Go home and swear at the budgie

Shop assistants and check-out staff currently have to endure non-stop Christmas songs their bosses believe will get customers in the seasonal mood . . . to spend more money.

If I enter any shop where the shelves are still being emptied of Halloween tat while Roy Wood warbles “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day”, I turn on my heels and leave.

Shop assistants put up with a lot of grief – and not only at this time of year.  A friend’s granddaughter (let’s call her Molly) has a weekend job in a well-known chemist’s where she’s regularly sworn at by customers!

It’s a sad sign of the times that Neanderthal knuckle-dragging numbskulls think it’s okay to swear at 17-year old shop assistants.  If they’ve picked up an item with the price clearly marked and think it too expensive, why take it to the till? Just leave it on the shelf, go home and swear at the budgie.

Molly was upset the first time it happened but, being highly intelligent and quietly resilient, she got used to it. Although shop staff should never get ‘used to’ being sworn at.

A few weeks ago, a lady asked Molly to help locate a particular brand of foot powder she thought had been moved from its ‘usual’ shelf.  Molly said it could be found at the pharmacy counter, but the customer snapped at her and said she didn’t know what she was talking about.

Molly politely followed the customer to the shelf where the foot powder was ‘usually’ found and needless to say it wasn’t there.  When Molly suggested they walk over to the pharmacy counter, the customer’s confrontational attitude became so alarmingly offensive it made Molly cry.  Luckily, a colleague saw this and took the customer to the pharmacy counter . . . where the foot powder was found.

I loathe any form of bullying – which is what this was – and if I’d witnessed this, I’d have politely asked the customer to apologise to the girl. I would probably have expressed the wish that whatever medical condition the foot powder was for wouldn’t clear up any time soon.

Next customer please!

There is so much more to achieve in the New Year

As the year draws to a close, I’m so looking forward to the week between Christmas and New Year as this will be the time for me to relax and recover from the festive demands that many performers are so familiar with.

Looking back on the year, which has passed so quickly, I’m amazed at how much was packed in.  There is so much more to achieve in the New Year – and that is something that I am really looking forward to.

The past 12 months have created many memories of joy, but have also been tinged with sadness.

One of my oldest mentors would say to me, “take time to reflect, enjoy the memories and move forward into the New Year with a new passion for life, and stand firm for what you believe in as your values will define you, even though at times not everyone will agree with you”.  Wise words that I hold dearly.

Disney outdated? Now don’t get me started

After reading my articles over the years, whenever I go off on one about something, you know it’s never fake outrage on my part.

To quote the late Hughie Green…“I mean it most sincerely!”

TV shows in which ‘Talking Heads’ sneer at clips of 1970s sitcoms and stand-up annoy me as it’s pointless judging comedy from decades ago through modern eyes.  Comedians criticising 40-year old comedy should consider that in 2060 they might feature in a TV show in which they’re sneered at.

It’s true – “The past is another country. They do things differently there!”  Like old films made before we were all supposed to become ‘woke ‘.  Look it up if you’re not sure what that is.

Instead of studying, an Aberdeen University student watched 11 Disney animated films, declared that many of them were ‘Outdated’ and ‘Racist’ and got what she wanted . . . Fifteen minutes of fame.

So, as happens a lot these days, an individual complains that something ‘Offends’ them and expects everyone else to share their opinion.

Let’s analyse the accusations….

Outdated? Well “Dumbo” was made in 1941 – but the scene featuring the song “Baby Of Mine” is one of the most poignant in animation history and still creates tears.

The student says the “Bella Notte” spaghetti kiss scene between “The Lady and The Tramp” in the 1955 cartoon – also replicated in the 2019 version – is ‘Inappropriate’.  Someone please tell her they’re not real dogs!

Many Disney animated characters have human characteristics and voices.  It’s called anthropomorphism.  It’s a word I love because it once earned me 900 points at Scrabble.

The student thinks King Louie in “The Jungle Book” is ‘A racist caricature’ because the lyrics of his song “The King Of The Swingers” contain the line…
“What I desire is white man’s fire”. Wrong!

The actual line sung in the film by the great Italian-American entertainer Louis Prima is… “What I desire is man’s red fire!”

It’s always preferable to get your basic facts right when something gets your goat.  Particularly if it’s an animated, jungle-dwelling, spaghetti-loving, dog-smooching goat.

That’s all folks!

A chance to find some real bargains – it’s a win-win

It’s that time of year when every retailer wants our hard-earned cash and we are constantly tempted to part with it as those special offers are all around us.

But do we really need all these bargains, or are we just seduced into becoming serial impulse buyers?

At home, clutter and waste is all around us in one form or another.  Things we don’t use or need – and, quite often, bought on impulse.  You know what happens after the big Black Friday sales?

I’ll tell you.

A lot of people who bought new big screen TVs will take them home, hook them up and then realise they need to do something with their old TVs.
Same is true with other things they bought.

Whether it be exercise equipment, bikes, toys, furniture, books, even high-end audio gear, they’ll want to get rid of the old to make room for the new.

A lot of unwanted items will end up at your local charity shop, which makes this a good time of the year to visit those stores – because they’ll be overflowing with goodies.  Chances are, you’ll find some real bargains there.
It’s win-win!

You pick up bargains, charities make more money

It’s time to bin all this talk of banning

Lately, I’ve noticed the media’s devoted airtime and newsprint to several people who want things banned.

The Headmistress of a Lincoln primary school wants to ban the playground game of ‘Tag’, describing it (and all other games which involve physical contact, including linking arms!) as ‘Inappropriate Behaviour’.

The idea’s so nonsensical I wonder whether the idea came to her after receiving a heavy blow to the head while participating in a traditional playground game.  Because when her small pupils move on to High School, they’ll be playing rough’n’tumble games like football, rugby and hockey.  And, if they’ve never had to endure so much as a scraped knee, bruised shin or dented pride when they were knocked over on their backsides at primary school, they’re in for a big shock!

Playground games are like real life.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Which is why they help prepare little ones for when they grow up.

Singer Lily Allen, who disapproved of the Rorke’s Drifft commemorations a while back, tweeted her 1.5 million followers that the lyrics of “Rule Britannia” offend her so much she wants it banned.  Lily Allen wrote and recorded the song “F*** You!” (the blush-saving asterisks are mine!) so has a brass nerve complaining about offensive lyrics.

The word ‘Irony’ must be missing from her dictionary.

The oh-so-PC Manchester University Student’s Union are banning audiences from applauding performers and speakers as it might upset ultra-sensitive people.

Instead, they’re to show their appreciation by silently waving ‘Jazz Hands’ which have their origins in minstrel shows – and we know how un-PC they were.

For centuries, entertainers have thrived on applause.  So if, at the end of a performance, they’re greeted by ‘enthusiastic silence’, it’ll look, sound and feel pretty weird.

Surely individuals so ultra-sensitive to the sound of applause wouldn’t attend any ‘live’ performance which, depending on it’s nature might include amplified music and singing…raucous laughter…or any sort of audience participation.

If you come to one of my shows, feel free to loudly laugh and applaud.  But please – don’t play Tag!  Or bring Lily Allen!

It costs nothing to be polite and say “please” and “thank you”

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 Carmarthen 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.  Give it a try this week and let me know how it goes!

Members rewarded for outstanding contributions

Last Friday, I was honoured to host another well attended local event with a difference, the Elli chapter of Business Network International (BNI) Annual Awards Dinner at the Diplomat Hotel, Llanelli.

This was the fourth year that the event had been held at this location and each year does not disappoint. The local businesses involved in BNI Elli ensured that this was another great success.

Worthy members of the BNI Group were awarded for their outstanding contributions to the Llanelli chapter’s success and the work that they do within the surrounding area.

The winners this year were:

Gary Davies, of Dyfed Fencing Services, Llandeilo.

Sarah Stallard, of Gomer Williams Solicitors, Llanelli.

Donald Melrose, of Business Growth Mentors, Llanelli.

There are so many great businesses out there in our local communities and this was evident on the night.  Many loyal readers of this column and blog will already know of my passion to encourage, support and promote local business, talent and worthy causes.

The BNI business support network supports my values and there is clear evidence to suggest that its members are already distributing millions of pounds in additional revenue throughout south Wales.

It’s very true you know, great things can happen when you surround yourself with the right people, try it!

Elderly deserve better than this

WHEN I was a lad, an elderly relative who’s now gone to a better place (Marbella) often said “Old age doesn’t come alone!”.  I understand what she meant.  Not that I’m feeling old myself, though I do emit a satisfied “Ahhhh!” whenever I settle into a comfy chair!

In 2019, old age is accompanied by the barely-hidden resentment*, for want of a better word, that some millennials feel towards retired people  (*Antidisestablishmentarian is a better word, but it doesn’t work in the context of that sentence.)

Last year, some idiot MP suggested retired people who’d spent years paying their mortgage, should move out of their homes to make way for young couples finding it difficult to buy a house, then move into a one-bedroom flat above a kebab shop and all-night off-licence.  The soft-headed theory being that retired couples don’t need ‘all that space’ after their children have left home.  Doh!

The reality is, of course, that offspring sometimes come back . . . bringing their own children with them.  There’s never been a time when it was ‘easy’ to buy a house.  It’s always taken a big slice of salary, whether you were earning £8,000 a year in 1968 or £18,000 in 1998.

But! There’s more!

On Breakfast TV some time ago, a young woman representing an organisation I wish I’d remembered the name of (so I could investigate how it’s funded) was allowed to voice her daft opinion that the over 70s should be banned from voting!

She said mainly ‘old people’ voted for Brexit and as a Remainer she was really annoyed about that.  Tough Cheddar!

I get annoyed with young people riding their bikes through shopping centres and talking and texting in cinemas, but I wouldn’t demand 15 minutes on the telly to rant about it.

On Breakfast TV more recently, a young man who was runner-up (not even the winner!) of a TV reality show announced that it wasn’t necessary for school children to be taught about World War Two and the Holocaust.

What a plonker!

Here’s an idea.  Let’s ban the under-30s from voicing their opinions on Breakfast TV!

Revving up support for a memorable rally

Many senior readers will remember the John Harries Bakery in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen with fond memories.  Sadly, the business no longer trades.

This was a bakery that employed the whole family and played a big part in the Amman Valley community, in the good old days when everyone shopped locally.

But one day, in 1987, everything changed when three members of the family tragically lost their lives in an accident.

One of these family members was Mel Harris, a very keen motor sport competitor, a driver with flair and a promising future in the sport and a founder member of Ammanford Motor Club.

In honour of Mel, “The Mel Harries Rally” was set up by Ammanford Motor Club to run in his memory.

This year, the rally will take place on the evening of Saturday, November 23, and will officially start at the Mart in Ffairfach, Llandeilo. An estimated 75 cars will be battling it out in the Welsh lanes well into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Motor club chairman, Dean Wiltshire said: “We feel that it is important to keep the memory alive. Mel was a colourful character and an inspiration to so many who shared our passion of motorsport. We, as a motor club, feel that we owe it to Mel, his family and the club to continue this tradition.”

IT’S HIS SHOUT!

Life’s full of mysteries – like why can’t people who buy energy drinks drop their empty cans in a bin instead of in the street?

Maybe it’s the manufacturers’ fault for not filling their products with sufficient energy?

There’s the mystery of how a certain President of a certain country can say and do so many stupid things in one day.  I know the answer to that one. He gets up early.

I also know the answer to the question, “Who is the man who stands on College Green, Westminster 12 hours every day shouting “Stoooppp Brexiiiiitt!” through a megaphone so loudly he can be heard behind TV interviews with MPs, pundits and opinion makers?”

‘Opinion maker’ wasn’t a career option when I left school. If it’d come with medical benefits and a decent pension it might have been worth considering… in my opinion!

The anti-Brexit man with the megaphone who wears a European blue coat and matching top hat is Steve Bray. He’s 50, a coin dealer and comes from Port Talbot – the same town being visited by UFOs that I wrote about recently.

Steve Bray drove to London to begin his vocal protest in 2017.
He lived on his savings for the first year and has since lived in 14 different places, including his car.  At one point, thanks to financial help from supporters he lived in a luxury flat opposite the London home of Brexiteer MP Jacob Rees Mogg for two months.

Although he’s making what he believes is a serious point, Steve doesn’t take himself too seriously.  On the day we learned that the-then Transport Minister Chris Grayling had handed ferry contracts to a company who didn’t own any ferries, Steve appeared behind him holding a model boat named “S.S. Disaster”!

Bob Geldof once put his arm around Steve and told him “You deserve a **$$!! medal!”.  That he does.  For allowing Bob Geldof to put his arm around him and swear in his ear!

So, what will Steve do if/when Brexit happens?

Well, he could bring his megaphone back to Port Talbot and start shouting “Stopppp UFOOOOOS!”