Posts Tagged ‘Recreation’

I’ve been busy with other “necessary” things lately, such as painting the house between bouts of inclement weather. Poetry still whistles through the mind but is blown away before I’m able to capture it, so you don’t know what you’ve missed and now neither do I.
I have found time occasionally to delve again into the book “The Ode Less Travelled” by Stephen Fry, a goldmine of information on writing rhyming poetry and a joy to read.
My wife and I are celebrating our joint 138th birthday today and I’m writing this in the waiting period before the guests arrive. Downstairs there are chairs everywhere and the scattered collection of things I like to have at hand are stored away where I hope I can find them again later.
The trees that I always can see from here on high through the window are continuously nodding back and forth and probably still wet from the last shower of yesterday. Some nearby have already given up on the summer and are shedding their leaves.
Internationally, the only solution to increasing debt still appears to be increasing debt by “printing” even more money. I heard a rumour that the banks have recently discovered that it might be a good idea to do business with the little people again and raise the interest rates on savings.
That might work.
Years ago I was somewhat hooked on adventure game software, but after having my PC destroyed by horrid unannounced anti-copying elements I rather lost interest. Recently I purchased for a small fee the title “A stitch in Time” from lassiegames.com. It’s a sequel to a freely available game also available from their site. I can heartily recommend these to those interested in the “point and click” genre. They are gems from two dedicated part time enthusiasts.

Have a good one!

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In town

The heavy sunlight presses down
As we walk through that busy town
Where some wear scanty summer clothes
Though still a chilly north wind blows

Wide streets with shops in buildings old
Facades imposing to behold
But many modernised below
With trends that rather spoil the show

As bicycles weave through the crowd
And children with ice cream shout loud
An organ grinds not far away
With rattling tin to make it pay

A dog looks up with eyes that say
I’d much prefer a place to play
Where trees and welcome scents prevail
And nothing there is up for sale

We sit to rest from the parade
Within a parasol’s cool shade
And with a plastic spoon partake
Of that which best Italians make

A towered carillon rings a tune
Its singing bells join to commune
With Nature’s beings all around
And fill the air with joyful sound

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Impressions during a visit to a Dutch country fair

No carousels or rides for thrills
but stalls in rows curved round the home
Stately still, now void of laughter
Of the rich, its stables bare
Now history’s lair

Tented shops draw eyes to peer
Miscellanies of hopeful want
Smiles and boredom radiate
From the faces of those who
Wish to outdo

Leather boots, clothes green and brown
Hats to match, no city types
Country folk one hardly sees
Strolling in their Sunday best
Not neatly pressed

Sheepdogs herding worried geese
Hearts go out to flapping wings
Horses small make ponies large
Dashing, leaping, pulling cart
A world apart

Beehive live with blue daubed queen
Bobbing heads of copper cats
Fudge, and nougat “S’il vous plaît”
Sausages with “Guten tag”
In the bag

Three hours to shake the cobwebs free
And roam in someone else’s yard
Relaxed under but strangers’ gazes
Midst the trees that circling stare
At this affair

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Summer comes today to peep
and wake those who would rather sleep
with promised warmth that opens doors
and windows closed to springtime chill.
The cold sea, heavy, looks on with a sigh
as blue skies form a parasol of hope;
the terraces will fill and beaches churn
while sunshine, shadows, share the thanks in turn.

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Crystal clear


Image courtesy Simon Howden

Especially for Chloe

Snow is great for slipping, sliding,
If that is your aim
And building those that look like us
Or throwing in a game,
But travelling from A to B
Unless equipped for pleasure
Can much unwanted risk involve
And cursing beyond measure.
A snowy landscape can bring thrills
And chills to parts uncovered.
Now looking out from cosy warmth
It’s beauty undiscovered

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With thanks to Howard Garns

There it lies, squares nine by nine
With numbers sprinkled to define
Just how reluctant it will be
To let me solve its mystery

Nine times three of one to nine
No duplicates in every line
Both up and down, and side to side
Will bring a moment’s cheerful pride

Variations now abound
To bring a silence most profound
As intellects with logic yearn
The puzzles’ secrets to discern

Gymnastics, some say, for the brain
But does it really stand to gain
When Thought as ever rules the play
So, win or lose, it has to pay?

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In and away

Yes holidays are here again,
less sleep with lots to do,
sightseeing, eating food that’s strange,
and hearing words so new.

The weather looks like being fine
with sun and not too warm,
much better than that nearer home
with at times rain or storm.

We’re travelling by bus this time.
Our chauffeur is our guide.
One knowing that place inside out,
without one by his side.

Each day there is a trip arranged
to fulfil hopes and dreams.
With menu on which pleasure’s high
joy’s guaranteed it seems.

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I come to cover all in white
bring crispness to the cold of night.
My crystals fall to mesmerize
awaken memories that rise.

The winter is my time of year
from anywhere I can appear.
In showers born over warmer seas
or clouds brought by the easterlies.

This year and end of last it’s true
I’ve drifted and become ice too
but for the children it’s a treat
to build a snow man in the street.

The sledge when greased again appears
to slip and slide to laughs and cheers
and snow balls fly from many hands
to shrieks and cries from where one lands.

A wondrous landscape meets the eye
of one still young and brings a sigh
for though some wish me far away
warm hearts find magic in my play.

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As driving a car in unfamiliar places is increasingly likely to bring on panic attacks, I don’t do it any more. So to get away from it all, my wife and I usually throw ourselves into a package holiday. During our stay in Apulia this meant that we found ourselves for a time each day sitting in a touring car heading to and from or some place of historic or picturesque interest.
We often sleep badly on holiday even though we always take our own cushions with us to reduce the odds. This affliction occurs mainly because when we finally do get to sleep we proceed to loudly imitate forest creatures both large and small. Of course, the consumption of the unmissable bottle of wine the evening before also encourages this nightly ritual. So most mornings, after a large, filling breakfast and as soon as the bus (let’s call it that for simplicity) began to roll, we predictively fell asleep and were fated for much of the outward journey to undergo nodding absences interspersed with periods of willed attention.
Our enthusiastic female guide was always armed with lots of historical background information and amusing anecdotes which she told to the mostly attentive audience as we trundled through the Apulian countryside, shunted through small towns and villages, or sped humming over motorways. Of course, she must have viewed the few inattentive, sleeping passengers with a mixture of sympathy and frustration. When I did return to consciousness I often caught her looking at me with a blank, but what I assumed was an accusing, expression. Well, that’s life.
The motorways in Italy, which allow a less attractive means of seeing the countryside and its inhabitants but are often unavoidable in getting from A to B, have recently gained another unattractive feature in the form of prostitutes. These can be seen dotted along the secondary roads that run parallel to the main highway, sitting waiting for clients at the entrance to huge plantations of olive trees. Dressed in revealing brightly colored exaggerations often trimmed off with Marge Simpson hairdos, they contrast remarkably with the surroundings. This appears to be a real problem in Italy as these young ladies, mostly from far away and often apparently exotic locations, are enticed to come to this fair land with stories of exciting modeling contracts. They end up, however, being forced to undergo a drastic career change before they’ve even had a chance to say cheese. It seems that for every one “rescued” from the criminals that exploit them two more come in her place – a tragic, sad reality of modern times.
Then there are the toilets. It’s almost impossible to find a complete and clean one outside hotels and posh restaurants. It seems that either toilet seats are being stolen at an alarming rate or that the owners are removing them before they can be stolen. Perhaps they end up at a toilet branch of the Mafia that resells them or on the walls of eccentric collectors. It seems that the woman’s toilets often suffer the same disgrace. Even in public conveniences with personnel, leaving a tip is often voluntary, probably as an apologetic gesture to foreigners with wet feet and bacterially infested extremities.
I’m in two minds about the view of Italian café owners with regard to payment. If one orders at the bar, which a lot do because its cheaper, then one has to pay before one receives one’s wares. For non Italian-speaking visitors this is a tricky business as often one cannot simply point because the cash-desk is often at the opposite end of the room to the food bar. The easiest way is to sit at a table and await the attentions of a waiter, though one must then pay a surcharge for this added comfort.
Anyway, Italians are hard-working, self-effacing, sincere, polite people who don’t put on airs and graces of grandeur. Eating in Italian cafes or restaurants is like eating in someone’s home. Indeed, at one small but very pleasant restaurant we visited for lunch, we were jovially and expertly served by the whole family including the children, while a pair of traveling musicians serenaded us through an open window after receiving a modest sum from one of our more jubilant companions. When the delicious meal was over, and lead by our guide, the family was treated to a resounding applause – a memorable moment.

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Well, just to liven things up a bit again I thought I’d tell you something about where I’ve been while the computer was having its makeover (it just smiled contentedly).
My companion and I took a week’s holiday in Apulia, Italy which is in the southeastern corner of that fair land – at the back end of its “boot”. We were part of a group of thirty eight rather elderly folk heading for new horizons (please don’t sigh!). Although we’d been in Italy before we hadn’t been this far south. The trip was memorable in many ways.
As everyone knows, holidays are not supposed to be too relaxing.
We had to miss a night’s sleep to take a two hour bus trip to an airport across the border in order to catch an early flight there. This was obviously meant to cut the travel organization’s costs, as airport tax and that sort of thing are apparently cheaper there.
We had a transfer in Rome, which was rather exciting as they changed departure gates at the last minute, before finally arriving at the small but pleasant Bari airport late the same morning.
Not that it often occurs, but when transferring from one aircraft to another at the same airport I have a nagging worry that my baggage might be thrown into the wrong one and arrive at a different final destination than myself, perhaps even ending up in some dark corner where the contents gradually turn to dust or becoming distributed amongst the local needy or greedy. Imagine ones carefully chosen undergarments disintegrating or being stretched out of all recognition!
Anyway, all our travel companions, whether embellished with wheels or feet, arrived safely and after another hour’s journey by bus we finally set our extremities on the floor of our hotel’s reception area. It was a remotely situated hotel forming part of a holiday enclave with privately owned holiday accommodations sprinkled around. It was beautifully laid out with luxurious Mediterranean plants and trees everywhere, including palms of course. Abnormal facilities might include archery, five-side-football and a small train to take one to the sandy Adriatic beach around three hundred meters away. It was the end of the summer season so many facilities were either behind cobwebs, disappearing inside those being spun or sadly empty. The well stocked bar, which was open all day, got the most attention from our lot and provided enough recreation. A few even dared to immerse their variously proportioned bodies in one of the swimming pools to the delight of the bronzed attendant who largely had nothing to do but polish the life-vests and strut around showing his muscles.
After a too hasty though filling breakfast, we were picked up each day by a touring car that brought us to places of cultural, historical and scenic interest, usually all at once. Our jovial, authoritative and enormously enthusiastic female guide was an Art Historian and Archaeologist and a leading expert on the area so that meant lots of info and hurrying up. I won’t bore you with descriptions of churches – one place had forty for the twenty thousand inhabitants – and tales of Popes and the clergy who, in general, spent much of their time on their knees often while cowering before heavily weaponed relative heathens.
There were places that especially evoked the harshness of older times: The small, dark but cozy and conically shaped “Trullo” houses of Alberobello built of stone and slates without mortar, some of which are still lived in today. The cave dwellings of Matera that were hacked out of the soft stone forming the steep slopes of a gorge which splits the town in two and were inhabited into the nineteen fifties.
According to information received, an important purpose of these “primitive” dwellings was to avoid paying un-payable taxes to inhuman overlords who somehow couldn’t find a way to convince those above them that these abodes fell into the housing class.
As we all know, medieval times in Europe were not known for their leisurely and tranquil nature. Facts melt into legends. One particularly evil ruling bastard of the period – it seems that every town worthy of a name had one – apparently liked to shoot arrows down from a tower into the headdresses of women working below. Though this seems insane enough, he was apparently also cross-eyed so that arrows often fell in other lethal places. The locals eventually managed to gather enough courage to send him where he had long deserved to go. Let’s hope the little devils that now plague him are also cross-eyed :-)Yes, like most places in Europe, the area has been royally abused over the millennia by many, many races and their armies jostling for a place in the history books and not caring much how they did their abusing or what the local people thought about their lack of courtesy. The general red color of the extremely rich soil could quite easily be partly due to earlier spilled blood, me thinks.
The area has apparently been overrun by Ancient Greeks, Romans, Goths, Lombards, Byzantines, Normans, Germans, Spanish, Turks, Venetians, French ( I may have missed a few) until in 1861 it became part of Italy.
I saw Turkish cannon balls three feet wide that were used to attack this coast in an attempt to overrun Europe together with the Moors. They obviously meant business and though the local people suffered enormously under their cruelty their expansion plans were eventually thwarted by those who obviously had a strong aversion to smoking hookahs, praying five times a day and giving up alcoholic beverages.
Many works of art have been destroyed by those who came along and for whatever reason didn’t take a shine to the works of earlier periods, generally making a mess of the careful and dedicated aesthetic explosions of those who are probably still turning in their graves.
Next time on to more pleasant things.

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A Tour de Force

A fictitious journey through the English countryside. Any resemblance to actual place names is entirely accidental

I came from Humping Meadows
by way of Weeping Gorge;
drove on to Buttocks Clenching
where you’ll find Uncle George.

Then on to Mildly Gasping
through sleepy Pasture Peak,
and right for Delving Deeply
where I’d been just last week.

A long stretch then to Cumbold,
Much Panting, and Knobs Bend,
stopping in Middle Bonking
then on to Heavens End.

At last in Creeping Major
I found the Old Queens Arms
and stayed for one night only
to sample her famed charms.

Refreshed I left next morning
for home in Alice Falls,
on Nathans Point which rises
as if it to her calls.

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The pot sat on the shelf a lot
but sometimes next to Fireman Bill,
who stood there on the window sill
his brain void of a safety drill
for if the pot’s contents should spill.


Writers are those blighters who
will tell you truths and lies.
They’re often good with metaphors
they hope you to surprise,
and turns of phrase made to amaze
they’ll feed to hungry eyes.

Whether prose or poetry
or scripts or even hymns,
with idioms and similes,
anto- or syno- nyms,
they’ll sweep up your emotions wild
to chase away megrims.


Please tell me your secret or give me a clue
Is it an illusion or could it be true?
Magic it may be but then also a trick
I guess from your silence I can take my pick.

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I was visiting someone’s site this morning which contains the author’s poetry and some short stories. The latest poem was full of feeling and quite moving but, for me, the flow could have been better. There were just too many pebbles causing disturbing eddies.
I got to thinking how difficult it is to comment on poetry, especially as I don’t consider myself anyone who is qualified to pass judgment on another’s work. This author gets more visitors than I do, for heavens sake!
Of course, on a personal level, what it boils down to is, “Do I like it or not?”
But I don’t find it easy to convey the reason why using such an impersonal medium as the internet. One naturally tends to be overly considerate of the other’s feelings and to often hide negative comments by not commenting at all, though this does rather defeat the object of the exercise. Then again, poets are often those teetering on the edge of insanity so one must be wary of giving them a push in the wrong direction :-).
An added disadvantage is the fact that commenting hardly ever takes the form of a dialogue in real time.
So commenting does tend to give, at best, a distorted view of one’s talents. If one desires better qualification, one can throw one’s efforts to the wolves by posting them on a site where “experts” are gathered and constantly shifting in their seats waiting to cast their opinions. I have occasionally done this, though it can be quite an unnerving experience – definitely not for the squeamish.
Of course, there’s still a lot of disagreement concerning style and technique.
Should poetry be punctuated like prose or only when necessary to avoid confusion? Should first letters be capitals?
Flow is important though rhyming is not necessary in achieving it.
Getting a poem to flow without recourse to rhyming is a most demanding task, one I avoid as much as possible. Anyway, I like rhyming.
I must admit to having a preference for poems of a more philosophical nature and humor can be quite refreshing. Deeply personal emotional outbursts often leave me floundering in the dark desperately trying to find a light switch. Come to think of it many less hard hitting poems do that too, though no doubt this can often be put down to a dismal failure on my part to comprehend.
That’s another thing, lack of comprehension. I personally avoid adding explanations to poems as they seem to me to rather destroy the element of discovery. Of course, this implies that one should equally strive to avoid a lack of clarity, something in which I am undoubtedly not always successful especially when delving into more abstract topics.
And there you have it again, commenting is the desired means of communication between author and reader also to restore clarity, though for the reasons given above its usefulness is too often limited.

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Where have you gone now Rupert Bear
Who took my hand and lead me there
Into a world of childhood bliss
That all too soon I had to miss?

With Badger, Trunk and Algy Pug
There I would lie upon the rug
And only moving legs could show
When off from Nutwood we would go

To seek adventures far and near
That brought a smile and then a tear
The wonder of magicians’ spells
And meeting elves in leafy dells

Then off back home to Mum and Dad
With memories both good and bad
To safety of their loving care
Tomorrow off to who-knows-where.

Information on the stories of Rupert Bear can be found here

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A tourist sports a cappuccino moustache
Speaking English to waiters who rather would not
He’s wandered a few days in that fair country
His knowledge is scant though he’s seen quite a lot

He sits with tomato and cheese in a roll
And breaths the mixed scents of southern summer air
He stares with wide eyes at the strangeness around
A sky of leaves shades from the bright solar glare

Then suddenly sounds burst with thunderous roar
As muezzins call the brethren to the prayer
The talking lips close as their speech goes unheard
As waves of religion rebound in the square

The last echoes dwindle and then they are gone
And twittering birds bring their own short lived peace
Then mouths move and searching eyes rebuild the world
That even for words of God never will cease

A symphony of horns and revving motors
And shouts of street vendors who proffer their wares
Stir him to rise in search of impressions new
As devotees climb slowly on heaven’s stairs.

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Up and away

Well, I’m off on a short holiday to restore the juices. I’ll be back on the 27th May, so make a note in your diaries 🙂
In the meantime may the force be with you all.
Oh, and for any potential thieves, we have a seven foot gorilla watching the house.
His strapping family members have arrived now as well.

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I wish you a Happy Easter, whatever your persuasion.
Yesterday we went to a performance of J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in a beautiful church with, as was revealed, great acoustics. It was a beautiful spring day: the sun shone, the thermometer rose to exceptional heights and a light breeze played its invaluable part.

This is for us a yearly occurrence. Oh we’ve got a digital copy at home, but a live rendering has something special that no dvd, cd, blue-ray or whatever can convey to the senses. It’s what I call a fourth dimension, well perhaps a fifth. Concert-goers of whatever fraternity know what I mean.

Of course it is classical music and not to everyone’s taste I know, but one ought to try it before casting an opinion even if it perhaps could cause some resentment. This piece always brings me to tears of what could, I suppose, be called euphoria, or the feeling that all animals get when the day’s is just about all one could wish a day to be, whether as potential food or as predator. One doesn’t care; in that moment of recognition all is as it should be. In these sobering times an afternoon of release from worldly paranoia in whatever form is more than welcome.

The church was fully packed with devotees crammed into pews where six or at a push seven could sit. They had thoughtfully provided cushions to avoid the worse agitation from the hard bare wood. Worshipers don’t have to be comfortable in the presence of the Almighty.
We sat quite near the orchestra which brings one into a rather intimate contact with the musicians and singers. They seemed on the whole to be rather unemotionally involved though perhaps they’ve just learned to concentrate on the piece at hand; too much emotional involvement could cause a frog in the throat or a misplaced finger at the wrong moment. Anyway they’ve done it all before, probably hundreds of times, so their level of personal involvement may also be a tad reduced by the sandpaper of time.

I won’t go into details though there are marvelous choral passages, magical musical interludes, and exquisite passages painted on the canvas of the mind by the brush strokes of solo instrument and voice. Then there’s the heart rending climax which makes one believe that Bach really knew what God was all about. He’s still telling us.

As far as we were concerned it was a magnificent performance and we didn’t stay around for a third opinion. Wiping our eyes we headed for the nearest café terrace for an unearned beverage to restore our somewhat shaken and stirred inner beings.

Now Vangelis is oozing from the loudspeakers with his El Greco, which I find to be about the only music that is tolerable while writing, and for me a definite stimulant.

Well I hear the outside world calling again, so I’ll have to leave it here probably at just the right moment.

Have a good one.

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I don’t like flying, not anymore. There was another crash in Holland last week. I know the airlines say it’s safer than driving a car on the highway or crossing a busy street where a lot of frustrated drivers live, but this assurance just doesn’t have that comforting an effect on me it used to. Even airlines are having to make sacrifices these days to keep their companies running, so one gets to wondering about things like maintenance and unsatisfied employees doing their best but whose hearts may not be entirely employed on the job. There is, after all, an official black list of airlines that almost guarantee crashes, perhaps designed to attract those passengers who prefer to live dangerously such as racing drivers, stuntmen and traffic wardens.
Something that has always amused me is that there is an association of pilots here and its longstanding chairman went by the name of Mr. Brick. It’s really true! He has another function now I read but is still closely associated with the airline industry. That he was never forced to change his name I cannot understand, though perhaps any who could have enforced such a decision just wanted to keep the joke alive.
There’s a frighteningly evident “no escape” aspect to flying. In an aircraft one sits with ones life totally in the hands of someone else who, one must assume, is completely in control of an enormously complicated and enormously heavy machine that is trying to stay aloft against all odds. Once on board one gets a quick lesson by some bored cabin attendant (it’s the three hundred and sixty fifth time they’ve given it) on what to do in an emergency.
It is assumed that a reasonable soft landing on water or on land is possible, which no one on board really believes. If one were to ask the average passenger if they felt at home with the escape procedure they would almost certainly just look at you in an unbelieving fashion. Most have heard the same story so often they don’t even bother to take notice, if indeed they ever did, and there’s always someone mumbling about it being pointless anyway.
There are lots of things that work against an orderly escape from a crashed aircraft, even if one does eventually remember how to attach and inflate ones life-vest and those of one’s flailing, screaming children or others.
There is panic fanned by the fight for survival, claustrophobia and disorientation.
There’s the damage incurred by the unusual features of rapid descent such as luggage and other debris flying around, both animate and inanimate.
There is the probable extra damage caused by impact with the surface which does tend to add insult to injury in no uncertain manner.
There is the inability of passengers to free themselves from their seats when packed in like sardines. This especially applies to overfull holiday flights where ones knees are often but six inches (9 centimeters) from an anus in front, even if they can achieve a ninety degree relation to the hips, and one sits closer to complete strangers than one normally does to even one’s loved ones at home.
Considering the safety aspect, it remains a fact that one always sits facing the wrong direction in an aircraft. Of course, the airline companies are aware of this and I’ve heard their arguments about the psychological impact of sitting backwards, but it is physically safer to do so. One then has the stool’s help in cushioning any blow that would tend to propel the body or its parts to the front of the aircraft.
One would think that having parachutes available might give one an added feeling of safety but this seems not to be a good idea, partly due to the psychological stress of suggesting the possibility of one having to use one to get out in a hurry, but also due to other practical considerations. At the height and speed that modern jets fly one wouldn’t survive long anyway by jumping out with a parachute. One would either be seriously damaged by the sudden blast of air, which though thin would meet one at a tremendous relative speed, or by the freezing cold and lack of breathable air. At lower levels though, it might just be feasible to take the plunge, so I’d personally still prefer to have one available.
An extension of this idea would be to have aircraft interiors that are really life sustaining pods that can be released in emergencies and can descend on enormous parachutes with a push of some button, ideally placed on my arm rest. This doesn’t seem to have been high on the priority of aircraft designers or their bosses though, so I suppose the costs involved do put a sort of price on human life.
So, to summarize, once one gets into an aircraft (with the intention of taking off) one is stepping into a potential coffin that might or might not be the final one. If cremation is preferred then it might be comforting to know that aircraft are often quickly engulfed in intensely hot flames when they “land unexpectedly”.
Give me my car, trains, buses or boats any day. They can also make a mess of things when they suddenly do things they shouldn’t, but they are at least already on the surface and don’t have to fall a long way before doing them, which is for me an important advantage.

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Laughter is the closest distance between two people.
– Victor Borge

When I was young we told jokes like:
“What’s the most dangerous animal in the jungle?”
“A monkey in a tree with a machine gun”.

For adult modern audiences the punch-line might now be rewritten as:
“A poor man with a chain saw who hasn’t seen his family of eight for a year”.
I also remember amusing things like name changing. There was the heart warming singer Shirley Bassie who we lovingly called “Burly Chassis” because of her attractive figure, and the great Dusty Springfield who we not so lovingly called “Rusty Springboard”.
I have fond memories of comic books, Sunday roast, treacle pudding, climbing trees, countryside, putting exploding fireworks in people’s dustbins, roasting potatoes on bonfire night, visits to Uncle Jim, mucking about.
I remember serious things too like having a mom and dad, conkers, presents, astronomy, wondering what the hell I was doing here and what the hell some others were doing here.
There were, unfortunately, horrid things like school dinners, sadistic schoolteachers, school uniforms (especially woolen short trousers), dentists, nightmares, hay fever, sport, having nothing to do.
Ah, the trials of youth.
I’m getting old.

“I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything till noon. That’s when it’s time for my nap.” – Bob Hope

“You never see a man walking down the street with a woman who has a little potbelly and a bald spot.” – Elayne Boosler

But about joking.
There’s someone I know, who shall remain nameless, whose main pastime now that he’s retired seems to be collecting “amusing” things from the Internet and distributing them to all and sundry. He’s been doing this for years now and I often wonder if there is anyone who’s still happy to receive them. I haven’t the heart to tell him to stop and he doesn’t seem to take a hint from my lack of response either.
I had an employer once who had a joke to tell almost every day, of which about ten percent were really funny, but one feigned laughter for the rest so as not to offend. I heard he may be coming to live in our area, if and when he can sell his present house. I hope he doesn’t come on the door with “Hello! How are you? Hey, have you heard the one about …”

“Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife.” – Groucho Marx

“I can’t write about my greatest mistakes because I’ve slept with most of them.”
– Arabella Weir

There are enough comedians, of course, who make a living telling jokes or making fun of things from life such as people, animals, rhubarb. I enjoy a good laugh like everyone else but there’s an awful lot of silliness and cynicism out there. Ok I know, it’s just a personal view, but some don’t even stop at insult and defamation of character these days. Indeed for some their wit (or lack of it) is primed by it. There are standup comedians who love to make fun or insult those of their audience who sit in the first few rows.
Of course, they may be their own family members or someone they paid to be there, but I don’t think it’s often so.

“Madam, why isn’t your husband laughing? Is he already thinking about having to go home?”

There’s also a lot of swearing these days, especially the “F” word in English is used to add spittle in driving a punch-line home, though it’s not allowed everywhere on stage. Billy Connolly’s a pretty heavy user but one of my favorites. Sex is a subject that seems to be high on the list of things one has to be careful with, not only in practice. A lot of comedians throw in comments on sexual relationships though it’s a treacherous quagmire for the unwary, where humor can rapidly ignite mixed emotions.

“Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope.” – George Burns

“I blame my mother for my poor sex life. All she told me was ‘the man goes on top and the woman underneath.’ For three years my husband and I slept in bunk beds.”
– Joan Rivers

There are countries where one wouldn’t dare to make fun of royalty and others where there are no holds barred. Repercussions can sometimes be severe though, like the man who ended up with a three years sentence in a Thai prison for writing a book revealing something personal about their king. Luckily he’s been let out early for some reason, perhaps because the queen hadn’t a headache for once. His book has only sold seven copies (according to the media) which can’t have brought him much consolation unless he sees the whole episode as substance for a new, potential best seller.
Humor is, of course, relative to cultures. An American, for example, can laugh at something that wouldn’t make a Brit remove his beer glass from his lips and visa versa. This makes it extra hard for traveling comedians I should imagine, who have to adjust their repertoires for different audiences.

“Either he’s dead or my watch has stopped.” – Groucho Marx

Film comedies made in the west must have an especially hard time satisfying cinema-goers in, say, the Middle or Far East, especially if their productions get heavily neutered and/or badly translated. I remember when I was in Iran as an expat (expatriate). We were celebrating some occasion in a hotel with the rest of the crowd and a fellow expat, an American behind a microphone, held a very funny monologue over the habits of the local population, much to the amusement of us, but less apparently to that of the personnel and other local guests who could understand English. To us they were highly amusing anecdotes, but he almost had to leave the country as a result. Luckily for his career his public apologies were finally excepted though his local reputation as a university professor was severely damaged.

“Last night I dreamed I ate a ten pound marshmallow. When I woke up the pillow was gone.”
– Tommy Cooper

Humor can be wonderfully therapeutic. I remember sitting in tears (of laughter) while watching Laurel and Hardy, Groucho Marx, Bob Hope, Walter Matthau, George Burns, Tommy Cooper, Tony Hancock, Monty Python, ‘The Goon Show”,  ‘Fawlty Towers’, ‘Porridge’, ‘Only fools and horses’, ‘Cheers’ and ‘Blackadder’ amongst others. Some of these will be unfamiliar to many readers and all will have their own favorites. I’d be glad to hear what yours are. Perhaps we can have a good laugh together.

“Never trust a man who, when left alone with a tea cosy, doesn’t try it on.”
– Billy Connolly

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A distant voice reduced to words
But still she makes her feelings show.
A caring one from southern climes
Someone whom I shall never know.
With eyes that see beyond their sight
She peers into that endless night,
To search for wonders, strangeness blind
On worlds that some will never find.
Adventures of the ceaseless mind
That harbors tales of all mankind
In dreams that may not be fulfilled.
But what is life if dreams are gone,
If wishes never more bring tears
Or laughter fails to drive one on?

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