Trip advice? Don’t read the comments!

Remember those TV ads for lawyers suggesting they could claim thousands in compensation for individuals* who may have had an accident, such as slipping on an obviously soaking wet floor or stumbling over a packing case that was so big it could be seen from the Hubble Space Telescope.  (*Outside legal circles and in the real world, these people are correctly referred to as ‘Clumsy So-And-Soes’.)  Those ambulance-chasing lawyers might well be described as ‘Trip advisers’.

See what I did there?

Coincidentally, a well-known travel website (which I’m unable to name) has revealed the often hilarious, frequently baffling reviews that tourists have given to some of Britain’s most famous landmarks, historic sites and buildings and areas of natural beauty.

Stonehenge, a Unesco Heritage Site, was described by one disappointed visitor as “Just a few rocks to look at and nothing to do. They should pull it down and put up an arcade or a funfair. Don’t waste your time!”  Unless of course you’re interested in seeing this unique, strange and mysterious stone circle that’s had generations of historians wondering why and how it was erected 5000 years ago.

Some dimwit said about the Elizabeth Tower (more commonly referred to as Big Ben – name of the large bell inside it) “I don’t understand all the hype. It’s literally just a clock!”  Yes! That’s exactly what it is! Just like the Statue of Liberty is literally just a statue.  The Empire State Building is literally just a building.  And The White House is literally nothing more than a home for the bewildered.

The highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis, was described as being ‘Too steep’.  A truly shocking accusation that could also be levelled at many other annoyingly steep places such as Mount Everest and the learning curve that some tourists need to climb.

What might some of those disgruntled visitors make of Welsh tourist attractions?

The Gower? “Sandy beaches, sea views and welcoming hotels and guest houses. Can’t see the attraction!”

Offa’s Dyke Walk? “Long and exhausting. Needs shortening!”

And the Senedd? “Nothing more than a home for the bewildered!”

Keep an eye out for your everyday miracles

People watching is part and parcel of every comedian’s way of life.  Last week, as I sat in a socially-distanced coffee shop, I witnessed a middle-aged lady get up from her chair to leave.

I couldn’t help but notice that she had dark glasses and a white stick.
Clearly, she looked as if she was visually impaired.

However, as she walked out, she spotted 5p under the next table, walked over, picked it up and put it in her purse, turned to walk out of the café and knocked over a chair.  Now then, even I hadn’t spotted it.

It reminds me of another funny story which happened as I was parked at traffic lights in Ammanford.  A lady, on her mobility scooter, smoking a cigarette (face mask carefully placed on her chin) crossed the road in front of me at quite a fast pace, causing some of her shopping to fall out of her basket.  As I got out of the car to help her, she had already jumped off of her scooter, run around picking up her shopping and returned it to the basket, jumped back on board and scootered off, cigarette still intact!

It’s true that miracles happen all around us every day, if we just keep an eye out for them!

Fascinating facts from my not so dear diary

As I was about to write ‘Dear Diary’ in my diary as I do every day, I realised my diary wasn’t at all dear.

It cost me the princely sum* of 99 pence when my local newsagent and stationers was selling-off its 2020 diaries and calendars at the end of March.
(*What a daft expression. We all know Princes don’t carry cash!)

Printed on every page of the diary is a fascinating fact about an event that happened on that date in history.

Take April 1st. On that day in 1994, Arthur Crummett, the man who invented the television remote control, passed away. His wife came home from work and found him down the back of the sofa.

This 99 pence diary is full of such fascinating information – as you’ll find out for yourself if you nip down to the shop as soon as you finish reading this and purchase one of the few remaining 358 copies.

Here’s another fact that surprised me . . .

On May 22nd 1956, Professor Heinrich Manouvre, the German literary giant, concert pianist and part-time scrap-metal dealer who thought-up the first crossword puzzle, was buried in Munich’s central cemetery. If you ever want to visit his grave, when you walk in through the cemetery gates, you’ll find he’s six down and 14 across.

On June 9th 1953 Sir Redmund Capillary was the first person to climb Everest carrying a double-glazed window.

The page for July 21st revealed that on that date in 2005, a blue plaque was placed on the house of Peter Farquhar, the first toothpaste manufacturer to add red and blue stripes to his product. Apparently, the idea came to him after he’d slapped some colourful ‘Go Faster’ stripes to his 1973 Skoda Turbo.

He thought striped toothpaste would encourage people to brush their teeth twice as fast, they’d get through each tube in half the time they usually did and sales would double.

Co-incidentally just four doors down from Peter Farquhar’s address is the one-time home of Kenton Plinge, the man who invented mouthwash!

You won’t be surprised to learn that Kenton doesn’t have any plaque . . .

Make effort to acknowledge an act of kindness

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 – and it happened again only last week.

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 gesture was totally ignored.

Fair play to him, he just smiled and went on with his day (not many would have reacted in such a laid-back way, I don’t think).

I’d understand if this had happened in a big city like London, where the pace is much faster and people less friendly, or is it that we are so preoccupied in our own little worlds that we don’t even notice when other people are being polite and courteous anymore?

We can all make an effort to acknowledge an act of kindness from a fellow human being; there is no excuse.

Making small regular gestures of kindness and appreciating people around you should become a habit and is something we can all work on, I’m sure.

Well I got that off my chest – I feel much better already.

Give it a try this week and let me know how it goes. Your feedback is truly appreciated, by the way.

New NHS joke book ‘will have you in stitches!’

Like many of you, I sometimes get overwhelmed by continuing news reports about Covid-19 and the rules we must continue to abide by to stay healthy and take the burden off the NHS.

So, it’s a pleasure to find amusing news stories like this one…

Out of 2000 people surveyed about song lyrics, nine out of 10 had been singing incorrect and often hilarious lyrics ever since they originally mis-heard them.

The line in the classic 60s pop song “Groovin’” by the Young Rascals (now The Quite Elderly Rascals) ‘….you and me endlessly, groovin’, was being sung by some as ‘…you and me and Lesley, groovin’!

Abba’s lyrics were often misheard. The line in “Dancing Queen” ‘Feel the beat from the tambourine’ was mis-heard and mis-sung as ‘Feel the beat from the tangerine’ which makes no sense.

Then, there’s the line from “Knowing Me, Knowing You” that some heard as ‘When I called you last night from Tesco!’ when the call was made in Glasgow.

Presumably, some people’s hearing isn’t too good – perhaps due to singing incorrect lyrics at the tops of their voices at karaoke sessions.  Otherwise, why would so many think Adele sang “Chasing Penguins” when she was actually “Chasing Pavements”?

I had an elderly relative who thought the cowboy film star Roy Rogers song “A Four-Legged Friend”, dedicated to his horse Trigger, contained the line ‘He’s on a stand….faithful!’ when the actual line is ‘He’s honest and faithful’.

Of course, since Trigger died and Roy had him stuffed and mounted in a cowboy museum, he really is on a stand…and couldn’t be more faithful!

While you’re still smiling at that, let me tell you about a new joke book called “Gags For The NHS”, which I put together with my friend Dilwyn Phillips.

It’s published by Y Lolfa at £3.99 and can be purchased from their website as well as all top class book shops…and one or two that could do with a lick of paint.

Profits from sales of the book in the UK go to the NHS.

As a top surgeon remarked: “The humour’s as sharp as my scalpel, it’s a cut above other joke books and it’ll have you in stitches!”

Use it or lose it – now we can’t argue with that!

As we get older it’s so important to keep exercising in order to stay fit, flexible and healthy.  I’m sure I am not alone in hearing the snap, crackle and pop when I jump out of bed in the morning.  Unfortunately, it’s not my breakfast cereal, it’s my knee joints warming up!

We are told to keep mobile by so many medical professionals on a daily basis, but how many of us manage to fit in some form of daily exercise?

Use it or lose it, is the motto.  Now we can’t argue with that!

Unfortunately, the challenges of today’s daily living and poor weather conditions does not help with the motivation needed to wrap up and get out there for some fresh air.

We can clearly see that phones are getting much smarter and thinner. People, not so much.  Before you ask – I weigh 13st 6lbs naked. That’s if the scales in Boots The Chemist is anything to go by.

My case comes up next Monday!

Do you know where Preston is?

For those of you who don’t know me or know much about me, I’m Welsh and speak Cymraeg – as best I can – though that doesn’t make me anymore ‘authentically’ Welsh than the majority who don’t.

Most Welsh people, like you my loyal reader, are broad-minded, well-travelled, well-educated, well-read, insightful and intelligent.

They can never be accused, as the Welsh occasionally are, of being insular, parochial and having a chip on their shoulders about ‘England’ as if it were still some sinister medieval fortress designed to keep us out.

Numerous rail and road links having been taking us back and forth for decades.

All over the world, Welsh people are working and often innovating in business, science, education, IT, manufacturing and the media.

Likewise, thousands of talented, industrious people from outside Wales have settled here from other parts of the UK and further afield.

That’s how it should be – otherwise we’d end up marrying our own cousins. And as pleasant a bloke as my cousin Stan is, I wouldn’t want to share a bathroom with him.

All that said, I might be poking a stick into the proverbial ‘hornet’s nest’ by telling you about a recent BBC Radio Wales news bulletin which I thought contained a hidden message that some Welsh people are ignorant about the other side of Offa’s Dyke.

Most listeners probably didn’t pick-up on it, but ‘Old Radar Ears Evans’ was astonished when the newsreader said “The lockdown has not yet been lifted…in the English town of Preston!”

Oh! You mean as opposed to the Transylvanian town of Preston?

Give me strength!

The previous hourly bulletin had simply referred to Preston.  What happened during those intervening 60 minutes?

Did the Radio Wales News bods suddenly panic that we uneducated plebs might not know where Preston was located ?

Or had they not considered the possibility that many of us venture outside Wales sometimes – and may have visited the Lancashire town?

Call me over-sensitive…
“Phil! You’re over-sensitive, mate!”

…but as I don’t like being talked down to by local radio news, I now only listen to the BBC national news broadcast from London.

You know. The one in England.

Phil Evans
News At Ten
Ammanford

That fleeting thought – shall I change gueues?

There are two possible queues in the supermarket . . .

Why is it the one you decide to go for is always the slowest to move?

There is always that one customer in it who has picked the only product in the whole store with no price on.  Or the checkout operator decides to plonk the ‘checkout closed’ sign right before your shopping pile.

Does this only happen to me?

It’s the same at the cashpoint.  I always end up standing behind the person who decides now would be a good time to print out and check a monthly statement, check the balance on all four of their accounts and then print out receipts for each transaction!

Then, there is that fleeting thought that goes through your mind . . . shall I change queues?

You battle with this little voice inside your head telling you “NO!” as you know that, as soon as you move, your original queue will move at the speed of light!

So, you move queues anyway, despite the little voice and Yes, your original queue starts moving quicker than Usain Bolt off the starting blocks . . .

Please tell me this doesn’t only happen to me?

Tale of a happy dog

The pandemic has affected many businesses – and almost every day we read about yet another company announcing it’s shedding employees or going into liquidation.

The fact this has all unfolded in a matter of months, indicates just how precariously close to the financial edge we’ve all been living, without realising it.  We can’t even relieve ourselves of pandemic-related stress by being entertained by live performances.

There’s no plan at the moment to re-open venues in a way that’s safe for audiences and performers, while creating much-needed revenue to pay wages and running costs.

Actors, singers, comedians and musicians ,who regularly tour the UK (or the world) for months on end, have had to stay home and twiddle their thumbs. Which is frustrating for every performer except professional thumb twiddlers who needed the practice.

Performers, however, are fickle animals and when they are touring or in long West End runs, it’s not unknown for them to complain their work has separated them from their homes and loved ones.

Here’s a story that illustrates the lengths a performer will go to keep a lonely ‘loved one’ happy at home while he’s working.

When Tommy Copper was appearing in a West End show, he noticed that one of the other acts on the bill always ran to use the stage door telephone as soon as he finished his act, dialled a number but never seemed to get a response. This went on for weeks until Tommy asked him what was going on.

The performer explained that every night he had to leave his dog alone in his flat a few streets away and the sound of the telephone ringing cheered him up!

A couple of nights later, as the performer went on stage to do his act, Tommy entered his dressing room.‘borrowed’ his keys, ran around to his flat, let himself in and waited for the ‘phone to ring.  A few minutes later the phone rang and the lonely dog suddenly sat up and excitedly wagged his tail.  On the third ring, Tommy picked up the ‘phone and went, “Woof! Woof!”

And if that didn’t cheer you up, I don’t know what will!

We are all longing for some sort of normality

Last weekend I ventured out of Wales and stayed in a well known hotel chain near Oxford.  My first night away in a hotel since February this year.  Not that I miss spending time in hotels – but a road trip following lockdown was a novelty indeed.

So much has changed and everywhere you go now has strict rules in place, making popping out for a bite to eat or a quick pint quite a daunting task.

After the long drive, we checked into the hotel, where social distancing was quite evident, but on leaving our room and coming down to breakfast on Saturday morning, the new rule of everyone having to wear a mask had come into effect at midnight in England!

Just goes to show how quickly things can change and how difficult it can be for people to keep up with the new rules.  On the way back, we stopped at a the services over the bridge in our homeland and no masks were being worn at all.

The roads are busier, shops and salons are starting to open back up with precautions in place to safeguard staff and the public.  I think we all long for some normality with a passion.