Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Dogs' Blog for Christmas

Bob's Blog

Dogs' Blog for Christmas 

Here’s a festive tip: even pets enjoy Christmas and look forward to their presents. But when you go to your family party, don’t leave any package unattended that could be mistaken for a present by your dog, for your dog, because your dog may well celebrate with his own party in your absence. So, do not leave a large plastic rubbish bag full of kitchen waste unopened in your kitchen overnight if you keep a festive dog in your kitchen overnight. To you it’s trash. To him it’s lucky dip. On you return you will find an emptied plastic rubbish bag devoid of all its kitchen waste and an extremely full, festive dog. The kitchen floor will be littered by empty cans with jagged lids, gleaming in the light; empty plastic spread and yoghurt cartons licked spotless; see-through plastic wrappers sucked into soggy balls; cardboard packaging shredded into neat two-inch squares and tea bags scattered liberally over the floor. And curled up making a horrible smell in the corner? Your very contented, and extremely full, festive dog.

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Saturday, 12 December 2015

Recycle for Christmas

Bob's Blog

Recycle for Christmas

I'm striving for a recycling Christmas this year. My motto: Recycle for Jesus. And I'm sure that Jesus would approve. I'm going to do my bit to save the planet, and it's all going to start in the nearest place I have to heaven - my loft.

My loft is the place where my unwanted things accumulate. My loft is a boom to hoarders like myself. It consists of boxes labelled ‘XMAS DECS’, boxes of toys going back to the neolithic period when my kiddies were smaller, poorer and slower witted than me. It consists of surplus chairs that are only needed at Christmas and New Year when relatives swarm around our festive table. It consists of boxes of books that I’ve promised myself to read but forgotten where I’ve put them. And it consists of mysterious bundles of I know not what – all unjustifiably labelled ‘junk’ by my wife. Car Boot sales have tempted, but I have always taken the easy route up the rickety staircase to Hoarding Heaven and dumped my annual surplus where the Sun don’t shine.

So this year I decided to utilise my bulging storeroom in the sky and reduce its contents before the ceilings of my upstairs rooms sagged under their cumulative weight – and save the Planet. So if you are a close friend or a relative, I hope that you were not offended to receive from me a dusty but once loved item of bric-a-brac for Christmas wrapped up in a dog-eared sheet of wallpaper circa 1970 – it was for the good of mankind.

The following are jottings written down during my loft-exploration process:

10.00 am.
I have just returned from an exploratory mission through the hatch to my loft. I am a little cold, but elated. Don’t bother taking your little ones to see the latest Disney classics, my attic is even more wondrous and amazing; and tickets to view will be marginally cheaper too.

1.00 pm.
I have now retrieved and sifted through several boxes of Christmas decorations and spent an enjoyable few hours reassembling our 100-piece Christmas tree that more aptly ought to have been labelled ‘100-Piece Xmas Monkey Puzzle Tree (Rather wobbly. Two bits missing.)’. No problem, the bald patch can face the wall. ‘Never throw away your Xmas lights: even if some of the bulbs don’t work, you can always cannibalise them and mix and match.’ What idiot said that? You never can of course, no two sets are compatible, but if a few bulbs don’t light up – who will realise, or care.

3.00 pm.
No shelf, hook or bare surface in the house is safe. Our Christmas tree fairy is somewhat bedraggled and looks like she’s just returned from an all-night party. Cuddly toys, candles, silver stars, baubles compete for attention and our accumulation of ornamental Father Christmases smile down at us in chronological order.

4.00 pm.
I’ve just found a bag bulging with party poppers; part of a cheapo job lot no doubt and no guarantee. I wonder if they will still pop?

All done! It’s time to relax. The tree lights are glimmering and the freebee ‘jingle bells’ CD from the newspaper is jangling. And what’s more, this year, the Joneses are looking forward to a merry Christmas and a happy New Year without wasting the World’s diminishing resources.

I have indeed recycled for Jesus. And I hope God will be pleased.

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Friday, 4 December 2015

Sign language for Mumblers

Bob's Blog

Sign Language for Mumblers

You sit in front of your tele, or at the cinema enjoying a film, only to suffer an actor's mumble, or actors' mumbles. You cannot understand a sentence or particular word. It spoils the enjoyment. If you are at home and have the benefit of a remote with a rewind, you may listen again, and again, and again. This infrequently clarifies the diction or annotation and you remain clueless, while losing the plot.

Some actors are renown mumblers and some productions have a claim to fame due to their unintelligible dialogue. In the UK, BBC Television drama Jamaica Inn would probably be our Oscar or TV Emmy nomination for Best Mumblers, Best Mumble and Most Mumbled production. Almost no viewers could understand the mumbled cod West County accents in Jamaica Inn. Subtitles were suggested by viewers, and they were English speakers too! For actors, a generic West Country English is arguably the easiest British accent to mimic. Just listen to Pirates of the Caribbean with Johnny Depp and his crew. But Johnny is a renown mumbler. He gets away with it. He's taken mumbling and made into an art form, and he remains very popular, even if we cannot understand a word.  

But there is a way of solving the problem. If you are lucky to have good hearing, seeing that animated person gesticulating in the corner of the TV screen signing for viewers with impaired hearing can be distracting. But the hard of hearing don't miss a thing. They don't miss one word of a conversation. They never lose the plot.

I have friends who sign and it can prove very liberating to have this skill - hard or hearing or not. So that's the answer: learn Signing. Never grumble about a mumble again.

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