28 Jul 2017

Do not chain activists

Here's a classic historical sign that can still be seen in a London square. It dates back to the Edwardian period, a time when a wide range of protest groups proliferated.

19 Jun 2017

Prehistoric bird in London

This astonishing photo was taken today near Warren Street undergrond station in London:

It unmistakeably charts the progress of a prehistoric bird across the London clay that dates from the Jurastic period, and was used to pave the medieval streets. What a find!
PS. this photo does not appear in my book 'How Not To Be a Tourist In London' (Waiting for the third edition).

2 Apr 2017

19 Mar 2017

Trump 'liked' a tweet that satirised him

So I was annoyed by the latest Trump nonsense, first saying the UK was spying on him, then claiming to be just quoting someone on Fox News - so 'Don't blame me, it's their fault'.  As seen on Twitter:

This is nonsense of course - like shouting 'FIRE' in a theatre, then claiming you were just quoting the hit song by Arthur Brown.  So I replied to the chap and his pals this weekend, to make that point:

Shortly afterwards I was stnned to get this email message:

Crikey.  What was that about?  One interpretation is that he could have a well-hidden self-deprecating sense of humour. Or is too busy to read beyond 'Yes'. 

9 Apr 2016

Why haven't these company names been taken?

Today's international business quiz - answers at the end:

1. If you were planning to start a medical practice in the windy city USA, what would you call it?

2. If you were setting up as a hairdresser in Las Vegas, what would you call your salon?

3. You and your French partner are starting a hairdressing shop. Find a striking name for it.

             ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


1.  Doctor Chicago
2.  Scissors Palace
3.  Beau Locks 

22 Jan 2016

The must-have self-help book for urban living

Here is the latest book from the 'Teach Yourself' stable.  It provides some of the most important lessons you can learn if you want to be happy and safe in a modern urban environment.

24 Dec 2015

National Nuisance List 2015

Related to the 'National Treasure' list, these people are awarded 'National Nuisance' status for having irritated us beyond what is reasonable.

1.       Brian Blessed
2.       Bernie Ecclestone
3.       Diane Abbott
4.       Lulu
5.       Gary Lineker
6.       Tarby (still)
7.       Tony Blair
8.       Lenny Henry
9.       Dec not Ant (or is it the other way round?)
10.    Claire Baldy
11.    Andy Murray's mum
12.    Mo Farrah
13.    Mary Berry
14.    Princess Charlotte
15.    Sue not Mel (or is it the other way round?)
16.    Evan Davis
17.    Sara Cox
18.    Grayson Perry
19.    Dawn French
20.    Michael Portillo

13 Nov 2015

Why whistling is unpopular in London

Whistling in London
Watch any English movie made before 1940 and set in London, and at some point one of the male characters will start whistling a tune. It could be the milkman on his rounds, the delivery boy on his bicycle, or the shady character loitering on a street corner; but you can guarantee that before long, someone will start to whistle.
 Yet now nobody whistles in London. The habit has entirely died out here, although it remains more popular in the English regions. Why should this be? A group of sociologists noticed this phenomenon in the 1970s and decided to investigate. Their theory was that whistling can be seen as an expression of individual public confidence, and its absence showed that Londoners were now more fearful in public places, not wanting to draw attention to themselves.

Whistling campaign
The newspapers took this up and filled pages with the opinions of commentators and politicians, deploring the lack of social confidence. A ‘bring back whistling’ campaign was started, with famous Londoners, including the writers Will Self and Julian Barnes, deliberately whistling around town in the hope that it would catch on.

However the discovery of a diary kept by a milkman in the East End of London during the second world war threw a quite different light on the matter. During the blitz, when London was bombed every night for three months, he wrote of the ‘nasty whine and whistle’ of the bombs, and of being told to ‘shut up that whistling’ by neighbours as he delivered the milk in the morning. ‘You’ll bring them on’, he was scolded.
So the latest academic theory is that whistling is absent from London for the same superstitious reason that it’s discouraged on board ship: it brings bad luck. It seems that three months of wartime bombing did away with whistling for Londoners, and the habit has never returned.
Visitors of a humorous disposition might like to whistle a tune in public to see what happens. Be ready to receive some strange looks and muttered comments from locals, especially those from the East End, who still carry the folk memory of high explosive bombs whistling down from the night skies.
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Extract from my book  'How Not to Be a Tourist in London'

3 Oct 2015

Smash the smarphones

Fed up with trying to walk past people who dawdle along, absorbed in their so-called smartphones?  Join the revolution!

10 Sep 2015

23 Aug 2015

13 Aug 2015

Guinness Gloves - essential kit for the pub

Thursday night seems the right time to plug 'Guinness Gloves', as featured in The Manopause Manual:

29 Jul 2015

Lord Sewel needs to read this book

Lord Sewel, whose behaviour was of course deplorable etc, but who made some cracking off the cuff character assessments of fellow-politicians, should have read my new book 'The Manopause Manual'.  Then he would have realised that chaps of his age should be choosing a new shed and wondering whether to grow a beard, not organising "sex'n'drugs romps" in hotel rooms.

The real reason we are so upset about this scandal is not that Lord Sewel is a politician - I mean,what do we expect? - but that he is getting on in years. In your sixties it's undignified, right?  He should have done all that bad stuff in his youth.

So Lord Swell, if you're reading this, please contact me for a free copy of my book, which will explain how to behave at your fine old age.  It's not all boring - you can select a new hobby, go to the pub with your pals, and perhaps even buy a sports car at last.

The Manopause Manual was published this week.