Are cufflinks an essential part of your life?

If you are a city slicker working for a merchant bank in the City it’s sure to be a ‘yes’ that your crisp white T M Lewin shirts needs these. Why, to replace the buttons that aren’t there on your cuffs. I think jts called style! Unless I am mistaken however, for the rest of us the need for cufflinks is another ‘trip hazard’ in the wirld of male dressing (but not female dressing, as far as I am aware…however as always I am open to being corrected on this last point)

So for the majority of the population its a problem , not a style statement. Most men have probably at some point in their life bought or been given a shirt that need these..often a smarter and higher quality shirt that might only get an occasional airing (and ironing!) and therein lies the problem. Often these shirt owners and the said garments are making a rare trip to a wedding, funeral , conference, job interview or whatever kind of event that is a distance away from home.

So picture the scene , bag being upacked, smart shirt making its debut, (or revival tour) and then sinking realisation. The b$$$$y thing needs cufflinks. And home is probably where the required pair of cuff links might be, often sitting in a sock drawer waiting patiently for an opportunity to shine on such an occasion.

Its not that men don’t like them or have them. Many a brother/son/grandsons birthday gift selection has been such an item – that glimmer of opportunity for a desperate present seeking mother/sister/grandmother seeing domino shaped cufflinks that little Johnny will just love. The fact that little Johnny last played dominoes in 1983 aged 7, has no bearing. In fact a dominoes pizza shaped cuff link may be far more relevant..but probably not readily available at most jewellers.

The issue is that many of us wear them so rarely, the cuff links are often forgotten. And this is where it sorts out the improvisers (I’m sure I can make some if I can just find two paper clips), the brave (I am sure nobody will notice my flapping cuffs) and the fearless (I’ll just ask all the other guests – somebody is bound to have brought a spare pair!) There is no real moral to this story other than always keep a pair in your bag, if you don’t need them somebody else probably will. At last a chance for those “never worn” cuff links made from your recent kidney stones , to have a chance to shine.

Ask and you might receive….

Recently I was asked by a family member what did I want for an impending birthday. Awks…as one would say if one were cool and aged 16. Anyway I had more adult response but basically the same sentiment. Difficult and awkward question, as one neither wants to give a pious answer, oh nothing your love/friendship/running club comradeship/work colleague loveliness is more than enough. Nor is it appropriate to reel off from memory an Argos catalogue number, or an Amazon URL. So how to deal with the issue? Guidance came from a surprising source.

My mother’s local priest in his sermon one week drifted on to the subject of his parishioners hard work fundraising at a recent parish coffee morning but he apologised for the very shabby and worn kitchen knives from his house that were used at the event.

The following Sunday he commenced his sermon by remarking how surprised and overwhelmed he was to find a complete set of shiny new knives giftwrapped waiting by the front door.

Continuing to beam at his loving congregation, he then said, so now to today’s sermon, can I start by saying how St John’s Gospel that we have just heard , of course might draw our mind to a 32″ Panasonic HD ready , network TV.

Very awks!

Gamers doing good!

Computer gaming (as in playing online games, rather than putting the contents of one’s bank account, plus your shirt, on 13 Black in online roulette) is one of the worlds most popular pastimes. People often tag gamers as geeks but we need to look beyond the stereotype and challenge this.

The Oxford English dictionary definition of geek is an unfashionable or socially awkward person.

Yes , these are what we expect and portray…teenagers ensconced in darkened bedrooms who list their best friend on Facebook as their x box controller and consider the best weekend ever in their lives as a games convention in Birmingham rather than a clubbing weekend in Ibiza.

But hang on, as hobbies go, or indeed as attributes of hobbyists go, give me the gamer anytime. These people unlike some (albeit , a tiny minority of ) soccer fans who think racist chanting, aggressive intimidation or just general loutish behaviour is ok. Equally I am not aware of gamers being drawn into the world of street crime and anti social behaviour fuelled by drink or postcode wars.

But it’s actually better than that. Gamers are now very actively involved in using their critical mass in charitable fundraising. And this goes beyond the gaming itself but the YouTube video channels that are immensely popular in this genre. The most well known of these the Yogscast Jingle jam. But if you think that is big , just look at this.

BBC News – How ‘charity speedrunning’ made gaming the new telethon

So gaming…it may not be my world or yours, but it is actually a very giving world.

Dire Straits

‘Money for nothing, drinks for free’. This was the lyrics of this 1985 mega seller for Dire Straits. Actually what they were really singing was ‘Money for Nothing, Chicks for free.’ So my version was just about free beverages,

There’s was, well, a bit more rock’n’roll in its meaning. Anyway my version stuck, although has faded in the passing years. However it all flashed back yesterday on seeing this sign.

I walked past a beachside cafe with this on Jersey (where I was fleetingly yesterday) . The song later goes on about ‘we’ve got to shift those microwave ovens’ Probably a seriously large amount of litter has to be collected to get one of these!

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Above us only sky

John Lennon’s words back in the 1970’s don’t really reflect aviation today. Actually, they are not supposed to, I think it was more about revolution and hippy stuff. But it’s a great phrase and on a clear night or day if you look into the azure blue or dark night sky we see a truly vast emptiness and maybe some aircraft . Until relatively recently, unless you lived near an airport and had lower altitude aircraft in descent or extremely good eyesight all you could surmise was that indeed it’s a plane. The internet, cheap 3g/4g data plans and free or very low cost apps have changed all that.

So now the closed world of planespotting has been gatecrashed/or overtaken by mobile Apps such as Flightradar24 and various others. There is something quite amazing in clicking on the aircraft icon on a map reflected in the overlay of your location and seeing that the silver shape above you is a Lufthansa Airbus A380 going from Frankfurt to Denver at 580mph, 38,000feet above where you stand in rural Britain

Spotting is perhaps still the category for the archetypal anorak wearing persons found at railway platform ends, or grasping binoculars and radio-receivers at airport viewing galleries. But for the rest of us whether we are basic bronze version app users just taking an interest or gold version users feeling needy for an essential bonus data such as colour of the captain’s socks etc. This not us all being turned into a geek; it’s the opposite – its being informed and being information ready. It is also deemed by most as quite good fun!

Harry Potter and the unhygienic scarf

Anyone familiar with London’s Kings Cross Station will be aware of it’s Harry Potter connections. The infamous Platform 9 and 3/4 exists at least in terms of signage and a disappearing trolley embedded in the wall. As a somewhat regular traveller through the station I never cease to be amazed at the sheer volume of visitors to the aforementioned signage and embedded trolley. At peak times there will be a queue of 30 or more far travelled people neatly corralled awaiting their turn for a photo at this shrine. The organisers helpfully provide the use of a wand to wave and a scarf to wear to give authenticity to the photo. An official is there to give guidance and assistance to project it into the air for photographic effect. So all seems good. But this is production line throughput. Probably in the order of one every 2 to 3 minutes. By my reckoning that’s 20 an hour so probably 200 or so each day. Assuming even an optimistic changing of the scarf once a day for laundry purposes, that does raise a question on , shall we politely say freshness. Now as bodily parts go necks are probably fairly clean, but would you wear an item of clothing that 200 others have shared with you that day? However there may be a missing factor, maybe the swish of the wand delivers the same results as a 40 degree non-Bio wash. Who am I to question this?


Thank God it’s Saturday has never quite had the notoriety of its better known cousin TGIF. TGIF gets a restaurant chain with staff sporting wacky badges and steaks garnished with Jack Daniels bourbon. In the UK even a TV show every Friday with equally ‘outside the box’ entertainment shared a similar name.

However for a huge raft of, well , every age group, the rallying cry is ..yes! it’s Saturday, and Parkrun day. If you are not familiar, Google it, but in essence it’s a free run every Saturday in 100’s of locations across the UK and beyond, attracting 500 or more to each event. So what is the big deal – yes, a chance for a timed run with like minded people, but the bonus value of these events is the volunteering to make it happen in terms of organisation and marshaling that this requires and attracts. And actually for many participants they will dip in and out to do both. The principle being if you take in life, it’s important to give as well. But like a ‘buy one, get one free’ retail offer that also pays loyalty points, it can go one better . There is a newly formed UK voluntary group called GoodGym . Basically a group of runners who run to a venue be that a school, community group, care home, wildlife reserve etc. and then do some volunteering and then run back! And today’s location they have run to…. the venue of my local Parkrun! , They will do the run, a bit of a tidy up in the park and then home…well actually via the cafe for a bacon sarnie and a tea! Now how good is that!

Volunteering sometimes gives a bad vibe as it is perhaps interpreted as giving something up, rather than giving something back! A Mum with 5 children was recently interviewed on TV and asked how does she share her love among the children..her answer I don’t divide it, I multiply it! I rest my case.

Shiny, happy people – REM

I never really knew what the song was about…but its fun and the music video that REM carefully crafted seems to make good use of a children’s tv programme set, a box of old clothes and a man cycling on a bike that goes nowhere. I love this song but I don’t really know why. 33 Million people have watched it on You Tube so I guess they like it too. Have a search for it and a listen if you are too young to recall 1991 !

So what is the relevance to this post – actually not a lot, other than the song title. I only have gone down this track because of a chance conversation with someone who I think of also as one of life’s Shiny, Happy People in more ways than one. Jess is an aspiring nail artist – I met her professionally but to put minds at rest, it wasn’t because I needed my nails doing, but at one of the other roles she has an equal talent for in the world of marketing. Funnily enough though Jess is not the first nail designer I ever met – a few weeks earlier I met someone who travels the world to paint (and I am grossly underselling it by using the word paint) the nails of the worlds top magazine models . But back to Jess , it is she tells me a tough and competitive world out there for nail design – even when you are a shiny and happy person with an instagram page to match. (User name is root_to_beauty) She asked me to refer her to my friends and contacts so here it is. She is based in London, but I guess if you live in New York, Paris or Milan and willing to pay her air fare she is open to offers!!!

Tell me again, why are you doing a blog?

As a teenager on being asked this question as I skulked out of the front door ‘where was I going?’, I would give the standard teenage answer of ‘out‘. In a way the same applies here on being asked why the Blog? …..the answer is ‘because I want to’.

There are however lots of reasons that don’t apply. It’s not to be an Amazon top ten author producing a series of novels with apparent one of these in the family already; nor to be a highly followed you tuber – ditto for that as well. It’s really just to have somewhere to put this stuff. In the same way that every house has a drawer full of miscellany…this is that drawer. A literary alternative to short pieces of string, a key for a missing padlock, an incomplete set of playing cards, some rubber bands and some saved tissue gift wrap that may be useful one day. So why not just say the stuff? Context, relevance and tolerance all play a part here. Sharing my thoughts today on our current political pantomime might amuse me but not have the same wow factor for the rest of the household avidly ensconced in watching the Andy Murray tennis comeback, or the latest happening in Coronation Street. I know my abilities and I cannot compete with Murray or the Rovers Return pub. Finally and most importantly it’s about doing something new and different even at a later stage of life. A literary mid life crisis? Possibly but it doesn’t involve the purchase of a bright red sports car, or the company of a floozy! So no people, animals or bank accounts were harmed in the making of this blog.

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