Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Mr Cameron - you sure you want a French Alliance?

David Cameron has decided that Britain should combine its armed forces with the most unsuccessful military nation on the planet. Whilst the French incompetence is well known and their lack of courage is legendary perhaps he should read these stories of their arrogance and rethink what will turn out to be a disastrous error...........

JFK's Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60's when DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO.
DeGaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible. 
Rusk responded: "Does that include those who are buried here?" 

There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American.
During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying 'Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims.
What does he intended to do, bomb them?'
A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly:
'Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply: -
Emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day,
They can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck.

We have eleven such ships; how many does France have?'

A Royal Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S. , English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies.
At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of Officers that included personnel from most of those countries.

Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, the English learn only English. He then asked,
'Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?'
Without hesitating, the British Admiral replied,
'Maybe it's because the Brit's, Canadians, Aussie's, Kiwi's and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German.'

Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.
"You have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked sarcastically.
Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.
"Then you should know enough to have your passport ready."
The Englishman said,
'The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it."  
"Impossible. You English always have to show your passports on arrival in France !"
The English senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained:
''Well, when I came ashore at Gold Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single Frenchmen to show a passport to."

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Can we check reality some other time?

My mum was , as far as I can tell, born about 20 minutes after Corrado Segre died. Given that he is credited with much of the work on modern day algebra many might think it was a poor swap – I, of course am a little biased.

She wasn’t the brightest kid on the block and wouldn’t mind that being said. Starting work as a warper at the age of 14 she made parachutes during the Second World War whilst my dad trekked across the Sahara chasing Rommel and landed on Anzio beach as part of his return home to his fathers’ native Italy.
They met in 1947. My dad was an outgoing flamboyant and confident man, my mum a bit of a wallflower, but her sister was very outgoing and always wanted to go dancing. Mum’s parents wouldn’t let my Auntie Nell go on her own so mum had to tag along. Dad worked nights as an MC at the dance hall they went to and one night he announced a foxtrot and then went looking for the girl to open the dance with... he picked mum who wouldn’t get up at first. His very first words to her were “are you always this happy”.

Twelve months later they were married and my mum learned about the outgoing, hectic world my dad inhabited, he was an engineer so had money and they partied for 7 years before my mum got pregnant with me. She always suffered from high blood pressure so it was a fraught pregnancy and there was doubt I would survive – but I did although they told her not to have any more children; she was old for childbearing in those days (she was 32).

So I was an only child. Probably to my rip roaring dad I was a disappointment, well no probably about it really. He was a fighter, a rough and tough Yorkshireman. I was artistic and mild. We didn’t get on. But me and mum did.

My dad died 30 years ago from hard work, smoke and beer. A very good way to go if you ask me. I mourned him a little but I can’t say I was devastated – as I said we didn’t get on.

For a very long time it’s been mum and me. I have married, had two kids, divorced, been engaged again, thought better of it and bought a Jack Russell in that time. I’ve discussed every move with mum, some she approved of, others she didn’t but we discussed it anyway. And I always listened to her. When doubt got the better of me (as it does on a fairly regular basis) I would travel to see her and ask her what I should do. She never told me of course. She would just say “well what do you think”, then listen while I worked it out for myself. Guess that’s what mums do.

Three months ago she had a fall. She’s 88, these things happen. Of course it was very worrying, devastating in some ways, but she’s tough and she fights. I knew she would be ok. She broke her hip.
Of course, I didn’t know she would be ok, but I had to believe that. We are way too close for anything to take her from me. Maybe for the first time in my life I realised how much I relied on her.

She’s had a rough time this last three months. Three operations, three sets of anaesthetic , three sets of recovery days with tubes everywhere. She’s been in and out of hospital twice and into the rehabilitation centre twice. I’ve travelled to visit her every week, sat at bedsides while she’s slept, cried to myself that I am losing my best friend, felt scared for myself then chastised myself for being selfish. It’s been a bit of a journey for both of us.

Then last week they told me she was ready to go home. I don’t know if I agreed with them but what do they care about what I think – they have financial pressures. So I drove up and collected her and took her back to her flat. My plan had been to take her to my home but she told me she was homesick and wanted to go back to hers if that was alright. Of course it was alright.

When we arrived back at the block where she lives, the other residents were in the lounge waiting for her. It was lovely. It was also telling. Their faces showed that her return (she is older than all of them) said that you could go through this and come home. It seems to me old age brings a kind of realism to the business of living that isn’t very nice, something that is unspoken but scary all the same.

I stayed for three days, she admitted to me that when she was in the ambulance on her way to hospital she had believed she would never go home. She also admitted she had cried that first night back, with pleasure she said – with a bit of fear mixed in I felt.

We are both fearful I think. The violently independent mum who I could chat to, who would listen and be wise, the determined lady I loved, seems to have gone. In her place is a frail old lady who is confused a lot, very tired and looks for help from me and others for everything. I’m told that’s about being Institutionalised and she will come out of it in time. How do “they” know that?

Whether she can live in her flat I just don’t know yet. Time will tell. And I believe she will be able to do it; it’s important to her. But the friend I had, the person who guided me, loved me unquestioningly no matter how much mess I created, that person seems to have gone. Perhaps in time she will return but I doubt it. Too much has happened to somebody of her age. Getting through it, walking again, getting home, exchanging banter with her friends – those are all fantastic achievements. But getting her mind to work like it used to, maybe that’s one leap too far.

And so I fear being alone. I get angry with myself for being so selfish. I should be thinking solely about her and instead I’m feeling sorry for myself. How utterly pathetic am I! But that is how I feel, I can’t be in denial with myself. Hell, my bipolar means my head is pretty screwed up most of the time anyway, this is just another step into oblivion.

And it’s making me see the downsides in everything. Driving me into the ground. Making me think everything is unravelling.

I have no clue where this will end. All I know is there is a lot of pain ahead and it simply will not end well. There is no way that will happen. I’m no fool, neither am I a coward. I need to look after myself now and accept that I’ve probably been doing that for years. It just didn’t feel that way. Somehow it felt much nicer than that.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Don't lie to your mother

Mrs Jenkins comes to visit her son Anthony for dinner, who lives with a female roommate Vikki. During the course of the meal, his mother couldn’t help but notice how pretty Anthony’s roommate was. She had long been suspicious of a relationship between the two, and this had only made her more curious. 

Over the course of the evening, while watching the two interact, she started to wonder if there was more between them than met the eye. Reading his mom’s thoughts, Anthony volunteered, "I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you, Vikki and I are just roommates." 

About a week later, Vikki came to Anthony saying, "Ever since your mother came to dinner, I’ve been unable to find the silver sugar bowl. You don’t suppose she took it, do you?" 

"Well, I doubt it, but I’ll email her, just to be sure." So he sat down and wrote:

Dear Mom, I’m not saying that you 'did' take the sugar bowl from my apartment, I’m not saying that you 'did not' take it. But the fact remains that it has been missing ever since you were here for dinner. 
Love, Anthony

Several days later, Anthony received a response email from his mother, which read:

Dear Son, I’m not saying that you 'do' sleep with Vikki, and I’m not saying that you 'do not' sleep with her. But the fact remains that if she were sleeping in her OWN bed, she would have found the sugar bowl by now.
Love, Mom

Lesson of the day: Don’t lie to your mother!!!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Friends aren't all they're cracked up to be

I sometimes wonder how I managed to make such a success of my early life. Everything seemed to fall into place and despite the fact that my depression left me feeling empty and socially distant most of the time, the songs and the work kept coming. It didn’t seem to matter that an empty, pointless feeling was ever present in the pit of my stomach or that, when I did have bouts of euphoria they didn’t last very long and usually embodied horrendous drinking sessions that would almost kill me.

With youth came energy and with energy came success. Now I’m older I can see that. Most people living the life I had would have been on a permanent ego trip what with all the famous folk I have around me and the places I got invited to. But I never really understood that. That emotional ride was one I never managed to get on. Shame really.

I have spent most of the last six years thinking about my bipolar, about how it has ruined what could have been a pretty charmed life, how things have passed me by, and how now things don’t work out like they used to. Nowadays just living is pretty hard; coping with the way life kicks me (constantly) and trying to understand what I’ve done to deserve this type of lousy luck consumes my days. I sit and think, think and sit. It’s pretty crap to be honest.

But I think I understand everything better these days.

I don’t understand what love is – I know that for sure. Emotions have never featured much in my tool box but love just isn’t there. Oh I see other people who are in love, I can understand what they feel for each other and why they feel that way – I just don’t ever feel it myself. I was married for 19 years and before that I lived with two other people for 5 and 6 years. But it wasn’t love. It was contentment, getting used to things, not rocking the boat. And I didn’t rock the boat – they did – but I can see why they did. I left my wife but it was all over and done with long before I decided to walk. The others saved me the problem and left me, and I can’t blame them.

You see whilst I am successful and I do know lots of ‘famous’ folk as a result, I am a cold fish because of my depression. I don’t get phased, I don’t get star struck and I don’t really ever get excited or angry. Middling sort of guy I guess you’d say.

Now as I was saying, when I was young things just rolled along. I found writing songs really easy, got accepted for being good at it and also got some kind of buzz out of performing which I did around the globe. But you get older, the performing gets tedious and the catchphrases that are the catalyst to every pop song dry up. Suddenly you’re retired and you never realised that was going to happen. And of course the music industry is very cruel where retirement is concerned. You retire, the calls stop, the invitations dry up, you cease to exist.

I have two Ivor Novello Awards and a share in a Brit and an Oscar. Songs I’ve written have sold in excess of 100 million copies and if I wanted I could cover the walls of my flat with Gold and Platinum Discs – but I don’t of course; that just wouldn’t be me. But I had believed that I had made friends in the music bizz along the way; some of whom were in that famous category.

Now I think I was wrong. I didn’t make any friends only acquaintances and pretty edgy ones at that. One wrong word and the relationships are over, they move on, like it never really mattered. But it did matter to me.

Most people in my industry are very ‘surface’, everybody knows that so I’m not saying anything significant, but we all need proper friends don’t we? Well I have discovered that the ones I picked seem to have thought it was a surface thing, one cross word, one little ripple in the sand and they’re gone.

So I have realised I have only two real friends, and one of those is my ex-wife! I’m a bit down about this at the moment but I’ll figure it out don’t worry.  First thing I need to do is head for the other real friend I have and tell him I an grateful. Then I’ll plan from then.

Life can be cheap and mine seems utterly cheap at the moment.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

What Americans know about the English

These are all "facts" told to me by my American chums........

1. In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase "goodnight, sleep tight".
2. In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them mind their own pints and quarts and settle down. It's where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's"
3. Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle" is the phrase inspired by this practice.
4. In ancient England a person could not have sex unless you had consent of the King (unless you were in the Royal Family). When anyone wanted to have a baby, they got consent of the King, the King gave them a placard that they hung on their door while they were having sex. The placard had F.*.*.*. (Fornication Under Consent of the King) on it. Now you know where that came from.
5. In Scotland, a new game was invented. It was entitled Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden.... and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.

And if your American and wondering ...... NO none of them are true!
To all my friends who in the last year sent me best 'wishes', chain letters, 'angel' letters or other promises of good luck if I forwarded something, NONE OF THAT SHIT WORKED! For the rest of 2012, could you please just send money, vodka, chocolate, movie tickets or gasoline vouchers and airline tickets instead? Thank you! 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Why Men Don't Write Advice Columns

Dear Walter:
I hope you can help me here. The other day I set off for work leaving my husband watching the TV as usual. I hadn't gone more than a mile down the road when my engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked back home to get my husband's help. When I got back I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in our bedroom with the neighbor lady. I am 32, my husband is 34, and we have been married for twelve years.

When I confronted him, he broke down and admitted that they had been having an affair for the past six months. I told him to stop or I would leave him. He was let go from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant. He won't go to counseling and I'm afraid I can't get through to him anymore. Can you please help?
Sincerely, Sheila
Dear Sheila: A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the vacuum pipes and hoses on the intake manifold and also check all grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the carburetor float chamber.
I hope this helps.

Made me Chuckle!

A woman went up to the bar in a quiet rural pub.  She gestured alluringly to the bartender who approached her immediately.  She seductively signaled that he should bring his face closer to hers.  
As he did, she gently caressed his full beard.  
"Are you the manager?" she asked, softly stroking his face with both hands.  
"Actually, no," he replied.  
"Can you get him for me? I need to speak to him," she said, running   her hands beyond his beard and into his hair.  
"I'm afraid I can't," breathed the bartender. "Is there anything I can do?"  
"Yes. I need for  you to give him a message," she continued, running her forefinger across the bartender's lip and slyly popping a couple of her fingers into his mouth and allowing him to suck them gently.  
"What should I tell him?" the bartender managed to say.  
"Tell him," she whispered,   "There's no toilet paper, hand soap, or paper towels in the ladies room."