The Serial Name-Dropper

First of all, let’s start off with a link to one of my favourite websites,  What exactly is name-dropping?

Got it?  Good.

I’m a big radio fan ever since listening to BFBS in Germany in my childhood days.  I love:

  • BBC Radio 4
  • BBC Radio 5
  • Radio Tees
  • Shetland Islands Broadcasting Company
  • Falkland Islands Radio
  • Zetland FM (local radio for Redcar)

and many, many more.

Latterly, however, one presenter has been driving me up the wall.  I will not name him.  He is a serial, recidivist, name-dropper.

That was the magnificent singing voice of Bill Withers.  I’ll never forget that evening as he shared a pint and some great conversation with me… at Trimdon Working Men’s Club back in the 80’s.


Wow!  What a great track there by Tom Jones.  I was so flattered when he thanked me for a fantastic time that we had just had at a gala night of performances… at Eston Labour Club.

Thus, the structure:

  1. Celeb +
  2. Fun time description +
  3. Venue am Arsch der Welt somewhere in the North-East of England (no offence, folks)

One Saturday afternoon last month I could take no more.  After the 90th name-drop of the week, my Kindle was starting to beg for mercy.  I leapt off my bed and tuned into another station, which I think was probably something like Voice of Albania or University Radio Lagos.  Anything!  I did not care.  I just could not listen to any more name-drops.  We all have a limit, I’m afraid.

Finally, enjoy this spoof DJ telling you about all his great work for “charidee.”  I don’t know why this clip comes to mind.

Have a star-struck day, won’t you! (As Gary Newman said to me in the bar after a wonderful evening of music and song down Redcar Bowl…)



Who used to have the Encyclopaedia Britannica at home?  Who remembers when libraries had microfiches and index cards?

That is how we used to access information on the capital of Rwanda, history of the Sorbian language, crop rotation in the 14th century, etc.

Nowadays: we have people asking the hive mind on Facebook.

I’m on several Facebook pages:

  • Expat in Germany
  • Creative writing
  • History
  • Philately
    • Pitcairn Island
  • Travel
    • Pitcairn Island
  • Astronomy
    • Planet Pluto
  • Many, many more…

Most of the groups are good fun, eg learning about the postal history of Planet Pluto, or something like that…  I like to read the posts and contribute when others ask questions.

Today, while staring out of the window on the tram today, I coined a new acronym:

JFGI (Just Flipping Google It)

At least I thought it was new.  However, it did already exist, as mentioned in Urban Dictionary.

Years ago, I used to be a supply teacher.  The number of times I’d be asked,

Sir, what’s this word mean?

My reply would be:

Have you looked in the back of the book?  Have you looked in the dictionary?  No, then do it, and tell me what the answer is.  I am not here to spoonfeed you.

That was with 13 year olds from some of the rougher parts of Teesside.

Fast-forward to the year 2020.

FSQ’s (Flipping Stupid Questions) such as:

Where is the British Consulate in this city?

Umm…. JFGI.

I decide to relent.  I decide to send the enquirer the Consulate URL.

I then get supplementary FSQ’s…

What are the opening hours?  How do I get there by public transport?  How much is the train fare?  Can I reclaim my train fare?  Do I need to make an appointment?  Can you come with me to the Consulate tomorrow at 9am?  I need a helper with officialdom.

Umm, guess what…  JFGI.  And no, I am not at the beck and call of bone idle strangers.  I am not here to spoonfeed you…

Further questions from other groups come on an hourly basis.

Can you tell me about German history?

In a very polite English way, I reply:

German history is long, rich and complex.  What specifically do wish to know?

In hindsight I should have just replied…


Another question comes from would be Dostoyevskys.

How do I write a perfect novel?  I want to write my autobiography.  What should I write about?  How much should I charge for my book?

I decide not to reply.  I just think: JFGI.

These are questions from grown adults, not 13 year olds from the rough end of Teesside.

Then there are the ridiculously picky requests, not quite needing a JFGI response.  The enquirers tend to PM me, addressing me as “Sir”, or send me friend requests.  These are along the lines of:

Where in this city can I find an French-speaking dentist who speaks the language with an Albanian accent?  I need someone urgently to carry out root canal treatment on my Jack Russell puppy, who is scared of anyone who does not speak French to him.


Can anyone help me to find an apartment in this city?  My budget is 400€ per month.  I need a place from next week.  Who can come with me tomorrow at 11:00 to view an apartment?

You get the idea. Give me strength…

I feel like the help desk guy in this clip.

Have an self-starting day, won’t you!





Foula: it’s pronounced “Fool-er.”

Here’s the Wikipedia article about the island.

I’ve always had a thing about islands.  When I used to collect stamps as a 12-year-old, I was pleased as punch to have in my collection a mint stamp from Nauru and another mint stamp from Pitcairn Island, both places being as remote as it gets.

Fast forward to July 2003.  I had booked a hiking holiday on Shetland with a friend (Dan), including four nights on Foula.  For an island of just 4 by 6 kilometres, there were plenty of routes to walk, north, south, east and west, along the roads, uphill, around the island, etc.

Day one we walked to the highest point on the island, and then down to the air strip and lighthouse at the southern end, and spent a bit of time watching the puffins nesting near the lighthouse.  My friend was a born and bred Londoner.  He found the real live sheep fascinating.  (As my Dad, born and bred in the Yorkshire Dales, would say, “Townie.”)

Day two we headed northwards.  It was a pretty hot summer’s day.  Thankfully, being a redhead, I had slapped on the factor 50 sun cream and plonked a hat on my head.  After a couple of hours strolling, my friend and I had built up a bit of a sweat, slightly sore feet and backs needing time off without rucksacks on them.

By now we had reached the top of the island, with a kind of beach.

Dan suggested:

Right, shall we take a break here, and go take a dip in the sea?

I replied:

Good plan, mate.  My feet are absolutely throbbing.


Skinny dip, unless you’ve packed your swimming trunks?

Ginge in Germany:

Yeah, may as well.  Nobody else is going to be around, anyway.

Rucksacks get dropped off gently onto the rocks on the “beach.”  Then walking boots and socks off.  Then everything else.  Except my glasses.  Blind as a bat without them.  We both tiptoed into the water.  The sea was cooling.  It was freezing.  Testicle-crushingly freezing.  But, boy, it was nice to cool down after walking in the mid-day sun.  And there was nobody else for miles around.

I was wrong.

By now the water was at chest height.  I had kept my glasses on.  Only my glasses.  200 metres away from us, I spotted a group of five or six walkers.  They had not spotted us (I think).

“Dan, whatever you do, stay in the sea!  PLEASE!”

“Why?  It’s blinking freezing.  I can’t stay here much longer.”

“Because there’s a bunch of hikers over there, and they are heading in this direction.”

Dan and I stayed exactly where we were.  The water was at chest level.  The group stopped and looked in our direction.  We waved back.  They waved back to us.

(Please don’t come any closer.)

They paused for another minute or two, pointing at the geographical features to our east.  They then continued their hike eastwards, away from us.  My fingernails were probably turning a nice shade of blue.

Finally they were out of sight.  It seemed like two hours, not two minutes.

We breathed a sigh of relief.  Gingerly (no pun intended) we tiptoed out of the water back to our rucksacks and clothes.  We dressed rapidly – just in case any more hikers strolled by.  Luckily the sun dried us off and warmed us up, as did our brisk stroll back to our digs.  On our way back we encountered the same group of hikers.  We exchanged greetings.

“Good swim?”

“Yes, excellent, thanks.  Surprisingly warm, actually.  Did us the world of good.”

A close escape.  The rest of our stay on the island, we resolved to stay on dry land.

May your day go swimmingly well!

backlit beach clouds dusk

Photo by Jacub Gomez on

“Yes sir,” when you are speaking to me!

In 1983 I was visiting Sunray, who was stationed as a sergeant in the British Army on sunny Cyprus.  I sat in his office while he was on the phone, requesting transport off the local Royal Corps of Transport unit.  It was a fairly mundane conversation.

“So, can you do that for me?  YES WHAT?  ‘Yes, SERGEANT!’ WHEN YOU ARE SPEAKING TO ME!”

Sunray then slammed the phone down so hard, I thought he was going to break it.  (He nearly did, I suspect.)  I enquired:

“Er, Dad, what did he say?”

Sunray, fuming, explained:

“That RCT driver just called me ‘mate.'”

For those of you who do not have an ex-military background, calling a sergeant “mate” when you are a private is like being caught in bed with the vicar’s wife.

You. Just.  Don’t.  Do. It.

Fast forward to 2006.  Ginge in Germany is working as a teacher in a rough comprehensive school in Inbredsville, where my niece was a student. I’m handing out textbooks at the start of the lesson.

Smirking at me and his mates, the class hero says:

“Thanks, mate.”

My head instantly beams me up from Inbredsville to the Sovereign Base Area, Cyprus.  I become my Dad.


The student flinched.  My teaching assistant flinched.

“Your niece said you were a very softly-spoken kind of guy.”

After work, I called in on Sunray.  I told him about how I reacted to being called  “mate.”  He grinned and patted me on the back, saying:

Well done, son.  I clearly taught you everything you know when it comes to insubordination.

Have a matey day, won’t you!

Image result for nco shouting

Mr Dung Beetle

Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union – his surname was Russian for “dung beetle.”  Here’s a joke from his time in office.

Khrushchev visited a pig farm and was photographed there. In a newspaper’s office, a discussion is under way what should be the caption under the picture.

“Comrade Khrushchev among pigs.”

“Comrade Khrushchev and pigs.”

“Pigs around comrade Khrushchev,”—all is rejected.

Finally the editor makes the decision. The caption is “The third from left – Comrade Khrushchev.”

Have a pig of a day, won’t you!

group of pink pigs on cage

Photo by John Lambeth on


An inspecting commission came to a lunatics asylum. To greet them, a choir of the patients sang a song from a popular movie that says “Oh, how good it is to live in the Soviet land!”
The commission noticed that one of the men did not sing.

“Why are you not singing?”

“I’m not crazy, I’m a nurse here.”

Have a choral day, won’t you!

people standing inside church

Photo by Blue Ox Studio on