Trash Talk

Some people say I can be a grumpy, old-fashioned, sarcastic technophobe who is out of touch with the youth of today. I completely refute that allegation; I am most definitely NOT a technophobe.

From time to time, I like to dumb myself down by taking a look at the online versions of The Sun and The Daily Star newspapers. Knowing that I was going to write this article, I have been monitoring some of the remarkable headlines but decided not to comment at the time and wait only for those published on my scheduled blog writing day, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. On a day of terrible terrorist activity outside Westminster and also in the days following the death of Martin McGuinness, the announcement of a date to begin the Brexit process and the re-emergence of another attempt at a Scottish referendum, these are samples of some of the headlines in today’s editions of those newspapers.



Well, I found that when you go into the article, it turns out he just looks like an older version of Chunk from The Goonies.


Denise Fox

I have nothing against EastEnders, and I actually like the character, Denise Fox, but I have two issues with this article.

(a) That it is deemed to be newsworthy that a TV character is sad because she lost her job working in a corner shop.

(b) That word “Spoiler” infers that reading the article will in some way spoil your enjoyment of the programme, and also that the headline pretty much tells you what is going to happen without digging deeper.


parking space

Oh, the perils of first world problems. Now, what do you think the average UK citizen will make of this “war”? Which one of those people will they decide to support? Most of all, who cares?



The most interesting thing about the fact that Germany play England at football in a friendly match would, according to the article, appear to be the German captain’s girlfriend… Oh, hang on a minute; they might of a point on this one.



This is a story of a famous quiz show which just happened to have an attractive contestant. My issue with this is not that the article appears on the online page, more about viewers “swooning” and offering their hands in marriage. What is the matter with people?



This is a proper news article, but it looks more like an advert to me.


Marnie Simpson

Really! A girl famous for a reality TV show (more than one) has a bit of plastic surgery, and her “fans” appear to be criticising her through trolling techniques. I’m not sure who I feel sorry for most, Marnie, an already good-looking girl, for feeling that she needs to have surgery and then publicising the fact, or the people who deem it acceptable to publicly “backlash”.


hair freezing

“International Hair Freezing Contest”. Now that is just plain weird!



This one is just utterly ridiculous. Why would a man in a pub choose this method of tooth extraction? Why would a guy be prepared to use pliers to extract somebody else’s tooth? Did those industrial pliers just happen to be in the pub? And why would anybody want to watch a video clip of this happening?


Venus fly trap

I almost can’t believe I included this but having made the decision, it had to go straight to number one. I dare not even click on this article to see what it was all about but I do fear there may be some nightmares tonight.


This post is in no way a criticism of our national tabloid newspapers; they provide a service, a vehicle to access the topics that many people want to read about and for that I commend them. My comments are more a reflection on modern British culture that makes people want to be the subjects of these articles, to comment on them, or to have a desire to seek out this level of material. Anyway, that was my top 10, just for today. It is by no means the complete list; here is a collection of others which didn’t quite achieve the dizzy heights of my “top 10” but need no explanation from me.

Star Sun collection



Celebrity Backscratcher

I recently read a fun article about some of the bizarre reasons why relationships fail, and couples split up. One, in particular, caught my eye; a young lady had dumped her boyfriend because she walked into the kitchen and found him scratching his back with a spaghetti ladle! “How gross”, “Disgusting” and “What a revolting man” were just some of the comments attracted by the article.

This is my spaghetti ladle, all the way from Sorrento on the Amalfi coast. It actually works very well, certainly better than trying to scoop the pasta out of the pan using a regular spoon.

Spagetti Spoon

Now, am I the only person right now thinking “Wow, that thing certainly would make a fantastic backscratcher”?


That was going to be the end of a very short blog post, but then, as usual, I proofread it back in my head, and it occurred to me that ‘spaghetti’ sounds like ‘celebrity’ and it gave me a fantastic idea. I hope the Director-General of Channel 4 gets to read this because I’ve devised a new TV programme which I call “Celebrity Backscratcher”. Let’s face it, there are programs for celebrities herding sheep, painting landscapes and even taking part in colonic irrigation. “Celebrity Backscratcher” – what could possibly go wrong?

I reckon the celebrities should be split into two teams, one for the “Backs” and one for the “Scratchers”. They could use the spaghetti back-scratchers in a game of ping-pong. They could be thrown as far as possible across a muddy field. They could be used to pick up copious quantities of spaghetti and run from one side of the sports hall to another. They could act as batons in a relay race. There could be a challenge to see who could get the most back-scratchers down their pants. The list is endless.

But of course we need some celebrities:

Back Team

  1. Captain – Burt Backarach
  2. Boris Backer
  3. Michael J Fox (from Back to the Future)
  4. Catherine Back (from the Dukes of Hazzard)
  5. Sue Backer (from A Question of Sport)

Scratcher Team

  1. Captains – Itchy and Scratchy (from The Simpsons)
  2. Scratchy Doo (Scooby’s nephew aka “Scrappy”)
  3. Scratchet Johansson


Actually, now I’m struggling. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all.

Week Eight – “Epilogue.”

I lost one more pound in weight this week but, as you can probably tell from the tone of my more recent weekly postings, my heart is no longer in it. I would go as far as to say that writing these posts extended the length of the diet and helped me to focus on taking care of myself a little better. In that sense, the whole process has been a success. I did not, however, manage to lose the weight I had secretly targeted. Seeing my weight reach the largest amount it had ever been gave me the kick in the butt that I needed. In total, I did lose 10 lbs, but it took me eight weeks to achieve this. I’m still in the “overweight” category, but in all honesty, I do feel fitter – thanks to extended walks with my new dog – and I can say that my clothes fit just a little better.

My aim now is to continue with the generally healthier habits I have set for myself. I definitely eat less, I have stopped eating snacks and biscuits between meals just to “keep me going”, and Duke will guarantee that I at least burn off more calories than I did before starting the diet. There is a fear that I will drift into bad habits without really noticing but this is where the mental challenge kicks in.

This will be my last diet blog post so I will sign off on this subject with some random thoughts I built up over the last two months.

In an attempt to make my treadmill experiences more bearable, I started to play episodes of The Office (US Version) which I became a little addicted to. I realise I’m about 12 years late on this, but it’s as funny today as I’m sure it was then. They only made 12 episodes of the UK version, but there are about 3,422 of the US version which I have still to watch.

Someone once told me that when your stomach rumbles, you should think of it as a little monster eating away at the fat. Rejoice in the rumble!

While out for a pub meal with some friends this week I did fear that I would consume way too many calories. The duck in hoisin sauce with oriental vegetables and noodles sounded sweet and sticky and thoroughly appetising. From a diet perspective, I had nothing to worry about as it turned out to be some fatty duck in a weak and thin gravy with some Chinese five spice, overcooked small carrots and limp mangetout thrown in for good measure. It wasn’t hard not to eat too much. There was a ‘Family Fortunes’ style of pub quiz later in the evening. One question said to name the most popular thing that was “runny”. My answer was the gravy in the duck in hoisin sauce. No points were awarded for this.

During my diet, whenever there were chips in my immediate vicinity I used to sing in my head the words “Hey teacher, leave those chips alone” to the tune of the Pink Floyd track, Another Brick in the Wall. It didn’t really help.

In an attempt to counteract the Pink Floyd lyrics and to support my love of Indian cuisine, I also internally sing a version of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ with the words “Curry on, curry on, it doesn’t really matter” and “I see a little skinny insect of a man; Scaramouche, Scaramouche will you eat the fiery mango”.

And finally, completely unrelated to my diet, you have not experienced life if you haven’t seen a 40kg 6-year-old Labrador chase his own tail, the great lummox.

Rumble Teacher Office Mashup

Ladder Fury

They say bad things come in three’s. My daughter lives in a flat and to view the electricity meter for a reading she needs to climb a small ladder at the foot of a flight of stairs near the front door.


Last week, someone stole the ladder which was behind the front door, and she couldn’t take a reading; she asked me if I could bring down my “fold-up-able” ladders to help her. I keep them at the back of my garage just behind the “up-and-over” door. It was quite a struggle to get them out, and I had to resort to a bit of brute force, a typical tactic of mine in times of trouble. I heard something crack and looked down to find that I’d inadvertently ripped off the plastic box which houses the broadband and TV cables. They are still working but literally hanging by a thread as you can see in the picture below.


I was so cross with myself; after accepting the situation for what it was, I picked up the ladders and swung them around to load them into the boot of my car. I misjudged how close I was to the back and bashed the corner of the ladder into the rear light casing leaving this spider-shaped crack.


As you can tell, it was raining; this didn’t lighten my mood in any way. Expletives filled the air, right at the moment when my next-door neighbours were leaving their house to take their dog for a walk. I curbed my anger and threw the ladders into the back of the car and guess what? I hadn’t lifted them high enough and ended up making a discernible scratch on the bumper for which I’m too embarrassed to take and upload a photograph.

Things couldn’t get any worse, so the only thing to do was continue with the plan and make my way down to her flat to use the ladders to obtain the meter reading. This all took place without further mishap, but I had an idea while I was there. I said to her, “Why don’t you go up the steps to the height of the meter, put the light on and take a photo, then zoom in on the image to view the meter reading?” She thought this was a good idea so got herself in position, was about to aim her phone at the meter to take a picture when she blurted out “Ooh, I can actually read it from here without using the phone!”


Week Seven – “Dooky.”

This was another quite sad week for our family; my diet had to take a back seat. For the record, I did not put on any weight, but I did not lose anything either.

Our family collie dog of almost 15 years had to say goodbye to the world. I’m sure Becky will be the subject of another upcoming blog post, but I’ll just say this: Becky played a big part in helping three of our family grow into wonderful adults – four if you count me.


Looking at the impact from a weight loss perspective, I lost my excuse to go out for a walk each day. The trouble was that she had become so slow that in no conceivable world could you classify those outings in recent months as exercise. As I work from home, she was also my reason for getting out of the house, and when she left us, I found myself climbing the walls.

Meet Duke. We now have a new family member, he’s a 6-year-old Labrador rescue dog with the most wonderful nature. I already think of him a gentle giant. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me saying that he’s a little overweight, just like me really. We have therefore made a pact to sort ourselves out by helping each other.


I have sacked my diet coach, Angela. To be honest, she never accepted the role in the first place. Even more honestly, she was never offered it. Duke has now taken on this position. Within the first 24 hours, he took his job a little too seriously by snaffling a ham sandwich I’d made for my lunch; he pinched it right off the plate while it was still on the kitchen worktop. The whole thing instantly disappeared into his cavernous mouth. His manners need some attention, I think.

We have already been out on daily excursions of between 1 and 2 miles at a brisk pace. We were both huffing and puffing a little towards the end of each walk, but it seems to get better each day. Duke, or “Dooky” as he is affectionately known, is the reason why I no longer need to get on a treadmill, hallelujah!

RIP Becky, I’ll never forget you.

Continue to Week Eight – “Epilogue.”