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The politics of Bucketheads and Fish Fingers

If you were riled by the Right, laughed at the Left or found the political middle ground too vanilla at the recent General Election (the first one, in case there’s been another one since I wrote this on Wednesday), there were some exciting independent candidates.
First up, in the local Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency, the (then) Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron was up against Mr Fish Finger, a man who changed his name by deed poll, and dressed as the orange easy-tea favourite.

His fishy-pun-filled “Manifishto” included promises of more fish fingers on hospital menus, no tax on chip shops, and an immigration policy guaranteeing “open waters for fish of any race, creed, colour or gender”. That probably didn’t go down well with UChip. With Farron taking the win by just 777 votes following a recount, Mr Fish Finger’s impressive 309 would have been firmly in the spotlight had the numbers bream slightly different.

Image if Tim had lost by a few hundred votes. That would have looked…
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Gone with Noakes & Cracking Sallis

With so many big stories dominating the news recently, it was easy to miss the sad passing of two significant people who helped to make being a kid, and an adult, joyful. With increasingly bitter political campaigning and the horror of terrorist attacks filling our TV screens, websites, social media and newspapers, the recent deaths of John Noakes and Peter Sallis received limited coverage. Both deserved much more.

Noakes brought his give-it-a-go bravery and sense of humour to children’s TV show Blue Peter at the end of 1965 and packed a mind-boggling array of adventures, stunts and things made out of coat hangers into his 12 year tenure on the show.

No-one presented the programme for longer than the Yorkshire lad, and his arrival heralded a move away from the refined tones and comfy middle class style of Valerie Singleton and Christopher Trace.

By the time I was old enough to be making the show an essential part of my week, Lesley Judd and Peter Purves were partnering the ever-optimi…

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Right now, working in IT probably feels like a poor career choice, what with stranded flights, frozen systems, angry Android users and off-message display boards. IT sounds like a lucrative and dependable way to make a living. We all need the wonderful world of the web, and, like it or not, even your chips only make it to your plate (or newspaper of choice) thanks to their computer-residing namesakes.

The ploughing of the field, planting, fertilisation, pest-control, reaping, transporting, bagging, selling, distribution – even the cooking – all are likely to have involved some form of processor.

We need the IT experts. We rely on them, in fact. We’ve become so dependent on them being on top of their game that we’d be fighting each other to death in the street for a Curly Wurly in a matter of days if the world’s computing power went offline. Presuming we could find the street without our phone telling us which direction it is.

The WannaCry ransomware that took out the NHS’s system a …

Big game hunter = one dead punter

If irony is your thing, you’ll have hit the jackpot this week, following the news that a big game hunter has been killed by an elephant. The idea of a professional hunter justifiably fills most people in the UK with a sense of revulsion. Over in Zimbabwe, Thuenis Botha made his living doing just that, leading hunting groups on private ranches.

His website features charming images of him (and/or his children) and his clients, grinning next to assorted recently deceased wild animals such as leopards and elephants, whilst holding the gun they have presumably just used to finish them off.

So far, so morally repugnant. Mr Botha’s demise occurred whilst he was leading a group of hunters in the Hwange National Park. They managed to bumble into a herd of elephants, which included pregnant cows. As several of the panicked animals stampeded toward them, Botha was apparently picked up by one elephant using her trunk, after they opened fire (the hunters, not the elephant).

Another of the now enda…

Faking it for real

As Donald “I’m really great, everybody says so” Trump is so fond of pointing out, there is a lot of fake news around nowadays. Honest. Your friends at Facebook think so too, and have recently been publishing their top tips for spotting false news – by placing them as ads in newspapers. Considering they came in for considerable criticism themselves, that’s like shouting “Squirrel!” and pointing at a tree whilst you hastily kick away the prize begonias you just trampled.

To help you make sense of this (and because I’m a caring person), I thought I’d run you through their suggestions and help to explain them for you. I know. I’m lovely.

1. Be sceptical of headlines

READING THIS ARTICLE WILL IMPROVE YOUR SEX LIFE!!! And explain that catchy headlines, or stuff all in capitals might be a bit iffy.

2. Look closely at the URL

You can find out more about this at if you want to understand how phony web addresses are a sure sign of dodgyness.

3. Investigate the source


Fifty, not (quite) out

“You’re only as old as you feel” goes the saying. Well, I feel really old – and here’s a significant birthday to prove it. By the time you read this, I will have passed beyond the threshold. In an instant, I’ll have gone from under, to over, 50. I know that’s hard to believe from my youthful good looks, but that photo of me at the top was actually taken just after they invented cameras. I look more like a badly crumpled Father Christmas on Boxing Day now.

Turning fifty is remarkably similar to your hamster dying. You feel sad, lost, bereft and angry. “Why?” you yell, whilst waving your fist impotently at the sky. “Why has Hammy McHamsterface gone?! I should have paid him more attention! We should have had more fun! All those years – wasted!”

Like mourning Hammy (RIP), it isn’t something that your friends and family can help with much. They don’t share your sense of loss and bewilderment. They won’t tell you that you’re over-reacting to your face, but you know they’re thinking it. They…

A fridge too far

I had a lovely holiday - thanks for asking. No I didn’t being any rock back. But the de-stress started with an unscheduled defrost. We were really looking forward to our break. A relaxing seven days of walking, eating cakes, drinking cappuccinos, eating cakes, mooching around shops and eating cakes. Did I mention the cakes?

A short hop to the Yorkshire Dales meant no middle-of-the-night alarm call to struggle through the dark and hang around at an airport. No “who’s got the passports?!” moments. No wondering why people are drinking at breakfast time whilst you’re looking at a pile of Toblerone.

We had coffee in bed, then after a leisurely shower I went downstairs for breakfast. Devouring my cereal, something seemed odd. The flakes and milk tasted fine, but something was... different. It was very quiet, too.

On putting the milk back in the fridge, the penny dropped. The fridge wasn’t fridgey any more. It was room temperature. As were the contents. The freezer section was still icy, but…