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Blogging With Dr P... Blogging When I Can - Honest!
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Welcome to Blogging With Dr P... blogging when I can - honest

Your Blogging With Dr P... search result is below this annoucement.
In April 2008 Blogging With Dr P... moved to Blog Bypass.

If you're using the Blog Studio Search Facility to find a link to a previous blog, then I've been very generous, and NOT included an automatic re-direct which would take you there.

So, what this means is you have to use this link: Blog Bypass to find more Blogging With Dr P....

Thank you to Blog Studio for all the help over years! :)

(Feb 2010 Update): Haloscan is no more. Therefore the comments on this blog are no more. Sad, but true. I'm not paying $12 a year for the occasional comment with Echo. Apologies to all those who have commented. I have saved them and may well stick them somewhere else at some point.

Thursday, July 31, 2003 Fabulous Finland!

I want to be able to tell you all about Finland, and about how great it is. Really - I do. I seriously want to tell you some exciting news about our frosty Scandanavian friends. I've been some time scouring the internet looking for the best piece of news in/around Finland. This is it....

President of the Republic Tarja Halonen and Doctor Pentti Araj?rvi visited the biggest wooden church in the world in Kerim?ki, East Finland, on July 30.

You see? I really wanted to address the balance from yesterday. I felt I owed them some weblog time here in order for Finland to state it's case.

But all I could find was a picture of this bear. Every Finnish tourist website I went to had a great description of all the theme parks, science museums, etc - but no pictures. So, the only picture I could find was this one of this bear from a children's theme park webpage.

I can only conclude that that there really isn't anything to look at in Finland, or anything worth visiting. I've spent two days on this now. I shall only stand corrected in my comments thingy if someone can tell me one good reason for going to Finland.

And watch out - I could be trashing your country tomorrow! :)

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Wednesday, July 30, 2003 Finland.....Do You Really Want To Go There?

"The British have been declared the world's best bar room crooners after winning the inaugural world karaoke championships, though they avoided a showdown with karaoke-mad Japan, who refused to compete. The contest was the latest in a string of bizarre competitions hosted by Finland, including sauna endurance, mobile phone throwing and wife carrying, as Finns think of new ways to attract tourists to the remote Nordic country...."

So, you gotta ask yoursleves some basic Scandinavian questions here:
1. Hvor er mine ski?
2. Er denne m?ten til badstuen stor gutt?
and post importantly......
3. Om I sagt De hatt en vakker kropp vil De holder det mot meg?

Okay - that was Norwegian - but you try and find a Finnish translator?! But I think you get the gist of all of this anyway. When I stopped to think of the possible reasons why I would want to go to Finland in the first place, I couldn't come up with any. In fact, I couldn't even think of any possible tourist attractions I would like to visit in Finland. All I could think of was:
A. It's cold
B. It's colder in the winter.
C. (...there was no C.....)

So, it's understandable that the Finnish Tourist Board should want to attract people to their fair country. But, like me, if you only associate Finland with the fact that "...Det er kald nok fryse ballene av en messingsapekatt!" - I think you'd have some degree of difficulty in wanting to go there :) And particularly now the place is going to be filling up with British karoake singers - oh what a holiday nightmare! - and you can bet they'll be out on the piste (sic) every night!

Finland? Unless someone can raise the temperature a few degrees, clear out the karoake singers, stick in a few memorable tourist attractions, make the beer cheaper - oh yes - everyone speaka da English! - then I'll be holidaying eleswhere next year.....what about you? :)

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Tuesday, July 29, 2003 Newmarket 2003

Below is an artist's representation of the events which occured in a small village near Newmarket, Suffolk last weekend....(and every last weekend of July)....

Sadly, I was not there. Still......there'll always be next year :)

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Monday, July 28, 2003 Bob Hope 1903 - 2003

He really was a great guy. An absolute comic genius and much more besides. What a shame he's gone. What I said back on his 100th birthday in May will always be one of my most favourite Bob Hope moments:
My favourite Bob Hope movie scene was from The Lemon Drop Kid when he was escaping from some villains. He ran up some steps of an apartment block and pressed all the buzzers on the intercoms and said "Hello honey it's Joe!" over and over again. All that could be heard from the intercom was dozens of women's voices saying "Oh hi Joe - c'mon up!" and the door buzzer was opening the door continuously as he ran in. Very funny :)

So long Bob, thanks for the memories, and I'm sure Bing will be waiting for you.

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Sunday was one of them days we'd planned in advance.....only two days before...but at least we knew what we were going to do. We went looked a bit like this:

We went to the original great maze, which is made out of maize! It's a 10 acre field which has been cut into a maze. So, complete with bottle of water, (as it got pretty hot in there), off we set. After a time we did open this:

Because it got a bit I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang in there. (Although Cool Hand Luke did spring to mind as well, but Sue got the best description from a scene in Gorgeous George Clooneys' O Brother Where Art Thou? ).Anyway.........back to the plot..........or field to be more precise:

In the end we had to listen to the jungle drums, or to the plants actually, in order to find our way to the centre:

And they even made us wear these things as well:

As if we were going to go back in again for another go once we'd found our way out. Hell, it was difficult enough as it was - even with the bloody map! Oh yes, I photographed the map as well - so if anyone does want it - without paying ?1.50 - then email me :) Of course, you better make it quick - before he chops some of it down and changes the layout!

It's definitely worth a trip out into the wilds of Essex to play there. Suffice to say we found our way back....and are here to tell the tale :)

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Sunday, July 27, 2003
I'll Tell You All ABout This...


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Saturday, July 26, 2003 The Cheapo Way Out....

But it's always the expensive way back, isn't it? Here I am attempting to go to Mallorca, (Majorca....whatever!), in October. A particularly cheap airline can do the following deal:

Monday 27 October.
Departs London Gatwick at 16:25, arrives Palma (Majorca) at 19:45
Airfare per adult/child11.99 GBP
Plus taxes and charges per adult/child11.00 GBP
Total per adult/child22.99 GBP
GRAND TOTAL total for 2 adults45.98 GBP
But, of course, it's about ?170 for the return trip. Now why can't there be a cheap return as well?

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Friday, July 25, 2003

I've got my eye on you - so don't get up to no 'funny business'...okay!?

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Thursday, July 24, 2003 The Fab Fours French Frolic - Le Fin

Yes, it is the final episode of the serialisation of a hitch-hike to the South of France as actioned by me, Dave and M & A, way back in the summer of 1983. 20 years ago this month to be precise. So, now,(as Petrocelli used used to do!), let me take you back to where it all happened.......

All the 'V's
It was now Wednesday 3rd August 1983. We walked the 10KM to Vienne & got the train to Valence. It was going to be another rest day. Valence had a well-organised & large municipal campsite on the edge of town. We pitched the tent, got cleaned up & headed off towards the refectory for 'Des Nosh-Up'. Remember fortune favouring hapless wits etc? We walked around the back of a car & bumped into to - M & A! All I could say was "Blood hell!" - I was so shocked! So were they! We spent the night swapping stories & arranging to meet the next evening in 'the campsite' in if such things were as easy as that...

Due South
Hitching out of Valence was not easy. There was only one good hitching spot from the campsite, and, as at St.Omer - I lost the toss, and me & Dave got the duff bit of road to hitch from.
We owe "The Beatles" quite a lot. Throughout the trip from Calais, whilst stuck on the side of the road for hours on end, we must have sang every Beatles song - solos, duets, harmonising, even singing them rather badly - the whole repertoire. Today was no exception. My hitching notes show me we got a lift to Montelimar - no details though. We did get a lift from a woman in a van about 25 miles further down the road to just outside Orange on the N17...
We decided to refresh ourselves by taking a trip into the roadside Les Routiers caf?. We met a couple of guys from Manchester. They were professional 'hitchers'. This was their third 'European Tour'. They lived rough. They looked rough. We left about an hour later. I think they were going to rob the place...!

La Derniere Hitch
Our final hitch in France was the best one we had. From outside the Les Routiers caf? we got a lift off a German couple in a superb air-conditioned Mercedes to the outskirts of Avignon. Comfortable leather seats. Luxury. However, it was only for about 15 miles. But it got us to Avignon. Of course, how we met up with M & A in Avignon was not as simple as 'at the campsite'...!

Our German friends had dropped Dave & me off right by the side of the road where they had just laid some fresh concrete. I remember this because I was in a great dilemma as to whether or not to leave a huge footprint in it or not...:)...I think I did something, but can't remember what. We walked through some lovely medieval parts of the old city, and then over a bridge, (not THE BRIDGE!), but just enough to find 'the campsite' on the other side.
With true British military precision we had devised a plan for arrival at 'the campsite'. Everyone, who was there, would go to the front gates of the campsite at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock that day - and eventually we would meet up. Brilliant, eh?

As it was the first week in August - this was festival time in Avignon. Everybody and his dog had come to town...from everywhere. The campsite was full - bursting to capacity. We shared a plot normally reversed for one set of people, with a 'foreign couple'/their caravan & kids - cosy :). It was like a little hedged coral, with a windy path trailing all around the campsite, and eventually back to the front of it. The ground was hard. The green stuff pretending to be grass was 'brittle' - none of the lush green library gardens of Arras here matey. This was Le Sud. And didn't we know it.

Once we got ourselves watered and fed, Dave & I consulted our sundials and headed to the exit of the campsite at 3pm. We waited...we waited some more. (There wasn't a lot of shade from the trees by the river!). We gave up after a while. We went back to our shrubbery den. We were discussing food again - a major subject always with me! - when we heard voices....English voices......English voices we recognised! The voices were outside the tent! Unzipping our mobile sauna we stuck our heads out to find....only our foreign camper friends looking appallingly uneasy at our sudden flurry of activity in the afternoon heat. However, we HAD heard voices we recognised. We clambered out of our cocoon and strained to listen above the noise of crying babies, secardas, (foreign crickets!), and all kinds of incomprehensible foreign gibberish being uttered in the scorching early evening French summers sun - for those English voices. Nothing. Then.....yes! They were there again - and very close! In fact, they were on the other side of our 'privet prison'! It was in the opposite hedged cellblock!
Was a hedge/privet going to stop us from discovering who was it that was only a few feet away from us - oh no! I think it was Dave who first who began to scurry in a mole-like manner through the thin rakey looking hedge to get through to the other side - and scare the s**t from the campers sharing that plot! I quickly followed. What did we find? M & A - that's who! Ha - they had arrived at 'the campsite' several hours before us....had been set up in their plot...we then arrived and were set up on the other side of the hedge from them....we had somehow 'missed' each other at the 3 & 6 o'clock meeting times at the front gates.

But the best was yet to come. Do you believe in fate? Do you believe that sometimes there are forces watching over you, guiding you, and keeping you safe? Well, this is a classic example of one such situation. M & A had arrived into Avignon from the other side of the city. The couple of lifts they had, had driven them around the city and through to where we were now - on the south side near the river. There were, in fact, about SIX other campsites in Avignon. M & A had put signs on the lamposts outside the other campsites directing Dave & me to this one. We had never seen the signs...never knew there were so many other campsites. We just turned up at 'the campsite'...and then found our friends on the other side of a hedge from us. Call it it what you like...but there were some forces other than 'coincidence' working that day that kept the four of us safe & together.

The Following Day...
We took a train to Marseille...a train to Toulon....and a bus to Le Lavandou. It seemed like a sensible thing to do. We were all tired from hitching. By this point - Friday 5th August - we'd been hitching & camping for just over a week. I had been hard work & fun, but we wanted to relax a bit now...ha!
Le Lavandou was a great place then. (Dave went back there some years later on a 'standard' holiday with his new family - it wasn't quite the same :) ). It is right on the coast - I mean - the bus stops there and you fall off into the sea! The beautiful South of France. Once only the playground of the incredibly rich, or the elitist class of the world, had opened itself up to the common riff-raff and rag-tag people, (us!), who turned up in droves to crash in the cheap campsites - or sleep rough:) We arrived late in the afternoon. There were hitchers/travellers/campers from all over Europe - it was like gathering at the last 'undiscovered' natural hippy commune. Needless to say - it was a tad overcrowded. But hey - we were young, fit, foolish, and prepared for anything...which was a good thing really...!

There was no-where to stay. All the campsites were full. There was no-where, (legal!), to pitch a tent. It was getting later into the afternoon/early evening, and an 'executive decision' had to be made as to where we were going to crash that night. Thankfully, in a strange sort of way, the decision was made for us. In a mutiny which could only have been formerly seen in a Jacque Tati movie, some families, with their screaming kids, who had travelled from the North of France for their annual holiday in the sun, decided to break a padlock on gate and enter into the only remaining open green area in the South of France. It was a field which looked as though it had been a campsite in the past. Although looking at the state of the abandoned shower block & toilet facilities, it looked as though it could have been a staging post for prisioners who were being sent to Devil's Island! They were in the true sense of the word 'INSANITARY'...blah, urgh, etc etc. But that didn't stop 'le spirits du revolution' staking their claim.....parking their vans...and pitching their tents. Naturellement - when in Rome, right...both our tents were up in a matter of minutes. The camping stoves were fired up. Tins of cassoulet and ravioli were broken out. We were going to have a monster feast. A trip to the local 'Mammoth Supermarche' also got us two 4x1litre packs of the local wine. We used it for cooking with - but mainly for drinking. God - I remember how good that was - ha! It was the best nights sleep I'd had in ages! A few bottles of local brew, and my ratty sponge thing under my sleeping bag was like a feather mattress - I slept like the proverbial log. However, like life in general, there is usually a downside to something really good...

The Next Day...
Remember how we got into that field last night? Well, the day of retribution was at hand....and quite early as well. Around 7am the noise of motorised vehciles filled the early morning air. Was it more revolutionary Parisian campers arriving to stake their place in the sun? Oh no - it was the local Gendarmes! Three armed units of policemen turned up to turf us all off this private property. Now, you might say, that if this had been England, for example, the local bobby arriving on his bicycle around 10am and having a 'quiet word' with the field's occupants could have resulted in the same mass exodus as eventually occurred in that abandoned campsite in France. But no. It had to be done 'the French way'...
The first thing I remember was a slight commotion outside, then a machine gun pistol poking inside the tent flap - rattling against the tent pole (!) - and some Nazi gibbering on about "Allez! Allez! Vite! Vite!". Well, it doesn't take long under those circumstances to figure out that the police didn't want us there. And it's also an incredible adrenhalin rush which sobers you up in a split second - no matter how many great bottles of wine you had the night before. Dave & me, like M & A , had dragged our kits out of our tents and started to drag our tents to the side of the field before the fine French constables got their boots stuck into us! They were...well, brutal. But what made it even more amazing was that the 'ring leaders' from the night before, (residents of the country, who spoke the language), were actually ARGUING with the gun-toting jack-booted Nazi policemen about how they had no-where stay, and what were they going to do now etc etc. Amazing! These 'policemen' weren't in the slightest bit interested in anybodies opinion. A man with a gun and a mission usually is 'right' in my book - unless I've got a bigger gun and a bigger - which I didn't have in this instance.
So, after a hectic early morning rise, a quick gathering of belongings, we were homeless in France once again...but not for long...

I do believe he was called Renee. And he had an enormous gut. We called him 'fat belly Renee' - how original:) But FBR had a campsite, of sorts, where, for the rip-off price of 15F, (remember the Franc...It's not so long ago y'know?), a night, we could rest our weary bones...and camp our tents. The picture below shows the dustbowl we stayed on for about two weeks. Grass was a thing of history books. This was a case of clearing rocks and finding flat ground. But we did:

We even had Jim Morrison staying with us...In a tent opposite us was a French family whose father - we believed :) - to be Jim Morrison .He looked like the fat bearded guy he ended up to look like shortly before his 'death' many years earlier in Paris, France.
There was a massive storm one night, (they get them a lot ), -
lightening slashing across the sky ! Thunder booming with the force of canons almost knocking tents over ! The rain was making new roads in the dry dusty earth as it gouged into the ground like millions of pickaxes!
And 'Jim' ? HE WAS SITTING OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT ON A STEEL CHAIR DRINKING BEER !!!!! It was Jim alright :) What a guy!

It was a great time down there. We went for a day trip to Monaco.Where I posed for a super shot over-looking the bay :)....

But we eventually had to come home....

Le Fin
For those of you interested in how we got from the South of France to Dover, went like this...depart Friday 19th August 1983
? Bus from Le Lavandou to Toulon.
? Train to Paris via Marseilles.
? Metro from Gare du Lyon to Gare du Nord
? Train to Calais via Langdeau, (near Amiens).
? 02:00hrs ferry Calais to Dover.
? Arrive Dover 02:30hrs - sleep in the ferry terminal.
I shan't bore you with the details of the few lifts it took Dave & me to get back up to Teesside suffice to say that there are two girls who must have been bewildered by our ignorance, as they picked us up in Essex at 10:50hrs...they drove like a couple of nuns....we fell asleep...and eventually got out at Dishforth roundabaout, (the turn-off to Teesside on the A1), at 14:50hrs - some four hours later. You know who you are if you're reading this...maybe if the conversation had been a bit more interesting we migh have stayed awake, eh? LOL...:)
What a summer! My sister said it had been really hot in England....I think the comparative 'tan test' says it all?..

So - that was that. It was 20 years ago this month that myself, Dave, M & A hitched to the South of France. It was a memorable time. I hope you enjoyed the ramblings of the serialised episodes. I know I've enjoyed writing them :)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2003 "Friends, Romans, Countrymen....

...lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar - not to praise him!" Okay, that's the classical Shakespearean here's the gag:

A man goes into the doctors with a steering wheel down his pants.

"Whats wrong?" asks the doctor.

"I dont know but it's driving me nuts!" says the man.

It is a warm day isn't it? :)

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Tuesday, July 22, 2003 Jimi Hendrix plays Grays,Essex - are you sure?!

After many years of mixed reviews in the US, Jimi Hendrix was encouraged to seek a more 'receptive' audience in London, where he arrived in September 1966. Here he formed a trio with two English musicians, dubbed the Jimi Hendrix Experience, (Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums), and played a series of small club engagements in the UK, promoting the group's first two singles 'Hey Joe' and 'Purple Haze'.
On February 14th 1967 the trio performed at the Civic Hall, Blackshots, Grays, Essex. The event was advertised as The Jimi Hendrix Experience in the two preceding editions of the Thurrock Gazette; February 3rd and 10th. Around two weeks later on February 26th Hendrix appeared at the Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff in a 'Pop Festival', alongside popular acts such as Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch.

Bugger me! Well fancy that! What a celebrity packed world we live in..! So, have any major rock stars played in your home town? Any presidents bought their underwear there? Anybody famous from your hometown, or where you live now? You know there must be somebody that you can have a claim-to-fame against. Who knows..maybe Jimi played there too? !

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Monday, July 21, 2003 JFK's Underwear Has Just Left The Building

A pair of President John F. Kennedy's Navy boxer shorts sold for $5,000 at auction last Saturday, (19th July 2003), by Maryland-based Hantman's Auctioneers & Appraisers.

The $5,000 boxer shorts were World War two Navy-issue, with the sewn label, "Jack Kennedy." Two pairs of his pajama bottoms sold at $2,000.

So guys - hang onto those 10 year old boxers. Yes, they are 'comfortable' aren't they? And your partner doesn't understand when you say that you couldn't possibly throw them out, do they? Well now here's a good reason why. One day, when you're President..........:)........

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Sunday, July 20, 2003 If You Ever Plan To Motor West....

U.S. 666, Devil's Highway, Signs Stolen By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN (AP)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The main stretch of asphalt that cuts across northwestern New Mexico's desolate mesas is living out its final days as the Devil's Highway, but drivers wouldn't necessarily know it.

Not a single sign remains labeling it as the infamous U.S. 666.

``Since the reports that we were changing the name, we virtually had everything stolen. It was a feeding frenzy,'' said S.U. Mahesh, spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

All that remains of the signs are sheared metal stubs.
The two-lane highway runs 194 miles from Gallup north through southwestern Colorado and then west to Monticello, Utah. Colorado and Utah transportation officials also reported a rash of sign thefts since the American Association of State Highway and Transportation changed the number from U.S. 666 to U.S. 491 in June.
Officials of all three states applied for the number change because of what some saw as the old number's satanic connotation.
In the Bible, the Book of Revelation says 666 is the ``number of the beast,'' usually interpreted as Satan or the Antichrist.
Missing signs have been a problem since the highway was built decades ago, but Colorado transportation spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said more of the black-and-white signs started disappearing after the news of the number change.
``We don't have a single 666 sign left,'' she said.
Colorado officials have already installed fresh U.S. 491 signs. New Mexico and Utah are waiting for a ribbon-cutting event July 30 in Shiprock, N.M.
One seller on the Internet auction site eBay purported to have a number of the U.S. 666 signs.
``This is not a cheap mock up or knock off. It is the real deal guaranteed without the hassles of chancing a federal offense for stealing government property,'' the listing said. The seller did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Mahesh said the state Office of Inspector General plans to contact eBay about the signs. ``We have to investigate it,'' he said.

I seem to remember crossing part of that myself way back in 1988 whilst doing the pioneering thing - taking the Greyhound Bus from coast-to-coast and back again. It's a great country out there.......but you do need your road signs!

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A Sunday Redneck Joke

Struck by a blight of not wanting to type a great a deal...I'd thought I'd share this delightful little Redneck joke my darling wife forwarded onto me from a friend of hers........:).....

An Irishman in a wheel chair entered a restaurant one afternoon and asked the waitress for a cup of coffee. The Irishman looked across the restaurant and asked, "Is that Jesus sitting over there?" The waitress nodded "yes," so the Irishman told her to give Jesus a cup of coffee on him.

The next patron to come in was an Englishman with a hunched back. He shuffled over to a booth, painfully sat down, and asked the waitress for a
cup of hot tea. He also glanced across the restaurant and asked, "Is that Jesus over there?" The waitress nodded, so the Englishman said to give Jesus a cup of hot tea, his treat.

The third patron to come into the restaurant was a Redneck on crutches. He hobbled over to a booth, sat down and hollered, "Hey there, sweet thang, how's about gettin' me a cold glass of Coka-Cola!" He, too, looked across
the restaurant and asked, "Is that God's boy over there?" The waitress nodded, so the Redneck said to give Jesus a cold glass of coke, on his bill.

As Jesus got up to leave, he passed by the Irishman, touched him and said,
"For your kindness, you are healed." The Irishman felt the strength come back into his legs, got up, and danced a jig out the door.
Jesus also passed by the Englishman, touched him and said, "For your kindness, you are healed." The Englishman felt his back straightening up, and he raised up his hands, praised the Lord and did a series of backflips out the door.

Then Jesus walked towards the Redneck. The Redneck jumped up and yelled, "Don't touch me......I'm drawin' disability!!!!!"

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Saturday, July 19, 2003 The Fab Fours French Frolic: Part Quartre

As if you didn't know what was going on here - the following journal is part four (Parts 1,2,3, are here, here, and here respectively), of the diaries of a hitch-hike to the south of France as performed by me, Dave, and M & A in the summer of 1983 - 20yrs ago this month.... So we left our hapless hitch-hiking heros leaving Dijon....heading vers Le Sud.......

A Town Called Beaune

Dave and 'Le Ants'!

Things were hotting up. We were halfway down of the East side of France. The temperature was rising the further south we went, and 'The Incidents' became more frequent. Following the exhausting Sunday, we took the train from Dijon to Beaune and stayed there for the day, camping in the towns municipal campsite. I liked Beaune. I took a photo, which didn't come out too well, of a narrow street lined with 4/5 storey town houses. "Pourqoui?" I hear you ask. The street had sounds of domesticity booming from every window. It was a typical French sound effects record. The campsite was also full of life. We had to de-camp, very quickly, on Tuesday morning due to an invasion of hundreds of ants.

'Fortune favours the brave' they say, (whoever they are) - it never mentions how 'Fortune favours the completely hapless wits who hitch-hike 350 miles deep into my foreign country without a map'- this was Dave and me. We were about to leave Beaune and something occurred to us that hadn't happened before on the journey - we didn't know which way to go. Et voila! I spied a map in a telephone booth about 10 feet from us and this dear reader est la finis "D'Incident de Beaune".

There are many times when I've heard an expression, or phrase, and thought - "Hey, what a great name for a band!" Well, whatever the name of the band will be, "Lyon Central station at Midnight" should be the name of their first album. On Tuesday at the 2nd August 1983, with our newly acquired map, Dave and me made our way to Lyon. We actually got two lifts to Macon and got the train to Lyon. Somewhere in England, Oxford I think, there are four English guys who may still be suffering from shock when I virtually forced me and Dave into their VW camper parked at the side of the road. I reckon they pulled into Macon deliberately to ditch us..... I can't imagine why, ha, ha. Still, we arrived in Lyon Central station - and had to spend several hours to wait for the southbound train - in fact it was the 0002 Express to Marseilles.

I remember talking to a couple of the Irish girl's and having to 'insist' to a couple of slimy looking French Mediterranean types that the girls were with me and did not want to go to a party with them - mon dieu! As it got close to midnight a huge queue was forming to buy a train tickets. Apart from the Arabs, it was quite a good, lively atmosphere - there were loads of back packers waiting to get out of Lyon. Someone had lit up a joint in the queue, the police didn't seem to mind - they probably sold it to him. Dave had the task of practising his 'Longman's Audio-Visual French. Stage One' at the ticket desk. He said his piece, and he sounded OK to me as well but the women behind the desk said:

"Amsterdam? Amsterdam - Non!"
Dave said "Amsterdam!!"
It didn't sound like 'Marseilles' to me either. Eventually it proved too expensive to go to Marseilles.

The Express had come from Paris and was packed capacity. It pulled out to the station and had just gathered at speed when it stopped again. We had arrived at Chasse-sur-Rhone. It was the 'I.C.I.' of Lyon. We were getting off at 0007 hours in the middle of a chemical plant! Hundreds of head were looking out of the train windows as me and Dave - and (an overalled worker on night shift) - brought the Paris to Marseilles Express to a halt in the middle of the night at the centre of the most heavily industrialised areas of Lyon. Oh merde! It began to rain. We were debating where to sleep. We saw a large board with black and white Chevron direction arrows on it. It sheltered us from the wind and we put the fly sheet over the to protect us from any rain. It worked quite well. The next morning the noise of traffic was - considerable. We popped her heads out from a our impromptu bivouac. What had seemed a huge sleeping industrial monster only a few hours early, was now very much awake. We had camped on a major roundabout. It was rush - hour. I felt like one of those Japanese soldiers who spent 40 years on a Pacific island thinking the war was still going on! And I don't know which was the more bewildering sight - me and Dave emerging from behind a sign and dragging our gear across the road, or the looks on the driver's faces as they tried not to crash into each other.... And it had seemed so peaceful the night before.

Well - I can honestly say that there are trips down Memory Lane which are really quite enjoyable - and that is one of them. Did anyone else ever do the hitch-hiking thing/went wandering off into wilderness/surfed into the sunset etc etc? Drop me a line in the commenty thingy :)

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Bad Four Letter Words

Please excuse the rough language in the following story...

A young couple got married and went on their honeymoon. When they got back, the bride immediately called her mother. "Well," said her mother, "So how was the honeymoon?"

"Oh, mama," she replied, "The honeymoon was wonderful! So romantic..." Suddenly she burst out crying. "But, mama, as soon as we returned, Sam started using the most horrible language -- things I'd never heard before! I mean, all these awful 4-letter words! You've got to take me home..., PLEASE MAMA!"

"Sarah, Sarah," her mother said, "calm down! You need to stay with your husband and work this out. Now, tell me, what could be so awful? WHAT 4-letter words?"

"Please don't make me tell you, mama," wept the daughter, "I'm so embarrassed, they're just too awful! COME GET ME, PLEASE!!"

"Darling, baby, you must tell me what has you so upset. Tell your mother these horrible 4-letter words!"

Still sobbing, the bride said, "Oh, Mama..., he used words like: dust, wash, iron, cook..."

"I'll pick you up in twenty minutes," said the mother.

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Friday, July 18, 2003 Do You Have The Mind Of A Murderer?

This is an authentic psychological test........It is a story about a girl. .........

While at the funeral of her mother, she met a man whom she did not know. She thought he was amazing, her dream guy, and she fell in love with him but never asked for his number and could not find him after the funeral. A few days later the girl killed her sister.

Question: What is her motive in killing her sister?

(Give this some thought before you scroll down.) - This was how the original instruction appeared in the email I got sent to me the other day, but I'm obviously not going to look that stupid (!) - because this is a webpage, and I don't want to have 10 zillion scroll thingies down the side of this blog entry just to make it look clever. After all, you must be able to read and think at the same time, right? Look at this list, and ask yourself can you do any of these things at same time:

1. Fart and chew gum?
2. Rub your belly and pat your head?
3. Chew gum and pat your head?
4. Fart and rub your belly?

Don't do 4. in public please, in case you're not sure whether you can do it or not:)

Anyway, the answer to the interesting question at the top of this blog entry is......(drum roll...)....:

She was hoping that the guy would appear at the sister's funeral.

If you answered this correctly, you think like a psychopath. This was a test a famous American psychologist used to test if one has the same mentality as a killer. Many arrested serial killers took this test and answered it correctly. If you didn't answer correctly - good for you.

If you got the answer correct, please let me know so I can inform the appropriate authorities! And the rest of you - keep on farting ! :)

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Thursday, July 17, 2003 Post Op Shenanigans

Okay, I'm not saying that I'm completely cured yet - far from it. However, I'm managing to stay awake long enough to string together some coherent sentences about the last couple of days. Yes - I know you've seen the "Picture of the Scary Man" below, so I'd best explain that one first.
I can safely say I don't know exactly what you're thinking now (!), so here we go......following the operation - details to follow - I was left with a nose which could only be described as 'dripping' - BLAH! So, in order that I didn't turn the whole of our flat into a lighter shade of pink/rose, I was given several of these outrageous, (what look like inflatible), white, padded Groucho Marx surgical dressings. Note the Pollyanna bonnet lace strappings around the head - all the rage in the Nose Theatre that evening :). As ever, my Ear, Nose & Throat specialist surgeon was doing a guest gig at the hospital and performing at least another one of these ops on the same night before climbing back into the BUPA Groupie Bus.

I had nothing to eat for hours prior to the op. Approx. 7 hours to be precise - I was bloody starving. I was more concerned with ordering a sandwich and a cup of juice for after the op, than I was for what was about to happen next - honestly:) Hunger is just something I can't stomach :). Anyway, things seemed to go real smoothly. A little injection in the back of my hand, breathe into the oxygen mask.......and I can remember myself saying to the anaesthestist, (read "gas-passser", if I spelt that wrong), "Oh - here we go..." just as I went out.......what seemed like seconds later I was in the 'Recovery Room' :)

I required two additional shots of morphine to stem the intial pain in my nose. They were for medicinal purposes only! :)

The next morning I got the fright of my life. The nurse removed two 'pillars' that were rammed up my nose to stop bleeding. Remember "Total Recall" when Arnie pulls the tracking device from inside his head - down his nose? It was exactly like that - absolutley scared the s**t out of me! LOL !

Anyway, so here I am at home. It's very strange just getting over the operation itself. I mean, the General Anaesthetic - it's been so tiring. I've felt really - BLAH! - over the last couple of days. And not being able to sleep properly either - can't breathe. (Apparently, this blocked up feeling will probably be there until the middle of next week). And I can't blow my nose until tonight - that'll be.....ummm.....messy!

And I'm just sitting around, recovering, and staying clear of 'air', actually :). I should be okay in a few weeks time to go back to work. Anyway, time for my afternoon nap :) .....see y'all later.

Scary Man....:)

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Wednesday, July 16, 2003 "Reports Of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated"

- Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden....oh - and Mark Twain.....and me. Well, I survived, but I feel pretty bloody awful at the moment. Just wanted to let y'all know that they didn't scar my beautiful everytime I sneeze I have to put a tissue on my arse - as that is where they've grafted my nose to! BLAH! :)

I'll make more Time to go back to bed.

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Monday, July 14, 2003 Operation Day !

Okay, today's the day,much later this afternoon actually, that I go in for my operation - scary stuff, eh?! Right, I'm having:

* Septolasty of the nose
* Nose - submucous diathermy to turbinate of
* Anterior and opening into posterior fess

There y'go - I knew you wanted to know that just before you eat :). Yeah, it'll be an evening surgery, kick-off sometime between 6 - 8pm, (highlights on Sky Sports One!), and an overnight stay. Then back out tomorrow with a plaster type thing on my nose for a day or so - and two weeks off work to avoid dust,dirt,infection,protestants etc etc. I've also been measured for 'surgical stockings' when I went for the pre-admission day last week. I have to wear these overnight, and for the next day - very fashionable! All to do with blood circulation etc.

So, there you have it - I'll try and get some 'before' and 'after' piccies done, so you can scare your friends with :)

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Sunday, July 13, 2003 Techie Time

Unaccustomed as I am to public displays of enthusiasm for anything midly tecchie, I thought I'd break with tradition and sing the praises, (so far in the test phase....hmmm......can one have 'test praises'?...think about that will you and someone get back to me with an answer, otherwise I'll lose track of what I'm blathering about...!), of BlogChat - the little DIAMOND looking chat device at the top of the page - or at least it was at the time of writing this - who knows the 'test praise' phase may have ran out :).

So what's it all about? Quite simply it's a little chatroom device which is slightly more advanced than a 'tag-board'. For one thing, I can chat with you in real time. Neat, eh? The only time the chatroom will be available, will be when I have it active, i.e. when I'm online - when the diamond is green. When I'm not online - the diamond will be red

It also tells me whose online when they visit the page, (i.p. address etc etc) - so it acts a bit like a 'live counter'. All in all, it's nifty - and most importantly, as it's in the test phase - VERY FREE.....:). So, if you want to see if you can jump on the bandwagon with testing this little baby, email the chaps at Blogchat: with your name, email address and website, and request if they are still taking people onboard for testing. They also take donations, so bung them a few quid - they're doing a good far!

p.s. when you, or the chatroom is idle, it also throws up a little message asking you if you are awake :)

p.p.s Yes - I changed the position of the Blog Chat from a table at the side of the page, to a diamond at the top, this is why I changed the blog entry above explaining it all. I thank you :)

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Saturday, July 12, 2003 The Fab Fours French Frolic: Part Trois

For those of you not paying attention, this is the story of a hitch-hike to the south of France which occured 20 years ago this month. Myself, Dave, and M & A were the boys concerned. (If you missed the first two parts go here: Part One, and here for Part Two). Enjoy the story, (have a map handy as well!)......

"And just to prove that God does have a sense of humour - "Bonjour Monsieur M. P.!" good old Mr P. was a true individual - much to the annoyance of his long suffering wife and kids. It was 8:30pm on that very long Sunday 31st July. Dave and me were.... lost. We had been stranded in a no - horse hamlet called Bar - s - Aube, about 20 miles from Chamont. Along came M. P. - and the fun starts ici. He was a nuclear scientist on the way back from a weekend's micro-liting competition.... Not too bad, eh?! We headed towards Dijon. It was getting dark. He said we could stay at his house.... Dave looked worried. We left the main roads and caught on to smaller 'D' class roads. Dave got more worried. We left the small roads and headed off up the country lanes into the hills. Dave was seriously concerned for our safety. I thought it was hilarious! I assured Dave that there was two of us and only one of him'- and we were from Teesside! Eventually we ended up crawling through an ancient cobbled street town called Grancey-le-Chateau, about 25 miles north of Dijon way up in the hill's. M. P. had a large modern bungalow, with garden, on the edge of town. We stood on the edge of his garden and watched his loving wife open the back door to welcome the happy husband from his weekend hobby.... ah, I thank God for a brilliant memory - the look on Mrs P's face as poor old M. explained that the disgustingly filthy pair of wayward looking tramps which were lowering the house prices of the neighbourhood by their mere presence - that these two guys were staying for dinner - her face was pure poetry and she could have also been a medal contender in the Olympics for France in the 'Jaw Dropping' event. She was not pleased.

We dumped our gear in the garden and shuffled into the house. Nice place. We met his son - a student in Switzerland. I think there was another child. They watched as me and Dave devoured every single item of food placed in front of us - actually, I did most of it! Of course, to complete his role as host, Mr P offer the facilities of his bathroom - we had been on the road for three days....! I went first. It was a good deep bath with lots of hot water. I can't remember how long after this event it was, but Dave told me he was so embarrassed about the state of the bathroom when he went in, that he spent all hit time in there cleaning it!

And to complete the evening we pitched tent in his back garden. It had been a very hot that day, we decided not to put the 'fly sheet' on the tent. Boy, what a fatal mistake that was! To perpetuate my belief that the son of God was indeed called Jacques Christeau - an almighty storm occurred that night, and we were soaked. Curled up in our soaking tent and sleeping bags we snoozed and sneezed through the night. The next morning, M. P. dropped us off on the road to Dijon, and went on his way to work a hard day splitting atoms. (For those of you keeping track of 'incidents' in this mammoth track you have just experienced the third one - "The M. P. Incident")."

I remember the following morning Mr P. dropping us off on the main road to Dijon around 7am. We then immediately set up the small gas camping stove in the lay-by, and heated up a can of Oxtail soup for 'petite dejeuner'. The off we went a hitching again...

I know, even I wouldn't stop for someone in black Doc Martens, jeans & T-shirt :). But we were young, free - and clueless - and that's all the clean clothes I had in my rucksack.

Ha - there's more to come. Stay tuned. Has anyone else got any travelling stories they'd like to share?

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Friday, July 11, 2003 How To Become Invisible

Stick a webcam on your back and hold your laptop in front of you, screen facing out. Your friends will see right through you. It's a great party trick.

Now go and try it, and tell me what you think :)

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Lottery Winner! Lottery Winner!

Yessir! The cheque arrived today:

Okay - tell me - how should I spend it? I just can't decide ! :)

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Thursday, July 10, 2003 The Price of Entry Into A Tree Museum

According to Joni Mitchell it cost a dollar and a half just to see 'em.

Now Ami Grant has released a version of Big Yellow Taxi where it now costs twenty-five bucks just to see 'em.

Now, I don't work in the tourist industry, but how the hell do you justify a 1000ncrease in price to go and see some trees? Whose in charge of this museum? And why can't I be a shareholder ? :)

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Wednesday, July 09, 2003 THE LAUGHING RAZOR

"As close as a blade simply years ahead"?
I think that's what the advert said.
The whirring blades turn round at pace
As the laughing razor tickles my face.

I hate shaving. I was never any good at it. even now, particularly in summer, I go to walk looking like I've had a knife fight in the bathroom. Still - I hate growing a moustache or a beard - they just grow all uneven and alien looking. I suppose I'll just stick to scraping the old visage - or what about waxing? :)

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Tuesday, July 08, 2003 Thoughts....

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me, either. Just leave me the Hell alone.

2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a leaky tyre.

3. It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbour's newspaper, that's the time to do it.

4. Sex is like air. It's not important unless you aren't getting any.

5. Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.

6. No one is listening until you fart.

7. Always remember you're unique. Just like everyone else.

8. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

9. It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

10. It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.

11. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

12. Before you criticise someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticise them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

13. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

14. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat & drink beer all day.

15. If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

16. Don't squat with your spurs on.

17. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

18. If you drink, don't park; accidents cause people.

19. Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield.

20. Don't worry; it only seems kinky the first time.

21. Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes of bad judgment.

22. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

23. Timing has an awful lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

24. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

25. Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side & a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

26. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.

27. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your mouth is moving.

28. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

29. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

30. (This one's for you to fill in!)

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Monday, July 07, 2003 The Fab Fours French Frolic: Part Deux

If you remember this from a few days ago, the Fab Four - me, Dave, M & A - were hitch-hiking to the south of France in the hot summer of 1983. This is a short journal of events along the way. We left off just after the "St.Omer Incident"....

"It was Friday 29th July 1983. Dave and I bodly went to town called Lilliers and promptly caught a train to Arras. I wish I could remember what the first lift in France was, but I can't. It obviously wasn't that memorable. Neither was Lilliers, except for one thing - the railway station smelt like it had been vigorously rubbed down with 10 tonne of smoked haddock. Very odd. Arras, on the other hand, was a small provincial town with a nice garden next to the library. This was where the overspill of campers and hikers were sent. We were part of that overspill and had the absolute delight of having two leather clad bikers from a Yorkshire "rest of their fiery steads a while" on the return leg of the tour of Germany. Speaking the same language, (an unfortunate coincidence in this case), we got to talking. During the conversation two other international bikers parked up alongside for the night as well. Being the bumptious fellows that Yorkshireman are, they launched into several stories about how stupid the Germans were. The Yorkshire bikers found their stories highly amusing. What was even more amusing was that the other two bikers who had pulled up weren't laughing at the stories is at all - they had little "D"'s on their machines. After a time I stopped one of the Yorkshire guys and told him, to which she replied:
"Aye, I wondered why they weren't laughing. I thought the'D'stood for'Denmark'."
Sadly lacking the international highway code, I think.

Arras also produced one of my top 10 photographs of all time. Poor Dave.
The boy had attempted to shave his beard off with only a bag full of safety razors. I caught him behind the tent attempting to conceal the facial carnage with antiseptic cream. The caption in the photo album were Dave's words at the time:

"It isn't funny you know"

On the contrary, it makes me laugh to look at it even now.

During my research on this epic journey I came across a list of "lifts" in France. Using photographic evidence and expert cartographical (?) plotting, it seemed to me that Dave and I had a hard time getting to, going from, and getting around Cambrai. Remember the map that me and Dave didn't have? Well, now that I see - Arras is only 30KM (about 20 miles) from Cambrai and on one straight road. Saturday had started quite good. A mad couple in a CV gave us a lift to the top of the nearest autoroute, which was only 9KM from Cambrai. One might think, even in French, that stuck on the top of the motorway and pointing in the right direction, that the natural result of the next lift would be to be travelling in that direction? Au contre mon ami. A delightful lady with her two children, crammed me and David into the back seat of her car and promptly did a 'U' turn and we ended up getting out 10KM north of Arras! We walked a long time that day. Many hours later things were getting desperate. Having exhausted all other methods of hitching a lift, I resorted to the 'Ultimate Technique'- I got down on my hands and knees and begged a car to stop. It worked. The second car that came along pulled up. He was going to Cambria. We piled in. Little did the three of us know that we had just concluded our parts in "The Cambria Incident".

If Sunday is a day of rest - God had never hitch hiked in France. After an enormous walk from the campsite in the Reims to the outskirts of town, we endured several hours baking in the sun. For this penance, and as a reward, we were sent a gorgeous black haired beauty with legs of the way up her shorts - and further! Sadly this was only another one of those 20mile trips. I didn't think we had much in common to talk about - like the same language. After several more hours being fried we got a lift. He went three miles up the road and stopped at a garage. I was beginning to think that God was French and we were getting'Le Run Around'.

As a by-product of travelling through France during a long hot summer you get to notice different things. For example, did the Coca-Cola realise that their famous bottles of Coke were being sold at least at five different prices between Calais and Marseilles? Did the French government know that they have roads going to places that aren't even on the map? - I have a photo entitled:


I am posing with a road sign on the D33 where I am 2.1KM from Monchy-le-prix and 0.8KM from Roeux - I can't find these places on the map! But one of the most memorable reactions to me and Dave in France was by a little boy in some northern French town who asked where we were going, I said "Le Sud", he flipped, it was obviously beyond his comprehension. The Great North - South divide exists even in French..... I wonder where 'Le Watford gap Services' is...?!"

That really was a grand hitch. The best. You just don't see hitch-hikers anymore. Too dangerous, sadly. Oh the times......

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Jungle Joke

It's been one of those hectic weekends. I'll catch up with 'proper stuff' later on. In the meantime, here's a joke....

A wealthy man decided to go on a safari in Africa. He took his faithful
pet dachshund along for company. One day, the dachshund starts chasing
butterflies and before long the dachshund discovers that he is lost.

So, wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his
direction with the obvious intention of having lunch. The dachshund
thinks, "OK, I'm in deep trouble now!"

Then he noticed some bones on the ground close by, and immediately
settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat.

Just as the leopard is about to leap, the dachshund exclaims loudly,
"Boy, that was one delicious leopard. I wonder if there are any more
around here?"

Hearing this, the leopard halts his attack in mid-stride, as a look of
terror comes over him, and he slinks away into the trees.

"Whew," says the leopard. "That was close. That dachshund nearly had

Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby
tree figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for
protection from the leopard.

So, off he goes. But the dachshund saw him heading after the leopard
with great Speed, and figured that something must be up. The monkey soon
catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for
himself with the leopard.

The leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says "Here monkey,
hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine."

Now the dachshund sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back,
and thinks, "What am I going to do now?"

But instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his
attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet... and just when they get
close enough to hear, the dachshund says, "Where's that monkey? I sent
him off half an hour ago to bring me another leopard."

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Saturday, July 05, 2003 These Weapons of Mass Destruction

Try this soon, before Google fixes its site:

1) Go to

2) Type in (but don't hit return): "weapons of mass destruction";

3) Hit the "I'm feeling lucky" button, instead of the normal "Google search" button

If the page was 'fixed' by the time you got to it, it should have read this.

Have a nice day :)

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Thursday, July 03, 2003 Taking The P***

In a few weeks time I'll be going into hospital again. I know, I know - what about all that then (scary picture of one of my Carpal Tunnel operation scars from last year!) ? Okay, that was then, and this is sadly now. Let me explain...

Hay fever - chest infection - antibiotics - annual event. This year, things got a bit worse if you remember. So worse in fact that I ended up taking all this stuff:

Yup I was rattling and slurping like a thing possessed, not to mention the ever popular steam inhalations. All in all, it was a pretty funky time of drugs and stuff. Basically it just put a stop to me wheezing, but never really cleared up my chest. Then my doctor got sick of me (ha!), and sent me off to see a specialist who - stuck a camera up my nose ! This was most...........weird. Reality TV is one thing, but when a guy sticks a camera up your nose, tells you to look over his shoulder, and you see live action of the probing device whipping around inside your nostril like a whirling dervish on a TV mounted in a wall..........then watching the kids on Big Brother clean out the chickens isn't that disgusting after all.

I went to the hospital today for a pre-admission visit. This where they get you to sign all the forms, weigh you, measure you, ask you all sorts of weird and wonderful questions......and take 'a sample'. Well now, as you might imagine, I had foreseen this particular event occurring, and , therefore had some thought to But how does one balance the idea of being forced to perform like performing monkey in order to produce 'a sample', and taking it all quite naturally in your stride?

The Casual Approach - "Yeah, sure - how much would you like sister? A mug, a bucket, or are you planning a party later - I got plenty! Har Har" And then with a nod and a wink striding non-chalantly into the toilet.
The Pathetic Approach - "Actually I only perform my ablutions once a day between 5.30am and 6am. Could I post it onto you tomorrow ?" And standing there pathetically with a sheepish grin on your face.
The Sex Maniacs Approach"I'm sorry sister but I've just been naked snow boarding and my hands are too cold - you're going to have to hold 'it' for me." And the big grin gets flattened by a bedpan! :)

But my dilemma was this: I was rushing round the M25 from Luton, (the appointment was in Brentwood, about 12 miles from where I live), I had just had a sandwich and a bottle of water in the car, and by the time I got to the hospital, I was dying for a p***! Yes - I was hoping we'd get the sample taking activity out of the way first. It's very difficult to concentrate on anything else when your bladder is fit to burst isn't it? Sure enough, we went through all the forms first. Each time we'd finished one I was praying inside m my head - "JUST GIVE ME THE GODDAMN BOTTLE!" - but the agony continued until finally she said: "And now I need a sample from you." I never thought that those combination of words could ever bring the anticipation of relief to such giddy heights ! :) . I literally leapt the 10 - 15ft gap between the office door and the gents toilet as if I was in some Olympic 'Leaping the Gap Between The Nurses Door And The Toilet' event........of course, I wasn't, but you can imagine the urgency at the time. Her last words to me as I slammed the door shut were: "Just about half an inch please"..........

..........? I was standing in the toliet with a plastic tub and lid marked 'dentures'. This was a little worrying as she had a full set of teeth - I was wondering whose teeth was going to go into the pot after I'd used it, and was I about to become the unwitting accomplice in some sort nurses-revenge-on-an-old-person! Anyway, it made me stop to think for a little. And then I started to think a little you do........(well, I do !). "Half an inch...?" I mean, I've never spent much time p***ing into pots before,(have you?....actually I don't really want to know that - but if you do feel like sharing the experience with the world - theres a pot, I mean- a comments box below :) ), particularly when I could have filled a bucket at this point. So, with a firm grip on everything that required it (!) - off I went - trying only to get 'half an inch' in the pot. Did I succeed?


It could have got very messy if I'd done that in her office - and security would probably have thrown me out as well. And with as much skill & judgement as I could - I tipped a bit out to achieve the required 'half an inch'. This skill - I shall not go to night school to enhance, practice, or get any diplomas in it. Nor will I be practising it at home! :) . I did stroll nonchalanty back into her office - like I p*** in pots every day - and gave it back to her. I really did want to ask her about the 'dentures' label on the top, but she'd already asked me my religion, (Roman Catholic), and when I saw her nod with approval, I figured she was not the sort of woman that would indulge in such rotten tricks or revenge.

So, Monday 14th July, (Bastille Day in France - some sort of revenge on me I think for my trips over there. Oh yes - back across again in August and October for more French fun & games!), I'll be having that man shove things up my nose again..........I just hope they don't ask me for another sample! :)

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Wednesday, July 02, 2003 Jokes From Australia

My niece, Gemma, is currently doing her thing - fruit picking/travelling etc in Australia. She also finds time to pop into internet cafes and send her uncle little messages.......:).......

1. Phone answering machine message - "...If you want to buy marijuana, press the hash key..."

2. A guy walks into the psychiatrist wearing only Cling film for shorts. The shrink says, "Well, I can clearly see you're nuts."

3. I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find any.

4. I went to the butchers the other day and I bet him 50 quid that he couldn't reach the meat off the top shelf. He said, "No, the steaks are too high."

5. My friend drowned in a bowl of muesli. A strong currant pulled him in.

6. A man came round in hospital after a serious accident. He shouted, "Doctor, doctor, I can't feel my legs!" The doctor replied, "I know you can't, I've cut your arms off".

7. I went to a seafood disco last week...and pulled a muscle.

8. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly. They lit a fire in the craft, it sank, proving once and for all that you can't have your kayak and heat it.

9. Our ice cream man was found lying on the floor of his van covered with hundreds and thousands. Police say that he topped himself.

10. Man goes to the doctor, with a strawberry growing out of his head. Doc says, "I'll give you some cream to put on it."

11. "Doc I can't stop singing The Green, Green Grass of Home." "That sounds like Tom Jones syndrome. " "Is it common? " "It's not unusual."

12. A man takes his Rottweiler to the vet. "My dog's cross-eyed, is there anything you can do for him? " "Well," says the vet, "let's have a look at him" So he picks the dog up and examines his eyes, then checks his teeth. Finally, he says, "I'm going to have to put him down." "What? Because he's cross-eyed? " "No, because he's really heavy"

13. Guy goes into the doctor's. "Doc, I've got a cricket ball stuck up my backside." "How's that?" "Don't you start."

14. Two elephants walk off a cliff...boom, boom!

15. What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.

16. So I was getting into my car, and this bloke says to me "Can you give me a lift?" I said "Sure, you look great, the world's your oyster, go for it.'

17. Apparently, 1 in 5 people in the world are Chinese. There are 5 people in my family, so it must be one of them. It's either my mum or my dad. Or my older brother Colin. Or my younger brother Ho-Cha-Chu. But I think it's Colin.

18. Two fat blokes in a pub, one says to the other "Your round." The other one says "So are you, you fat bast**d!"

19. Police arrested two kids yesterday, one was drinking battery acid, the other was eating fireworks. They charged one and let the other one off.

20. "You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen. It said, 'Parking Fine.' So that was nice."

21. A man walked into the doctors, he said, "I've hurt my arm in several places" The doctor said, "Well don't go there any more"

22. Ireland's worst air disaster occurred early this morning when a small two-seater Cessna plane crashed into a cemetery. Irish search and rescue workers have recovered 1826 bodies so far and expect that number to climb as digging continues into the night.

She is definitely her father's daughter :)

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The Fab Four's French Frolic

In celebration of the 20th anniversary, (this month!) of a certain hitch-hike to the South of France by myself and Dave, M & A, here is the first instalment of The Fab Four's French Frolic........

"I had hitched to Lille, in northern France, in the Easter of 1983. The viability of the English leg of the route for the big summer vacation to the south of France had to be tested. The M11 was not open and the M25 at the Dartford Tunnel entrance was not complete. I remember going through places like Chipping Ongar and thinking "this should be the easy section of the trip!". Hitch-hiking to and from Teesside to Dover proved to be the most arduous and least memorable part of the holiday what happened between Calais and "Le Sud" for me and Dave if turned out to be quite a laugh?..

Preparation for the journey had been from the sublime to the meticulous. Using a tent that had last seen the light of day about 15 years before, and Dave and I assembled it for the first time in his the back garden in Norton. It smelt a bit, but it was in good working order. Along with M and A we made it to excursions to see what "camping" would be like. One night, for some bizarre reason, we ended up on the beach at Marske, North Yorkshire. The tide came in, put the fire out, and wet the end of our sleeping bags. And - In the middle of the North York Moors, we were awakened by dozens of hikers about 20 yards behind the tent. We had camped on the crossing point of the popular "marathon moor" walk. All good training we thought - ha.

It was the second last week of 19th July 1983 "As I Walked Out One Midsummer's Morning" (sorry, Laurie ), onto the Dover - Calais ferry clutching the second-half of a day return ticket I purchased, at a discount price (!), from a French guy in the terminal at Dover. Such high drama before we even reached the Continent! I had visions of being thrown in the brigg for impersonating a Frenchman. At least all that adrenalin kept my travel sickness under control. To be honest, after spending the night sleeping on a grassy slope in the Dover Priory Park, (because it was the ferry terminal floor was otherwise occupied by the dozens of other back packers), I just wanted to get across to dry land and have a good night's sleep.

"Dover disappeared dreamily as Calais called quietly" - it sounds like bollocks, but that's what it was like. One 36 shot roll of film was all I had, but I had in a rough idea of how would the "story board" photo album would look. (it was early 1994 when I eventually got a round to doing this). Page one of the album we see the view from the rear end of the ferry, another photo showing us the further disappearing white cliffs of Dover, and one taken by Dave of me - "le dodgy hitch hiker Anglais."

Calais was - and still is - a very uneventful and non-photogenic place to enter a country. By the time we came ashore the bus to transfer us to the ferry terminal had long since gone. Whatever the French for "indignant" was - I had it in spades. It was about half a mile walk to the brand new terminal. When we got there, it was empty. We hung around for a few minutes to see if any officials merged. I carried my newly acquired "indignancy Francais" through the non-existent "Doune" area and out into - another half mile walk across a car-park to the nearest road. Vive la France!

The first, and one of the many "incidencts" occurred at St. Omer. It was called "The St.Omer Incident". (More advanced readers may want to move on to Book Two!). We had all agreed that the quickest way out of Calais was by train. A look at the map showed St.Omer to be on a main road, but slightly in the countryside. We shambled into town like an "out-take" from "The Magnificent Seven". Were the locals peeping out from behind a large white shuttered windows muttering to themselves - "Can we trust these Gringos with all the town's money, and maybe a couple of girls, to help fight off the bandits from the hills who come down and to rape our cattle, burn the women, and steal our wheat?" That foolish romantic idea was dashed from my mind after we staggered into a bar and I saw a Watneys Red barrel pump head! And they say England is an island and could never have any harmful effects on French society. So we had "quartes Coca-Cola et des sandwichs jambon avec fromage", and mossied on out-of-town to pitch the tents. (If anyone reading this has a map - please follow it carefully. Me and D didn't take a map. We found one in a phone box in Beaune - part of "The Beaune Incident", actually ....!)

Anyway, St.Omer - "The St.Omer Incident" - our work first evening's camping. Oh what excitement! The joy of unpacking our gear could only be paralleled with, well, - every other time we did it. Fortunately, the grass, (the last decent grass we ever saw in France), was lush and green, and the tent pegs sank seductively into the soil. What a merry band we were! We were young, we were free, we were bloody hungry - why does it take so long for those sodding gas burners to heat anything up? There were two types of tinned products we ate at regular intervals on the strip. Ravioli and "Cassoulet". "Cassoulet" was sort of hot dogs and cabbage mainly, weird or what? Hardly typically French, more typically fart forming. Ravioli - "little pasta parcels packed with beef" - I couldn't touch the stuff for years afterwards. Even now if I have it in a restaurant I have to sit cross-legged on the floor and eat it off a dirty tin plate. So we settled down before an evenings campfire chat to discuss the opening day's play of the adventure - and did we have enough string to find our way back again. Now I've never smoked cigarettes regularly. In fact, none of us had really. But this was France! We were young, we were free, we bought some Gitanes - why he didn't anyone see it said "sans filtres" on the packet? My constitution wasn't the best in the world but chewing up on Charles Azanore's semi-- lit and navel fluff was not the most exhilarating mind and body enhancing experience. Just say "Non!"

The " St.Omer Incident" was over the following morning. I lost the toss, (don't ask me what was on the coin), and had to go over to the farmhouse on the other side of the road to ask for water. The farmer's wife had seen it all before - ravioli stains, string, Chaz Az butt-ends everywhere - she pointed it to the tap in the yard where we could fill up the bottles. Once refreshed and packed the "Fab Four" split into two "Dynamic Duos" "To Boldly Go " - and we did!"

And that was only just the beginning.........stay tuned for more fun & games from 20 years ago this month hitching in France :)

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