Archive for June, 2012

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I’m sure not many of you will have heard of the Missouri Mass Murderer, but that’s probably because I just made it up to get a catchy title for this blog post.

Nevertheless there was such a person and she could even be described as a serial killer such was the number of her victims.

Born in Joplin, Missouri, her name was Elva Ruby Connes Miller and she murdered some of the best songs ever written. In fact she tortured some of them to death in the most horrific manner.

Despite having studied music, voice, and composition at Pomona College, the woman could not sing. She had not a note in her body. Tone deaf does not even begin to describe it. Shrill, out of key, horrendous vibrato when completely uncalled for. You name a wrong way of doing it and she did it. It was carnage.

Curiously, sometimes when someone does something particularly badly it turns out to be something you have to look at, or in this case listen to. And when you hear one song, you need to hear another just to make sure she was as bad as you thought.

Not surprisingly Mrs Miller had to self finance her first recordings but was eventually featured by KMPC disc jockey (and later Laugh-In announcer) Gary Owens on his radio program. Around the same time, 1960, she also appeared on a limited-run album of his comedy routines. Owens can therefore be blamed – sorry, credited – as the person who first discovered her.

Astonishingly Miller was signed to Capitol Records by Lex de Azevedo, a young up-and-coming producer at the label, although nowadays he apparently does not care to discuss his involvement with Miller!

Equally astonishingly, her first LP, ironically titled “Mrs. Miller’s Greatest Hits”, appeared in 1966 and sold over 250,000 copies in its first three weeks! She sang for US servicemen in Vietnam (they should probably have got her to sing to the Viet Cong), performed at the Hollywood Bowl, guest starred on numerous television shows, and appeared in Roddy McDowall’s film The Cool Ones.

But her fame was short-lived. Interest in Miller soon waned. She was dropped by Capitol and, in 1968, and released her final album, “Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing”, on the Amaret label. She later issued several singles on her own Vibrato Records label, then retired from singing in the early 1970s. She died in 1997 in Garden Terrace Retirement Center, in Vista, California.

A friend of mine introduced me to Mrs Miller’s noise (I won’t dignify it by calling it music) a few years ago when he gave me a CD of her greatest hits. 

But bad as it certainly is, I have put it to good use over the years. I like to take it to other people’s houses, or when we are in the car. I “big” up this great singer I have discovered, pop the CD into the player and then watch the utter confusion and dismay on their faces as they listen to what Mrs Miller has to offer.

Below are a few examples of her crimes. Tunes you may be familiar with “A Groovy Kind Of Love”, The Girl From Ipanema”, “Let’s Hang On”, Strangers In The Night”, “A Hard Days Night”, “Downtown”, and “These Boots Are Made For Walkin”. There are others on youtube.com if you get hooked, just do a search for Mrs Miller.

I usually say “Enjoy” at this point in my posts. However, today I do not think it is appropriate. Although I should perhaps add the disclaimer that, if you are of a sensitive nature you may find the following upsetting.

 

 

A Groovy Kind Of Love

 

 

The Girl From Ipanema


 
 

Let’s Hang On


 

 

Strangers In The Night


 

 

A Hard Days Night


 

 

Downtown


 

 

These Boots Are Made For Walkin


 

 

 

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

 

It’s Friday again so time for another few funnies.

This time another batch from the insurance claim file.

I hope you enjoy.

 

“I was driving along the motorway when the police pulled me over onto the hard shoulder. Unfortunately I was in the middle lane and there was another car in the way..”

 

Q: “Could either driver have done anything to avoid the accident?”

A: “Travelled by bus?”

 

“On approach to the traffic lights the car in front suddenly broke.”

 

“First car stopped suddenly, second car hit first car and a haggis ran into the rear of second car.”

 

“The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intention.”

 

“The accident happened when the right front door of a car came round the corner without giving a signal.”

 

“My car got hit by a submarine.”

(The Navy informed the wife of a submariner that the craft was due in port. She drove to the base to meet her husband and parked at the end of the slip where the sub was to berth. An inexperienced ensign was conning the sub and it rammed the end of the slip, breaking a section away, causing her car to fall into the water. The Navy paid the compensation claim.)

 

“I bumped into a lamp-post which was obscured by human beings.”

 

“The accident was caused by me waving to the man I hit last week.”

 

“I knocked over a man; he admitted it was his fault for he had been knocked down before.”

 

“A house hit my car.”

(A house was being moved by a large truck. My friend had his car parked on the side of the road correctly. The house began to tilt off the truck and eventually fell off the truck, landing on my friend’s car. He eventually had the insurance paid, after lengthy explanation and the moving company confirming the story.)

 

 

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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In 1994, at the annual awards dinner given by the American Association for Forensic Science, their then president, Don Harper Mills, astounded his audience in San Diego with the legal complications of a bizarre death.

Needless to say it featured an idiot, in fact several idiots, which is why it is being recounted on the fasab blog.

This is the unlikely story.

 

On 23 March 1994, the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head.

The deceased had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide. He had left behind a note indicating his depression.

As he fell past the ninth floor, his attempt to kill himself was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, which killed him instantly.

Neither the shooter nor the jumper were aware that a safety net had been erected at the eighth floor level to protect some window washers and that Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide because of this.

Ordinarily, if a person sets out with the intention of killing himself and ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he originally intended, the death would be deemed a suicide.

Thus, in normal circumstances, the fact that Opus was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below probably would not have changed his mode of death from suicide to homicide.

However, in this case, the fact that his suicidal intent would not have been successful, because of the safety nets, caused the medical examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands.

The room on the ninth floor where the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by and elderly man and his wife. They were arguing and he was threatening her with the shotgun. But he was so upset that when he pulled trigger he completely missed his wife and the shotgun pellets went through window striking Opus as he fell and killing him.

The Coroner held that, “When one intends to kill subject A, but kills subject B in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B.”

However, when confronted with this charge, the old man and his wife were both adamant that neither knew that the shotgun was loaded.

The old man said it was his long standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her – therefore, the killing of Opus appeared to be an accident in that the gun had been accidentally loaded by someone else.

The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple’s son loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal incident. It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son’s financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother.

The case now became one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.

 

But even that would not be enough to feature in this blog.

Further investigation revealed that the son, was none other than one Ronald Opus, who had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother’s murder.

This had led him to jump off the ten story building on March 23, only to be killed by a blast from the shotgun he had loaded himself some six weeks previously as he fell past the ninth story window of his parents’ apartment.

 

The medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

 

 

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The first part of the heading of this blog post is the famous last line from the 1949 gangster movie “White Heat”, starring the late James Cagney. If you are a film buff you may have heard of it.

And if you have read much of this blog you will know already that the bureaucrats who try to curtail our freedom and the morons they employ to help them are everywhere.

What you maybe didn’t realize is that everywhere means EVERYWHERE.

And everywhere includes Mount Everest! If climbing it is on your bucket list, then get a pen and put a line through it unless you have a pile of cash and are prepared to jump through a lot  bureaucratic hoops.

First off you will need all your paperwork in order. You will have to tackle the Nepal Ministry and Administration and various people wanting their slice of the pie.

You’ll need

  • a local Trekking Agency to file for a permit 6 months prior to the expedition;
  • a copy of your passport;
  • passport pictures;
  • a letter of recommendation from your local Alpine Association/Climbing club.

And that’s even before your get there.

Once in Kathmandu, you will

  • file additional papers;
  • have a half-hour briefing with the minister or his associates about climbing sensibly and to care for the environment:
  • then another much longer briefing;
  • more papers to fill out;
  • an environment security of around $4,000 returned when the expedition has brought back the trash and empty oxygen bottles;
  • pay a Liaison Officer who will spend some time in your camp;
  • and finally, a film permit if you are doing a commercial film, shooting private video is free.

Then you will need to stump up a hefty fee for a permit which will set you back a minimum of $25,000 to over $70,000 depending on various factors. And that’s not including other substantial costs such as your climbing gear and tour guides.

Remarkably, despite the bureaucracy, the heavy fees, and the physical risks involved in the venture, there is a long, long queue of morons  –  sorry make that mountaineers  –  eager to make the climb.

And woe betide you if you try to circumvent the bureaucrats.

A young Chinese climber tried that a few weeks ago. He had made it 25,500 feet up the mountain’s North Col route to within a few thousand feet of reaching the summit when he was spotted camping alone, away from other expeditions.

The people who spotted him were a contingent from the Tibet Mountaineering Guide School. These would-be bureaucracy enforcers challenged him and, when he could not produce a permit, physically assaulted him and removed him from the trail.

Someone who witnessed the spectacle wrote in an email:

“I did see the permitless chap being ushered down the hill.  The Tibetan rope fixers were sent up to get him. I saw them bringing him down the ropes from the North Col to [advanced base camp]. It was disgraceful. They literally kicked him down the ropes. It was a disgusting example of a pack of bullies egging each other on and literally beating him down the hill. It was absolutely unnecessary as he was offering no resistance and was scared out of his mind.  The Tibetans should, and could, have just escorted him down the hill and let the authorities deal with him.”

So be warned, not just about Everest, which I don’t think many of us want to tackle, but about the dangers of allowing the bureaucrats and their enforcers to run roughshod over ordinary citizens.

There are other hazards with trying to climb Everest too, as the rather eccentric British actor Brian Blessed found out when he was part of an expedition to climb the mountain some years ago.

I’ll leave the final word with him.

Enjoy.

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***PLEASE NOTE*** It has been brought to my attention that this video is blocked for US viewers. If anyone would like to see it just send a comment and I will email it to you. It is approx 6MB in size so should be okay for most email addresses.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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People hardly ever look up. I don’t know why that is, but they hardly ever do.

Maybe it’s because it is a slightly unnatural act having to crank your neck backwards, or the fact that if you do it too far your mouth involuntarily opens. Unless there is an unusual noise or something to catch their attention most people wander through life just looking from ground level to about six to eight feet high.

But mouth open or closed, sometimes it is a good idea to have a look at what’s going on a bit higher up.

Anthony, or Tony as he liked to be called, is a good example of this. Tony was the biggest businessman I had ever come into contact with. I don’t mean he was a Bill Gates, or a Warren Buffet or even a Larry Ellison in that he had amassed a vast fortune of billions of dollars, or that he ran a huge company. I am simply referring to his physical, not his business, stature.

Tony was a good six feet six in height, and about four feet wide. He was a giant of a man. Very amiable and softly spoken, but you just knew he wasn’t the type of person to pick a fight with and I don’t think anyone ever did.

I was not personally involved in the trip I am about to tell you about, thank goodness, but a couple of friends of mine were and they related the story (many times!). It’s going back a few years now but there was a time when lots of companies were visiting the Middle East to try to secure contracts from the oil rich Arab nations who were using part of their great wealth to develop the infrastructures of their nations.

Part of these business trips more often than not involved a substantial meal provided by the local hosts, with some offerings less suited to the western palette and others absolutely delicious. Most people had the sense to pick and choose which was the sensible thing to do. But Tony’s appetite for food was as big as he was.

Whilst the others showed restraint, Tony tore into everything on the table, much to the delight of their hosts. He ate and he better ate and when almost everything was gone he pronounced himself “full”. After that he and the other two visiting businessmen handed over their proposals to their hosts and a follow-up business meeting was arranged for the following afternoon.

The next morning they were up bright and early and met for breakfast, two ordinary ones and a super-sized one for Tony. They chatted for a while and then went off to their rooms to rehearse their pitches for the afternoon meeting.

Later, when they all assembled in the hotel foyer for the short taxi ride to the office where their meeting was scheduled Tony was the last to arrive. He didn’t look at all well.

“You’re a bad color,” said one of the others. “Are you feeling okay?”

“No, no, I’m fine,” Tony protested. “Tummy’s a bit jippy, that’s all. Let’s go and get this done.”

And off they all went, one of them in the front seat of the taxi and Tony and the other guy in the rear.

When they arrived at the company offices they were ushered up to the fourth floor and into a reception/waiting area that consisted of a few of chairs, two large couches and, on the other side of the room, a receptionist’s desk behind which sat two girls, one greeting visitors and the other operating the telephones. The room was about 30 feet by 20 feet, with very high ceilings. Off to the left, behind partition walls were what seemed to be more offices.

By this time Tony’s color had not improved at all. In fact it was getting worse. He was shaking his head from side to side and at the same time rubbing his ample belly with his right hand. A few muffled gurgles and rumbles could be heard by the others sitting close to him.

“Guys, I don’t feel so well,“ he finally admitted, obviously now in considerable discomfort. “Excuse me while I go to the bathroom.”

And up he got, inquired from the girls behind the counter where the bathrooms were situated, and off he went. They were on the other side of the foyer from the offices and he quickly made his way in that direction.

When I described the other offices as being behind partition walls I neglected to say that these walls did not go right up to full ceiling height. They stopped about two feet below that. Unfortunately the bathrooms were located behind a similar partition wall. This meant that anything that was going on in there above a certain level of decibels was clearly audible to anyone in the reception area.

The first noises to emerge through the gap between wall and ceiling was a series of groans and grunts. Then some expletives best not repeated here. This was closely followed by several thunderous explosions.

“Incoming!” warned one of the guys in the reception area, highly amused by it all. “Take cover!”

“Watch out for the shrapnel,” added the other as the bombardment continued.

It didn’t last that long really, but it seemed to go on forever. The whole crescendo ended with a clearly audible “Oh **** me, what a relief,” from Tony.

The two girls at the reception desk were clearly embarrassed at this unusual behavior, but they saw the funny side of it too and giggled quietly. The other two guys in the reception area weren’t so timid. They were enjoying the whole show and laughing quite openly.

“Best pitch rehearsal I’ve heard from him,” quipped one.

“I always said he was full of crap,” said the other.

“Not any more!” returned the first.

And on it went.

Then Tony walked back into the reception area. He was looking, not quite triumphant, but definitely pleased that he was now feeling a lot better. He was completely unaware that his predicament had been heard by all and sundry.

“Have they spoken to you yet?” he inquired. “What’s the running order?”

“I’m on first,” said one of the guys. “You’re number two.”

The other one sniggered.

Tony was not getting the joke at all, but he knew he was missing something.

“Okay,” he said to the others. “What’s the joke, what’s going on?”

“Look behind you,” one of them said, indicating the partition wall between the reception area and the bathrooms.

Tony did. “I don’t see what you mean, what’s wrong?” he asked.

“Look up a bit,” the other guy said.

Tony looked up. At first he didn’t see anything out of place. Then after a few minutes of looking round the room the penny dropped. He was clearly embarrassed.

“You mean you could hear..” he started to ask.

“EVERYTHING,” the other two said in unison.

”Shit!” exclaimed Tony.

“And lots of it by the sound of things,” said one of the others.

After that Tony always looked up now and again.

I don’t know how the meetings went.

 

 

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Saying that another Monday has rolled around again, let’s ease into the new week with a few funnies from the quiz show answers file. As the title suggests it lays to rest any doubt that anyone may have that the education system is working.

When will governments learn that the key to improving education is to teach people more, not to lower the examination pass rate so that the statistics look like things are improving.

You want proof?

Read on…..

 

 

Cognac is a fine brandy made from the juice of which fruit?

Coconut.

 

 

What ‘P’ is the Spanish word for quick and is used in English to mean ‘at once’?

Pacy.

 

 

Who became US president when Nixon resigned?

Kennedy.

 

 

Cantaloupe, Galia and Honeydew are types of which fruit?

Orange.

 

 

In athletics in which discipline does the competitor hold a metal ball under their chin before throwing it?

Discus.

 

 

What word can mean touch-down of an aeroplane or the level floor between two staircases?

Step.

 

 

In America the Golden Gate Bridge is a feature of which city?

New York.

 

 

What surname do actors Beau and Jeff share with their father Lloyd

Derek.

 

 

The bushwhacker and outlaw Ned Kelly was born in which country?

Canada.

 

 

What ‘T’ is the answer to any addition sum?

Takeaway.

 

 

Cantonese and Mandarin are languages which originated in which country?

Spain.

 

 

Elderly people are described as being what ‘..in the tooth’?

Old.

 

 

The longest day of the year occurs in which month?

Winter.

 

 

What is thirty-nine times two ?

Sixty-four.

 

 

What is three hundred and sixty divided by three?

One hundred and sixty.

 

 

An annual event takes place how many times a year?

Twelve.

 

 

A usual sign for a pawnbrokers shop is how many brass balls?

Five.

 

 

What is the capital city of Chile?

Peru.

 

 

Juan Peron was the president of which South American country?

Peru.

 

 

What is thirty-four minus fourteen?

Twenty-six.

 

 

What is twelve plus thirteen?

Thirty-five.

 

 

The Johnny Cash song was called ‘A Boy Named..’ what?

Joe.

 

 

Following the death of Roosevelt in 1945 who became US president?

Abraham Lincoln.

 

 

What is 358 minus 357?

Four.

 

 

The word ‘ape’ is an anagram of which small vegetable?

Apple.

 

 

Which three-letter word means to cut grass?

Trim.

 

 

What is a quarter plus a quarter?

An eighth.

 

 

What country has the highest number of Portuguese speakers?

Spain.

 

 

Vietnam has land borders with Laos and Cambodia and which other country?

America.

 

 

Which Indian leader, whose last name began with ‘G’, took the name Mahatma?

Geronimo.

 

 

Which organ of the human body is used for smelling and breathing?

The lungs.

 

 

Which Cluedo character has a military rank?

Colonel Sanders

 

 

 

 

”Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It’s not absolutely necessary, but readers who can remember this era may enjoy this the most…

It was a hot Saturday evening in the summer of 1960 and Fred had a date with Peggy Sue.

He arrived at her house and rang the bell.

“Oh, come on in!” Peggy Sue’s mother said as she welcomed Fred in. “Have a seat in the living room. Would you like something to drink? Lemonade? Iced tea?”

“I’ll have an Iced tea, please,” Fred said.

Mom brought the iced tea.

“So, what are you and Peggy planning to do tonight?” she asked.

“Oh, probably catch a movie, and then maybe grab a bite to eat at the malt shop, maybe take a walk on the beach…”

“Peggy likes to screw, you know,” Mom informed him.

“What???” Fred spluttered, his mouthful of iced tea almost launching itself across the room.

“Uh…really?” he continued, eyebrows raised, as he tried to gather his wits about him. He wasn’t at all used to this type of liberal parenting, which was very progressive for the early 1960s.

“Oh, yes!” the mother continued very matter-of-factly. “When she goes out with her friends, that’s all they do!”

“Is that so?” asked Fred, incredulous.

“Yes,” the mother continued. “As a matter of fact, she’d screw all night if we let her, but of course we don’t!”

“Er no, I suppose not,” Fred answered, still surprised that Peggy Sue’s parents would countenance such a thing at all.

“Well, thanks for the tip,” he continued as he quickly began thinking about alternate plans for the evening.

A wicked smile began to play on his lips.

A moment later, Peggy Sue came down the stairs looking pretty as a picture. She was wearing a pink blouse and full circle skirt, and had her long hair tied back in a bouncy ponytail. She greeted Fred.

“Have fun, kids,” the mother said as they left.

Fred was sure that they would.

Half an hour later, a completely disheveled Peggy Sue burst into the house and slammed the front door behind her.

“Whatever is wrong, darling?” her puzzled mother inquired.

“The Twist, Mom! It’s the twist!!” Peggy Sue angrily yelled at her mother.

“The damned dance is called the TWIST! “

 

;)

 

 

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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A day for fasab factoid fans.

Here is a selection of statistics and odd facts that I hope you find interesting. 

 

 

If she were life-size Barbie’s measurements would be 39-23-33

 

Coca-cola was originally green

 

The Hawaiian alphabet has 12 letters

 

The first novel ever written on a typewriter was “Tom Sawyer”

 

Why do you need a driver’s license to buy liquor in America when you can’t drink and drive?

 

There are more collect calls on Father’s Day than any other day of the year

 

Heinz Catsup leaving the bottle travels at 25 miles PER YEAR

 

It is possible to lead a cow upstairs but not downstairs

 

Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?

 

Men get hiccups more often than women

 

Men can read smaller print than women; women can hear better

 

The chances that an American lives within 50 miles of where he/she grew up are 1 in 2.

 

The amount American Airlines saved in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first class was $440,000

 

The city with the most Rolls Royces per capita is Hong Kong

 

The State with the highest percentage of people who walk to work is Alaska

 

How does the guy who drives the snowplow get to work in the mornings?

 

The chances of a white Christmas in New York are 1 in 4

 

The portion of US annual rainfall that falls in April is 1/12

 

28 percent of Africa is wilderness

 

38 percent of North America is wilderness

 

An estimated 44 percent of American adults go on a diet each year

 

43 percent of Americans regularly attend religious services

 

The city with the highest per capita viewership of TV evangelists is Washington DC

 

80 percent of American men say they would marry the same woman if they had it to do all over again

 

50 percent of American women say they would marry the same man

 

58 percent of men say they are happier after their divorce or separation

 

85 percent of women say they are happier

 

Hallmark makes cards for 105 different familial relationships

 

The average number of people airborne over the US any given hour is 61,000

 

70 percent of Americans have visited Disneyland or Disney World

 

The average life span of a major league baseball is 7 pitches

 

1/3 of all ice cream sold is vanilla

 

1/3 of potatoes sold are French-fried

 

7 percent of Americans eat at McDonalds each day

 

90 percent of bird species are monogamous

 

3 percent of mammal species are monogamous

 

Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?

 

If 7-11 is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, why are there locks on the doors?

 

 

 

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I have the pleasure of presenting another lot of public faux-pas from the quiz show stable. These are a constant source of amusement for me, and I hope for you too. The sheer absurdity of some of the answers just leaves me in amazement at what is going on inside these peoples’ heads.

In this lot “Name a bird with a long neck” was my favorite, but have a read through them and pick your own winner.

Enjoy.

 

 

Name a part of the body you have more than two of:

“Arms..”

 

 

Name something you do before going to bed:

“Sleep..”

 

 

Name something you might do in a power cut:

“Read a book..”

 

 

Name a famous Parisian landmark:

“Hawaii..”

 

 

Name the first place detectives look for fingerprints:

“The floor..”

 

 

Name something you associate with the sea:

“A coffin..”

 

 

Name a famous Arthur:

“Shakespeare..”

 

 

Name something people take to the beach:

“Turkey..”

 

 

Name something a girl should know about a man before marrying him:

“His name..”

 

 

Name a bird with a long neck:

“Naomi Campbell..”

 

 

Name an item of clothing a woman might borrow from a man:

“Underpants..”

 

 

Name something taken from a hotel as a souvenir:

“The lamps..”

 

 

Name something you keep in a garden shed:

“A gardener..”

 

 

Name a song with moon in the title:

“Blue Suede Moon..”

 

 

Name a famous cowboy:

“Buck Rogers..”

 

 

Name a famous Wild-West character:

“Wild Bill Eacock..”

 

 

Name a fruit used in fruit salad:

“Cucumber..”

 

 

Name something you wear on the beach:

“A deckchair..”

 

 

Name a method of cooking fish:

“Cod..”

 

 

Name something you borrow from your partner:

“Shoes..”

 

 

Name a part of the body beginning with N:

“Knee..”

 

 

Name something red:

“My cardigan..”

 

 

Name something with a hole in it:

“A window..”

 

 

Name something you put on walls:

“Roofs..”

 

 

Name something that floats in the bath:

“Water..”

 

 

Name something in the garden that’s green:

“The shed..”

 

 

Name something a blind man might use:

“A sword..”

 

 

Name the last thing you take off before going to bed:

“Your feet..”

 

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A little change of pace again today.

When I was a kid I loved going to the beach (still do actually).

Every summer, or what passed for a summer, in those days we lived very much up north, there was always great anticipation about an imminent trip to see the sea. First, however, there was the tedious part, the journey there. When you are a kid things like that seem to take forever, but the excitement kept us all going and eventually we were within sight of the beach.

Finding somewhere to park was the next problem. It seemed everybody had the same idea as us. But we always found a spot and quickly gathered up all our beach gear and headed as fast as we could towards the salty fresh air and the inviting water.

While Mom and Dad took care of all the important stuff like organizing towels, seats, even a big umbrella for a bit of shade, we stripped down to our swimwear and ran as fast as we could towards the sea. (I keep calling it the “sea”, but actually it was the Atlantic Ocean.)

Each year we did the same thing, and each year we learned nothing from the year before.

On we galloped into the water and approximately 1.25 seconds after that we remembered.

The cold.

Sooooooo cold.

The water that looked so inviting was so very, very cold.

For an old person the shock might well have been too much for the system. But when you are young you tend to shrug off these minor discomforts. We were at the beach, and we were in the sea. That’s all that mattered.

After a while it didn’t feel so cold. Our feet and legs had grown accustomed to the temperature. Actually our feet and legs were probably numb by this time and would not have felt it if we had been standing in boiling water either.

And then just as we were starting to enjoy the whole experience, in would come a big wave and it would splash all over our upper bodies which had not been in the water yet and had not been given the chance to go completely numb.

It was always a “WTF” moment, even in the days when we didn’t know what “WTF” meant!

But there was nothing else available so we were none the wiser and made the best of it. There were also a few laughs too.

A friend, George, was always good for one or two. George fancied himself as a bit of an underwater expert and he always had a face mask and snorkel with him. Trouble was when George launched himself for an underwater expedition only his head ever went under the water. Most of the rest of him was in the fresh air. He must have had great natural buoyancy.

That was funny enough, but then someone (yes, sometimes me) would push the little ball thingumy into the snorkel pipe which soon provoked a serious amount of splashing and gasping for air as George’s head resurfaced. He was never very pleased, but the rest of us cracked up.

Then there was usually some unfortunate kid whose granny had bought him (or maybe even made) his swimming trunks. On dry land and even going into the water these were fine and looked quite normal, but coming out to go back up to the beach was quite another thing. You see the material they were made of often as not was water absorbent and these poor souls lumbered their way out of the ocean with a crotch full of icy water dragging between their knees. They must have weighed a ton and it’s a miracle they stayed on at all. It was so funny and I daren’t say what names we called them. Kids can be so cruel.

That was the “refreshing dip” over. We spent the next hour or two on the beach, first getting dried and then lying in the sun thawing out. Then it was off to get something to eat and on to the amusement park to go on a few rides there and spend more pennies in the various slot machines and games.

When it was time to leave both us and our money supply were exhausted. The trip home was a lot shorter, mainly because we slept most of the way. But the day had been good. Enjoyed by all. And the memories were selective. We’d do it again, soon, but we would never remember the coldness of the water, just the warmness of the day.