Anorak Man - Roland Beaney

Page 7

Home  Page 1  Page 2   Page 3   Page 4   Page 5   Page 6   Page 7  Page 8  Page 9  Page 10

Virtual Santa - December 2006

Thousands of people celebrated Guy Fawkes night this year with a virtual bonfire because of health and safety restrictions forcing organisations to scrap the real thing. A private bonfire was filmed and projected onto a giant screen with giant heaters, smoke machines and the sound of cracking wood coming out of giant speakers. Risk assessments and the mountain of paperwork that goes with them makes all but the simplest public event so difficult to organise these days. I suppose we will soon have virtual Christmas celebrations. Father Christmas will soon disappear to be replaced by a virtual model. There are already lots of these models in shops and they burst into life when we walk past them singing a Christmas carol and giving us a hearty Ho, Ho,Ho. One of my earliest memories was being taken to see a big tubby Santa Claus in a large department store. I was  honoured to meet this famous gentleman especially when he gave me a present. Christmas Carol singers are also dying out. Now we have a cart being towed by a 4 x 4 and on the back is a set of giant speakers blasting out "Once in Royal David's City" and not a real life Carol singer in sight. It would be much nicer to hear real carol singers but Poor old Santa just hasn't got the time to fill in all the paperwork that's involved. Will we get snow this year? I only remember one white Christmas and that was many years ago. It wasn't much fun because I kept falling over but we don't need real snow any more as we now have virtual snow out of snow machines and it's much safer. Snow Ball fights like Conkers will soon be banned anyway. Whether you get your presents from a virtual Father Christmas or the real man himself, have a safe and Happy Christmas and many thanks for all your comments about my articles this year.

Reports, Reports - November 2006

According to a report by the sleep council women are more grumpy than men in the mornings and  they stay in a bad mood for longer but 28 per cent of women do housekeeping before they go to work as opposed to only 5 per cent of men. Now, I wonder if its the housework that makes women grumpy or because men stay in bed longer and don't do the housework?
Another report by the car company Kia tells us that parents getting stressed while driving with badly behaved children in their cars are putting themselves and other at risk. Three-Quarters of parents admit to losing concentration while they are driving with their children in the back seat and short trips like the school run are just as stressful. Two thirds of parents keep their children quiet by giving them sweets and that will probably be the basis of another report about obesity soon?
Two years ago the pub and restaurant chain Chef and Brewer compiled a list of the top 10 most difficult wines to order. At the time their director of drinks said, "Its a shame that people are too nervous to ask for different wines because they were worried that they would pronounce the names wrong" Now here are the top 10 most difficult wines to order. How many can you pronounce ?  No 10, Chorley les beaune, No 9, Cotes du rousillon, No 8, pinot grigio, No 7 pinotage,  No 6 chemin blanc, No 5. viognier, No 4 cabernet sauvignon, No 3. rioja, No. 2 pouilly fume and No 1 gewurztraminer. I didn't do very well so I think I'll order a "house white"
A few thoughts to finish with, When I was young I had to give up my seat on a bus to a lady or an old person. Now I am getting older I look forward to a young person giving up their seat to me. I will never have to stand up on a bus or train again, or will I? Another memory of my younger days were the severe thunderstorms. I used to hide under my bed. Yet every time we have a storm today its reported as freak weather. Are thunderstorms really worse today or was I dreaming?
Please send your comments to

Who remembers the Manual Typewriter? - October 2006

Isn't it amazing how fast technology has developed in recent years. Typewriters with ribbons that ran out of ink are museum pieces now. I can remember spending ages correcting the spelling mistakes on my letters with that white paste.  Quite often I had to rewrite the whole piece. The letters used to come up from within the machine and sometimes they got stuck especially when you pressed two letters at once or in my case a whole bunch of letters at the same time. You then had to untangle them before they would go back into their slots. You had to pull a lever to start a new line and sometimes I forgot and continued typing right off the sheet. Then came the fax machine which was an amazing piece of equipment in its time. When I started work I was always being asked to take papers to another office, I used to dream of being able to pass them through the phone. Then one day my dreams came true. You could place a typed message into a large phone, dial a number, press a button and suddenly it appeared in another office miles away as if by magic. Then came the computer with those strange 3 inch floppy discs producing a new language. I remember when memory was something only humans had. Applications were only for jobs, programmes (spelt correctly) were something you watched on the TV. Cursors were people who used bad language, webs were those sticky things that spiders wove in the garden, a virus usually meant a week in bed with a runny nose and a hard drive was when I drove up to Scotland in a day. If you have any idea where we will be in 10 years time please let me know on and look after those old typewriters, they may be worth a lot of money one day.

Anorakmans news - October 2006

The UK has the best organised roadwork's in Europe according to this year's survey of how well major highway repairs are organised in 10 countries across the Continent.   this report using sophisticated vehicle-mounted surveillance technology will make me feel much better when I get stuck in my next traffic jam. I will be able to admire the wonderful barriers, cones and fences that surround the obstruction and realise that they are the best in Europe.
Yet another report came out this week from Esure that tells us that Britons spend £1.75 billion a year on gadgets that end up gathering dust. That is amazing considering how short of money most people are supposed to be. So if you have just bought an electric grill for your kitchen worktop, a coffee machine, or a sandwich toaster, you are one of them. We bought a sandwich toaster only last week.
Pet dog George is a regular passenger in his owners car. Apparently his owner changed the battery in her key fob and George ate the immobiliser chip. The chip has to be inside the car before it will start. When the car wouldn't start the AA man coaxed the dog into the car and it started first time. The owner will now have to be very careful when she takes him for "walkies", well, you know what happens or do I have to explain?
Have you been stopped for speeding lately? Apparently our speed laws could be breaching the human rights of millions of motorists. A complaint has been made to the European court of Human Rights that forcing car owners to state who was behind the wheel of a vehicle caught speeding on camera breaches their right to silence. My wife's car was caught on a speed camera a couple of weeks ago, I refuse to say who was driving it.

Real Camping - September 2006

I like camping but these days we've all been spoilt and expect modern facilities such as flush toilets, electricity and showers. I remember dashing across camp sites in the middle of the night to use the toilets in the pouring rain and even worse having to empty the Porta Potty 33 hoping no one would see me. In case you don't know what I am talking about the Porta Potty 33 was a chemical toilet with 33 flushes although I never actually checked to find out if it lasted that long. I can remember the large Herring Gulls dancing on the caravan roof and the noise of the rain in the early hours of the morning when I was trying to sleep. There was no electricity so we had a small portable 12 inch TV and mini lights that we plugged into the car battery and then the next day we couldn't get the car started because the battery was flat. I never really understood how to put a tent up. You arrive at a camp site after a long drive and everyone watches you struggling with the poles and canvas. When everyone on the site has had a good laugh they eventually come over to help. Eventually I did get the knack of reversing the caravan into the small gap allocated by the warden but other drivers had to unhook their caravan and push them into place. I decided that I would avoid all the embarrassment of trying to put a tent up and hired a tent in situ. It was great to see the tent up and ready when we arrived but I still had problems. We were sitting in the tent one day when I noticed a loaf of bread that my wife had placed on the table in the kitchen compartment was moving. I thought the wine had got hold of me but my wife saw it as well.  I investigated to find a mouse was towing a whole loaf of bread across the table. Later I found the same mouse had eaten a large chunk of plastic from my cassette box and when it started eating all our sweets and left a pile of wrappers round the back of the tent I decided it had to go. I picked up a frying pan and chased the mouse. He ran outside and right round the tent and then stopped, turned round to face me. It was as though he knew I couldn't do it, he just looked at me and I couldn't bring the frying pan down on his head. I left him there and turned round to find that half the camp site had witnessed the chase and all thought it was great fun. The last time we hired a caravan it came with running water, electricity and flush toilets. There was no mouse and no running across the site in the rain in the middle of the night to visit the toilets but why did the water always run cold in the middle of my shower and why did the pipes keep gurgling just as I fell asleep? A visit to the local sports centre was always the best place for a shower. Bring back the Porta Potty 33 chemical toilet and real camping. Please write and tell me your most embarrassing camping moments. My address is

Cutting motoring costs - September 2006

With the impending arrival of more taxes on motorists to encourage them to become environmentally friendly and the cost of fuel at record levels you would think that drivers would be looking for ways of saving money on the road. This unfortunately is not always the case and many of us drive far too fast, too close to the vehicle in front and brake very hard. We complain about the cost of motoring yet there are many ways of reducing these costs by economical and sensible driving. Driving smoothly at a sensible speed can help to reduce fuel costs considerably and 50mph to 60mph is usually the most fuel efficient speed. Accelerating as slowly as  possible is not considered the best option to save fuel though and it can also irritate other road users. Accelerate normally through the gears to your desired speed and then change to the highest gear possible. Try to use fifth gear from around 30mph up and aim to keep the engine speed to between 2000rpm and 3000rpm. Switch off the engine if you're going to be at a standstill for more than a minute and try to plan a route to avoid traffic hot spots and busy periods. This might add miles to your journey but if it cuts out stop-start motoring you could be better off. Getting lost can also use up a lot of fuel so make sure you know your route. Keeping windows and sunroofs shut and making sure your tyres are at the right pressure can make a big difference. Wind resistance and drag from under-inflated tyres will increase fuel bills. Remove roof racks and bike racks when not needed, and don't carry unnecessary items in your boot. Use of the stereo, rear demisters, lights and air-conditioning adds to the fuel bill but if you are travellin at over 50mph it becomes cheaper to close the windows and turn on your air conditioning. A dirty engine with lots of sooty deposits can worsen fuel economy so changing the oil and dirty air filters can help to improve things. Short journeys can use a lot of fuel so try walking to the local shops or walk your kids to school. This will also help to keep you fit. You will be surprised at how quickly you can get to your destination by walking. Public transport can also be a cost effective way of travelling and you can save on parking charges, how often have you driven around for miles wasting fuel just looking for a parking place? You could also offer a lift to a friend or workmate and share costs. Many thanks to for producing many of the tip here. Have you got any tips for saving fuel? please send them to

RDS Digital Radio v DAB Digital Radio v DRM Digital Radio.- August 2006

Many people are confused about the different types of digital radio's now on sale in the shops. DAB digital radios are becoming very popular and selling very well but don't get them confused with RDS or DRM digital radios. Here is a short explanation.

RDS stands for Radio Data System. It's a digital technology developed 25 years ago for traditional Analogue FM radio so that you don't have to retune car radios when driving between different transmitters on different frequencies. It also allows broadcasters to supply some text information alongside the audio, display the name of the radio station you're listening to, and has applications for broadcasting travel news. Like Teletext and Nicam stereo for television, RDS was a pioneer in using digital technology for broadcasting. These technologies are becoming out of date now but they were early examples of the use of digital technology for broadcasting.

DAB digital radio was developed using all the experience gained from RDS. Everything about it is digital, not analogue. It uses technologies including COFDM and MPEG audio coding to allow listeners to hear more stations, and all in digital sound quality. Alongside those benefits, DAB digital radio opens up a huge range of new possibilities in terms of the text information that can be carried. Unfortunately in the UK the sound quality has been compromised to allow more stations to use the spectrum so that the old FM signal is still better quality. Even so, the new DAB digital radio's still produces interference free sound with a good selection of stations.

Shortly DRM digital radio's will be entering the shops. This is a very interesting development which puts digital radio onto the AM bands. Shortly you will be able to listen to stereo digital radio on the old Medium Wave and Short Wave bands. DAB only uses the FM band. As AM signals travel further we should soon have many more stations and this is a development I am looking forward to. I have had the opportunity to listen to a DRM broadcast on short wave and it sounded excellent but when the signal faded there were gaps or dropouts. This shouldn't affect MW as much.

I would be pleased to hear from you if you have any questions. Write to There are also other articles on my other site  click on the Anorakman link.

Dusting - August 2006

When dusting time comes round my wife usually asks me politely to move out of the way so that she can flick the duster around. If I don't move quickly enough the request then becomes a command, "Get out of the way, will you!!! " If I still refuse to move immediately she says," Do it yourself".
The duster makes the dust fly up into the air and then she has to vacuum all of the stuff out of the carpet and this all seems to take hours. It must be one of the worst jobs in the home, even worse that doing the ironing. Then when its all done the dust seems to appear again as if by magic. When I clean my car I can stand back and admire the gleaming paintwork but after dusting and vacuuming nothing seems to be any different. Its amazing the amount of dust that seems to collect in the house, where does it all come from? According to wikipedia dust in our houses is composed of atmospheric dust combined with dust generated by the inhabitants, mostly from sloughed skin cells and fibres from clothing and coverings. House dust mites often found in fibres like carpets and beds, feed on the organic components of house dust. Their faeces, in turn, become part of house dust and can provoke allergic reactions in humans. Now that's worrying because with the amount of dust my wife seems to find around me my skin cells must be falling out faster than my body can replace them and It won't be long before I disappear completely. To make it worse those nasty little dust mites are feeding on them. If only we knew what was going on around us while we are settled in a comfortable chair watching the TV. I think I know why women seem to spend more time cleaning than men, they already know what's going on. I think I'll do a bit of dusting myself in future to rid my house of all those nasty dust mites. Now, have you ever seen an enlarged picture of one of those mites,where's the vacuum cleaner? What is your least favourite job around the house? Please e-mail me at

Retirement - July 2006

There are certain dates in our lives that we will remember for the rest of our days. The first one is normally the day we start school.  I still remember well my mum taking me to school for my first day and bursting into tears when she left me alone. Those teachers looked mean, the building looked very big compared with my home and there were all those strange faces. The next date was when I moved on to the senior school but that was nothing compared with the tears and joy of leaving school for the last time and my first day at work. Then, I will never forget my wedding day. When I uttered those words, "I do" and the problems I had with my speech when I screwed up my notes so well that I couldn't read them. Recently I retired and that's another date that will remain etched in my memory forever. I had worked out the exact date many years before but I was then offered early retirement and it didn't take me long to make up my mind to acept it after completing 43 years in the same job. The speed it all happened came as a bit of a shock to me, in fact it all happened so quickly that I had to return several weeks later for my retirement party. So all I had to do was to lock the door and go home. As I walked out of the gate for the last time memories of all those years came flooding back to me. I remembered being told when I was a teenager that I would be bald by the time I was 25. I ran my fingers through what little hair I had left and thought, well, its not much but I still have some left. Although I got a little podgy recently I am still fairly fit and I wondered what I should do now. Should I get a part time job, should I do some charity or voluntary work? When I arrived home my wife had made the decision for me. She handed me a paintbrush. I hadn't done too much decorating around the house for a few years because I knew I would be retiring soon but since my last day at work I seem to have spent all my time with a paintbrush in my hand. The ceilings, walls, doors and skirting boards all now have a fresh coat of paint on them. Even the garden is now looking much better after all my efforts. For anyone retiring soon I must tell you to keep busy, do voluntary work, keep fit and have lots of hobbies and interests. Enjoy yourself but don't get lazy and do nothing. You'll soon put on weight and that makes everything you do a lot more effort and the decorating becomes an even bigger nightmare. Instead of driving to the shops I now walk or ride a bike. Its amazing how far you can get in a short amount of time and the saving on petrol is amazing. With the money you save you could avoid having to get that part time job in the local supermarket.

Environmentally friendly citizens - June 2006

In the good old days you had one of those old metal dustbins with a separate lid that blew off on a windy day. You just threw all your rubbish into it, put the lid on and forgot about it until you put it out once a week for the dustmen to empty. You then put your empty bin into your backyard  (it wasn't called a patio then) and filled it up again for the next weekly collection. Then they introduced plastic bags, the cats soon found out that they could break open the bag and enjoy the remains of your feast from the week before and spread the rest all over your pathway. Then the bottle banks and the newspaper bins arrived where you had to post your bottles and newspapers through holes in the side of metal tanks, clear, green or red bottles had to go into different holes. That should have been easy but every time I arrived with my green bottles the bin was full and the only space was for clear bottles. The same happened to me when I arrived with a week’s collection of newspapers, the bin was nearly always full and I had to take my rubbish back home. Next came the Wheelie bins. These were a good idea for a while but soon they decided that we had to have three bins, one for general waste, another for paper and a third for garden refuge. I now dread the rubbish collection day. The Waste collection operatives as they are now called check everything I put into my bins and can reject it. After they have gone I am almost scared to look into the bin in case I’ve accidentally put some potato peelings into the wrong bin or perhaps I forgot to wash out that old soup can. Now I hear they may start weighing my rubbish and charging me per kilo to take it away. The council are constantly lecturing us on the benefits of recycling and the disposal of rubbish. Soon we will have a fortnightly collection of general rubbish. Can you imagine the pong in the summer after stagnating rubbish has been cooking in my bin for two weeks, will we get a free supply of pegs for our noses? Getting the rubbish ready for collection is now becoming a full time and very messy job. I do hope I am not polluting or wasting water by washing out my tin cans in the sink and should the remains of my tin of soup go down the drains anyway? I will spend every free moment separating my bottles, plastics, tins, garden refuse and newspapers to do the best for the environment but I do hope they don’t get charge us more for all the extra work that we are putting into it.

Time to clean the pond - May 2006 

Ponds make a nice feature in the garden. Its so relaxing to sit by the garden pond and watch the fish swimming around. Then my wife reminded me that the pond needed some attention. Some of the paving slabs were sinking, the plants needed tiding up and the water was getting very green. Why do women have to spoil a nice relaxing afternoon and think about work? Cleaning the pond is one of my least favoured jobs in the garden and a job I save for a nice sunny day. Unfortunately for me this day seemed to be ideal, the sun was shinning, it was reasonably warm and the soil was very dry. The buckets had already been placed into position for me and I rolled up my sleeves, put on my oldest clothes and set about this messy task. Off came the net which I have to put over the pond because the local cats are excellent at fishing!!! Its a solid seamed green pea netting that I place over the pond and pegs keep it very tight. So far it has resisted all efforts to breach it by our local feline friends. I then start the arduous task of bailing out water with buckets. Unfortunately at that time my wife had found some very important washing to do indoors. Pond water is excellent for watering the garden and I tipped each bucketful of water over my plants and lawn, no water wasted here. Gradually the water level dropped and it was time to start catching the fish. My wife returned from her important assignment indoors with a net and tank to put the fish in. The fish are never happy about this part of the process and avoided me at all costs. This meant that I had to be careful not to pick them up accidentally in the bucket and tip them onto the garden. I wish they would realise that their better option was to go into the net willingly. This is when we realised that we had other visitors in the pond. The entire frog population of the area had decided to make their home in there. I caught my first frog in the net and handed it to my wife. The frog hopped out of the net and my wife tried to catch it in the net before it made it back into the pond. Unfortunately for me the net contained a big lump of mud and dirty weed and this all flew out of the net and into my face. The frog made it back into the pond. I was now very dirty and at that time my wife found another important task to do indoors. The fish were still not keen on entering the net so I decided to do more bailing. I was now getting into the very smelly stuff at the bottom of the pond. What a pong!!! I was head first into the hole trying to net a fish when a frog jumped out at me. I was so surprised that I slipped and splattered into the mud. I was filthy and very smelly. My wife wondered what all the fuss was and brought me a cup of coffee, how thoughtful of her. I was now very determined to get the fish and with the low water level I soon netted them all and my wife put them into the tank. The frogs were another thing, there were 16 of them hopping all over the garden and as soon as my back was turned they hopped back into the pond. As fast as I told them to hop off they hopped back. While the frogs played in the garden we managed to clean the rest of the pond out, put the plants into fresh containers of soil and fill the pond with fresh water. The butyl liner has now lasted 20 years and is still ok. These liners are so much better than the plastic moulded ponds. I filled the pond with water and while the fish were getting acclimatised to the new water still in their tank which I had placed on the ledge I bought some sand and made the paving slabs level. Remember, never put the fish straight into fresh water and never use cement in a pond with fish in it. I have never used a pond filter and I have kept fish for over 30 years. I clean the pond out every second year. I can now enjoy watching the fish again swimming around in their nice clean pond and the garden is looking green and growing well with all that green pond water. No harm came to any of the frogs during this operation in fact I think they enjoyed keeping one step ahead of me.

A visit to the municipal tip - May 2006

Spring has sprung, the first cuckoo, the grass is growing, the weeds are growing and I've been to the municipal tip. It must be something in our genes, as soon as the clocks go forward, the sun comes out and the temperatures rise men develop an overwhelming desire to tidy up the garden, the shed and the garage. Do you remember the days when a garage was for keeping the car in? Today its used mainly for storing junk. Mine is looking more like a workshop at the moment with lots of paint pots and brushes. Bags of soil and stones for the garden and tools for all those odd jobs. I also have a coffee table and a chair. The garage seems to have replaced the shed as a place to store all our “Come in Handy one day” bits and pieces. My Mother-in-Law's shed has now become a summer house. It has a carpet on the floor and pretty ornaments and pictures on the wall. It also has a lounge chair and a table and baskets hanging from the roof. Its now an excellent place to retire to when you have a disagreement with your partner. Most of my rubbish comes from the garden now that the council has decided not to dispose of my garden refuse. Those little bags are far too small and expensive for me. Unfortunately I return home from the tip with a very dirty car and a clean up is required. Its becoming a real joy now to visit the dump to see what other people throw away. There was a bird cage there with lots of toys for the budgie to play with. There were pictures and records, stereo systems and lots of tables and chairs. A bit of attention with a sander and much of this stuff could be used again but the man seemed to be reluctant to let anyone take it away. Surely the ultimate in recycling. Perhaps we should look again at some of this stuff before we dump it after all much of it is better than what we are currently buying in the shops in flat packs.

MP3 Players - April 2006

My mother-in Law handed me an MP3 player recently and asked me what it was used for. I said it was for playing music on. She then asked if it was for playing tapes or records. I told her is was a device for playing digital music and I realised then that she had no idea what I was talking about. Apparently it came free with a new chair. Now what a chair has to do with a state of the art digital device defeats me. It took me two hours to open the box it was packed in. No amount of pulling and tearing at the packaging would open it until I found a very large knife and a hammer, I wonder how my Mother in Law would have got into it? Amazingly the player was eventually removed from its package in one piece. Most of these gadgets seem to come these days with a 64 page instruction manual with only one page in English and that is written in a strange type of English you find in the leaflet at the bottom of flat pack wardrobes. Have you ever been able to find anyone that understands how to put anything together just by reading the leaflet? The first line told me what to do if it fails, now that really inspired confidence in the product. A few years ago a device like this would have cost a considerable amount of money, nowadays they give them away free with all kinds of stuff. You can now buy a TV with a free DVD player and a digital camera comes free with a new computer. I eventually got the MP3 player working, there was a couple of demo tracks on it and the sound was quite good but I found the controls difficult to manage. There was a control that had to be pushed up and down or in and out to do a multitude of tasks and it wasn't very responsive. You have to download your music from the internet and the player has its own USB socket to plug into the computer so that you can load music onto it. This would have been a big problem for my Mother in Law because she hasn't got a computer. Perhaps an MP3 player should be sold with a free computer!!! There are lots of different types of MP3 players in the shops now and normally the more you pay, the more storage they have. Mine had 256MB. but some have more than 4 times that amount of storage and some of them could take your complete library of CDs. You can also get them with a built in FM radio and most of them have a facility to record voice messages. They are very robust and no amount of shaking made the tracks jump unlike the portable CD players so they would be ideal if you like to listen to music while jogging in the park. The famous I Pod is an MP3 player and has a shuffle facility so that your tunes don't come in the same order of play. As long as you have some means of recording, downloading and loading tracks onto it via a computer and can understand the instructions, unlike me! they are well worth buying. It may be worth buying a cheap one at first for about £30 and this will take a couple of CDs of music so have a look in the furniture shop for a cheap chair.

Spending a penny - April 2006

It has been said that when two young men are deciding where they want to go to in the evenings their decision will be based on the availability of girls.  In their middle years their decision will always be based on what the food will be like. After the age of 40 their decision will be based on the availability of toilets. The ultimate solution is to ensure that there are always a couple of toilets nearby. There is nothing worse than fighting your way through crowds looking for a toilet and then just making it to the door to find the convenience is inconveniently closed for cleaning or sometimes closed for 6 months to save a penny or two. Many shops do not have a toilet and many pubs now put up a sign saying, "These toilets are for patrons only." There comes a time in everyone's life when they are desperate for a convenience. I always "go" before I leave home but because my wife always makes sure I have a cup of coffee just before going out the minute I leave the house I want to "go" again. Coaches without toilets are the worse places. Isn't it funny that as soon as the coach pulls away  I want to "go."  Traffic jams on motorways are another dreaded area. Where are you supposed to go on the M3 when you've been crawling along in a traffic jam for two hours? Planes have a lot of toilets but I used to take a window seat, unfortunately as soon as the burly passenger sitting next to me falls asleep I want to "go". Have you ever tried climbing over sleeping passengers in the middle of a flight? Those circular toilets in town centres are a no go for me, someone told me that you only get 10 minutes and as soon as your time is up the door flies open. Apparently this is to stop people overstaying their welcome but someone fell asleep one day and after 10 minutes the door opened up causing him terrible embarrassment. Please, if you have a convenience on your premises make them available for emergencies, you might be in the same predicament one day and if you are in a cinema don't make fun of the poor guy who has to leave for a few minutes. I wonder if you can plot a course on a SatNav to the toilets?

Metric or not? - March 2006

Many years ago at school they started to teach us how to use metric measurements. The teacher told us that Imperial measurements will go and be replaced by their metric counterparts. Soon shillings disappeared as we accepted metrification of our money. The temperatures were then given in Centigrade as well as Fahrenheit and many years later we had to buy our vegetables in kilo's. All this cost us a lot of money. Now Lord Kinnock, the former labour leader has come up with the idea that we should abolish the mile. He says that all imperial measurements should now be replaced by metric and thinks it would make life easier for the foreign competitors in the London Olympics in 2012. Of course it would but why should we have to alter all our road sign at a cost of £700 million. Surely this money would be better spent on more deserving causes. Mr Kinnock also claims that our road signs contradict the image that our country is a modern, multi-cultural and dynamic place but the USA is leading the world with modern inventions and certainly a multi cultural society yet they don't seem to have any plans to abandon the mile. Metric measurements are easier to work out and it would be easier for us if we changed over but at what cost? I think I will always be weighing myself in stones and measuring my height in feet and that doesn't worry me at all. We seemed to cope quite easily with the decimalisation of money but how many young mums weigh their baby's in kilo's today? Additionally they told us all those years ago at school that the Internal combustion engine would soon disappear in favour of a more efficient system. They decided to stop teaching us how the internal combustion engine worked in favour of other systems that were supposed to be replacing it. That didn't help me at all because I am still driving an internal combustion engine 40 years later even though countless £millions have been spent on the development of other supposedly more efficient engines. We have too many bottomless pits eating up our money, the Health Service, defence and schools are notorious for this but lets not let decimalisation become another bottomless pit for us to drop more money into. I think Lord Kinnock along with many other experts are wrong and they should realise that most people visit our country because we are different. They expect to see imperial measurements just like they expect to see us driving on the left side of the road and double Decker buses. I remember learning Esperanto at school, whatever happened to that language? It was supposed to be an easy language for everyone to learn so that we could all correspond easily wherever we came from. It died out because the experts realised that everyone wanted to keep their own identity. The French are very proud of their language just as we are very lazy in learning foreign languages ourselves. Lets keep our own identities and stop wasting any more money on trying to change ours.

Do we need a Satnav - March 2006

I had a visit from a good friend recently. I opened the front door and as he walked into my house I heard a robot type voice from under his coat say, "You have reached your destination." I looked at him puzzled and burst into laughter when he told me that it was his SatNav. He had programmed it to find him a route from his house to my house. I asked him why he had to use a Satnav to find my house when he has been coming here for 12 years. He didn't know what to say but explained that he had to bring it into my house as he was worried about someone stealing it from his car. He also told me that if it didn't know it was at his destination it would get confused when he went home as it might route him back to my house again.

Satnavs are getting very popular now and many cars are coming fitted with one as standard. I will wait a little longer as I am sure the prices of them will fall considerably soon. I rarely use a map and normally find my way around the country by using the standard sign posts. The drone of that awful robot type voice would drive me crazy although some of them have a more friendly voice now. Its all very well if you are planning a trip to the Pole or the Sahara desert. Knowing where you are to the nearest meter in the wilderness would be handy but not on the M25. Do we really need a global positioning system to find our way from Salisbury to Southampton?  I love a good gadget but are they really that good?  I knew a driver who headed into a traffic jam which could easily have been avoided if he had used some good old fashioned common sense. Another driver was too lazy to turn his car round when he realised he was going the wrong way. He forgot to tell the Satnav that he was going home and rather than turn his car round he asked the Satnav for a new route by taking left turns. It added miles to his journey.
If you must have one they now let you know where the nearest garage or restaurants are and they can also warn you that there is a fixed speed camera ahead. They work best mounted on the windscreen but be careful of thieves! Perhaps there is another advantage that they could stop you arguing with your partner about their map reading skills. A big disadvantage is that they have to be constantly updated via the internet or a mobile phone and this could involve a subscription. Many short cuts are not included so you could end up doing extra miles and certain types of windscreens can affect the signal.
The Tom Tom one costs approx £279 and speaks more than 30 languages. The Road Angel Navigator costs £449 and both of these come from Halfords. The Trafficmaster Smartnav Satellite navigation system is an excellent system that is built in to your vehicle. The cost of fitting is included with this one but remember that the subscription for updates can cost £120 a year and even more for camera alerts.
Perhaps I was jealous when my friend showed me how his Satnav worked after all I do like to be first. He set a route for his return journey and he played it to us in French. Turn round and go home I thought before I get so envious that I have to dash down to my local store to buy one for myself after all they do warn you of speed cameras and speed limits but my wife does that from the back seat all the time for me anyway.

Winter Blues - February 2006

What is your favourite time of the year? Some people like the autumn with its decaying leaves causing train delays, the constant stream of youngsters turning up on the doorstep at Halloween in gory clothes demanding treats and the sound of fireworks from October until New Years Eve. There are also people that love the winter with thoughts of snuggling up in front of a flickering fire with snow falling outside.  I suppose the winter months have some good points. There is no imminent danger of getting sunburn or skin cancer, there are no wasps, no foul smelling barbeques, I can eat more chocolate because it is supposed to create a thermal layer to keep out the cold. January sales are an excellent excuse to search for bargains in the gadget shops and there are better programmes on the TV except Big Brother of course. I can also wear an overcoat with lots of pockets to store all my phones, wallets, keys and other bits and pieces I seem to carry around with me these days.

When I feel off colour and miserable in the winter months my wife says its my age. According to her all men get like Victor Meldrew when they get old. I am not a believer in illnesses I cannot see. If I feel a little off colour I put it down to being just plain miserable. Other people are different and there has to be a medical reason for their condition and they call it Sad which stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to the medical boffins people get grumpy because its dark, cold and horrible in the winter with a lack of sun and this means the body lacks certain vitamins that the sun can give us. There is a cure and its called emigration but that is not available on the National Health.
I will battle on and keep moaning through the dark winter months Victor Meldrew will be proud of me. It will soon be the Summer when I can top up my vitamins and sun tan under a warm sun. That will stop me moaning. Unfortunately then they will be telling me to keep in the shadows otherwise I'll get  skin cancer. I think I'll just keep on moaning, its safer. Any ideas on solving my problem will be appreciated. or go to

There's a thief about! - February 2006

Modern gadgets and computers are costing us a fortune because of thieves and vandals. According to the latest crime figures street robberies are soaring and muggings were up 11 per cent in the third quarter of last year and growing faster than at any time in the past few years. Apparently its the boom in gadgets including MP3 players, iPods, mobile phones, hand held games and Sat Nav's that we are carrying around with us that is proving an enticing mix for crooks wanting to make a quick profit. Police are warning vehicle owners who have satellite navigation equipment in them not to leave it in their cars while they go shopping as they are easy targets for thieves looking for property that is valuable and easy to sell. Apparently the sucker marks that the Sat Nav makes on the windscreens are a giveaway that the owner may have put the system in the glove compartment or under the seat. We are also coughing up £3 billion a year replacing and repairing virus ridden PCs. According to Telewest the average price to cure a computer virus now stands at £260 and that figure is more than we spend on ourselves to cure a cold. Many computer owners now scrap their machine rather than calling in someone to fix it. Seven out of ten people worry about computer security yet one in ten admit to opening e-mails from unknown sources. A Telewest marketing manager said that the effects of a computer virus can cost the average person three times more to cure than to protect. Please send your comments about my articles to and click on the e-mail link.

Unhealthy electronic games. - January 2006

According to a pole by Children's TV channel  Nickelodeon, traditional schoolyard games are losing out to low effort computer games. The survey showed that children prefer to spend their break times playing with a hand held computer or a mobile phone rather than take part in physical activities in the playground. My favourite playground games were Hopscotch, Football, Conkers, Skipping, Hide and Seek and rounders. Today the only game left out of that lot is football. Hand held consoles, text messaging, virtual pets, and e-mailing have taken over with the old Yo Yo coming in at number 7. Children today may have nimble fingers but according to this survey they are becoming fat and unhealthy. Apparently a third of boys and half the country's girls are getting less than the recommended exercise a day. Mobile phones were virtually unheard of back in the 1980s but they seem to be taking over our lives now. You can listen to your favourite music, with the MP3 player, listen to your favourite radio station, get the news, football results, weather forecast, send an e-mail, take a picture or movie with the camera and then exchange them with your friends via blue tooth, play an endless selection of games, send text messages and phoning a friend on them is well down the list. Soon you will be able to watch your favourite TV programme or even turn your oven on with them while you are on the way home from work. Lets encourage children to play the old games as well as using the new technology or are they considered too dangerous for them now?

There are a lot more articles on other pages

Home  Page 1  Page 2   Page 3   Page 4   Page 5   Page 6   Page 7  Page 8  Page 9  Page 10

Created by