Children's Books & Writing Stories Once upon a time...  Children's Books & Writing Stories Once upon a time...


A daily thought in 100 words or less





Snowdrops have finally bloomed in our garden, a month later than 2016. The weather is certainly not to blame. Seventy years ago, January 1947, the coldest nights ever were recorded. On 29th/30th Elmstone (Kent) dipped to -21.3C.


Times were tough. Britain was war weary. Treasury coffers were empty and coal stocks low. Newly nationalised mines joined railways, road haulage and utilities. And then so much snow fell cutting off hundreds of remote Northern farms/villages with 20-foot snowdrifts. A12-hour south coast blizzard halted shippin. Essex experienced 14 foot drifts and millions of Surrey’s commuters had to stay home. The rail network collapsed completely, and at -9C London saw its lowest 50 year temperature.


Most people faced freezing evenings without lights and heating.


Roads were shut. No electricity for industry meant two million people were put on the dole. Stocks of coal were frozen solid, while snowdrifts cut-off 75,000 coal filled railway wagons.


But there was no panic/disorder. The British national character dealt with it. Children loved the weather: And even though shops ran out of soap and pneumatic drills were needed to dig up frozen parsnips, celebrities still drew huge crowds, like Laurel & Hardy’s autograph hunters outside Trafalgar Square’s cinema.



Desert Island Discs (Radio 4) was first broadcast 29th January 1942, 75 years ago. Oh, to be a guest.

My choices:


1              Morning Dew - Tim Rose

2              Sound of Silence - Disturbed

3              Teenage Kicks - Undertones

4              Better Move On - Arthur Alexander

5              Stand By Me - John Lennon

6              Words - Rita Coolidge

7              2 Times - Ann Lee

8              Purple Haze - The Kennedy Experience



                I Am I Said - Neil Diamond

                In Dreams - Roy Orbison


Book:     Top 40 Charts Paul Gambucini


Luxury item: Pen & paper (Does that count as two)



Chinese New Year’s day today, The year of Fire Rooster as was 1957 (happiest year on record).


The festival lasts  23 days and includes, lion dances, dragon dances, fireworks, family gathering/meals, giving red envelopes, decorating with chunlian.


Over this weekend millions of people will give each other cash-filled red envelopes, called hongbao in Mandarin. Over the six-day Chinese Spring Festival period last year, 516 million people sent and received 32 billion digital red envelopes. But this year, a record 100 billion of these red envelopes are expected to be digitally sent online through services such as Tencent's WeChat, via smartphone.



Newspapers today seem to report more research papers than news. I discussed the happiness and 1957 research. The Daily Mail obviously feels readers are desperately seeking happiness reporting researchers have found naked people are the happiest people. Again, I question this research saying, “No one asked me.”  If I shed my clothes I am the opposite to happy. Have you seen my naked body? No, no one has. And you wouldn’t want to. And please do not try to imagine it. It is not a pretty sight. Where did they do their research, a nudist camp?


On Sunday evenings and New Year’s Eve I traditionally think: I wonder what this week/year will bring. I know by the following Sunday/New Year’s Eve life will have happened and will be different. There will be so many things I didn’t expect or know that was going to happen. Although I am a positive person I do find the week’s unexpected stuff is usually problems which ultimately pass. Never any fantastic surprises, like winning the lottery (probably because I do not do it). This week has been worse than most weeks. But it will pass adding to life’s rich tapestry.


The IT Crowd, TV programme, created by Graham Linehan, starring: Chris O'Dowd, Richard Ayoade, Katherine Parkinson and Matt Berry (24 episodes plus 1 special), made famous the “Turn it off and turn it back on again” for computer problems. It works every time on everything, TV, phone, etc. I was once on a broken down Nottingham tram. The driver radioed base and the advice came back “Turn it off and turn it back on again” and it worked. I just wonder if the time has come to “Turn America off and then back on again” or indeed the whole world.


The Daily Mail says researchers found1957 is the happiest year on record.  But it’s very subjective. 1957 is the most unhappiest year of my life to date. My dad, who I idolised, left us never to be heard of again until 2014.  Numerous health issues began including the start of seven years of weekly injections, a tooth extraction and horror upon horrors, I had to wear NHS glasses, (Not easy for a kid. Freaky). It’s like pollsters consistently getting it wrong and we say: “Hardly surprising. No one asked me.” Hands up who’s been asked what their happiest year was?




Lee Mack is one of today’s best comedians. We’ve seen him live. I didn’t hear much with the Concert Hall acoustics and Lee’s fast talking. But caught it later on TV where I could hear his brilliance.

We enjoy “Not Going Out”, the flat sharing sit-com with him and Kate (Megan Dodds). I questioned the writing as the main character’s name is Lee. No imagination used by the writers there, then. But I still enjoyed it in a luke warm way.


We missed series 7 and just watched Series 8, Episode 2

But in two years Lee and Kate have gone from being flat sharing friends to being married with children. They married in Series 7 and in the 2015 Christmas Special, Lucy gave birth to their first child. In the eighth series, which is set seven years after the 2015 Christmas Special Lee and Lucy have been married for eight years, and have three children, Charlie (7) and  Benji and Molly (twins 5).

But Episode 2 – Babysitting is fantastically funny. A sitcom classic. If you are a parent, grandparent, or child you’ll relate to it. Sheer brilliance.

(Started 6 October 2006: 8 series and 2 Specials, 56 episodes)



Allegedly, the Queen makes a point of going to her room at 17.15 every day to put on her TV and watch ‘Pointless’. Hasn’t someone told her that with i-player she can watch it any time, perfect for a busy lady.  I hope she doesn’t think she rules a nation of Pointless obsessive subjects. When I collect my knighthood I don’t want her assuming I want to chat about Pointless. I don’t understand it, finding it ‘pointless’ and ma’am, I’m sorry but don’t change the subject to football and the offside rule, again, I don’t understand it finding it ‘pointless’.



“Jackie” the film about the life of  Jackie Onasis, the wife of President Kennedy has its UK release today. Last year a musical named “Jackie” but about the ‘70s girls comic/magazine toured the UK. My wife thought they were both about Jackie Onasis. Can you imagine her disappointment if she’d gone to see the musical: “Well, I didn’t think much to that. Her husband being assassinated was not included and I never knew David Cassidy featured so much in her life. Also I thought she was admired and noted as a  fashion icon but the fashion was awful.”


18th & 19th JANUARY 2017

Today I cover two days  x 100 words because what I need to say about this book I cannot say in 100 words.

The following extract is from the back cover of  “The Travelling Bag and other Ghostly Stories” by Susan Hill:

‘I watched as he went to the mirror, undid his black tie and took the studs out of his collar. He then went to the travelling bag and put it down on the table. It was at this exact point that there crept over me a sense of claustrophobia, and an increasing fear which made me sit back in my chair…

… I watched the man open the travelling bag by the top clasp. As the two sides spread wide, I caught my breath in horror…’

Susan Hill is a fantastic writer. Everyone must know “Woman In Black”. But these notes on the back of her of another of her books are the best I have ever seen on any cover of any book. They so draw you into the book. You cannot read those words and not want to read the full story. Please excuse the double negative. And the book lives up to it too. Amazing.


Oxfam report that the world's eight richest individuals have as much wealth as the 3.6bn poorest people making up half of the world.


Mark Littlewood, (Institute of Economic Affairs), said Oxfam should focus on ways to boost growth to eradicate poverty completely.


Ben Southwood, (Adam Smith Institute), says forget the wealth of the world's rich and look at the welfare of the world's poor, which improves every year.


Each year Oxfam's wealth statistics mislead. The data from Forbes and the annual Credit Suisse Global Wealth datebook, giving the distribution of global wealth, totalling an individual's assets, excluding income, is fine but the interpretation is not.




At the moment I enjoy the TV programme ‘Still Open All These Hours’, I do fear it is the ‘Last Of The Summer Wine’ of our time. It fits comfortably into that early Sunday evening slot, as you cling to the weekend and get that horrible gut wrenching feeling as you think “Monday tomorrow”. The plots, about old people trying to get a laugh from life, are uncomplicated and repetitive. How does the shop survive though, with its enormous stock and only a handful of customers? I suppose we only see it Sundays may be weekdays are busier.



Germany doctors have told people to walk like a penguin to avoid slipping on pavements in icy weather. They said this involves leaning forward placing the centre of gravity on the front leg. When humans walk normally, body weight is split evenly over both legs, which increases the risk of losing balance and falling on slippery surfaces.


So let’s do it. Shuffle along, children between our legs. Look at the advantages: a funnier world with hilarious people watching  and  no A&E queues as no broken bones but funeral directors would be more busy as so many of us die laughing.




When 17-year-old Ivy Close won the first nationwide beauty competition her prize included a new Rover motorcar and her portrait painted by Sir Arthur Hacker to be exhibited at the London, Royal Academy. The picture also featured on the front page of the  4 May 1908 Daily Mirror - which ran the contest. The painting been restored and hangs in the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull.


"She was the first British beauty queen,” says her great-grandson Gareth Neame, the TV producer who gave us Downton Abbey and made Hollow Crown and Hotel Babylon.


She also won a competition between the British winner and the US winner, becoming the first Miss World.


Her film debut two years later, directed by her husband and filmed in their house, when she played a model posing as figures from famous paintings. She went on to star in a long list of films setting up her own production company, as actresses did in the silent era.


She went to America in 1917 to be in the movies, long before Hollywood, joining Oliver Hardy and a company of actors in Florida, which was a centre of film-making. Close's films included the 1923 French epic La Roue.




On 31st December 2015 we walked to Newstead Abbey and saw hundreds of snowdrops in flower.  Later snowdrops flowered in our garden too. I had never seen them that early. This year that is not the case. It’s 12th January and no sign of them at Newstead or my garden. To see snowdrops is so uplifting. It indicates Spring is on its way. Traditionally snowdrops flower in February, a month you start to feel better, going from January’s 50 hours of sunshine to February’s 71 hours.  Enjoy Snowdrop Walks like Hodsock Priory, Blyth -  4th February till 5th March


The scoop of the 20th Century was attributed to Clare Hollingworth, OBE (10 October 1911 – 10 January 2017) who died yesterday aged 105. She was an English journalist and author, who was the first war correspondent to report the outbreak of World War II, described as "the scoop of the century". As a reporter for The Daily Telegraph in 1939, while travelling from Poland to Germany she spotted and reported German forces massed on the Polish border; three days later she was the first to report the German invasion of Poland.



The Financial Times reports that a box at London's Royal Albert Hall is on the market for the first time in a decade - priced £2.5m. It seats 12 and is close to the royal box. Apparently the owner will have the right to attend  two-thirds of  RAH events . The Times says some of the hall's supporters are irked that  the money will go to the box's owner, and none to the venue reigniting the controversy  whether  the RAH, a charity, should allow seat owners to make hundreds of thousands of pounds a year selling performance tickets  online.


I, like most people don’t like Mondays.  The days of the week improve as you go through them. Thursday’s alright, Friday, excellent and Saturday and Sunday fantastic. But it makes sense. God made the world in seven days. Sunday was the seventh, his special last day. Therefore, his first must have been Monday. God is perfection but it shows he’s just like us. First day he made, Monday, turned out rubbish. But by Saturday he’d got the hang of it, making brilliant days.  He just needed to go back and tweak Monday a little, making it more like Saturday.

Sunday 8th January 2017

Johnny Cash was one of the most influential and best-selling musical artistes of all time, with 90 million+  records sold worldwide. He was a songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author. He was one, of four sons and three daughters. His brother Jack died, aged 15, in May 1944, when he was pulled into a whirling head saw at the mill where he worked. He was almost cut in two dying a week later.  Johnny, his mother, and Jack himself, all had premonitions about that day, causing his mother to urge Jack to skip work and go fishing . Sadly he didn’t.


My wife is purely, magical. I spend hours searching for missing items: books, pens, sugar, shirts, shoes, and paracetamols. Reluctantly, I give up and ask her. Always, always, always, she goes to where I was looking and as if by magic produces the lost item. Like the hat I searched for for three months which she found in seconds of me finally plucking up courage to ask her. I have two theories:

  1. She has more magical capabilities than Harry Potter, Sooty, Paul Daniels and Tommy Cooper put together.

  2. She knows exactly where she put the item when tidying up.


On this superb, sunny, hoare frost tinted, winter’s day, like everyone and his/her dog/cat, after the indulgences of Christmas, I am working hard at getting healthy. That involves a 6.2 mile, 2 ¼ hour walk to Newstead Abbey, 3 times weekly. Today, I started out before it was properly light. Afterwards I felt fantastically healthy. We went to Bakewell for lunch. I had a fish finger sandwich – on malt bread to make it healthy and to follow: a huge piece of ginger cake with oodles of fresh cream. I didn’t check but I’m sure the cake was diabetic friendly.

Wednesday 4th January 2017

Today schools start back after the Christmas holiday, which means the end of an era but looking at it positively the start of a brand new one.

My daughter starts back to work today after nine months of maternity leave. My grandson at nine months old now goes out into the world, to nursery to join his sister, for two days a week. The sad thing is that those treasured days for mum and son will be interspersed with work commitment. But life is constantly moving on and this new era will bring its own excitement, rewards and new inspirations

Tuesday 3rd January 2017

As I look around me we seem to be the only house still with the Christmas tree lights shining. Not because we are like some who leave our Christmas tree up until mid Summer’s Day and then chop it up for barbeque fuel as we are out of charcoal because we can’t be bothered. But because we are trying to cling to Christmas and get the last drop out of it. Whatever happened to Twelfth Night (6th January) for taking down decorations?



Happy New Year 2017. A brand new look for the Blog.


And new features including this 100-words-a-day. Each day I will write 100 words or less about a subject. If the subject takes more than 100 words I will write 200 words over 2 days.


The purpose of this Blog is to inform and entertain we try to avoid stating opinions. Too much of our world today is opinionated. Who cares about my opinion or anyone elses and quite rightly so? But be warned, the 100-words-a-day does contain some opinion.




When I was a lad at school around 13 years old, our Maths teacher used to call me Wol. At the end of the year as we were moving up a class I plucked up courage to ask why he called me Wol. He told meit was thename of the deslexic owl in Winnie the Pooh. With my Harry Potter glasses he said I looked like the Wise Old Owl in the Winnie the Pooh stories.


Being the vain person I am I took it as a compliment

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