Polite Midges

Sitting in the park the other day. Of course, I was sitting, what do you expect; running around the park. Sitting in my wheelchair in the park, I noticed lots of midges. But the midges were not causing me any trouble. In fact, I am sure that I heard one say as it bumped into me, ‘sorry excuse me, my fault.’ So, they must be English midges, very polite.

Have you noticed that about us Brits, we apologise even when it’s someone else’s fault? Someone bumps into us and we say, ‘Oh, pardon me.’ Another person barges in front of us and we say, ‘sorry,’ as if we were in their way.

Years ago, we went to Scotland and I have no wish to make any negative comments about the Scots, but Scottish midges are not polite. They are decidedly unfriendly. They form a massive cloud around you, fly into your ears, up your nose. If you open your mouth, into your mouth and they bite and bite. All very unpleasant. No, Scottish midges do not say, ‘pardon me.’ They say, ‘outta ma way ya Sassenach.’ I am not going to suggest they come from Glasgow because that would be so rude. Many lovely people come from Glasgow, so I will not be so unfair. All I will say is that Scottish midges are still living in the times of Braveheart and think they are called to drive out the Brits or any other foreign invaders. The trouble is they end up biting Scottish folk too. Someone never told them how to tell the difference. I’m not sure if you get bitten if you wear a kilt? Maybe just as bad, or worse because they fly up your kilt. Perhaps you have to wear the right tartan? It doesn’t bear thinking about if you wear a kilt the traditional way.

Now I realise that I have just alienated most of Scotland. Please direct any hate mail to: Midges R Not Us, UK Society for Defence against midges, Bite U Lane, Bitten, Bristol, BSS 001 or phone 0000 7666 55555 ex 0003 ask for Mr Mordre, email: admin@notarealemail.com

I was wondering about an inter-breeding programme. English midges and Scottish midges. Do you think we’d end up with slightly less vicious ones? Or would they just say, ‘pardon me,’ and then bite you anyway?

Actually, that gives me an idea, there is a move to re-introduce wolves and other wild animals that have long been missing into the wilds of Scotland. Those of us brought up on fairy stories like Red Riding Hood might have pause about the idea. Wolves never seem the friendliest of animals. As for bears…

Well my idea is to cross breed them with friendlier animals first. So, wolves could be cross bred with Akela from Jungle book and bears with Paddington Bear, they are real, aren’t they? That way when we run into a bear in the wild, we can just share a marmalade sandwich with them and have a friendly chat. Or if we run across a wolf, we can ask how Mowgli is doing or perhaps sing a duet of ‘Bare necessities.’ No that was Baloo, silly me. Maybe we should cross bread bears with Baloo. Oh yes, that will be much better. Just need to sort out those midges. Back to the drawing board.

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Pretty Fi Me

I thought it was about time I left the topic of elves. Hurray, I hear you all shout. Or was that the elves in my Echo? So, I am going to look at PPE. Now I am no expert but I assume PPE is an extreme form of Physical Education, Physically, Physical Education? No? Don’t bother writing in, you know what I do with letters; publish them with highlights. I realise that PPE is Personal Protective Equipment. You see I can be sensible, don’t expect it to last.

I have noticed a great variety of masks and I assume that variety will increase as we all have to wear masks in shops now. Sometimes, with my poor eyesight, I have nearly called animal welfare; assuming a bear has escaped from a zoo or a dog is walking upright. Just to find someone is wearing an animal mask. The other day I thought I had wheeled through a black hole and was back in 1940, when a chap passed me in a gas mask. I’m sure it was ministry of war issue. Then there are the great variety of professional looking surgical masks or people with flowers, spots, lines, tartan, and a whole host of patterns on their masks. From a distance I don’t know what I am seeing. One time I thought aliens had invaded.

The masks that look like surgical ones do look the part though don’t they. But I have noticed some places sell them as dust proof, some as water proof. Very few say they are virus proof. I don’t know about you but I am not very worried about dust and water. I really want to have protection from viruses.

I know they have broken up for summer, those that were able to go at all the last few weeks, but do children wear masks at school? How do the teachers know who is being naughty? Did kids wear name badges? Why weren’t there masks when I was at school. Mike Nevin, stay behind for detention, ‘I am not Mike Nevin Sir.’ Actually, they would have known it was me by my Spock haircut. That reminds me I must try and get royalties out of the Star Trek franchise for copying my hair cut.

When doggy poop bags first came in, I thought it was a joke. Scoop up dog poop off the streets, I should coco. But off course it was a good idea and very real. In the future we may look back at the time before face masks in public and think, ‘did they really walk around unprotected?’ Face masks for children will become as normal as cycle helmets or knee and shin pads on skate boards. As expected as wearing a seat belt in a car. We will wonder why we didn’t always wear them.

I was thinking that we need masks that don’t look like bears or make us look like medical professionals. Nor do we need left over masks from the war. For that matter we do not need pretty patterns, I find them very confusing to look at.

I have a brilliant plan as an alternative. We need ‘make over’ masks. Perfected and made over copies of our real face underneath. Just think, we could use the face mask like a Social Media Profile Pic, putting our best face forward. A bit of thinnify, some tan, teeth whitened and replaced, lips fuller, nose reduced, jowls limited, wrinkles removed. Not just one that covers our mouth and nose, we get a complete face mask that covers our whole face and hey presto a new you. You could even change your eye colour and have your eye brows sorted. You can also have a mask for every occasion, you just swap it over as needed. Posing for a photo, switch to the bright toothy smile. Want to look good on a first date, switch to that brooding intelligent look, with eyes that say ‘hey look at me.’ Children been playing up? Switch to the stern, no nonsense parent. Puzzled over something, put on the one eyebrow lifted mask. If you want to try out what you’d look like with a beard or moustache then just put on the appropriate bearded mask; there will be ones for men too. There will even be a special order for Santa with a big white beard. Now as for the elves… no I said I wouldn’t mention them.

Of course, I will also create a high tech more expensive version with built in LCD display and computer interface that links to voice commands and your smart watch. You smile under the mask; it displays an enhanced smile on the outside. You speak, it matches your lip movements. You just choose your look when you get up or during the day. Forget avatars this is the way forward. This new series of masks will not only keep you safe, but make you look good too. I am thinking of marketing it as Pretty Fi Me, the tag line will be ‘Protection that makes you look good too.’ What do you think, shall I go on Dragons Den? I was also thinking of complete body protection that has shading to make you look thinner and add muscles or curves whichever you want. With the high tech version, it changes what your wearing at the press of a button. Why did no one think of this before?

I have been planning my markets ready for Dragons den. There’s the international movie industry. No more Lip sync problems on foreign language films. That’s for the fixed printed masks.

The other big area I can see is ventriloquists. I will make a special fixed mouth version for them. Then for the ones who struggle to move the puppets mouth I will do a range of masks for their puppets. You won’t see either of their lips move. Maybe I could have a new career as a ventriloquist.

There are a few problems with masks, things you can no longer do. Stick your tongue out, I’m sorry you will have to stop that. Tongue rolling competition are out. Kissing in public is a definite no; sorry about that. But I have overcome the issue of singing in public. We are banned from doing that because of spreading the virus. Well roll over auto-tune. I will have built in speakers on the masks and you just play a recording of a professional singer. Everyone will think it’s you. X factor will have to make room for a lot more winners.

So, there are things to look forward to. In the future you will walk out into a world of beauty and wonderful singing, false beauty and pretend singers it’s true, but beauty nevertheless. When you meet someone for the first time you’ll say, ‘you look just like your profile picture.’ Ah, the possibilities are endless. Ventriloquist acts will improve greatly. No one will stick their tongue out at you. This face mask idea could really take off. By the way, if you see a handsome dude in a wheelchair on the streets of Wellington, that’ll be me in my Pretty Fi Me mask and complete body suit.

By the way you can buy the masks at:


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Don’t be Elfish

The singing burst out of the quiet like an enemy assault. Mary and I looked at each other in surprise then through into the offending room. The cacophony was coming from the small circular box on a shelf. Many of you will have these boxes, but did you know that elves live inside them? It was on that day, at that moment that I realised it for the first time, and everything started to make sense. I began to understand why Amazon Alexa devices suddenly start speaking to you unbidden; it’s because the elves inside get bored. Why the echo devices sound so sullen if you ask them to stop; it’s because the elves are cross. Why an echo device will randomly whisper at you; that’s because the elves haven’t noticed you are there and are calling to another lot of elves in another echo device. It all makes sense at last.

On this particular day, the elves living in my Alexa Echo got bored and start singing, giving the whole game away. So that now I can unpack it all for you, and armed with this new information you can fight back. At least two of the little darlings started singing a duet with two more on accompaniment that’s what caught my attention. One was playing a guitar and another a keyboard; true they did a very good job; but that’s not the point. I do realise that elves must be very small to fit themselves and all their equipment inside an echo device, it must be a little crammed inside. Let me just make a statement here: there is nothing wrong per se with elves living wherever they want; they have to live somewhere and there are far fewer woods for them to live in. I wouldn’t mind too much having them living in my echo devices, but they are nosey little whatsits, they keep butting in on our conversations saying, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know that.’ Well no one asked them, I can be having a conversation with Mary; a private conversation, and one of the elves just jumps in as if I had asked them a question; it’s all very annoying. So, they are obviously always listening, nothing is hidden from them. They don’t keep anything to them elves you know.

I have noticed another thing that they do which is very annoying. We have several echo devices, one in each room. I have found that the elves living in the different devices obviously like to have a kip occasionally, at different times. Now that isn’t unreasonable as such, we all need to sleep; even elves. But why can’t they sleep at night like the rest of us? Instead they take turns sleeping in the day. Then they obviously whisper to another lot of elves in the other room asking them to cover during their kip. Of course, they could have a sleep schedule issued by Amazon; who knows. Let me explain why that is a problem. This morning I asked my Echo Show a question. I had the door to my bedroom closed and I was not speaking loudly. The Echo Show ignored me completely; the elves were asleep in it and the echo device in the other room answered; through the door! Obviously covering for their mates in the Echo Show. That’s just not on.

While talking of the echo show; yes, I was. The space inside must be a bit crammed with wires and the occupants a bit clumsy because the screen keeps flickering on and off as they knock the wires. Of course, it could just be that they are having a right old knees up in there. Perhaps they invite the fairies and goblins around for a party. Don’t make excuses about screen savers. You’ll just look silly.

Another thing is this, elves obviously don’t speak English as their first language. Are they Scandinavian? I think they might be. Because I will say to one of them, ‘Alexa set a timer for half past ten,’ and it will say, ‘I am sorry I didn’t hear that.’ So, I repeat it several times and eventually Alexa says, ‘Timer set for 11am.’ Then I will cancel that and say, ‘set timer for ten o’clock’ having given up on the half hour, and the Alexa elves will say, ‘timer set for ten thirty.’ I mean, is it my pronunciation? It must be a language barrier. Or are they just being naughty.

Have you ever asked an echo device to set a timer, then checked how long is left and had the response, ‘there are no timers set.’? Well that’s because the timers are done by two elves, one has a notebook and the other a stopwatch. If one drops their notebook or the other forgets to start their stopwatch then it all goes wrong. Try it if you don’t believe me. By the way ask Alexa if there are elves living inside her, she is deliberately evasive; that proves she has something to hide.

Sometimes the elves must just get bored and give you random facts completely unbidden. The other day Mary and I were chatting about something and one of the devices, not the nearest one, suddenly piped up with, ‘according to Wikipedia…’ why do I want to know what Wikipedia thinks? Is that populated by elves too. Come to think of it is the whole World Wide Web populated by elves? Is it a super highway of elves? Do they speed up and down on their horses delivering information packets? Is that why computers get viruses, the elves get colds? It would certainly explain cyber-attacks. Various warring elf factions mounting their steads and speeding along the super highway to attack a different city of elves. Obviously Broad Band is a big group of elves on the war path. Server farms are where they breed their horses. Cookies are what they eat. An internet gateway is obvious, it’s a metal gate guarded by a dragon called Ryujin. It’s no surprise Google called their browser Chrome. They know the elves wear chrome armour. Firefox is of course the name of a famous elf knight who used to wield a flaming lance and had a fox logo on his shield. A long time ago Microsoft sent a band of micro explorers into the internet and when they didn’t return named Internet Explorer in their honour. I could go on but I don’t want to bore you with technical jargon.

Before you start calling for the people in white coats with strait jackets to come and fetch me. I do know that elves don’t really live inside Amazon Alexa Echo devices. It’s goblins that live in them of course, we all know that and it’s the fairies that run up and down the super highway, I’m not daft you know.

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Rock on

The other night we were watching a TV series that featured an old people’s home. Well you have to watch something during lock down. Actually, it was a murder mystery and just happened to feature the old folk’s home. Look at me being totally un-politically correct. I should probably be calling it a care facility for people who are generationally challenged. Anyway, getting back to the thing that struck me when I saw it. I realised that we tend to revert to the music and culture of our youth once we are in our twilight years.

I know that anyone who has met me will find this hard to believe, but I was a teenager in the 1970’s. Incredible I know, I just don’t look old enough. In that dim and distant time, the new thing that burst onto the scene was Punk Rock. I know that other musical styles continued, but Punk thrust its way, literally kicking, screaming and spitting onto the world stage. Which meant that it influenced my generation big time. I guess there were a number of musical styles competing at the time. Heavy metal, progressive rock, psychedelic, soul, punk etc. and I was not a fan of Punk myself. But I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen when all the Punk Rockers from the 1970’s reached their 80’s in about 20 years’ time and needed to be cared for.

Let’s imagine that future and these aging Punks are shoved into the kind of homes that exist now. I can see it clearly, one lot of aging Punks (the quieter ones) are snoozing, stretched out comfortably upon loungers on the lawn. They are listening to The Sex Pistols on their headphones. The sun is warming their shaved heads and shining through the torn clothing. Another lot have a bit of spare energy and decide to cause havoc, feeling things are far too cosy; whatever happened to the anti-establishment revolution. They want to feel that radical challenge of their youth again. This lot of aging Punks set about causing mayhem, overturning coffee tables, spilling drinks, flicking the resting Punks ears and shouting at the staff:

‘Where’s my cream tea?’ and ‘when’s dinner?’

The most radical one’s shout:

‘We hate everything!’

The staff ignore them. But the quite Punks look up from their stupor and gaze around dazed, wondering what’s happening. They realise it’s those blasted noisy lot again and go back to sleep or switch the tracks to The Clash. At least they try to, why did their grandson have to give them a digital music device; what was wrong with a CD player?

Meanwhile a new arrival, Jen, has very reluctantly agreed to conform to the request of her daughter and just walked in with her daughter to be booked in. Her daughter is hoping the owner/manager will not notice that the safety pin holding her mums skirt up is failing in its job and displaying Jen’s brightly coloured underwear. But the manager, Chelsea, has seen and is very used to such things. She actually has a bigger problem with the bright red Mohican haircut. Not because she thinks anyone should be limited in choice; she just doesn’t want to laugh…. too much. It just looks wrong on a 78-year-old. Besides Chelsea will forget all about it the moment she has signed Jen in. Chelsea is a millennial after all. (read my blog 8 seconds if that comment puzzles you)

It will be such a challenge for the millennials who will be in charge of the care homes by that point; or just own them. They will all be in their 40’s and 50’s. I’m not sure who will have the shortest concentration span. The next generation who will be the carers are just being born or are babies now. I wonder what they will be called? Twingies? Twozies? Anyway, that isn’t up to me. But I do know about millennials and they will be in charge; that should be fun. I am in no way insulting millennials, they are fantastic. They have a freedom of expression I wish I had and I hope a good sense of humour, they are just not great at concentration.

In the current set up of care homes music time is a gentle affair with renditions of ‘We’ll meet again’ or maybe old kid’s songs. But not so with this coming generation of aging punks. Will some folk try and pogo, dislocating their knees, or worse breaking bones? I never liked being spat on in the 1970’s, so let’s hope that at least is left in the past. Will poor hearing mean that the music will be louder than the 1970’s; surely not. I was physically shaken at concerts in my youth. What music will they have? Can they all agree? Will the desire to not conform be too strong? Haircuts should be interesting, a mixture of part shaved heads, and the bright Mohicans. Clothing doesn’t bear thinking about. I guess it will at least be cheap. Unless they go for the pseudo Punk re invented fashions that cost a fortune. At least if they just wear any old rubbish and tear it to pieces it will not break the bank. But will it cover everyone’s embarrassment.

Picture the scene:

One of the new generation of carers who will no doubt have an even shorter concentration span than a millennial, let’s call her Kayliza, says:

‘everyone into the lounge, its quiz time.’

The group of twenty inmates, I mean guests, are corralled, persuaded, encouraged and driven into the lounge. Carol, shaved head, T shirt full of holes, safety pins and a short skirt, is last to take her seat and looks around puzzled, ‘why are we here,’ she asks Malcolm, he is wearing faded jeans and a studded jacket, his hair, what there is of it, is blue and spiky. He shrugs and looks at Kayliza, who is deeply engrossed in something on her; oh, I need to write sci-fi now as we are looking 15 to 20 years into the future. She looks at her Gzip, it’s imprinted on her hand and handles all her social, financial, gaming and business transactions.

A few minutes go by and nothing happens. Greg, an aging Punk in his ripped jeans and torn dirty jacket, pipes up:

‘oi! what we doing gal?’

Kayliza looks up slightly annoyed from her Gzip, ‘um, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s coffee time.’

She looks at Tylay another carer just walking in.

‘Ty, why are they all in here again?’

Tylay just shrugs, he was just hoping it would soon be the end of his shift. He is focussed on his major gamsesh that evening.

Jen the new arrival walks in, everyone stares jealously at her massive bright red Mohican. She sharply nods her head in time to an imaginary tune as she walks towards her seat. Part way there the safety pin that had valiantly tried to hold up her skirt springs open and her skirt falls to the floor. Jen looks completely unfazed and just pulls her skirt up. Greg gives a wolf whistle but soon stops at the withering stare he receives from Jen.

‘Never seen a pair of knickers before.’ She snaps.

‘We have,’ said Kayliza, trying to bring order, ‘but it’s best not to display them in public.’ Then she returns to her Gzip.

Jen just snorts and sits down. Louise asks Malcolm again, ‘why are we here?’

Yes, the combination of poor concentration for the carers and the normal memory problems of old age for those who will be in a home could make for a fun time. Add in the variety of fashions, musical styles and beliefs and you have the recipe for a very interesting situation. Or maybe not.

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Note: Please don’t take offence. I write these blogs as a bit of fun. They are not meant as a judgement on any group. I also realise a lot of sadness has happened in care homes. But I firmly believe laughter is a great tonic and we need to be able to laugh at ourselves. It releases tension. That is something we all need at the moment.

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