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.



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%

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.

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 …

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.

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… #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’


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


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…

The great Twitter resignation debate

December 19, 2022

December 2022 saw the great resignation debate on Elon Musk as CEO of Twitter. The story so far:
In October, The BBC featured the life and adventures of America’s wealthiest entrepreneur. Aleart famed for business brilliance and eccentric lifestyle.

I tweeted: The BBC has granted Elon Musk a three one-hour mini-series on … Elon Musk. Without charging him for three hours of advertising. First learning point. You don’t become the richest man in the world without being a great marketeer.
At that time, the lengthy acquisition of Twitter was being finalised. It had begun in April, when Musk, already an enthusiastic tweeter and investor indicated his intentions to clean up the site, and restore what he saw as free speech to it.
The board rather quickly accepted an offer of $44 billion, but then things went sour. The ‘cleaning up’ may have confirmed suspicions about the reality of some of twitters purportedly billions of followers. Fake accounts by the million were revealed as coming from armies of electronic bots. Fake news, Donald Trump might have put it.
Musk, Trump like, screamed foul. Started to pull the deal. Lawsuits began. Around the time of the BBC documentary, there was another U-Turn and Musk accepted the original offer, and fired most of the board. As you do. Or, as Elon did, anyway.
A consensus view is that he had found away into a communication channel, at a price of an early Christmas present for the richest man in the world.

The new King of Tweetland

There followed a bizarre series of tweets and interventions by the new King of Tweetland.
Among the side dramas was the complex relationship between Elon and Donald Trump . The Trump Presidency was marked by his enthusiasm for tweeting often in the middle of the night, sometimes with hilarious or incompressible results. Twitter banned Trump after the White House rioting of Jan 6. Musk argued for reinstatement, but Donald, to date has remained outside the Twitter community.

The wit and wisdom of Twitter

I began recording the drama as The Wit and Wisdom of Twitter. A flavour of them can be found in the tweet in which Elon Musk shows his displeasure with Apple.
Did you know Apple puts a secret 30% tax on everything you buy through their App Store?

He continues his attacks of free speech, while blocking subscribers for what appears to be tweeters disagreeing with his views. Free speech seems to be, crudely, something Musk approves of. As Democrat leader Adam Schiff tweets: ‘Elon Musk calls himself a free speech absolutist, to justify turning a blind eye to hatred and bigotry on Twitter. But when journalists report unfavorable news, they are banned without warning.The devotion to free speech is apparently not that absolute. But the hypocrisy is.’

Later, Elon responds to Adam Schiff in what was described as a juvenile fashion: ‘Thankfully you lose your chairmanship before long. Your brain is too small.’

Then as if nothing more bizarre could occur, the new head of Twitter announces his intention to stand down, and will put to matter to the vote.

The great Twitter resignation debate begins:

@elonmusk: Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.
Tweeters have 24 hours to respond. The inevitable twitter burst follows. Over a million voters cast their votes.
@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.

Elon finds time to make one of his Delphic replies

@elonmusk: Those who want power are the ones who least deserve it
@111Deaton: True …only ONE deserves it and He has it all! #JesusEternalLife. ” I am He that lives, and was dead; and behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and I have the keys of hell and death.” Rev1:18@jordanbpeterson: Don’t do it. You get to have a learning curve just like everyone else @elonmusk
@texasparrott: Apparently he’s done this before. Is this a sign of maturity and humility, or is it poor leadership and a local of resolve? Or is there something potentially more effective for his purposes waiting in the wings? I sincerely hope he knows what he’s doing. He’s given me hope.

The final result of the remarkable referendum.

57.5% votes for his resignation, 42.5% for him to stay.
Like any good soap opera, this is not expected to be the end of the story.

On losing the only copy of your manuscript

December 17, 2022

In blizzard conditions this week, December 2022, crime writer Ann Cleeves lost a personal computer with a half-completed manuscript of her new novel, on a visit to a library in Lerwick.

The novelist tweeted about her loss, producing on of twitter’s most interesting threads,

@AnnCleeves. Shetland tweeps I need your help! Lost my laptop in the blizzard y’day. I’d been to @ShetlandLibrary & @MareelShetland but no sign there. Scruffy HP. Could have fallen from bag. Half novel there. Reward offered!

@KerenPanMac. Ann, your tweet has just been mentioned on the Jeremy Vine show. Hope you find your laptop.

Then a few hours later

@AnnCleeves. Here it is! Found in the snow not far from where I was staying by sharp-eyed Rachel as she got off the school bus. It’s been run over so not much use, but glad to know it’s safe.

When a maid burned Thomas Carlyle’s only manuscript

I remembered the story of Thomas Carlyle asked his friend John Stuart Mill to read his draft of History of the French Revolution—the book he thought would “finally make his literary reputation”—but one night, Mill came to his door to admit a horrible truth: a maid had mistaken the manuscript for waste paper, and burned it.

Another Rachel, Rachel Cohen, writing in The New Yorker, picks up the story:

Even at the beginning, Carlyle must have had, as we do, certain questions. Mill’s house was full of valuable manuscripts; why would a maid just seize the first pages she saw and use them for kindling? Mill seems to have put them in a pile intended for waste; was there anything behind his carelessness? Was he jealous of Carlyle’s accomplishment, or dismayed that Carlyle had represented the coming of democracy so differently than Mill would have?
After all, Mill had once wanted to write a book on the same topic, which is suspicious. But it didn’t matter, in the end—after a hard start, Carlyle rewrote the book, and when it was published in 1837, Mill wrote a glowing review: “no work of greater genius, either historical or poetical, has been produced in this country for many years.” Had he exorcised any suspicions he might have been justified in holding about his literary friend?’

Like any good journalist, Rachel Cohen leaves it to the reader to decide.

My peculiar dream

That night I had a most peculiar dream. Make what you will of it. I think it was a response to the tale of the lost manuscript.

Some years ago, I lost three chapters of a book. It was at the time that we were getting used to the emerging word processing packages. If storage in the cloud existed, I was unaware of it.
I spent a sleepless weekend reconstructing the three chapters.

In the dream, I was facing a deadline. Not for finishing a book to a publisher’s deadline, book but for completing four lines of poetry. I seemed to have been working at an Ad Agency producing a jingle. My Ad colleagues were waiting anxiously for me to complete, I had jotted the lines down earlier as I still do sometimes on the closest available bit of paper with the closest available pen or pencil.
But I had lost the lines which wouldn’t come back to me! In my dream I had a pile of paper, including, reports, brochures, and newspapers. I found the first two lines in the crossword page of an old Guardian, but not the final version. I continued my search, eventually waking up in some distress. Phew.

Don’t know what’s worse, losing a real manuscript or an imaginary one. At least you can confront reality in the real case, and start again.

Everyday Creativity Newsletter 5-11 December 2022

December 13, 2022

Welcome to new and earlier readers of our Newsletter sharing ideas on creativity in politics, science, the arts and everyday life. From our national base in England we try to examine news from around the world.

This week has seen attempted coups in Peru and Germany, the latter that would stretch the credulity of watchers of a Hollywood blockbuster.
In other international news, China eases its COVID lockdown approach in face of continued demonstrations.
Nationally, other news is displaced by media fixation on England’s next match in the World Cup, and the saga of William and Megan. Residual space allows mention of the assortment of industrial actions starting or threatened.

Podcast of the week

Twitter Wit and Wisdom

Blogpost of the week

News Headlines

Monday 5 December
The morning papers announce an England win with unconfined joy.
Probably unrelated, Keir Starmer announces Labour’s intention to abolish the House of Lords if the party returns to power at the next election.
Iran announces dissolution of its morality police, seen as attempt to defuse protest movement.
Reports by the UN from Haiti say the country is reduced to an uncontrollable state by rival criminal groups.
The Brazilian team shows why have become overwhelming favourites to win the World Cup. England expectations slightly diminished. But the cricket team achieved a memorable win beating Pakistan in a test match with multiple records broken for runs scored, and a last-minute finish as the light faded.

Tuesday 6 December
China makes slight reductions to its lockdown approach. Citizens allowed to stay home rather than taken to isolation centres.
Ukraine suffering further hardships with power breakdowns from missile attacks. Retaliates with drone incursions deep into Russia damaging a military fuel supply depot.
In England, accumulations of strikes as negotiations break down, a suggestion by Govt minister Nadhim Zawadi that strikers are offering comfort to Russian President Putin is widely criticised.

Wednesday 7 December
News from America. The run-off from Georgia results in a narrow Democratic win strengthening its control over the House.
The Trump organisation is found guilty of serious extended financial malpractices and faces fines finedin excess of $1,000,000. Both are indirect blows to President Trump’s political aspirations.
In the U.K., inconveniences through industrial disputes, compete for headlines with the upcoming football match between England and France, and on the further episode of the Royal soap opera Megan & Harry. Less visible is a corruption scandal surrounding new Conservative peer Baroness Mone.

Thursday 8 December
News of coups and attempted coups in Peru (left wing) and Germany (right wing).
News content of the headline story: Palace were nasty to us, say Harry and Megan
U.K. to open first new coal mine for thirty years. Politically contentious, after commitments to combatting climate change made at the last two yearly UN Cop conferences.

Friday 9 December
Multiple strikes and threats of strikes in run up to Christmas. News media show a sort of advent calendar with red crosses showing days and nature of disruptions. Postal workers into second week of picketing. Rail union discussions break down again. Nurses, Ambulance drivers, are among vital service providers also preparing for actions over the festive season.
Even England’s benign climate has given up and slumped into a below-zero sulkiness.
The media are continuing their fixation on England’s next match in the World Cup, and the saga of William and Megan.

Saturday 10 December
England lose a close game to France. One source of national headlines now dries up. Attention turns to the success of outsiders Morocco advancing the the semi-finals against France by beating another of the favourites Portugal.

Sunday 11 December
Yes, headlines filled with sad expressions of England’s defeat. Exuberant puns replaced with limp cries of anguish. ‘Football’s coming home’ indeed.
More room for news of the continuing freeze-up.

Wit and Wisdom of Twitter (continued)

Day 4 in Paris: Everyone speaks French here. The bastards, I bet they were all speaking English before we stepped foot outside of our aeroplane!

A priest, a pastor and a rabbit entered a clinic to donate blood. The nurse asked the rabbit, “What’s your blood type?”
“I’m probably a type O”, said the rabbit.

I was supposed to be travelling to see my son on Christmas Eve but thanks to Jeremy Corbyn’s rail strike I’ve been forced to put him up for adoption. So now not only is Christmas ruined but I’ve got to stay looking for a new son in January. Thanks very much, @RMTunion
Yes. How is it Corbyn’s strike? He’s not even in the Labour Party or the RMT. Delete your tweet. It’s false
It’s bloody outrageous. Jeremy Corbyn’s government has asset stripped the NHS so much I will be walking to my local hospital in order to amputate my own leg today. Thanks a bunch!
Irony is not dead – just a little musty.

There are many sadnesses to your kids getting older but them no longer being in a pushchair that you can use as a weapon on rude people’s ankles in crowded events must be one of the worst.


Killers of a certain age by Deanna Raybourn
A humorous thriller featuring four female assassins ready to retire.

Animal Life by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
Thoughtful and imaginative novel with a midwife puzzling out birth to death issues through the secrets of her grand aunt’s notebooks.

At the Existentialist Cafe by Sarah Bakewell
Delightfully written account, leaving the reader free to make sense of it all.

Children’s books

Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega
Wannabe Witches attempting to graduate to full Witchdom
By author of much-liked Ghost Squad

Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good by Louie Stowell
Overcame my suspicion of concealed moral-instruction books.

Mouse’s Wood by Alice Melville
Fun starter ‘read to and lift-flaps’ picture book.

Books which don’t need our backingUnless we receive a genuine (non-trade) recommendation, we do not give additional support to books attributed to celebrities, even if they have written them themselves. They don’t need our backing.

Wittgenstein’s Poker. More than just an Academic Fairy Tale

December 12, 2022

Wittgenstein’s Poker is a ‘serious’ treatment of ‘a ten-minute argument between two great philosophers’ . This is how the book describes itself on its cover, by English authors David Edmonds and John Eidinow.

After the first chapter, I already saw it as having features of a detective story. The meeting, which is presented as a critical incident, is described with evidence from interviews with the surviving witnesses. 

Readers are taken through the unfolding investigations into the background of the two main characters, two of the era’s most illustrious Austrians, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper, at a time shortly after the defeat and death of their even more famous countryman Adolf Hitler.

Their monumental confrontation took place in a crumbling committee room in King’s College, Cambridge, in October 1946. Popper, a visiting speaker possibly encouraged by celebrity philosopher Bertrand  Russell, had arrived with his intention of demolishing the theories of the home favourite Wittgenstein. The verbal battle deteriorated into a possible assault as Wittgenstein seized a fireside poker and wielded it threateningly at Popper before stalking out of the room. Curiously, the location of the weapon, the famous poker, remains a mystery to this day.

The book, to me, is a fascinating read, partly justifying the claims on the cover, and meriting its niche success. The structure is unusual. As a thriller, it is unusual, with the famous ten minute poker-waving incident revealed at the start.

The remainder of the book delves more deeply into the history and upbringing of the two protagonists, and building up a psychological rather than a philosophical explanation of what might have contributed to the Tweedledum and Tweedledee fracas.

Wittgenstein and Popper were both brought up in Vienna, the former into the family of the wealthy business magnate, ‘second only to the Vienna branch’ of the Rothchilds. Popper, in contrast was born into middle class comfort of a family excluded from the highest social circle of Viennese Jews admitted into the opulent Wittgenstein Palais.

Their first encounter was a meeting at Cambridge at a serious debating society already dominated by the brilliant and charismatic Wittgenstein, and attended by the best known philosopher of his generation Bertrand Russell. 

We learn in the book that Popper arrived as guest speaker to discredit Wittgenstein’s contribution to philosophy, in the presence of Wittgenstein’s mentor Russell. The 

The authors, brilliant journalists by profession, had shown the skills of engaging the reader without dangerous misinterpretations of their subject. So, they offer the reader only glimpses of the core aspects of Wittgenstein’s own distaste for Russell’s work which took the unreadable book (Russell’s own comment) Principia Mathematica three volumes and nearly 2000 pages to reach completion. 

In contrast, Popper had reached prominence for his popular and influential work The Open Society and its Enemies, admired by, among others Bertrand Russell. 

Popper’s line of attack was intended to reduce Wittgenstein’s attention to language as only dealing with puzzles not core philosophical problems. Wittgenstein’s work is also a rejection of accepted philosophy including Russell’s but through series of statements which were themselves neatly described by the authors as ‘opaque to the lay reader, and not much more transparent to the specialist (p55).

Anyone finding this story fascinating, may be ready to try the magisterial biography of Wittgenstein by the philosopher Ray Monk. Edmonds and Eidenow certainly did, as their account of that fateful battle follows Monk rather closely. 

The Wit and Wisdom of Twitter

December 9, 2022

Twitter has become a self-parodying system since the takeover by Elon Musk. It makes its own headlines. Its new owner contributes with his own messages, which at times take on a surreal character.

I’ve started collecting my favourite tweets, those which amuse me the most. They capture the everyday creativity to be found around us, wherever we look. Here is my first collection of recent tweets.


How many times do you have to tickle an octopus to make it laugh? 


Of course, it only has 8 of those. So the first 2 were test-tickles


Tesco today

Bereft of eggs.

I mentioned it at check out. Was told it was due to the

Aviation flu

I love my Tesco 😂😂


Replying to @clecylad

Nasty. Aviation flu saw off the popular de Havilland aircraft company.

Also replying to @clecylad

Well, I went to the shop to buy fruit but they were Sans-Berries


[I know… very bad]

@FrankRoss 123

Dont be fooled by Origami, it only looks good on paper.


Laughter is the best medicine, though it tends not to work in the case of erectile disfunction


I went to Waterstones and asked the woman for a book about turtles. She asked: “Hardback?” and I was like: “Yeah, and little heads.”


I miss the times when each village only had one idiot.


I’m going to give you nearly all of politics for the next 2 years in two tweets:

(1) OBR- Real household disposable income per person, a measure of living standards, is set to fall 4.3% in 2022-23 the largest fall  since ONS records began in 1956-57.

(2) That is followed by the second-largest fall in 2023-24 at 2.8%.  That’ll only be the third time since 1956-57 that disposable income per person has fallen for two consecutive fiscal years. 

Should it happen or anything close, everything else will be embellishment and detail.


Do you know what a “watchamacallit” is?

@deelomas. Yes, it’s that thingamajig in the second drawer in the kitchen.


Pipe dream at best. How would you get a bill to end the House of Lords through the House of Lords?


From the above article, I liked the quote: Awarding Dylan the Nobel, he said “is like pinning a medal on Mt Everest for being the highest mountain.


You know, it’s odd isn’t it that any fish caught in the Channel belongs to the EU, but any humans found there belong to the U.K.?

@johnathanLevitt7 Mermaids always cause trouble

@Tudortweet So do philosophers.


I  was cutting my toenails this morning and one nail flew across the bathroom, hit the pedal bin, dented it, bounced up, broke the window, flow out and killed a crow that was flying past. I feel terrible about that, now.

If you have a favourite, please let me know.