Archive for September 2011

4. Numbers- nine titles, one shared

September 16, 2011

One of the attractions of the fabulous seaside Lancastrian town of Blackpool is its bingo. Friendly hotels offer relatively cheap games that are full of fun with the bonus of some big cash for the eventual winner. Bingo is, of course, a game all about luck. It doesn’t detract from the fun when the caller can, without fail, tickle you pink with the bingo number nicknames and phrases.

Cup of tea. Number 3. (note: no coffee references)
Key of the Door. Number 21.
Droopy drawers. Number 44.
Heinz varieties. Number 57.
Crutch with a flea. Number 73.
Nearly there. Number 89.

At last, after all the sevens (admittedly, not the best of the bingo shouts), seventy seven years without championship success, I have great pleasure (beach) in congratulating Lancashire county cricket club on finally shouting house by becoming county champions of 2011.

All season I have followed their fortunes in newsprint hoping that the red rose county would triumph. My loyalty to Blackpool has extended county wide to make them my favourite English county cricket side. On a riveting cup of tea, three-sided final day race to the crown, Lancs prevailed against the odds yesterday with luck having nothing to do with it, only skill and determination.

Lancashire not only boasts the best cricket writer in the world, Michael Atherton’s magnificent cricket articles that appear in The Times, we (yes I said we) have the finest mascot: Lanky the giraffe. I’ll stick my neck out here and say, if you’ve got to have a mascot there can be no finer creature than a cuddly giraffe. He’s as big a crowd puller as a bingo caller.


One more cup of tea for the road

September 12, 2011

On the commodities front, coffee fell to a two-week low on concern that slowing economies will dent demand as supplies climb. The temperamental coffee market is economically sensitive and prices had gotten well above where the fundamental values say they should be. Shares in all the major coffee firms have plummeted.

During a lunch break last week I overheard a diner remark to a colleague on what a beautiful coffee table they were dining on. I had grounds to rebuff his sugary sweet comment because I’m a tea drinker. Why is it not called a tea table? Is it anything to do with the poor alliteration? I’m not trying to stir the pot here but why are us tea drinkers given such short shrift? The snobbery of the coffee genie knows no bounds; none of them would be seen dead with a T-mobile phone.

Being brought to the boil by the raving injustice that tea drinkers have to face, I stared at the other drinkers that were dotted around the room. Tetley’s bitter! There seems to be lots more alternative choices on the menu than tea or plain coffee. There’s a plethora of fancy coffees on the market: Cappuccino, Skinny Latte, Café Bombon, Macchiato to name a few, not forgetting the ghastly dubbed one called Green Eye. Not being intimidated in the least by the coven of coffeeistas I slurped my tea with a vengeance.

The response was instant. A Café Mocha drinker took three, quick as an espresso train, slugs of her poison. Unperturbed, I drained my cup and let out a huge gasp of satisfaction. She was running out of steam as her next sip was pitiful; she was crumbling like her coffee cookie accompaniment. I had plenty more left in the tank or to be more precise the teapot. The teapot, Ha! Your coffee pot’s up at the counter. I poured myself seconds from the pure porcelain piece of perfection that is the teapot spout. What have they got? A coffee pot is just a jumped up jug.

The pretentious coffee drinkers were giving me the pinkie in the air gesture so I decided to play my joker. As they imbibed their strange beverage looking as smug as milk I got their attention all right. My tea was a bit warm so rather than blowing on the surface I tilted my cup and let the flavour flood out onto my saucer. Now at the perfect temperature due to the wider area of the wild plains of the small plate, the tea was ready. I dived headlong into the pool of boiled dried leaves. Soon the tea break was up and it was now time for the pub. Let’s hope there are no lager drinkers in there; I’m a real ale man, born and brewed.

Swagbaggers treasure hunt

September 3, 2011

The days of using Swiss banks to evade paying tax are over. While still upholding the secrecy of their clients, the Swiss will begin to tax existing account holders between 19% and 34% and send the monies to the UK government. An up front payment of £384 million will be winged to Britain to compensate for some of the hidden, undeclared taxes. Financial experts predict a vast amount of depositors leaving Switzerland for other tax-havens like Singapore.

Swiss banks also provide safety deposit boxes in their vaults for various eminent items: documents, passports, gemstones, precious metals, currency. In some cases these safes will be loaded with the ill-gotten gains of crime. The Swiss ask no questions and the criminals feel secure about the rigorous security measures that make theft of their spoils improbable.

I’m still not convinced of this as numerous Hollywood films have shown that burglary in these locations is commonplace. And if they can break into Fort Knox how easy must it be to slip into your block. Not everyone can afford the biometrics of a retina scan at the front door to gain access.

Without sounding alarmist or anything but robberies are on the increase. There’s an absolute Tattenham Corner bottleneck of robbers outside your window jockeying for position. Even robbers are being robbed after they’ve robbed; there’s no honour between thieves nowadays. And the secondary plunderers are no Robin Hoods, they‘re hoodlums. Your stolen TV will be hawked in a pub or crushed in a vault.

Which begs the question, where do we put our valuables? A home has a million possibilities for concealing goods. You know under the bed isn’t as silly as it sounds. Most cat burglars have poor joints with all the climbing over roofs so they try not to bend their knees unnecessarily. Your beautiful pint glasses should be safe as houses down there so long as they don’t lose their bottle and tinkle together with fright.

Important data discs can easily be hidden in the cover of a Howard the Duck DVD. While if you’re flush, rolls of cash can be stuffed inside rolls of toilet paper. I wouldn’t worry too much about the Bechstein Grand piano being taken; most robbers don’t have a Pickford’s van as a get away vehicle.

In closing, to make it harder for the thieves, it is advisable to locate and utilise unusual hiding spots for your loot. It is important you remember the whereabouts of these places. Over the years I’ve lost a small fortune by continually forgetting the secret chambers. Though it is pleasing to come across, by accident, an old hiding place. Last week I rediscovered an old dusty pint glass with £20 in it. Trouble is I’d halved the £20 for super safety and don’t know where the other half is. Still, I’ve got the glass and it’s half-full.