The Modern Parents

First of all, a few facts about me.

  1. I’m a redhead.
  2. I live in Germany.
  3. I’ve a mum.
  4. I’ve no dad (since 16 January).
  5. I have my Schatz.
  6. I have no children (unless there’s some Boris Ginge-in-Germany that I’m not aware of from my year abroad in Russia).
  7. I believe in the saying, “None of us has been to the North Pole, but we all know it’s pretty freezing there.”

I haven’t read Viz comic for about fifteen years.   One of their best comic strips was The Modern Parents.  This is the topic of my rant du jour.  First of all, have a read of the following snippet.


Before anyone says, “Ah, but you’re not a parent yourself, so how can you have a dig at parents?” please scroll back up to fact 7.

I’m not a parent, but I bump into them and their offspring at church, in cafes, on the tram, in the library and of, course, on Facebook.  So, in a way, I see myself as an outside observer.  Let me give you a quote.

I aim to be not just their [my sons’] father, but also their best friend.

Those were the exact words of B, an acquaintance of mine, in early 2017, whose sons Whatsapp him about once a month.

And some other quotes, this time from CEB, a former classmate of mine.

Number 1:

So [daughter’s name] and I have just tried out [son’s name]’s pesto crusted salmon as he got all the ingredients a week early. The Asparagus was very tasty, hope he manages as well in his master chef competition. Had to wait till 7 as we had to watch the golden compass for [daughter’s name]’s homework!

Number 2:

Mother’s Day over for me. Well done to [daughter’s name] who cooked smoked salmon and scrambled egg bagels with orange juice and coffee for me, my sister and niece.  Soooo impressed at the beautiful prayer she wrote for me for Sunday’s church service.  Nine years old, and writing like a theologian.

Etc ad nauseum.

Now clearly, to quote the liturgy, “it is right to give thanks and praise,” but I would question whether putting your children on a pedestal for everything they do, and in such a gushing manner, is really necessary.  Imagine if your line manager at work acted in a similar manner…

So proud of Fred for the way he cleaned the toilets at the bus station this morning.  Those endless hours of showing him how to mop floors have most definitely not been wasted!  Go, Team Toilet!

How about:

Astounded at how Julia has made such delicious slices of toast today, using our secret method.  Three customers have all taken photos of their toast this morning.  Catering Assistant of the Year!

All of these quotes just remind me of Mr “Which Was Nice,” a comedy character from The Fast Show, a hit comedy series from the 1990s.

Is the aim of all these posts to be “two-sheds”: Anything You Can Do, I Con Do Better, as per the song?  Is it projection?  “Because my offspring are so clever, that is proof that I am clever.”

As for being your sons’/daughters’ best friend, may I, as a mere non-parent, humbly suggest that you leave it to them to decide who will be their best friend, as a refusal can often offend.

(Am I being too harsh?)

Have a praiseworthy day, won’t you!


Now just hang on…

Today I want to talk about hanging.  No, I’m only pulling your leg.  Where does that expression come from?  It’s actually quite macabre, and linked to capital punishment.

The “modern, humane” method of hanging as a form of execution is to break a bone in the neck, causing instant death.  The old method was, in short, strangulation, a method which was slow and painful.  (As an aside: some of the executions at the end of the Nuremberg Trials were badly botched, leading to some of the condemned men dying very, very slowly and agonisingly: 15 to 30 minutes in several cases.)

“I’m only pulling your leg”, meaning “I’m only gently teasing you”, goes back to the days when your friends would try to shorten your agony as you were slowly strangled to death at the end of a rope.  They were literally trying to put you out of your misery by trying to force air out of your body and send you unconscious.

Fancy a gala day out?  Guess what.  That comes from the days when watching the public hangings was pretty much a spectator sport, a family day out, if you like, when everyone would go down to the gallows.

Are you on the wagon?  Not drinking?  When the condemned man was being transported on a donkey-drawn cart from prison to the gallows, he would be allowed to stop off at the pubs on the way to execution.  If he decided not to pop into the pub for a quick half, he would stay on the wagon.  There is even a pub in Abingdon in Oxfordshire called The Broad Face.  Legend has it, this is because the pub was located opposite a prison where old-method hanging was carried out.  I won’t go into the physiological details here…

Have a gala day, won’t you!

The Light Bulb Joke

I was intrigued as to the history of the light bulb joke.  Here’s what Wikipedia says.

So it goes back to the 1960s.  We live, we learn.

So, today I was reading a book on comedy writing.  Today’s exercise was: write light bulb jokes about 20 occupations.  I gave up at 8.  Brain is not as supple as it used to be.

  • Librarians
    • Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!
  • Surgeons
    • None.  He just holds it, and the light bulb, just like the rest of the world, revolves around him.
  • IT help desk staff
    • We have an identical light bulb.  Ours works fine.  Have you tried pressing the on/off button again?
  • Car mechanics
    • Six.  One to change it, the other five to take a look and say, “Hssss, this is gonna cost, you know.”
  • GOP Senators
    • Twenty.  One to change it.  The rest to tweet “Thoughts and prayers” for the dead lightbulb.
  • Irish rebel singers
    • Forty-nine.  One to change it.  The rest to sing about how the Saxons tortured the old light bulb for seven score days and ten, and still couldn’t break it.
  • Rugby players
    • Fifteen.  One to change it.  The other fourteen to smash up the pub in which the light bulb was found.

Have a light-hearted day, won’t you!


‘A disciplined comrade’

Always an excellent blog.

Lion & Unicorn

Richard Burgon
born 1980
Labour MP for Leeds East 2015-
shadow city minister 2015-16
shadow justice secretary 2016-

Richard Burgon broke convention by calling for the end to the Monarchy before affirming an oath of allegiance. “As someone that believes that the head of state should be elected I make this oath in order to serve my constituents,” he said.’ – Daily Mirror (2015) [i]

‘No-one was more surprised than me that my swearing in as an MP made the news last week.’ – Richard Burgon (2015) [ii]

‘New SNP MP Patricia Gibson flinched in disgust after one of her colleagues broke wind in the Commons. Shocked Patricia was caught on camera recoiling in horror when Labour rival Richard Burgon let off during a debate. She could be seen on telly covering her mouth and trying to waft away the nauseating stench as Mr Burgon ignored her desperate actions.’ – Daily Record

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SOS, -Ess Suffix

It’s been a quiet evening at home.  Nothing on TV.  (This is Germany.)  Nothing on radio, well apart from the sad, sad story of Hartlepool football club.  I’ve been thinking about our mother tongue, post-Norman demotic Anglo-Saxon.

Random thoughts: is the -ess suffix now dead, moribund, obsolete or obsolescent.  Who says or writes the following words any more?

  • Authoress
  • Editress
  • Manageress

All that seems to be left is “waitress” (which I think has been replaced by the gender-neutral word, “server” in the USA).  Oh yes, and “mistress.”  Ah, and there’s also “goddess” and “princess.”  (I guess the first two serve, the latter two are served.)

What has caused this suffix to become obsolescent?  Are native-speakers of our language much less sexist than a generation ago, when many a shop would have a manageress (sic).  That reminds me, I must look up that story I found a while back about obsolete words, such as “aerodrome.”  Doubtless my Irish fellow blogger has a better idea than I. 🙂

Have an obsolescent day, won’t you!

Wild Goose Chase

Sunray loved practical jokes.

One Sunday in 1986 he was reading the newspaper.  On seeing an advert for M***n Kitchens, he tore out the coupon, filled it in and awaited the results.

Four days later a sales rep turned up at his friend, R’s, house in Bradford.


Yes, love?

Sales rep:

Mornin’, love.  Phil from M***n Kitchens.  I’ve come to sort you out a quote for your kitchen.


Eh?  What are you on about?  I don’t want me kitchen sortin’.

Sales re:

But you filled in the form for me to come and give you a quote.


Eh, I’ve filled nowt out. 

Sales rep, by now very frustrated and fed-up and realising this was going nowhere:

I’ve been sent on a bloody wild goose chase!

When Sunray received a report on the unsuccessful visit – he laughed.  He roared!

Fast-forward a year.  After going through his second divorce, Sunray joined a dating agency while living in the Yorkshire Dales.  This being pre-internet days, a few days after joining, he got a letter from a potential “candidate.”

  • It was lavender-colour paper.
  • It was scented.  Lavender-scented.
  • The handwriting was beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful and feminine.

Dear Sunray

I’m a 43-year-old beautician.  Times have been quite hard since my husband passed away three years ago, but I feel it is now time to look for love again.  It would be a pleasure to hear from you and chat by phone.

Yours sincerely

Maureen Barleycorn

Wow!  Sounds good!  We’re on starter’s orders.  Sunray rang the beautician’s number.  It turned out to be Ripon police station.  Oh well, maybe she’d written down the number in by mistake.  These things happen.  Smart casual clothes on.  Time to jump in the car.

Half an hour later Sunray arrives in the beautiful city of Ripon.  After a short drive, he finds the street.  He finds the house.  Strangely enough the beautician lives in a street of old folks’ bungalows.  Oh well…

A spring in step.  Hopes are high.

Door bell.  Bing-bong.

An old lady walks to the door?


Hello dear.  My name is Sunray.  I was passing through the area and thought I’d come and see Maureen Barleycorn?

Old lady:

Who?  Nobody of that name here, pet.  Ee, you like just like the fella who repaired my washing machine last week.  Is he your brother?

Sunray, realising he’s been on the other end of a prank, and who the perpetrator was (repair man brother):

OK, sorry to have bothered you.  I think I’ve been giving the wrong address. 

Sunray then heads back to his car, uttering the words:

I’ve been sent on a bloody wild goose chase.

And he didn’t laugh.  (Or roar!)

Have a roaring day, won’t you!

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