Tuesday, 31 March 2020

The Adventures of Bird

The Adventures of Bird

Standing bird with biography book
Illustration by Don Man
Once upon a time there was a very large bird. His name was Bird. Although he had a bad memory it was an easy name for him to remember – children were always pointing at him saying ‘Look at that bird!’ which helped him remember his name when he had forgotten it. But one-day Bird could not fly. He tried, but he could not. He loved to soar high in the sky, loop-the-loop and dive-bomb chickens. He made the chickens envious as they couldn’t fly, and they ran at full pelt towards him in an attempt to get off the ground and chase him away. But to no avail. Mostly the chickens got up to quite a good speed, stirring up great clouds of dust, almost taking off, but crashed into the wire mesh fence at the end of their chicken run, making it bulge, springing them backwards to land with a bump and a squawk. That’s why it was called a chicken run: because the chickens could only run, not fly.
Illustration by Don Man
Illustration by Don Man
The reason that Bird could no longer fly was because he loved eating – too much. This would not have mattered, but he had eaten too much too many times and had become even larger. He loved the tasty leftover morsels in the fast food cartons that were littered on the sidewalks by untidy people. So Bird grew and grew – and grew. And got heavier and heavier –and heavier. But his wings stayed the same size. So, no matter how fast he flapped, he could not take off from the ground any more. He just couldn’t fly. Bird flapped and flapped his wings furiously, but to no avail, he just scattered the empty food cartons all over the road. And his bottom only rose an inch above the ground before bouncing three times back on the sidewalk.  Bird was flying nowhere and decided to walk down the street and flap at a bus to stop for him with one of his wings.
A sign on the bus said: ‘NO BIRDS – DEFINITELY NO LARGE BIRDS’. Bird could not read signs other than reading the word ‘BIRD’, so thought that it must be a bus especially for Birds and hopped on anyway. Bird did not have any money but the driver liked birds. He kept homing pigeons as pets and thought that Bird must need homing too and felt sorry for him, and turned a blind eye.
Bird perched on a comfy seat hoping no one would notice him. But there were two children: twins Sally and James, sitting right behind Bird who were on their way home from school who did notice him and said together at the same time (as twins sometimes do): ‘Look at that bird!’
Bird didn’t know where he was going. The bus seemed to be going round in circles and stopping and starting all the time. Bird normally flew straight home at night to his favourite perch, on a strong branch, high up in a large tree overlooking a sports field. How he was going to get back up there he did not know. He hoped that the bus would take him there. Sally spoke to Bird: ‘Where are you going?’ Bird was confused and did not know how or what or where to answer. The bus arrived at Sally and James’s bus stop and they beckoned to Bird to hop off too. ‘Let’s take him home’ they both said together (as twins sometimes do).
It was a short walk and hop to Sally and James’ home and they were greeted by their mum. ‘Welcome home darlings, had a nice time?’ she said, and added: ‘What on earth is that?’ and waving a pointed finger.
‘That’s Bird that is,‘ was the reply, I don’t think he can fly any more. Can he live with us?’
Definitely . . . NOT! Said their mum in her very most annoyed voice.
‘Oh p-l-e-a-s-e!’ Was the twins’ chorus.? ‘Oh p-l-e-a-s-e mum!’ ‘Oh p-l-e-a-s-e, p-l-e-a-s-e mum!’
Bird guessed that it was best for him to appear his most cuddly, and preened and ruffled his feathers to look like a lovable little yellow fluffy Easter chick. But he was scrawny, shabby and rather ugly. But he did his best.
Luckily Sally and James’ mum felt sorry for Bird and said ‘Oh, alright, but only for one night.’ That evening they all settled down in front of the telly to watch a nature programme about exotic birds living in hot countries far away. Bird’s beak flopped open wide in wonderment. He definitely was not exotic and had never flown to far away countries. Afterwards they found a nice roost for Bird on top of the bannister rails, upstairs on the landing, outside the bedrooms. Bird was very tired and after a few pecks of breakfast cereal and a dip of water, tucked his head under his wing, drifted off to sleep, dreaming of flying again.
The next morning Sally and James said to Bird: ‘Would you like to come to school with us?’ Bird didn’t really know what school was but as it sounded such a nice place, hopped of his perch and followed them.
When they got to school they smuggled Bird inside, putting a school blazer over his wings. The teachers didn’t notice. They went into morning assembly and sat with the rest of their class, who all shouted at the same time: ‘Look at that bird!’
And then the teachers all noticed too, and shouted: ‘Look at that bird!’. And then the whole school shouted: ‘LOOK AT THAT BIRD!’.
The head teacher came over to Sally and James and Bird and said: ‘We have a large bird in the school, excellent! Do come to the front of the school Bird, we are very pleased to see you.’ And then she spoke to the whole school. ‘We are very lucky today to have a very special visitor. And here he is, a very large bird. And what do we always say to important visitors?
The whole school answered as one ‘Good morning Mr Bird’
Would anyone like to ask him a question?’ Said the head teacher.
The hands shot up.
And the questions followed . . .
‘Where do you live?’
‘Can you fly?’
‘Do you have any brothers or sisters?’
‘How old are you?’
‘Do you lay eggs?’
Why aren’t you pretty?’
And then something magical happened. Bird could suddenly understand some English words. Up to then he could only understand Bird language and the word bird. He had been taken to school, it was his first day and was learning already.
Although Bird couldn’t speak he made signing actions with his wings and tweets and squawks with his beak to answer the children’s questions as best he could. He enjoyed his first day at school and thought to himself: ‘I’m learning such a lot already. I wonder if the teachers can teach me to fly again?’
‘What an adventure!’ Bird thought to himself

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Coronavirus: cheer-up tips for singles and couples self-isolating at home


Get out of bed and enjoy a little exercise to get you started for the day ahead. Up one two three. Down one two three. And then . . . the other eyelid.  Wash your hands.

So you are now up and ready for your isolated day ahead, and what is better than having an argument, it gets the pulse racing, wakes the hormones and sharpens the reflexes. Wash your hands.

Breakfast: explore the corners of the fridge untouched by human hand for many months and discover something you had completely forgotten about. Wipe off the mildew and enjoy. Wash your hands.

Running low on essentials so go to the supermarket (after consulting Government guidelines) get in a social-distancing line and observe the shelves tidily labelled for items that were there once upon a time, already snapped up by wilier old birds than you. Wash your hands.

Return home with a single purchase of an item that you didn’t really want but as it was the only one left on a shelf, bought anyway. Wash your hands.

Have another argument. Under Government guidelines you are allowed two per day. Wash your hands.

Need some fresh air: turn on the tele and watch a nature programme. Wash your hands.

Go out in the garden if you are lucky to have one and make a list on a scrap of paper of things that need to be done. Return indoors, throw list in bin. Wash your hands.

Have the evening in. There is no other option.

And do not forget: wash your hands every 20 seconds.

Stay well everyone, and best wishes.




Friday, 27 March 2020

Coronavirus: cheer-up tips for singles and couples self-isolating at home

Coronavirus: cheer-up tips for singles and couples self-isolating at home


Get out of bed and enjoy a little exercise to get you started for the day ahead. Up one two three. Down one two three. And then . . . the other eyelid.  Wash your hands.

So you are now up and ready for your isolated day ahead, and what is better than having an argument, it gets the pulse racing, wakes the hormones and sharpens the reflexes. Wash your hands.

Breakfast: explore the corners of the fridge untouched by human hand for many months and discover something you had completely forgotten about. Wipe off the mildew and enjoy. Wash your hands.

Running low on essentials so go to the supermarket (after consulting Government guidelines) get in a social-distancing line and observe the shelves tidily labelled for items that were there once upon a time, already snapped up by wilier old birds than you. Wash your hands.

Return home with a single purchase of an item that you didn’t really want but as it was the only one left on a shelf, bought anyway. Wash your hands.

Have another argument. Under Government guidelines you are allowed two per day. Wash your hands.

Need some fresh air: turn on the tele and watch a nature programme. Wash your hands.

Go out in the garden if you are lucky to have one and make a list on a scrap of paper of things that need to be done. Return indoors, throw list in bin. Wash your hands.

Have the evening in. There is no other option.

And do not forget: wash your hands every 20 seconds.

Stay well everyone, and best wishes.





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Sunday, 7 April 2019

Cats' Special

CATS, CATS CATS



Domestic cats give so much enjoyment to so many. Facebook and social media posts featuring these feline creatures are numerous. I have two, now twelve years old, both rescued as kittens. Leo and Poppy. I was persuaded to take the two as I was informed that they were brother and sister and would be good company for each other. I fell for the sales pitch. But I haven’t regretted it. Brother and sister or no they just about tolerate each other, so they indeed could be. One is a home-loving cat, the other an outdoor adventurer. One stays in and doesn’t go out much, the other stays out and doesn’t stay in much. However they are both quite fussy and leave any fresh cat food that has been left out for them for more than an hour. One demands a lap and sticks like a limpet, claws imbedded deep into your skin. The other likes an occasional lap, but only for a few minutes. One accepts being heavily stroked and petted by our three-year-old granddaughter, the other can sense grandchildren ten minutes away before they arrive and disappears without trace until they have left.



 There are several cats on our block at present who venture into our Hertford garden and peep in through our patio window to check if we are about: a huge black and white bruiser who has battle scars over his face, an all-black who is wary and nervous and a large and handsome ginger. They keep to themselves and you never see more than the one at a time. If they are spied by either of our cats there is caterwauling, spitting, swearing and the occasional prize fight, followed by a trip to the vets to get patched up. One or more of these intruders is entering in the dead of night through two cat-flap barriers to finish off any leftovers in our kitchen cat bowls.
A quite recent development is our outdoor cat being attracted to my computer keyboard while I’m using it. I am a two-fingered typist but I am now creating documents with two fingers and a paw. Leo just cannot resist and if he sees me heading to my desktop, he trots along too, jumping on my lap in readiness to be creative.




NO MESSING WITH HIM!

Cats are good copy for writers and when I’ve written about our moggies of the past, in the past, cat lovers have enjoyed reading about them. The rescue cat who preceded our present two was quite a character too. Freddie the Cat: a star in his own right. He was already long in the tooth (if he had any) when we got him and we soon realised that in his previous life he had been kept indoors all the time and never seen the outside world. He had agoraphobia and when we put him outside, he would spring back as though he was connected to an elastic leash. Being used to using a litter tray and never alfresco toileting, weaning him off indoor litter trays was a problem. He would eventually perch outside in desperation on top of a garden flowerpot to do what he had to do.  He also had lost several teeth, but could still catch a mouse. It was painful for us watching him gumming one to death.

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Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Keeping up with Jones Jan 2019 and beyond



Les Misérables, Luther, The Full English, Don Mann cartoon, and much more



Keeping up with Jones No 8 Jan 2019

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Les Misérables




I must admit to not enjoying the West End musical Les Mis one little bit.  So much bad luck, so much sorrow, so much hardship, so much injustice, so much Misérables. Well, it tells in advance on the advertising hoardings that it’s going to be Les Misérables, so I should have realised the obvious and not complain. It was not an uplifting entertainment for me I’m afraid, the opposite in fact.  And it’s currently on television, not as a musical but a dramatic BBC adaptation from the book in hour-long weekly instalments of grief. However, I must admit that it is absolutely gripping television, a brilliant production. I am enjoying all the suffering immensely. Still the same bad luck, sorrow, hardship, injustice and Misérables — but I’m delighted to say that they don’t keep singing on about it.

While I am going on about show biz I shall make a probably  unpopular  comment with the ladies about actor Idris Elba and the new BBC series of Luther. Why is it incumbent on all female tv continuity announcers previewing trailers of this detective show, to verbally swoon with desire over him? He’s the biggest sex symbol ever obviously. And they could be correct. These ladies don’t actually emit aCarry On film‘Phwooor!’But it is as near as the sensors dare. No man would be allowed to comment on a female lead in the same way these days, that’s political correctness, not sexual equality, in action. But I reckon that these female announcers are given a script to read out by their promotion department and are told to  ‘swoon, swoon, swoon’and big-up Idris Elba’spersona to boost audience figures. And Idris is admittedly a very manly and handsome actor. But he does mumble. No one is perfect.


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Cat on the Keyboard
Jan 2019

Domestic cats give so much enjoyment to so many. Facebook and social media posts featuring these feline creatures are numerous. I have two, now twelve years old, both rescued as kittens. Leo and Poppy. I was persuaded to take the two as I was informed that they were brother and sister and would be good company for each other. I fell for the sales pitch. But I haven’t regretted it. Brother and sister or no they just about tolerate each other, so they indeed could be. One is a home-loving cat, the other an outdoor adventurer. One stays in and doesn’t go out much, the other stays out and doesn’t stay in much. However they are both quite fussy and leave any fresh cat food that has been left out for them for more than an hour. One demands a lap and sticks like a limpet, claws embedded deep into your skin. The other likes an occasional lap, but only for a few minutes. One accepts being heavily stroked and petted by our three-year-old granddaughter, the other can sense grandchildren ten minutes away before they arrive and disappears without trace until they have left.
There are several cats on our block at present who venture into our garden and they peep in through the patio window to check if we humans are about: a huge black and white bruiser who has battle scars all over his face, an all-black who is wary and nervous and a large and very handsome ginger. They all keep to themselves and you never see more than the one at a time. If they are spied by either of our cats there is caterwauling, spitting, swearing and the occasional prize fight, followed by a trip to the vets to get patched up. One or more of these intruders is entering in the dead of night through two cat flap barriers to finish off any food left in our kitchen cat bowls.
A quite recent development is outdoor cat being attracted to my computer keyboard while I’m using it. I am a two-fingered typist but I am now creating documents with two fingers and a paw. Leo just cannot resist and if he sees me heading to my desktop, he trots along too, jumping on my lap in readiness to be creative.
Cats are good copy for writers and when I’ve written about our moggies of the past, in the past, cat lovers have enjoyed reading about them. The rescue cat who preceded our present two was quite a character too. Freddie the Cat: a star in his own right. He was already long in the tooth (if he had any) when we got him and we soon realised that in his previous life he had been kept indoors all the time and never seen the outside world. He had agoraphobia and when we put him outside, he would spring back as though he was connected to an elastic leash. Being used to using a litter tray and never alfresco toileting, weaning him off indoor litter trays was a problem. He would eventually perch outside in desperation on top of a garden flowerpot to do what he had to do. He also had lost several teeth, but could still catch a mouse, it was painful for us watching him gumming one to death.




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