Jacinda Ardern announces her retirement as NZ Prime Minister

January 19, 2023

Breaking News: Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand announces her retirement, giving her Party time to select a new leader for the upcoming election.

In 2020, Leaders We Deserve nominated her as Leader of the Month.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacinda_Ardern

In 2019, she was shortlisted for Times Person of the year and was spoken of as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for her leadership in the aftermath of the Christchurch shootings.

As her citation states, she gained widespread approval for her leadership following the massacre in a Christchurch mosque. Her empathy was matched with her firm actions.

Earlier this year, a volcanic eruption off the coast of New Zealand was dealt with again with effective measures combined with concern for those most closely involved.
Now she is leading a highly successful campaign dealing with the Coronavirus Crisis with similar sure-footedness.

More to update this post later

TR

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What to do after a pothole accident

January 16, 2023

Welcome to our programme Pothole Peril being streamed around the world. In the Studio, we have Mrs Amanda Trigg from Little Chalfont who is a typical pothole sufferer, MP Felicity Blythe, her MP, and special guest Mr Albert Pestle, also known as Mr Pothole, of the Flatten the Potholes campaign. I’m going to ask Amanda to kick us off. Amanda, you are recovering from your Pothole injuries. What exactly happened to you?

Thank you for having me. The road through Little Chalfont where I live is a death trap with some potholes the size of dustbin lids. I was on my way to work last February one day when I swerved to avoid a pothole when I noticed a sheep was trying to climb back out.

And sheep are usually nimble aren’t they?

This one wasn’t. Anyway, as I swerved to avoid the sheep, I caught the side of another pothole, and it ripped my rear axle off.

What happened next?

The axle struck a glancing blow on an oncoming cyclist, before landing in a front garden on the other side of the road. I managed to bring the car to a halt, but not before suffering substantial whiplash injuries.

Are you back at work now, Amanda?

No. I’m a library assistant


And you can’t put the books back on the shelves?

That too, at first, but then …

Yes?

They closed the library.

Over now to Amanda’s MP Felicity Blythe. How can you justify the potholes in your constituency?

We have been working at infilling potholes day and night, 24/7. We have spent our entire pothole budget for the year. But as an interim measure we are issuing TPA equipment to residents.

TPA equipment?

Temporary Pothole Assistance. Plastic bottles. This also helps our plastic recycling target.

Thank you very much Ms Blythe. Let’s bring in Mr Pestle, known as Mr Pothole. What can be done about the potholes which are ruining The lives of millions of motorists such as Amanda?

Thank you for drawing attention to this burning issue.

Burning potholes?

Sometimes. In areas where drilling for gas is taking place. The answer to the pothole plague is there already, in the report we submitted to the Government last year, which is the MP’s government, by the way. But they have failed to respond. Our suggestions are easy to implement with dos and donts.

Could you give an example?

First. Keep you line. Do not swerve to avoid a pothole. Swerving into approaching traffic can be dangerous. You should take the direct line accelerating a little to go right over the cavity, or concavity to use the technical term. That way you minimise the dangers faced everyday by millions of motorists.

And do you have other suggestions?

We are looking into more creative ones. For example, the possibility that individual residents use the potholes as a substitute for storing household waste, thus reducing the pressures on our refuse collection services.

Thank you for sharing your expert knowledge, Mr Pothole. And so it’s goodbye until next week, when our panellists will be discussing the ever-important question should you eat sausage sandwiches with red or brown sauce?


Andrew Tate. He’s not a billionaire chess master. He’s just a very naughty boy’

January 11, 2023

Millions of fans of the Monty Python gang will remember the film Life of Brian, which reminded me of the antics of Andrew Tate, currently under police custody in Romania, for charges related the child trafficking.In the film, the eponymous Brian is mistaken for the Messiah. As his fame and number of followers grew, his exasperated mother declaimed the famous words which became a piece of cultural folklore: ‘He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy’ I was reminded of Brian, when I learned about the recent interview of Andrew Tate by Piers Morgan, an English TV performer (the show is now available on U-tube).

The Piers Morgan interview

In the interview, Piers Morgan introduces Tate as an international celebrity who, like himself was a very good chess player, with whom he would go Mano a Mano in the show.
Andrew, we learn, has the slight advantage of being the son of an American chess grandmaster. As Piers himself had been school champion, he had no doubt he would be a match for his ultra-competitive guest.
The game was to be the finale of their show, a five minute match, a time popular among chess players at all levels, for which there are closely-followed championships starring the game’s greatest grandmasters.
As I watched, it became quickly clear it was not so much blitz-chess, as it is called, as a trash-talking game reminding me of a bigger boy annihilating a smaller boy.
It brought back further memories memories of noisy games in the class room, and of the cries of chess hustlers I’ve seen in New York’s parks.
The game was so one-sided it permitted the humiliation of Morgan, who lost piece after piece. In five minutes any strong player would not need to wipe out the entire fighting force of his opponent but win more quickly and comfortably. Unless, however, you get your kicks from humiliating people. I understand Tate has a philosophy in which this affirms the existence of the superman, a kind of pound-shop Nietzsche meets Jordon Peterson on speed.

Is it all just show-biz?

Perhaps it’s all showbiz, folks. A set-up, to convey a message. But for serious chess players, there is a future match to be arranged. In it, Andrew Tate, when released from police custody, could play in a tournament involving twenty teenage girl chess-players nominated by FIDE, the international chess organisation. On the evidence of the game I watched on U-tube, Tate would be lucky to finish last. I haven’t checked, but suspect some of the players would be GMs (Grand Masters. Chess hasn’t got round to more gender-sensitive labels)
Although, as in another recent Internet joust with a teenager, Greta Thunberg, he came out badly, he may be unwilling to risk further humiliation.


Dr Glycol’s Chemical Cooking. Boneless Lamb Leg Joint

January 8, 2023

I learn from Dr Glycol about his latest chemical cooking experiment.
‘I’ve been cornered’ he said. ‘I agreed to try out an upmarket product. Marks and Spencer actually.’
It seemed our mutual friend Cordon Bleu Judy had decided Glycol would change his ways, if he would only try food cooked with what he called unnecessary ingredients, and what the rest of the world consider to be flavourings and cooking enhancers.

‘What happened?’ I asked.
‘I first established essential absences in the product. I am particularly averse to garlic, onions, and most sauces. At least Judy knows that. The product was acceptable in that respect. ways of preparing a meal according to the newspapers and TV programmes that I’ve given up on’
He opened his iPad to show me the notes of what he called his experiment. He kindly supplied me the page from his cookbook cum laboratory notebook.

Stated ingredients on the sleeve of the product

Serves 2. Of course it serves 2. Almost impossible to obtain these meals for an individual.
Lamb,
Stock I’m prepared to count stock as a single ingredient
Yeast extract
Salt. I don’t approve of more salt in my diet
A Few traces of Maltodextrin flavouring. Harmless.
Starch, likewise,
Acidity regulator. E500. Checks food chemicals handbook. Might have guessed, and old friend, Sodium Carbonate. Avoids acid tastes. Bonus of reducing bug growth. But not baking soda. E500 found in non- cooking product manufacture like soaps and glass.
Dried vinegar. How can you dry vinegar. This is peculiar chemistry.

Cooking instructions

Fan 180C 35 Minutes plus 10 min rest.
Baste occasionally. Makes sense, if only to check the chemical reaction is proceeding as expected, no grave blunder in temperature or timing.

Starting Time

6-15pm

For my experiment I will operate with minimal additional ingredients, namely potatoes and peas from frozen.
Choose four potatoes with least levels of sprouting. Enough for the two meals I am planning, one to eat, one for tomorrow.
6-30pm
I do a baste check. No juices to baste. Not yet anyway.
Glass of wine. First to hand. Jack Rabbit Shiraz. Another Christmas present, probably. It’s OK. No unpleasant aromas or after taste. Am I losing sense of smell, as per COVID symptom?
Oven only now reaches 180C Add five minutes to finish at 7.00 pm, based on observations.
Chicken top skin wrinkling nicely. Basting difficult. Too tight a fit in dish. Eventually manage with a honey spoon I rarely use. Note as example of everyday creativity.

6-30pm
Add potatoes to boiling water.
Clear space for carving. Will ignore M&S advice to use a carving board. Better to use a plate which captures fluids. Find I have a knife and a two pronged fork but no safety guard.
Health and Safety warning. Absence of guard on fork is why I’m so cautious.

6-40pm
Time for the peas. In with the potatoes, obviously.
One more baste and synchronised end for chicken and veg.
Lamb to settle for 10 minutes. To avoid cold veg I will reduce settling time.
7.00pm

Veg and lamb finish simultaneously.
7.10pm
Carving reveals not so much medium as rare. Put residuals half back for 10 min.for tomorrow’s meal
7.15pm
Product tasting starts

Experiment halted

7.45pm

I asked Dr Gycol for his conclusions drawn from his experiment
‘I can see the need for the extra ingredients needed if the product is intended to replicate the fresh meat experience. There’s a lot of chemistry in balancing taste and texture. Also in mass manufacture the are scale up problems. Mass production may not have the same quality as lamb purchased from the butcher’s.
I underestimated the time to stop the chemical reactions. But promising.
I’ll give it another try.’
‘That’s very noble of you’ I say.
‘I think I’ve explained it so that even non-chemists can grasp the fundamentals of minimal ingredients chemistry’ he said.
‘I think you probably have’ I replied.

Acknowledgement

Dr Glycol would like to thank Cordon Bleu Judy for provision of the M&S Boneless Lamb Leg Joint used in his experiment.


Twitter wit and wisdom. New year edition 2023

January 3, 2023

Twitter continues its new uncharted course, with Captain Ahab aka Captain Musk at the helm. His willingness to reaccept tweets ‘in the interests of a libertarian philosophy begins to have unexpected consequences.

@kelvmackenzie: After 8pm tonight on @GBNews I will produce the super-sized bucket on Mark Dolan show ( he’s sitting in for Mark Steyn) to pour over a migrant system which grants asylum to 77% who apply here but only 25% in France and 37% over the whole EU. We are such mugs.
@Tudortweet: Think I’ve just found Jeremy Clarkson’s role model. Traces also detected on ruined toilets at Pompeii.

@Tudortweet: In the build-up to great holiday I would like wish everyone peace and good will. The ‘everyone’ is a bit of a stretch, as it’s work in progress.

@BorisJohnson: Merry Christmas to all! Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season 🎅. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the year and give thanks for all that we have! #MerryChristmas
@AngelaRayner: I see the ghost of Christmas past has paid an early visit this year. 😱

@AwayFromTheKeys: A wee old woman passes away and as she’s been a kind old soul all her life, ends up in #heaven.
“Ooh, I’m in heaven”, she says to Peter, “can I meet #God?”.
“He’s currently in Scotland”, says Peter.
“Scotland? Why’s he in Scotland?”.
And Peter replies, “Working from home! “.

@EvLenz: What do you call a bunch of chess players bragging about their games in a hotel lobby?
Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer!

@NicholasTyrone: Boris Johnson isn’t prime minister any longer, so why is he doing a prime ministerial, happy Christmas to all kind of video? Seems unnecessary and needlessly annoying.
@Tudortweet: 30% of Tory MPs, known as the Lemming Coalition, are urging the return of Boris Johnson.
@ConsPost: ‘All we want for Christmas is Boris back’ say 35,000 Conservative Post readers

@pv1004: Guests staying were a little bemused when the sophisticated cat toys they bought my black and white claw machine ignored the gifts, but had an ecstatic time with the wrapping paper for about 40 minutes, performing destructive shredding at its best. #CatsOnTwitter

@JohnSimpsonNews: My erudite classicist daughter tells me that the Arctic is so called because there are bears there; ‘Arktos’ being the Greek for bear. ‘Antarctic’ means ‘no bears’, she says.

@JonIzzard: This is why I prefer to describe myself as a manic depressive. Bipolar is geography and explains why polar bears don’t eat penguins.

@jjwalks: “I asked my wife what she wanted for Christmas. She said, ‘Nothing would make me happier than a diamond necklace.’ So I got her nothing.”

@pv1004: Here’s a special treat that I forgot to tweet yesterday- joke from cracker – How does Jack Frost get to work? …….. By-icicles.

@Cobratate: Hello @GretaThunberg. I have 33 cars. My Bugatti has a w16 8.0L quad turbo. My TWO Ferrari 812 competizione have 6.5L v12s. This is just the start.Please provide your email address so I can send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions.
@GretaThunberg: yes, please do enlighten me. email me at smalldickenergy@getalife.com [These tweets from Andrew Tate (@Cobratate) and Greta Thunberg made headline stories which were enhanced when Andrew Tate was arrested in Romania under suspicion of serious sexual wrongdoing]

@TudorTweet: Three Paras walk into a bar. Paranormal, Paracetamol, and Paraplui …
Finish the joke. There’s got to be a good one in there somewhere.
@TudorTweet: Here’s my effort
Three Paras walk into a bar. Paranormal, Paracetamol, and Paraplui …
ParaNormal disabled an attacker with a hypnotic stare.
Paracetamol stopped a fight painlessly.
Paraplui realised he was in the wrong film, and went back to Cherbourg.

@JoJoFromJerz: Maybe someday, women in America will have as many rights as guns do.

1 January
@Saccaguru: I went to A&E and it was full of immigrants. One bandaged my arm. Another gave me an X-ray

@horvitzpolitics: I always knock on the refrigerator door before opening in case there is a salad dressing

And that’s it for the start of 2023. Twitter along with the media is having trouble finding positive or amusing things about the New Year.

TR January 3 2023


Billy Bobble and the Poynton Pelicans. A Football Fantasy

December 30, 2022

Billy Bobble is the star of the Poynton Pelicans junior football team. He plays on the left wing. In a match against their bitter rivals, the Urmston Outlaws he is injured by Ryan Clogger, the dirtiest player in the league. He is out of action for the vital league cup final, where the Pelicans will again face the Urmston Outlaws.But Billie has a plan cooked up with his two friends, Martin, the Pelican’s Mascot, and Sophie, the captain of the Pelican’s cup-winning Girl’s team … 

Chapter 1 The Grudge Match against the Urmston Outlaws

The day of the match arrived at last. Billy Bobble had been crossing off the days on his fixture list. Today, his team, the Poynton Pelicans, are away against the Urmston Outlaws, their bitterest rivals in the Manchester juniors league, Division 1. 

This season, the Pelicans lie handily placed in second place. A win will edge them ahead of the outlaws as the season draws to a close.

The background to the game. Billy faces the prospect of dealing with Ryan Clogger, recently back from his second suspension of the year for kicking the ball out of the hands of the opposing goalkeeper, who was playing for the Chadderton Eagles. 

Unfortunately he missed and knocked the Eagles keeper unconscious. Not many people believed it had been an accident. As he left the field, red-carded for reckless play, Clogger had a wide grin on his face and was heard to joke ‘the Eagle has landed’.

Clogger’s reputation went against him that time, but his foul play achieved the desired effect. The Eagles were forced to put their brilliant striker Callum Shine in goal. He performed courageously at keeping out the ceaseless attacks from the Outlaws even though they were down to ten players. But it was to no avail. The weakened defence conceded a penalty, and this resulted in a win for the triumphant Outlaws. Their  jeering was of course led by Ryan Clogger.

And now Clogger is back for the grudge match intent on doing whatever damage it takes, to beat the Pelicans. Billy had that feeling in his stomach you get after eating too many slices of pizza, which he only does after the season ends. He knows it is going to be a brutal match, where physical size would could against them. The Outlaws  are the team in the league with the biggest players. They all look as if they are older, and have taken up football as a second sport to ring boxing. Clogger is even bigger and broader than the other thugs. Rumours are, that he is using illegal weight-gaining drugs supplied by someone who worked out at his father’s gym.


Billy travels to the game as usual in his dad’s estate car.  He is unusually quiet. They are with Martin, the team’s mascot, who is  even more silent and apprehensive. Martin is remembering what happened last year when was jeered by Outlaws Eagle’s supporters, egged on by Clogger, and then chased back into the dressing room by a snarling dog.  The Eagles are always coming up with new tricks like that, dreamed up by Clogger to put off opponents.  He reserves his best ones for matches against The Pelicans. No wonder Martin is quiet on the journey to Chadderton. 

With an hour to spare, they arrive at the ground where Urmston juniors play. No sign of life at the main gate. Fortunately Billie remembers. It is all part of the psychological warfare. They find the unmarked gate leading through the School playground and on to the playing field. They have changed before setting off, so Martin already in his pelican outfit emerged from the Estate, followed by Billie, in the scarlet and gold strip of team.


They reach a the door to the changing room. But where are the Urmston players and the match officials? Billie rattles impatiently on the locked door. After a long wait, it opens slowly.

‘Thought you would be too scared to turn up. You must be wetting your pants’

The giant frame of Ryan Clogger nearly fills the doorframe.‘We thought you would under arrest for GBH’ Billie snaps back. But his words come out in a high squeak.‘Here that, boys?’ Clogger called back into the dressing room’ The little boys and girlies from Poynton are here.’

There is a burst of jeering from the room.Billie hopes  he isn’t blushing. He often blushes, when he hopes no one is noticing he might be blushing.

‘Got some bad news for you, Bobble, you can’t use the training room. You’ll have to wait outside until the game starts. Oh, dear it’s started to rain. What a pity’.

And with that,Clogger slams the door. As he does so, there is a toot of a horn behind them. Billie’s dad is driving away. Billie houts for him to wait. But it’s too late.

Billie and Martin stand getting very wet as the rain falls on them in a torrent…

[This is the first episode of a book being written at the suggestion of a real football player. But the teams, league, and players are all fictional, and any resemblance to people alive or dead, real or imaginary is purely coincidental.

TR]


Twitter wit and wisdom (Yuletide version)

December 26, 2022

My favourite tweets over the days approaching Christmas

@Lisaisalooseun1: ‘We cats aren’t as loyal as dogs … but we don’t tell the police where the drugs are’

@ electpoliticsuk: POLL: Who was the best Prime Minister of 2022? Boris Johnson: 28%; Rishi Sunak:19%; Liz Truss: 1%; None of them: 46%

@TollytB:
I’ve just been to see a therapist, as I can’t stop singing “The Green Green Grass of Home.”
“You have Tom Jones syndrome.”
“Is it rare?”
“It’s Not Unusual.”

@Lisaisalooseun1: ‘We cats aren’t as loyal as dogs … but we don’t tell the police where the drugs are’

@kelvmackenzie: After 8pm tonight on @GBNews I will produce the super-sized bucket on Mark Dolan show ( he’s sitting in for Mark Steyn) to pour over a migrant system which grants asylum to 77% who apply here but only 25% in France and 37% over the whole EU. We are such mugs.
@Tudortweet: Think I’ve just found Jeremy Clarkson’s role model. Traces also detected on ruined toilets at Pompeii.
@Tudortweet: In the build-up to great holiday I would like wish everyone peace and good will. The ‘everyone’ is a bit of a stretch, as it’s work in progress.

@BorisJohnson: Merry Christmas to all! Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season 🎅. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the year and give thanks for all that we have! #MerryChristmas
@AngelaRayner: I see the ghost of Christmas past has paid an early visit this year. 😱

@AwayFromTheKeys: A wee old woman passes away and as she’s been a kind old soul all her life, ends up in #heaven.
“Ooh, I’m in heaven”, she says to Peter, “can I meet #God?”.
“He’s currently in Scotland”, says Peter.
“Scotland? Why’s he in Scotland?”.
And Peter replies, “Working from home! “.

@EvLenz: What do you call a bunch of chess players bragging about their games in a hotel lobby?
Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer! [possibly my favourite, but I’m a sucker for bad puns and chess jokes]

@NicholasTyrone: Boris Johnson isn’t prime minister any longer, so why is he doing a prime ministerial, happy Christmas to all kind of video? Seems unnecessary and needlessly annoying.
@Tudortweet: 30% of Tory MPs, known as the Lemming Coalition, are urging the return of Boris Johnson.
@ConsPost: ‘All we want for Christmas is Boris back’ say 35,000 Conservative Post readers

@pv1004: Guests staying were a little bemused when the sophisticated cat toys they bought my black and white claw machine ignored the gifts, but had an ecstatic time with the wrapping paper for about 40 minutes, performing destructive shredding at its best. #CatsOnTwitter

@JohnSimpsonNews: My erudite classicist daughter tells me that the Arctic is so called because there are bears there; ‘Arktos’ being the Greek for bear. ‘Antarctic’ means ‘no bears’, she says.

@JonIzzard: This is why I prefer to describe myself as a manic depressive. Bipolar is geography and explains why polar bears don’t eat penguins.

@jjwalks: “I asked my wife what she wanted for Christmas. She said, ‘Nothing would make me happier than a diamond necklace.’ So I got her nothing.”


Everyday Creativity Newsletter 16-25 December

December 25, 2022

And a joyous festive season to everyone.

The week seems full of bleak news, but we’ve added a few amusing items from around the world we hope you will enjoy.

Podcast of week
The superb winning entry is a team effort from a recent creativity workshop. The challenge was to complete a fairy story from a brief about a little girl who befriends a lonely mushroom. Please
road-test with a suitable audience still enjoying the magic of a spoken tale.
https://www.buzzsprout.com/1945222/11918373-the-secret-of-the-stars-a-christmas-fairy-story.mp3?download=true

Blogpost of the week
I offer an alternative to the BBC’s Thought for the Day as a ‘Not the Thought of the Day’ blog post.

The Traitors
An unexpected hit for BBC viewers. You may remember our earlier blogpost on the earlier version about which we commented: ‘Don’t try this over Christmas’. Well, we have warned you …

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1945222/11075570

A Christmas Puzzle
What news item from England linked Geneva and Dubai this week?
[Answer somewhere below]

News Headlines

Monday 19 December
A new week. Headlines more upbeat, with coverage of celebrations in Buenos Aires at Argentina’s victory in ‘the greatest final of all time’.
The COP Biodiversity deal commits to a deal that commits funds to reduce species depletions,
Elon Musk loses self-imposed referendum to remain head of Twitter. The story reveals Musk at the football final with Gerard Kushner, Trump advisor and in-law, interpreted as a possible successor.

Tuesday 20 December
Trump continues to make headlines. The Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection have found his actions as President guilty on four charges.This is the first time in U.S. history that Congress has referred a former president for criminal prosecution.The shift in power in the House in January makes it even more likely to escape judicial sentencing.
In England a second day of strikes by nurses reveals an impasse, with the Govt refusing to discuss payment demands.
In Buenos Aires, four million fans turned out greet the returning football champions, forcing eventual curtailment of the planned coach process.

Wednesday 21 December
Ukrainian President Zelensky visits America for high-profile signal of further support. Follows casual work gear in his meeting with President Biden who was more traditionally suited and booted.
Unlike the political climate, the cold spell in England has temporarily eased.
Ambulance workers add further pressures on the public, and on the Govt. with their first one-day of industrial action.
Parliament starts its six weeks (!) break, although Ministers have more than enough work to keep them politically busy.

Thursday 22 December
America braces itself for a ‘weather bomb’. Temperatures causing frostbite after 30 seconds exposure.
Elon Musk will step down at Twitter ‘as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job’.
Tennis champion and tax evader Boris Becker leaves prison after praising standards at Prison in England.
Suella Braverman as Home Secretary continues to work on schemes for using cruise ships to house prisoners.

Friday 23 December
America braces itself for a ‘weather bomb’. Temperatures causing frostbite after 30 seconds exposure. Thousands of flights cancelled.
In the. U.K., delays at airports as border-force strikes are feared to add to travel miseries.
In New Zealand, P.M. Ardern’s unparliamentary language against a political opponent is recorded in the official records. Then a signed copy raises NZ$100,000 for a cancer charity. Other world leaders regard with some envy her remarkable ability to ride out faux pas.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/dec/22/jacinda-arderns-arrogant-prick-comment-nets-more-than-100000-at-auction

Saturday 24 December
Aka Christmas Eve.
The weather bomb arrives across 2000 miles of America. ‘We’ve had everything Mother Nature could throw at us’ says a weary spokesperson.
The COVID epidemic returns to China, with widely varying estimates of deaths since the lockdown ended.
Britain, although buffeted by numerous strikes, seems to be struggling through. Returning air travellers pleasantly surprised by lack of hold-ups.

Sunday 25 December
Aka Christmas Day. As in earlier times, in Britain, little news penetrates the airwaves. No papers are published. Premier League football postponed. Broadcasts are mainly re-heated servings of the year’s events. A sort of practice for New Year’s Eve next week.
But some news trickles through. The King continues the tradition of an uplifting address to the nation.

The Great Twitter Resignation Debate
@elonmusk: Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.
@hodgetwins Here’s an idea, let the people have input on your replacement. Whoever is the leader of Twitter has to be unbiased in protecting free speech.
@KatattackTruth: If he steps down I hope it fades into the abyss and shuts down. No one will have the genius and passion that Elon has
@MidnightMitch: Jared Kushner reportedly met with Elon Musk to discuss his transition into the role of head of Twitter.
@TEAM_USA: I opened my account the day you announced you would buy Twitter. You gave Conservatives on social media a chance for unsuppressed free speech for the very first time. You’ve done so much for our Country and our Constitution. Please don’t give up on us now.
@Nissan_GTR: Result were botted. It’s obvious
@ZsholtWilhelm: Let me predict the consequences of this poll:
If „yes“, Elon will be CEO for a few months longer until he finds a devoted successor.
If „no“, Elon will be CEO for a few months longer until he finds a devoted successor.
@Cathius: Shhh you’re ruining the joke.

Answer to our Christmas Puzzle
The news item reported that the two most popular travel destinations this week were Geneva (for the skiing) and Dubai (for the sun).

Wit and Wisdom of Twitter (see elsewhere for Elon effulgences)
@johnredwood: We hear how the NHS is short of beds. Why don’t managers put more in?
[Flood of angry or sarcastic replies, some from respected public figures. Although @johnredwood is a blue-ticked tweeter, some replies questioned whether this comes from a parody account. Later, The Mirror newspaper reported 5000 people had responded to the tweet which was from the real former Conservative Minister Sir John Redwood]
@lloyd_dennis8: I like your thinking there John, it’s up with the economic miracle of we need more growth. How you missed out on the great offices of state is anyone’s guess…
@davejacobs51: Yesterday I tried to book into an hotel, they told me they were full, they didn’t have enough rooms to accommodate me. So I wondered, why didn’t they just put in more rooms???
@rarryson: Better still, why not install treble bunk beds? 3 patients for the space of one! Shared drip feeds and monitors. As patients recover, they can be moved up a level. Let’s get this rolling! Is the VIP lane still open ?

@dee_lomas: Just had the worst day yesterday. I paid a carpenter to build me a bespoke double bed. Came home from work to find he’d done a bunk…it’s just one thing on top of another!

@EvLenz: Got my husband a wooden leg for Christmas. Not his main present, it’s just a stocking filler

@pow_rebecca: My top Christmas #recycling tips. Ironing old wrapping paper means you can re-use last year’s 🎁 More tips at gov.uk/government/new… #GreenChristmas @DefraGovUK
@RuthieR: I thought this was a joke but it seems not. All our Christmas paper from last year got chucked luv. Plus I don’t even iron my clothes so b* if I’m gonna start ironing paper.

@GerhardSchneider: Neverwhere Brexit Britain after Singapore-on-Thames: Switzerland or Silicon Valley? Unable to fulfil the promises, Brexit Britain is becoming Neverwhere. A place that exists somewhere, sometime, but not here and not now.
@christo_burton: Just found this tweet…. ‘Neverwhere Brexit Britain’ one if the saddest tweets I’ve ever seen.

@WritesBright: Rishi Sunak has selected an Old Etonian banker as his ethics chief. Incidentally, in 2011, the Eton entrance exam asked 11-year-old prospective students to draft a speech justifying the killing of protesters in London by the army.
@Tudortweet: Wonder if the question was to weed students out…or in?

@Lisaisalooseun1: ‘We cats aren’t as loyal as dogs … but we don’t tell the police where the drugs are’

Books

The Keeper of Stories, by Sally Page

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

From Simply Books No 1, Bramhall
Andrew and Sue’s picks for Christmas

Andrew’s picks
Climbers, by John Harrison
The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
Oh, William, by Elizabeth Strout
Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead

Sue’s picks
Small things like these, by Claire Keegan
The Island of Missing Trees, by Elif Shafak
Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus

My Big Birthday Blunder
In a spirit of self-shaming, I will be confessing on our next newsletter of my recent birthday faux pas. The news will also report the passing of 2022, an Annus horribilis


The Secret of the Stars

December 22, 2022

by

Alicia Sedano Funcia
James Stuart Black
Roman Shcherbakov
Oleg Zakharov
Liu Chunfeng

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Megan who lived with her mother and father close to a forest, far away from their nearest neighbor

One day, while walking in the forest, Megan said to herself, ‘I wish I had a friend I could talk with’. Then a voice said, ‘I could be your friend’

‘Who said that?’ There was nobody around. ‘Down here!’ Megan looked to the place where the voice was coming from, but there was nobody there. Suddenly something moved. ‘What was that?!’ It looked like a mushroom… it couldn’t be… But it was! The mushroom was talking to her!

‘I can be your friend’ said the mushroom again. ‘I would love to go home with you, to a nice place, where it is calm and safe’. ‘What are you talking about?’ said Megan. She had been walking around that forest since she was 5 years old and had never considered it to be a dangerous place.

Suddenly, she heard a noise right behind her. ‘Oh no!’- the mushroom screamed ‘It’s too
late. Run little girl!’ Megan could see a tall shape running towards them. Without thinking
she took the mushroom and started running as fast as she could. Luckily for her, she knew
the forest perfectly. There was a hole in the side of the mountain, with an entrance so small
only a little girl could fit.

After they entered, she could hear the mysterious creature outside, trying to fit through the crack. After a while, it seemed as if he got tired, and after a long scream, the noise stopped. ‘What was that?’ – Megan asked her new friend. ‘That was Gobble the Goblin. He is a monster. He ate all my brothers and sisters, one by one. During his last attack I managed to escape, and I found myself alone… I think that I am the only one left…’

‘Well, at least here you will be safe. Mushrooms like humid and dark places, right? A cave seems like the perfect place for you to live’.
‘It actually looks quite nice…’ – the mushroom started to smile.
‘And wait until I show you the lights.’
‘Lights? Which lights? We are in a cave…’
If we walk a bit further’ – started to explain Megan – ‘there is a room where the ceiling looks as if it was covered in stars. Do you wanna see it?’

Now it was the mushroom who was confused. ‘Stars? I never saw the stars from the bottom of the forest, but I heard they are beautiful’ ‘
Let’s go to them!’ – Megan put him on her shoulder again.

The mushroom suddenly saw what they were. ‘Mushrooms’ – he cried – Beautiful mushrooms. See how they gleam like stars all around the top of the cave!!’

As soon as he pronounced those words, Megan started to hear a noise she had never heard in her previous visit to the cavern. It was like a soft song, sung by a million voices at the same time. The lights on the ceiling seemed to move, like the dancing northern lights. She smiled. Her new friend wasn’t alone after all!

In that cavern, away from the terrible Goblin the mushroom could live happy ever after. And that’s what he did.

Megan still often visits him as often as she can, and she has got to spend time with all his new family.

But what happened to the Goblin? We don’t really know, but nobody in the forest ever heard about him again.


Everyday Creativity Christmas Newsletter: Not the Thought for the Day

December 21, 2022

I have a ridiculous aversion towards Thought For the Day, [TFTD], that worthy broadcast to the nation. However, in the spirit of reconciliation, I wish to overcome curmudgeonly feelings, and provide a ‘Not the Thought for the Day’ instead.

According the the BBC, Thought for the Day is ‘a daily scripted slot on the Today programme on BBC 4, offering reflections from a faith perspective on issues and people in the news’

TFTD is broadcast at around 7:45 each Monday to Saturday morning. Nowadays lasting 2 minutes and 45 seconds.

There was an earlier version, five-minute religious sequence Ten to Eight (1965–1970) and, even before that, Lift Up Your Hearts, which was first broadcast five mornings a week on what was then the BBC Home Service, starting in 1939, two years before I arrived by stork-transit at East Glamorgan Hospital, in the charming township of Church Village in South Wales, on Christmas Eve 1941.

But I distract myself. TFTD has a prescribed structure and product. It begins with a selected item of news, often cunningly presented as nothing to do with religion, but everything to convey a cosy relationship between speaker and congregation, sorry audience.
The news item might be drawn from the news, or from sport, the arts, science or some other area of public life. As varied, in fact as my daily notes on everyday creativity.

I can do cosy but not in the same league as the TFTD presenters often drawn from the great and the good in national life. At first these were of the Christian faith, and male. Later innovations included those of other faiths, including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. In time, even those of other genders were also allowed to broadcast.

My Everyday Event

The Gleam team arrived at my home this morning. They restore a semblance of order to the clutter of my weekly labours. I understand I may be guilty of self slut-shaming, but you get the idea.

A young newcomer was worked her way around me, as I watched the midday News. She was still clearing up debris, before deploying the Dyson, when she unearthed a book which I had mislaid under a few miscellaneous kitchen implements.

Wittgenstein’s Poker, I said. I’ve just finished it,


I like psychology. What goes on in the mind of a mass murderer. She said.
It’s about philosophy, I said. You can borrow it if you like.


To my surprise she said she’d like to.


If you like, you can borrow this one afterwards, I said, showing her my copy of Russell’s History of Western Philosophy, which was peeking out from another pile of reference books. The author’s one of the people in the book you just found,

It was open on the chapter on the ancient philosophers. To my surprise she began reading out aloud with obvious curiosity. In a way which showed she understood what she was reading.

I’m now waiting to find out what she makes of Wittgenstein’s poker…

See? Not Thought for the Day. Just an example of everyday creativity…