered old trilby.  On his head.

He got over his shock quicker than I got over mine and said, “Come in, Bill!”.
He’s always been terrible at remembering names.

I followed him inside and declined his offer of ‘a nice hot cup of tea’ as I’d recently attended a health and safety course and my mind was full of images of spilled teacups and me driving a naked old man to hospital.

We sat and talked for about an hour, my gaze always aimed above his waist.  When it was time for me to go, I said . . . “Do you mind me asking why you’re not wearing any clothes?”.

His reply was simple – “Well this place is so remote, I’ve been here over a year and you’re my first visitor.”

When I asked why he wore the old hat, he shrugged and said, “Well, I can’t completely rule out the possibility someone might come to the door!”

Let’s all clean up and keep the hygiene police away

Too often, I find myself witnessing unhygienic actions in public toilets.  Not that I make a habit of hanging around in such places, but when nature calls, needs must.

It’s now very common to witness men leaving the toilets in pubs, cafes and restaurants without washing their hands.  I can’t speak for the ladies, as observing such activities in ladies toilets brings with it consequences and a warning that I took onboard immediately.  Moving on . . .

Recently, I saw a man leaving a pub toilet without washing his hands.  He then went on to share a bowl of crisps with his partner.  It would be so funny if he was reading this . . . hang on…. was it you?

In supermarkets, I’ve witnessed men return to their shopping without washing their hands after visiting the toilet.  What’s the hurry?

It takes less than a minute and would prevent germs from spreading and people becoming ill.  Mark my words, the next step will be hygiene police employed at all public places.  OK, maybe a slight exaggeration – but possibly not a bad idea!

Even Paxo’s got it in for the oldies now!

There are weeks when I’m not sure what I’ll write about until the moment I start work.  Other weeks I have such a variety of topics to share with you, limited space prevents me from cramming them all in.

There are also matters I frequently return to, either because they’re always hovering in the background or they craftily sneak back into our lives in a slightly different guise.  But their false moustaches and dark glasses don’t fool me.

Take the barely-hidden envy of some young people towards the elderly. Urged on by certain politicians they voice their annoyance with any baby-boomers who ‘dare’ to own their own homes and who won’t move out to let them in!  Damn cheek!

They forget that many over 70s didn’t attend university, having left school at 16 or younger to bring much-needed wages into the house.  As teenagers they didn’t have such distractions as smart phones, 300 TV channels and social media, enabling them to save a deposit for a house and ‘enjoy’ paying the mortgage off over 25 years.

Today, many baby boomers still work because they have no private pensions and their State Pension doesn’t go very far.

Lately, disgruntled under 40s have started to use the derogatory, downright ugly term ‘Gammon’ to describe elderly people with red-faced complexions, whose political opinions differ from theirs.

Who mentioned Brexit? Not me, officer!

Anyone under 40 who thinks there’s absolutely no chance they’ll have different opinions – or complexions! – when they’ve passed 70 are fooling themselves.  In later years, they’ll have lived through experiences they never imagined when in their 20s, which are bound to re-shape their views and opinions.

But it’s not just the under 40s who have it in for the oldies.  Broadcaster Jeremy Paxman has complained that thanks to political correctness, the only targets for humour these days are old people!

He’s obviously not seen my act!

I’ve no idea when Paxo was elevated to being an expert on comedy but here’s an old-age joke that definitely won’t bring a smile to his face.  Next birthday, he’ll be 70!

Go on, I dare you…check out what’s on and book today

As I write, the biggest street party in Europe is in full swing.

At the start of August, the greatest show on earth geared up for its 71st anniversary and the streets of Edinburgh came alive with performers and tourists from the four corners of the world.

For a whole month, the city doesn’t sleep, while more than 3,000 shows take place, with something to suit everyone.

In a few weeks’ time, many of the shows that appeared in Edinburgh will be travelling the length and breadth of the UK to perform.

I have already noticed that Swansea, Llanelli and Carmarthen have pre-booked Edinburgh shows – and you can take it from me that the standard is exceptionally high once again.

The performing arts and live shows help our economy and instil a feeling of wellbeing among both artists and the audience members.  Creative arts are part of the joy of humanity.

But they can so often be overlooked in our current education system in favour of more ‘useful’ subjects such as science and maths.  Undoubtedly, there is increasing pressure on young children and schools to achieve outstanding exam results, but, unfortunately, only a few schools see the value of creativity.

Somehow, we need to get the message out there, and to start with, we could all support live entertainment, in all its forms.

Go on, I dare you. Check out what’s on and book tickets today to see more live entertainment; it will lift your spirits. Together we can make a difference.

Upstaged by the dogs! Barking mad…

You often hear people say that someone “Has more money than sense”.  But you neverhear anyone say someone has more sense than money.

The world of the super-rich is alien to most of us and (whilst I’m not envious of them; because being extremely wealthy is not without its pitfalls and problems) what some of them spend their money on can be truly bizarre.

The lustrous Barbra Streisand has been a star for more than 50 years and is still working at the age of 78.  Thousands of music fans recently saw her step out on stage in Hyde Park – which came as a bit of a shock as they’d paid to see Bob Dylan and Neil Young!

She’s made millions from films, TV specials, concerts and record sales, produced and directed films and always seemed highly intelligent and astute.  But …

She only went and spent money on having her late dog Samantha – a white Coton Du Tulear breed – cloned.

She now has two ‘replicas’ of the pet pooch who passed.  And, if you think that’s crazy, she had them and a third dog (Miss Scarlet, Miss Violet & Fanny) flown 10,000 miles from her L.A. home to watch her perform in Hyde Park.

By all accounts, the concert was amazing and Ms Streisand’s voice as beautiful as it ever was.  But here’s one review that made me feel sorry for surprise guests Lionel Richie and Kris Kristofferson, who duetted with Barbra.  “The real highlight of the show was when Barbra’s assistant brought her two cloned dogs on stage in a pram!”

The audience had been entertained by three of the biggest stars in the world, yet the ‘highlight’ was a pair of pampered pooches!  Barbra says, “Who wouldn’t want their loved ones cloned?”

Well, I’m very fond of my Uncle Cledwyn, but due to his chronic flatulence – which doesn’t worry him since he lost his sense of smell when someone jostled his arm as he was snipping his nasal hairs with pliers – I really wouldn’t want more than one of him in the world.

The great Cwtsh debate goes on – but I know I’m right!

The Cwtsh versus Cwtch debate continues.  How do you spell Cwtsh?

Well, let me enlighten you.  It’s ‘sh’ not ‘ch’.

Trust me, I’ve done my research on this – and the evidence is conclusive. You know how you pronounce ‘bach’ in Welsh?

Well that’s how ‘ch’ is always pronounced in Welsh.

Now try saying ‘cwtch’ . . .  I rest my case!

Over the years, I have researched and consulted with people who are considered well-versed on the subject. I urge you to carry out your own research and then consider the source carefully.  The way I think of the word ‘cwtsh’ is quite simple.  I split it: cwt-shhh.  Like something soft and quiet.

Same as the word Welsh.  Wel-sssh.  Not Welch!

So, there you have it, it is cwtsh!

If you are still going to insist on the English spelling ‘cwtch’, you surely need to replace the w (not a vowel in English) with a U.  Also, if you spell it ‘cwtch’ you are making it English – and you can only get a cwtsh in Wales . . .  Just sayin’ . . .

The key to a happy relationship?

Have a guess what, according to a recent nationwide survey of 2000 couples, are the biggest contributions to a happy relationship over many years.

Go on – have a guess.

You’ve obviously got nothing more important to do if you’re reading this.

Some of the answers that couples gave were surprising, well at least to me.
Like “Knowing each other’s PIN numbers”.  I mean, come on.

I’m all for committing to a relationship 150% – but there have to be sensible limits!

Many ladies said that regular kisses and cuddles – or cwtshes as we say around these parts – play an important part.  And, as long as they don’t involve the milkman, I’m all for that.

Many couples stick to the old adage, “Never go to sleep on an argument”.

So have I . . . since the night we had a tiff . . . She went to sleep on an argument – and I went to sleep on a sofa.

It’s also important to be able to openly and calmly discuss potential disagreements before they start to silently fester over many weeks, eventually exploding into a full-blown argument that ends up with crockery being thrown, your favourite shirt being attacked by scissors and the front door slamming as she goes off to her mother’s, vowing never ever to return, “Even if you got down on your one good knee and begged me to come back!”

Am I speaking from experience?  Certainly not!  That was all hypothetical.  Besides which, my knee’s much better now.

Other secrets of happy relationships are having no secrets from each other (apart from your PIN number!) and being diplomatic. i.e. when your good lady asks you if her bum looks big in her new skinny jeans, it’s best not to reply…
“Can you define ‘big’?”

One fifth of the couples surveyed said it’s important to have two television sets – in different rooms obviously, otherwise it would definitely lead to arguments.  I disagree.  In our house there’s just oneTV and one person in charge of the remote control.  Always.

Although, if I ask her nicely, she’ll hand it over occasionally….

Cheaper, wetter hols left great memories

The cost of holidays have rocketed again, making it far too expensive for many parents to go and enjoy family time together.

It has been well documented that some holidays are between two and six times more expensive during the peak school holiday periods.
The majority of the public see this as exploitation – and who can blame them?

Many get into debt and end up paying huge rates of interest for the privilege of borrowing, which is an added cost to an already over-inflated holiday break.

Gone are the days where many valley folk would venture to Porthcawl and Barry Island during miners’ fortnight to spend two weeks in an old, damp and mouldy caravan, where the whole family had to walk half a mile to the other side of the site to visit the toilet and have a cold shower.  Not to mention the carrying of the water butt back to ensure a supply of tea, coffee and squash.  And all this took place, more often than not, in the rain.

The two-week holiday in Wales back then prepared us for outdoor pursuits and the Duke of Edinburgh Award.  I can’t say that I miss those days, but I’m sure many readers would agree that it was all very character building and gave us some amazing memories and stories to pass on to the younger generation.