Now that’s what I call a zinger!

When something annoying is done or said to us, we’d love to come back with an immediate witty put-down, but most of the time we can’t think of the right words.

Legendary “Fools and Horses” writer John Sullivan created hilarious insults – real comedy zingers – between Del Boy Rodney and Uncle Albert.  Down the Nag’s Head, everyone insulted Boycie.

But even John said that in real life, when someone annoyed him, he was rarely able to come back with a fast and witty response.  He’d work on the insults he wished he’d thought of at the time and put them into his scripts.

A friend of mine who works in the comedy field (the one next to the comedy farm) once landed a well-deserved zinger when a married couple he hadn’t seen for a while came to stay with him and his wife for the weekend.

From the moment the guests arrived on the Friday, their behaviour was unbelievably rude.  On the first evening, they shared bottles of Chardonnay provided by my friend.  The next night, they all went out to dinner at a local restaurant, where the male guest, being a wine expert, ordered a very expensive bottle of vino, which they all polished-off before the main course.

As my friend then ordered a bottle of the same Chardonnay they’d sipped the night before, the wine expert’s wife pulled a face and said “Oh we don’t want that rubbish!”

My friend, his hackles already raised having suffered 24 hours in their company, replied “You quite happily drank it last night!” to which the obnoxious female guest said snootily… “I didn’t say I enjoyed it!”

Not the subtlest thing to say to someone who’s house you’re staying in!

He has no idea how he did it, but my friend immediately came back with a zinger that silenced her for the rest of the evening.  “Yet you didn’t refuse a second glass!”

The master of the witty insult was Noel Coward who once remarked of Winston Churchill’s son Randolph… “There goes Randolph. Completely unspoilt by failure!”    Now that’s what I call a zinger!

THINK BIKE for our two-wheeled population

Is it just my imagination or are there really more cyclists on our roads these days?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed so many more brightly coloured and lycra-clad two wheel enthusiasts whilst on my travels.  From the early hours of the morning to the darkest hours of the night.  Their energy and commitment must be applauded as every form of exercise is without doubt a step in the right direction.

On a personal note, I’m not sure if I would enjoy clocking up the miles in all conditions with view to keeping fit and healthy.  But not everyone thinks like me – fortunately.

And before you say anything, I already know that I would look ridiculous in colourful and tight-fitting lycra.

I do like seeing these crazy people head down and peddling but can’t help but think as to how vulnerable they are on our increasingly busy roads.

Time to THINK BIKE for our two wheeled population – this is something that we should all be embracing, after all, cyclists have been around a lot longer than us motorists.  Just a thought . . .

A Fawlty view?

Several old TV sitcoms and sketch shows have suddenly been removed – some permanently, some temporarily –  from various streaming platforms due to complaints they’re ‘racist’.  The list includes, unbelievably, “Gavin and Stacey” – which features a character named ‘Chinese Alan’.

Does anyone really believe James Corden and Ruth Jones would risk giving offence by writing racial slurs into their scripts?

If the people who rushed to complain had bothered to check, they’d learn that the character isn’t Chinese. He just loves Chinese food.  But fact-checking doesn’t fit in with their “We can’t allow this!” agenda.

Also, “Fawlty Towers”, once considered suitable for family viewing, had to sit on the naughty step for a while, to think seriously about its ‘bad behaviour’.  After managing not to cause offence for 45 years, “The Germans” episode was suddenly declared ‘unacceptable’ by a small number of people with enough influence to have it banned from certain streaming services – although, thankfully, some reversed their decision after a few days.

Anyone with even a smidgen of intelligence who’s seen it knows the joke throughout the episode isn’t on the German guests – it’s on Basil, who, after a stuffed moose head drops on his bonce, suffers concussion and becomes a manic, insult-spouting figure of fun.

John Cleese and Connie Booth’s script doesn’t attempt to squeeze cheap laughs out of the Germans, who come across as likeable people.  In the same episode, Major “Papers arrived, Fawlty?” Gowen makes what’s now considered a racist comment. John Cleese points out “The joke was the Major’s, an old fossil left over from decades before.

“We weren’t supporting his views; we were making fun of them!” – which went way over the heads of those who’ve managed to consign “Little Britain”, “The Mighty Boosh” and other TV comedies to the dustbin of TV history because they didn’t find them funny.

There’s plenty of TV comedy I don’t find funny, but instead of shouting “Ban it!”, I just don’t watch it.  Unfortunately, I get the feeling this is only the beginning.  What’s next? Book burning?

Put on your wet weather gear, folks.  We’re headed down a slippery slope…

Survival largely depends on common sense

When you think about it, my chances of survival during this time has been largely dependent on the common sense of others.

Let me explain….

“The R rate in Wales is lower than in England so we should open everything up asap.”  Ok, have people considered why it might be that the R number is lower around here?  No. Thought not.

Yes, it’s been far too long since many of us overpaid for coffee and as the weeks go on I do miss paying £15 for a large popcorn and Diet Coke at the cinema, but in the grand scale of things it’s not important.

Slowing things down for just a few more weeks could make a huge difference.

To be honest, I’m not sure I want to go back to the way we were. What about you?  I’m sure lots of things have changed for you since lockdown.

I know I haven’t missed the driving and fighting with lots of traffic, but we do seem to be getting back to a bit of “normality” don’t you think?

I’d love to hear how life has changed for you, what have you not missed and what are you looking forward to?  Let me know!

‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘hello… weight’s going on here then?

The more curious amongst us will always be asking questions, not all of which can be easily answered. Like… What is an occasional table the rest of the time?

If they can manufacture disinfectants that kill 99% of all known germs, why haven’t they tracked down that elusive one percent?

A current question that’s worth asking is, why are so many police officers putting on weight?

Before I elaborate (they can’t touch you for it provided there’s an ‘R’ in the month and you keep away from the window while you do it) I should say that I do have a family connection with the police.  I’m not sure what his rank is, but Maldwyn, my third cousin on his brother’s mother’s milkman’s side, is always helping them with their enquiries.

While I haven’t noticed many big-boned bobbies around my way, Chief Superintendent Lucy Hutson of Hampshire Constabulary has admitted that an astonishing 70% of her force of 2,700 is overweight…and in some cases can even be described as obese.

To be honest I wouldn’t fancy walking up to a burly PC and telling him that to his face – although it’s unlikely he’d be able to catch me when I immediately ran away.

It’s not just in Hampshire that the cops are chubbing-up.  Recently the Metropolitan Police had to order nine super-sized uniforms with 61-inch waists!

Can you imagine a pair of trousers with a sixty-one inch waist?

You could stand Kylie Minogue and Debbie McGee in each leg…depending on their joint availability at the time…and if they’d agree to stand in the leg of a fat policeman’s trousers.

Were the uniforms ordered for nine overweight officers or just one who’s so clumsy he regularly spills curry sauce down his front so needs several spares on hand?

Eventually, this trend for the boys in blue to keep expanding is bound to spill over into the world of TV crime shows.

So maybe we can look forward to…

Ice Cream Van Der Valk.

Milk Chocolate Magnum P.I.

The (Restaurant) Bill.

Father Brown Sauce.

and

CSI: Greggs.

Not so much ‘Who-Dun-Its?’ more ‘Who-Ate-Its?’…

A ‘Good News Channel’ would be very welcome

Each and every day, I make time to write, and have to admit that this can be a challenging experience.

If I’m not writing jokes, editing a script or tuning ideas for this newspaper column, I’m adding to my list of corporate and conference talks.

Doing this exercise on a daily basis is good practice, to ensure my writing skills don’t get rusty.

When researching subjects, I often turn to the news pages online, which is a great source of material.

Unfortunately, most of the time, well, nearly all of the time the news is full of negative and shocking stories from home and abroad.  Rarely do we see a happy, uplifting headlines.  That wouldn’t sell, would it?

I’m all for freedom of speech and the free exchange of information, but the level of shock news reporting we are exposed to is bound to have a detrimental effect on our moods and outlook on life.

Children are also exposed to this negativity at such a young age, which can’t help to create a healthy and positive lifestyle.

I would welcome more good news or even a ‘Good News Channel’.

Is it any wonder that we now live in a society where mental illness and depression is at an uncontrollable level?

Don’t silence the Sound

Since the lockdown, many of us who’d usually be out and about working during the day, have had to stay at home – and it’s not been easy.  A great help to many of us in Wales is the availability of local radio stations and newspapers.

Okay, I would say that about the papers, but our local radio stations and BBC Radio Wales have more than proved their worth during these past months.

Apart from Owen Money’s sterling efforts, every day on BBC Radio Wales and Kev John’s lively breakfast show on Swansea Sound, there are also many other local radio stations that really help isolated listeners feel that they’re not alone.

Unfortunately, ITV makes little effort to supply the UK regions with local news, particularly during ‘Good Morning Britain’ which only finds room for three brief visits to ‘where you’re watching’ in its entire three-hours.  And what do we get? A couple of hastily delivered news items, a five-second weather forecast (recorded the night before) and an advertisement for the company ‘sponsoring’ the weather forecast.  Then, it’s “Back to Piers and Susanna!”

And if that’s not insulting enough to people living in the regions and nations, listen to this!

Bauer Media, the owners of Swansea Sound want to re-brand it and most of the 48 other local radio stations they own, as ‘Greatest Hits Radio’ this Autumn, after which most of the programmes will be broadcast from London.

While they say they intend keeping ‘a presence’ in local communities like Swansea to reflect major events and local interest stories, it doesn’t sound like they’ll be providing the current level of local news and content.

It’s also likely some of our favourite  presenters who’ve made the station popular will be ‘surplus to requirements’ if much of the content is London-based.

A petition to keep the Swansea Sound brand and content has been signed by more than 2000 people who don’t want it to lose its individuality and go the way of all the other radio stations playing the same old hits over and over.

Where do I sign?

What good does throwing bricks at defenceless police horses gain?

There is so much to write about at the moment and my head is overflowing with stories, ideas and concepts to explore, with much of my inspiration coming from you, the reader.

Your positive messages have been most welcoming over the past few months, it seems we share similar views and sense of humour, well – most of the time!

I don’t know about you, but I think that events over the last weekend will make it to the history books for sure. If you honestly think that humans have evolved as a species, just spend 10 minutes catching up on the social media news over the past 10 days. What is going on?

How is it that we went from fighting Covid 19 to fighting stupidity?

I’m all for supporting a worthy cause and standing up for human rights, but what good does throwing bricks at defenceless police horses gain?  Utter madness.

Thinking about it, 2020 is similar to being five minutes from the end of the longest film ever and it starts over because it forgot another plot twist, or as my good friend Donald Melrose put it, “the audience are determining the ending not the government”. “Encore!” shouted the gathering masses.

Let’s not let all this negativity beat us. Stay strong together, stay safe and keep washing your hands.

Newsreaders fire Colt 45s in the air shouting ‘Yee hah!’

The term “The Man On The Clapham Omnibus” was introduced into English Law in the Victorian era to describe a hypothetical ordinary and reasonable person.

This was useful when, say, in a case of negligence, the court had to decide if a party behaved as a reasonable person would be expected to.

I wonder if, in cases of pedestrians being knocked down by  vehicles, it was slightly changed to “The Man Under The Clapham Omnibus”?

In reality, the odds that every one of the thousands of male passengers who travelled on every bus that headed to and from Clapham Common could be considered a ‘reasonable person’ are pretty slim.

In Victorian times omnibuses would have carried a fair number of pickpockets, conmen, fraudsters, embezzlers, footpads, spies, blackmailers, murderers, burglars, adulterers and the occasional estate agent.

As quaint and old-fashioned as it sounds, “The Man On The Clapham Omnibus” is still an important concept in British Law.

As “The Man On The Clapped-Out Ammanford Bus”, I try to take a reasonable view of the world…until something annoys me so much I give vent to my feelings.

What annoys you may not tie in with my own personal pet hates.

By the way, I have no intention of digging out my old joke that the daily habit of my house-trained hippopotamus of trampling through my rhododendron bushes is one of my pet hates.  Though I might use the joke next week.

My current pet hate relates to the slow, insidious Americanisation of our language that, as far as I can tell, many people don’t care about or just haven’t noticed.

I’ve been railing against TV and radio presenters stretching out the first syllable of ‘research’ to pronounce it as ‘ree-search’ for years, yet I still hear it every day.

Does no one with power and influence read my column?

Lately, the same news broadcasters have been informing us about mandatory tests for Covid-19.

Except they pronounce the word as ‘man-day-tor-ee’.

It’s only a matter of time before, at the end of every bulletin, news readers fire their Colt 45s in the air, shouting “Yee Hah!”

Live is too short to worry about everything all of the time

Do we go for an unhealthy body to have a healthy mind?

I have been reading a lot recently during my morning lockdown coffee and to my surprise, as I took the first bite of my breakfast multi-grain, fibre-filled, gluten-free, wheat-free chocolate muffin, I found an article which I found truly fascinating.

Apparently, middle-aged people who are obese are far less likely to suffer from dementia-related illnesses when they reach their twilight years.

Now, this got me thinking: are the professionals now telling us that it’s OK to be overweight because it will lead to a healthy mind in the future?
Is this not totally the opposite of what we’ve been told previously – that being overweight is unhealthy?

Not long ago, alcohol was bad for you, then a report came out that a glass of red wine every evening (if you are more than 60) is good for you. I think this may need to be looked at again after lockdown!

So, I have come to this conclusion: life is too short to worry about everything all of the time. We have had a shocking few months, so now “everything in moderation” is my new motto.

A cake now and then, a glass of wine here and there, some exercise and lots of laughter.  That should all be available on prescription.

Let me know what you think!