Rhymes with MILF

When contemplating how to describe a friend’s ‘partner’ I found myself rejecting all the usual tired old terms, such as ‘significant other’, ‘better half’, ‘er indoors’, ‘long-haired colonel’ etc. and almost resorted to just saying ‘partner’. I toyed with the tongue-in-cheek idea of ‘live-in lady friend’ and was about to dismiss it, when I noticed that the initials are ‘LILF’, which appealed to me, given its similarity to our old friend MILF. So there it is. Possibly a new term, possibly invented by me: LILF = Live-in Lady Friend.

Of course, I’ll now discover that the term has been in popular usage for years and is considered by most people to be far older and more hackneyed than MILF. Still, what do I care? It’s Christmas and I’m off to the pub to meet my friend and his LILF.


An open letter to Marina Sirtis

Dear Marina,

I have a pain in the small of my back, although I have no recollection of having injured it. Do you think it is likely to be some form of trauma induced pain, or an ailment of as yet unidentified origin and/or nature?


Alex Annesty

Is there any chance we could have a deep, meaningful and physical relationship? Failing that, is there any chance we could have a shallow, meaningless and physical relationship?

Xerxes the viola – a music fact-chain

  • The theme music to “Eastenders” (a BBC soap opera on UK TV) is based on an old Hungarian folk song, “Barka macskák történik a sajt” which, literally translated, means “pussy cats are made of cheese”.
  • The famous BBC Maida Vale Studios were, until 1938, a Barnsley Corporation Slipper Baths. Arnold Pelmet (later Lord Pelmet, of Dado), anticipating the formation of the British Broadcasting Corporation by several decades, and the need for studios in Maida Vale by even longer, had the slipper baths dismantled and moved to London in 1887. Listeners to early BBC transmissions from the studios could often hear the splashing of dedicated bathers, who continued to make the journey from Yorkshire for their weekly ablutions, until the bathing areas were drained, following complaints from the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
  • George Orwell referred to Barnsley’s many slipper baths in his book, “The Road to Wigan Pier”. George Orwell (real name, Anthony Lynmouth Blair), wrote many songs, most of which were awful, although “Look out Mrs, I’ve got my clothes pegs!” enjoyed a brief popularity between the wars. George’s writing, however, inspired many songs, including “Sex Crime (1984)”, by the Eurythmics and “Aspidistras Can’t Really Fly”, by Non-existent But Spoilsports Nonetheless.
  • ‘Eurythmics’ is an anagram of “Cue my shirt”, the title of a popular radio programme, broadcast by the BBC during the Second World War. It starred Jimmy Clitheroe, as a seventy-three year-old schoolboy, whose shirt performed in amateur dramatic productions, in the fictitious village of Henley-on-Thames. Sadly, for those keen on developing the concept of fact-loops (see ‘Fact chain’ below), “Cue my shirt” wasn’t broadcast from the Maida Vale Studios.
  • The Dave Stewart, who recorded a cover version of the Lesley Gore hit, “It’s My Party” with Barbara Gaskin, is a completely different person to the Dave Stewart with the same name, who formed the Eurythmics with Scottish diva, Annie Lennox. The identical names came about as a result of a mix-up at an agency, which specialized in providing stage names for up and coming pop stars in the 1980s; Call yourself Dave Stewart Ltd. has since gone out of business. In an ironic coincidence, both Dave Stewarts were christened Max Xerxes.
  • ‘Xerxes’ is a good name for a viola.


A ‘fact-chain’ is a list of facts, each of which contains an element from the previous fact in the list, apart from the first fact, which, because it’s the first one, can’t have a preceding fact. Of course, you could say that each fact contains an element, which is featured in the following fact, but then you’d have a similar problem with the last fact in the list. One solution to this would be to ensure that the last fact in the list contains an element, which is featured in the first fact, but would that really be a ‘fact-chain’, or a ‘fact-loop’? Also, although the author isn’t aware of the term ‘fact-chain’ being used in this context before writing this post, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he is the originator of the term. Why have I switched to referring to myself in the third person?  Oh, I’ve stopped now.

Ageing and Andrews

I’ve been thinking about age recently; I’m approaching another landmark birthday.  As one gets older, landmark birthdays are separated by more years but seem to come with increasing frequency.  Generally, as they age, men lose hair where they want it and grow it where they don’t.  They spend less time washing their hair and more time washing their faces – my thanks to a man named Andrew for that last observation.

“A man named Andrew” sounds like a title for a western.  I wonder what others there might be in the series: “The Magnificent Andrews”, “A Fistful Of Andrews”, “For A Few Andrews More”, “Pale Andrew”, “The Good, the Bad and the Andrew”, “The Wild Andrew”, “Pat Garrett And Andy The Kid”, “Andrew Cassidy And The Sundance Kid”, “The Outlaw Andrew Wales”, “Andrew”, “Andrew Rides Again”. Of course, there are also the classic old TV westerns: “Shotgun Andrew”, “A Message From Andrew”, “Flowers For Andrew”, “Sentenced To Andrew”, “Old Andrew’s Sister”, “Cannonball Andrew”, “Hopalong Andrew”, “The Lone Andrew”.

Phew, I think I’ve got Andrews out of my system now. And westerns.  Perhaps I should turn to music for a change of pace and a bit of light relief; something by the Andrews Sisters, perhaps?

The birth of Scoffle

Scoffle started in mid 1950s London. Teenagers, as they were becoming known, were developing their own cultural identities through rock and roll music, dance and other ideas imported from their exotic and distant American cousins. Although it would be many years before the term ‘fast food’ found its way into popular parlance, the hamburger was already finding favour amongst the newly empowered Youth on both sides of the Atlantic. It was only a matter of time before a fusion of the terpsichorean and epicurean occurred.

The poor “washer-uppers” of London’s myriad cafes and coffee shops soon started using the implements of their trade, as substitutes for the unattainably expensive musical instruments used by the jazz and blues musicians, who influenced what was to become scoffle. In 1955 a down and out plongeur, named Terry Dagenham, assembled a band, which was to set the blueprint for all scoffle combos thereafter. Terry, who chose the stage name “Lenny”, was quick to see the musical possibilities of a piece of string stretched between two waitresses, and it is he who is credited with being the first to carry a rhythm by striking a steel draining board with a knickerbocker glory spoon.

Many other scoffle legends were to emerge over the next five years, including the incomparable Cheryl Croydon and her “Milk-shake Mamas”.  Cheryl and the girls will be remembered for the enigmatic “Two espressos after sunset”, the heart-rending “No starters for table nine” and the epic “Fifty covers before midnight”.

It is Lenny Dagenham however, who was the undisputed king of scoffle. He became as famous for his novelty songs (“Does your relish lose its flavour in the ice-box over night?” and “My old man’s a waiter”) as for his more serious compositions (“Rock Island Diner” and “Seven golden burger buns”).

Unfortunately, the scoffle boom was short-lived and, as the sixties started to swing and the British public started to develop more sophisticated tastes, eschewing the coffee bar for the Chinese restaurant, the hits even dried up for Lenny Dagenham. In 1961 Lenny teamed up with Cheryl Croydon for the innovative “Shake, rattle and spring roll”, featuring Cheryl on chopsticks, but it was not well received by scoffle purists and didn’t threaten the charts.

Scoffle was gone, but no forgotten. It is believed that, prior to forming the Beatles, John, Paul, George and Ringo had all played in scoffle bands – maybe – and scoffle continues to influence song-writers and musicians to this day – probably.

Lenny and Cheryl are no longer with us, but who can honestly say they can order a cup of tea and a slice of toast, at their local greasy spoon, without remembering them?

Navigation by Spam

Have you noticed that slices of Spam don’t have a uniform texture? Each slice contains changes in colour and contour, which look rather like a map of a region of wilderness; albeit, a pink one. Living, as I do, amongst the hills of England’s Peak District, I am familiar with such charts. The other uncanny thing about this tinned meat / cartography correlation is the fact that ‘Spam’ is, of course, ‘maps’ spelled backwards.

Maybe I should point this wonderful phenomenon out to Hormel Foods, owners of the Spam licence. Perhaps specific maps could be incorporated in the Spam manufacturing process. Imagine setting out on some intrepid expedition, with your survival and navigation equipment:

High tech wicking base layer – check
Thermally efficient middle layer – check
Durable, ultra light, breathable outer shell layer – check
Bivi bag – check
GPS – check
Emergency flares – check (I withstood the temptation to insert a 1970s fashion joke at this point)
Water purification tablets – check

Hey, wait a minute! Where’s the Dark Peak region 1:25,000 scale tin of Spam? OK chaps, I need to plot a course to our revised first expedition objective, the village store, tinned food shelf.