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Mr. Sneekly "Paul Lynde Fan" (Brentwood)
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VOODOO DOLL - MOTHER IN LAW
VOODOO DOLL - MOTHER IN LAW
Offered by Real Sailer
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars That old black magic, that you weave so well, 5 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I must point out, right from the off, that my own former mother-in-law has never actually said anything to me that wasn't true. I DIDN'T know how lucky I was, I AM a lazy and selfish good-for-nothing and her daughter COULD, quite easily, have done better.

Sure, it might suit me to believe that she chants my name over and over again at night while slaughtering chickens and using the power of Greyskull to make sure that her daughter will never again look twice at me. But, realistically, I've got to admit that she's far more likely to just be sat there, watching the soaps. Although that's not to say that she doesn't check QVC out during the commercials, on the hunt for a good deal on Eye of Newt.

Like all women, my ex-wife married beneath her. Her mother was simply kind enough to remind me of that fact on a regular basis, that's all. Consequently, I spent a great deal of my marriage wishing that my mother-in-law's broomstick might give her a splinter somewhere unspeakable or that her cauldron might boil over and wreck her ceramic hob. And, if I'd had this little doll while I was still married, there's no doubt that I would have used it for precisely the purpose it was designed - to stab ten great big pins into her effigy while praying that the woman might cut me some small amount of slack.

The thing is though, I've been divorced for years and yet I only bought this doll recently - when I found out that my former mother-in-law has been diagnosed with cancer.

If anything happens to her, it will break my ex-wife's heart: and I just can't be having that. Not until I've exhausted every avenue possible. Which arguably, if you're dealing with a mother-in-law, isn't just knowledgeable doctors or even experimental quackery: it's the immediate deployment of the same sort of black magic and sorcery that a mother-in-law utilises in spades - only this time, in the form of positive vibes.

To put my plan into action I removed the ten pins (which were already stabbed into the doll when she came out of her box) and flung them straight in the dustbin. I am hopeful that this act alone will allow my former mother-in-law's indomitable spirit a clear run when it comes to defeating the disease which has, so stupidly, decided to take her on.

The doll is bright red and measures about 8 inches (20cm) tall and 4.5 inches (11cm) across at its widest point - which is where some sizeable hips meet forearms that could throttle a diminutive son-in-law with ease. Mind you, from the things that are written on her, she would appear to have been designed more with the lucrative daughter-in-law market in mind. In no particular order, these are;

1. Accept me as I am
2. Compliment me on how I look
3. Appreciate me
4. Be nice
5. Stop complaining
6. Help me out with the housework
7. Stop bitchin' behind my back
8. Stop giving me advice
9. Don't tell me how to bring up my kids
10. Babysit the kids
11. Stay away

The writing is only on the front of the doll so there's no legitimate reason for sticking a pin into her backside. There might be a whole host of completely understandable reasons, but there won't be any that are strictly legitimate. What is slightly worrying is the request to 'Help me out with the housework', since this doll is the sort of thing you might display upon a dusty old mantelpiece. Given that it has 'MOTHER-IN-LAW VOODOO DOLL' writ large upon it, that would appear to be a recipe for a lifetime's worth of trouble, right there.

I look at that list of demands now and feel just awful for my poor dear former mother-in-law. I mean, she HAS always accepted me as I am... it's not her fault I'm a total loser, is it? She always used to say it was nice to see the back of me too and she's certainly always shown a great appreciation for the huge number of ways in which I can manifest myself as being completely and utterly useless. With hindsight, she was as nice to me as she could be, given how much I obviously get up most right-thinking folks' hooters.

To ask her to 'stop complaining' would have been pointless (after all, she IS a woman...), as would asking for her help in doing the housework (a man's XXL lingerie collection is his own and should not even be washed and ironed by his wife, let alone her mother).

That bit about 'bitchin' behind my back', well, from what I can gather she only really used to get involved with that while in the company of my ex-wife, so I'm fairly satisfied that my former mother-in-law could seldom get a word in. Meanwhile, had I taken her advice, then the gripes about bringing up and babysitting the kids might actually have been relevant.

And, as for staying away... well, I want that woman around for a LONG time yet.

As a joke gift when I was married, this probably wouldn't have held my attention for long. As a form of comfort during these trying times however, it is invaluable.

Oh, one last thing... if you happen to read this and you know either my ex-wife or her mother, please don't tell them about this doll. They think I'm just a lazy, selfish loser and - under the circumstances - if that makes my former mother-in-law happy, then that's absolutely fine by me.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 26, 2015 1:40 PM BST


Are You Being Served? [DVD]
Are You Being Served? [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mollie Sugden
Price: £4.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good golly, Ms Mollie!, 25 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Are You Being Served? [DVD] (DVD)
This 1977 spin-off movie really does seem to polarise audience opinion.

You either love it, in which case you consider it an honour and a privilege to have the opportunity to shell out a fair old wedge for what is, in all honesty, a very cheaply made DVD ... or you think that 'Are You Being Served? The Movie' is the sort of thing they ought to have perpetually playing of a night-time in areas of high crime, as a way of getting potential malefactors off the streets quickly and efficiently. Not just off the streets either, but voluntarily locked up in their own homes and praying to anyone who will listen to please, please not let Mrs Slocombe's Union Flag knickers appear in their nightmares.

For what it's worth (and, no doubt, because I was born to be awkward) I can't say I absolutely love this film. But I do like a lot of things about it. At the same time, I can see why it might have caused someone like Barry Norman to choke on his popcorn.

A seventies sitcom spin-off movie needs to have a number of things going for it to have any sort of hope of being spoken of favourably a few decades down the line. Essentially, it needs the original cast, an original script, an interesting situation for the characters to find themselves in and, most important of all, it's got to be funny. All of which explains, at a glance, why the film version of 'Rising Damp' won so few Oscars.

'Are You Being Served? The Movie' can certainly pass muster as far as its cast is concerned. It features all the regulars (including Arthur English as Mr Harman, Mr Mash's janitorial replacement) as well as people like Andrew Sachs and Glyn Houston in support. But never mind them: Mollie Sugden is unquestionably worth the price of admission alone. There's nothing more attractive than a woman who is effortlessly brilliant at what she does - and that applies to Mollie, in spades. Even if her superb comedy creation IS keen on sporting a hair tint which has been picked at random from an interior designer's colour wheel.

As for having an original script though - well, that's where things go a little bit wrong really. If we think of the film as being split into three main segments, I would say that the first two (where we find the staff in their usual environment and then follow them, via Gatwick, to the Costa Plonka) definitely have merit. The denouement however is, in my opinion, as weak as water.

And Mrs Slocombe and I are unanimous in that. In my dreams we are, anyway.

Arguably, the staff of Grace Brothers being forced to go on holiday together could be said to have come straight out of one of the earlier TV episodes, although the fact that they never actually did get away on that occasion is something in the film's favour. And there is a lot of original comedy to be found, albeit it somewhat outflanked sometimes by some suspiciously familiar-sounding lines. But there are two main set-pieces that, basically, have been lifted straight out of the programme.

One of them ('Dear Sexy Knickers...') works very well in its new Spanish setting. The other, which sees Derek Griffiths' visiting Sheik having a balloon thrust up his inside leg, was as boring as heck when they did a variation of it in the show. Here in the movie, it manages to be as boring as heck AS WELL as doing absolutely nothing to serve either the story or the characters. Although, from the expression on his face, Derek Griffiths himself must have got quite a lot out of the experience.

As far as the 'situation' part of things goes, the idea of having the staff holidaying together is actually made rather believable. Indeed, it even seems quite appealing... at least until it becomes apparent that everyone will have to share the one lavatory. For some reason the idea of going in there after Mr Grainger would put me right off. Then again, he'd probably have similar reservations about following me. And he'd undoubtedly have a much stronger case, too.

These days, Mr Lucas' behaviour while going through security at Gatwick would see him serving a considerable period of time in chokey. And Mr Grainger would be going through a body scanner and then, quite possibly, joining him. It's funny how times change, isn't it? Still, we get to see some wonderful old footage of the airport, including a gorgeous Dan Air Comet (known to its friends as G-APYD) which, a quick internet search tells me, is now residing in the Science Museum at Wroughton, near Swindon.

As I said before, I think the ending itself is pretty disappointing. Having thought about it though, that's probably because it is a step too far for the characters. They get up to some daft things on the sales floor and (particularly in the case of Mr Humphries) in a whole lot of other places besides... but to find them effectively in the middle of a warzone is just a bit too far-fetched. Although not as far-fetched as Young Mr Grace's shenanigans in the final few frames. How does that bloke get so many nubile young ladies, that's what I'd like to know. And how the dickens did he never try anything on with Mrs Slocombe? Good grief, what was wrong with the man??!

The lovely thing about 'Are You Being Served?' is that it quickly evolved into a true ensemble piece and that is very much reflected in this movie. Each character has been so well-written and is so well-portrayed that they are all funny, and each and every one of them brings something different. It's not going to split your sides (unless you've got a part-time job as the Laughing Policeman), but it certainly has an awful lot more going for it as a comedy than a lot of its detractors might have you believe.

My own favourite moments come right at the beginning, before the cast have even packed their suitcases. First, there's a brilliant series of scenes in which Mrs Slocombe has to get a photo taken for her visa while trying to evade the nurse who's been tasked with giving her her injections. The glaring hole in the plot that means she surely would never have actually had the time to get that visa made up is never explained, so I suppose we're meant to ignore it. To be fair, it's not really something I find myself dwelling on. Not when I've got Mrs Slocombe's reassuringly patriotic bloomers to hold my attention.

In addition to that, there's a clever piece of silent comedy involving a mannequin, some false teeth and a pair of budgie-smugglers. I know, I know - the mind positively boggles, doesn't it?

The music is what really makes that scene, by the way. I've read reviews elsewhere that complain about the soundtrack as a whole, accusing it of sounding 'cheesy' and the like. All I can say is, the main reason I bought this film was to get my hands on a copy of the music they use in the closing titles. It's awful, I'll be the first to admit that. All the same, it is infuriatingly catchy.

And it's not as if there is anything else that could even remotely be referred to as a 'bonus' on here. It's been lumbered with a Region 2 coding (for, what I can only assume are, reasons of abject spite). Meanwhile, it can boast no helpful sleeve-notes, no handy leaflets, no life-saving subtitles... no nothing.

Well, unless you can count that picture of Mrs Slocombe on her hands and knees. That one there... where she's looking over her shoulder all wide-eyed and enthusiastic.

Actually you know, someone with a crush on her and an overactive imagination might well consider that to be a definite bonus.

No?

Oh well, that must just be me then!


Keep Calm And Love Siobhan Fahey Novelty Keyring and Fridge Magnet Set
Keep Calm And Love Siobhan Fahey Novelty Keyring and Fridge Magnet Set

5.0 out of 5 stars Such stuff as dreams are made on!, 14 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Given that even Shakespeare himself never quite found the words to adequately describe an acrylic novelty keyring and fridge magnet set, I should probably stop my own review right now. Then again though, he never managed to come up with half a dozen limericks to showcase the attributes of a buxom young lady from Buckingham either, so it's not like I haven't set my own literary precedent elsewhere already.

Actually, I highly doubt whether someone of Mr Shakespeare's wordsmithing talents would ever have had dealings with any sort of 'Keep Calm' product in the first place. He had far more imaginative slogans in his locker and could undoubtedly have cobbled together some far more original fridge magnets for Anne Hathaway to subsequently bung on his second best Hotpoint.

I'm not much of a fan of the 'Keep Calm' slogan either, as a rule. However, within the context of giving Siobhan Fahey a bit of loving... well, that's when my rules go out of the window.

Of course, the ironic thing about this product is that the advice is, actually, complete and utter cobblers. I mean, there can't be ANYONE who has ever seen or heard this woman who doesn't get a warm glow (in at least one geographical location) at the merest thought of her. So you'd have to have been dead a lot longer than Shakespeare to be able to 'Keep Calm' while contemplating any situation at all where the end result might see you called upon to actually 'love' her.

My goodness me, those are the sorts of situations I think about a LOT. Tragically though, it looks like the only way I'll ever get near such a gig in practice is if Ms Fahey reaches a level of desperation that has, so far, never yet been encountered in the whole of human history. Still, that doesnt mean it CAN'T happen!

Anyway, practically speaking, the short and long of it is that this well-made product does all that is required of it. The keyring is now going steady with my house-keys and the magnet seems delighted to be on my fridge door.

Which is pretty much all you really need to say about an acrylic novelty keyring and fridge magnet keyring set and which, I suppose - given that brevity is supposed to be the soul of wit and that I am clearly a boring old windbag - is probably all I should've written to begin with.

I don't known though... surely that's what you'd say about ANY old acrylic novelty keyring and fridge magnet set?

This one's got Siobhan's name on it - which means this one deserves something a little bit extra!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 24, 2016 10:33 PM BST


Whodunnit - The Complete Series 5 [DVD]
Whodunnit - The Complete Series 5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jon Pertwee
Price: £8.68

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's missing a certain 'something'. Unfortunately, it's NOT Patrick Mower, 12 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Despite having previously purchased the first four complete series of 'Whodunnit?' - and having thoroughly enjoyed them - I really was in two minds about buying this fifth one. After all, it's not much fun watching Jon Pertwee on your own. Not when you know for certain that you'd get SO much more out of the experience in the company of a hyperventilating woman with strong opinions and the vocabulary of a sailor.

This disc's original release date (which was scheduled to be so far in the future that the Lib Dems might even have been in power... if the universe hadn't fizzled out and died first) might, just about, have given me sufficient time to persuade such a woman (my Jon Pertwee-loving former wife, for instance) to enjoy it with me. Sadly though, the purveyors of this disc managed to shave positively decades off its expected arrival time. Still, I thought I'd better send for it anyway.

As I feared, while watching it has been a reasonably entertaining experience, it is definitely lacking 'something'... and I'm not talking about a companion slowly taking her clothes off on account of Jon Pertwee and his medallions getting her flustered either (although there is that too, now I come to think of it). Maybe it's just me but one or two of these episodes seem rather 'tired'. On more than one occasion, the whole thing has the unintended air of a production of 'Acorn Antiques'.

1. THE RAJAH'S RUBY

Panellists: Prunella Scales, Terry Wogan and Bill Pertwee
Starring: Tony Anholt, John Savident, Denis Lill and Françoise Pascal

Why Thames Television chose to lead off the series with a story so horrendously awful is a bigger mystery than the story itself. It may very well feature the actor who played Corrie's Fred Elliott playing a policeman who is very much like Corrie's Fred Elliott, but there's no real suspense. There's not even a murder!

Even viewing this through a 1977 filter, there IS a lot of thin ice to negotiate here though, most of it being skated on by the 'Rajah' himself. I can forgive the fact that the actor playing this character quite clearly did not have the necessary ethnic qualifications. Like I said, the 70s were a different time. But that doesn't excuse the bloke from being so spectacularly awful in the role. I can't decide whether his accent is predominantly Welsh or just simply reminiscent of Mike Yarwood attempting to take off the Prince of Wales but, whatever it is, it doesn't cut the mustard. And that's without him letting rip with a thoroughly sexist remark. A remark which might yet, if my luck improves, see my former wife kicking my telly in.

One of the main suspects has already appeared in an earlier series of the show as an investigator; another main suspect will appear in the show, as an investigator, in just two episodes' time. Doesn't that all scream 'tired' to you?

On the positive side, Bill Pertwee is a fabulously engaging panel member. And the day I completely dismiss as being 'worthless' anything that features both Françoise Pascal AND Luan Peters is the day I move myself into a monastery. But, overall, this is perhaps the worst 'Whodunnit?' episode ever created. With knobs on.

2. VILLAGE FATE

Panellists: Liza Goddard, Jimmy Jewel and Trevor Bannister
Starring: Dinah Sheridan, Terence Alexander and James Berwick

Ah - this one's more like it. An original plot, plenty of humour and some good acting. OK, so the dead woman still seems to be breathing quite happily... but it doesn't distract the viewer. Much. I wish the same could be said about the profusely perspiring detective. All those handkerchiefs around, and he waits until the closing credits to actually use one? Yuck!

3. NO HAPPY RETURNS

Panellists: Patrick Mower, Alfred Marks and Kate Williams
Starring: Denis Lill, Simon Oates, Josephine Tewson and Kate O'Mara

Kate O'Mara is lovely and the story is quite well done... but this episode is most noteworthy for the behaviour of rival panellists Alfred Marks and Patrick Mower. Like two stags fighting over Bambi's spinster auntie, by heaven are they taking this seriously.

4. THE Q43 EXPERIMENT

Panellists: Tessa Wyatt, Dr Magnus Pyke and Michael Aspel
Starring: Ronald Leigh-Hunt, Linda Hayden, Jan Harvey and Alex Davion

Tessa Wyatt is gorgeous, Dr Magnus Pyke is hilarious and Michael Aspel is... well, for good or evil, Michael Aspel is his usual self really. On a personal note, this is the episode I would most like to enjoy in the company of my former missus, purely on the strength of a little aside Mr Pertwee makes on the subject of 'girlies, jodhpurs and whips'. Something about the idea seems to excite him... so it seems logical to me that my ex-wife might react in a similar fashion.

5. LAST TANGO IN TOOTING

Panellists: Patrick Mower, Anouska Hempel and Roy Plomley
Starring: Nicholas Courtney, Artro Morris, Victor Winding and June Barry

The victim in this case is the Brigadier from 'Doctor Who'. Tragically, he and Jon Pertwee don't share any scenes together. And Big Jon doesn't even sneak in any in-jokes or comments, which is disappointing. Equally disappointing, unless you happen to absolutely love and adore Patrick Mower, is the discovery that Mr Mower is sitting on the panel yet again, this time filling in for an ailing Stratford Johns. Perhaps Stratford copped an eyeful of Jon's shirt? My goodness me, that garment could give anyone a migraine.

All in all, I'd say this is definitely the weakest series of 'Whodunnit?', certainly since Edward Woodward's inaugural one where he just seemed to be making up the rules as he went along. Jon Pertwee does his best here but there is a definite feeling that the show is somehow running out of steam. There's enough to recommend it to fans of both the genre and the decade (plus, obviously, to admirers of the future Mr Gummidge) but it is very far from being any sort of jewel in Thames TV's crown.

Of course, if I'd had the pleasure of watching this DVD in the company of a true Pertwee fangirl, I would doubtless have been able to appreciate the subtleties of things like the Great Man's wardrobe, his bouffant and his extensive jewellery collection, and that may well have added greatly to the entertainment value of these episodes. Alas and alack, I haven't so far managed to wangle that.

So Mr Pertwee only gets four stars. But, if one of his fangirls in particular would like to discuss that rating further, she knows where to find me.

I think I might get myself a whip and some jodhpurs in my size - just in case.


One For All SV9021 Non Amplified UHF Indoor Antenna
One For All SV9021 Non Amplified UHF Indoor Antenna
Price: £9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cheap but, like so many of us, it lacks sufficient length to do a decent job..., 11 Jun. 2015
I bought this in my local supermarket, having supposedly only gone in there to buy something for my lunch. Not that this antenna was an impulse buy, not at all: it was essential... to accompany the Freeview telly I'd managed to pick up while I was in there 'buying something for my lunch' the day before. Compared with the price of this gadget here on Amazon though, I did at least manage to save myself a couple of quid somewhere along the line. I think.

In theory at least, you simply take the thing out of its box, plug it in to the back of the television and then let the pair of them scan the analogue and digital airwaves together in search of televisual signals of such quality that they don't break up the moment a dust mite starts walking across the carpet.

According to the Freeview 'Coverage Checker' website, I am something like 20 odd miles from the Crystal Palace transmitter, but I can get ALL of the radio and TV channels they promise me on that site. Which, considering this is non-amplified, is fairly impressive. BUT... I can only really make it work in one room. And only when it is placed in one particular gadgetry alignment.

Not unreasonably I suppose, the quality of the signal seems to improve dramatically the higher up in the world this antenna goes. That's fine - except that they've only furnished the thing with one metre's worth of coaxial cable. You've got to find somewhere to plug in your telly, plus somewhere upon which to plonk the thing, plus somewhere you can hang this device... and they've all got to be close enough to a suitable location from where you can pretend to be working from home during business hours, even when you're patently not because you're either reaping the rewards of this aerial or you're writing a review here on Amazon about it.

No? Oh well - that must just be me then.

The antenna is about seven inches in height and it does tilt. But, the ability to tilt doesn't seem to improve its ability to pick up a decent signal from any location. Being able to tilt just makes it so unsteady that it tends to topple right off the shelf. That would be the only shelf in my house, by the way, where one metre's worth of Feng Shui gets me everything I'm owed according to that 'Coverage Checker' website.

One metre's worth of cable doesn't give me the luxury of being able to be too fussy when it comes to aesthetic concerns either. The angle at which this antenna has be propped up against my wall, together with the fact that there is no way in which I can hide that ugly cable, does make it look as though Heath Robinson had a hand in the whole entertainment set-up.

Never mind though. I mean, I've got the whole kit and caboodle sitting in my bedroom. And it's not like anyone (certainly not anyone with any sort of taste) is EVER going to see it in there.


SuperStore_Electronics(TM) 7 Inch Touch Screen Dual Core Boxchip A23 1.5GHz CPU Android 4.2.2 Tablet PC 8GB HDD 512MB 3G/WiFi (Pink)
SuperStore_Electronics(TM) 7 Inch Touch Screen Dual Core Boxchip A23 1.5GHz CPU Android 4.2.2 Tablet PC 8GB HDD 512MB 3G/WiFi (Pink)
Offered by SuperStore_Electronics
Price: £28.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PLEASE do not forsake me, oh my darlin' - don't be like that horrible Tab 3!, 9 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As the previous owner of a Galaxy Tab 3, I was very pleased to find that - for my very basic requirements at least - this significantly cheaper touch screen really isn't TOO dissimilar. I mean to say, it does lack a certain amount of 'quality' compared to my former Android device; but, on the other hand, this one has not yet switched itself for ever, taking all of my pictures and things with it. Plus, this one's pink! And, not just pink - but CHEAPER in pink. So I can get away with embracing my feminine side in full view of everyone, safe in the knowledge that they'll simply dismiss it all as the actions of a penny-pinching (but relatively macho) miser.

The tablet comes to you in a smart white box which it shares with a charger, a USB cable and a small fourteen-page booklet that desperately wants to help its reader but which has clearly been warned to steer clear of too many technical details. The thing about tablets in general though is that they are very instinctive to use. There's no time for reading manuals, however expertly they may have been translated into English from their native Chinese - you just have to get stuck in!

Visually, what you find on the screen of this tablet is pretty much what I used to enjoy on my Samsung - before I upset it and caused it to permanently excommunicate me. The brightness is a cause for concern though; even up as high as it will go, I still sometimes find it a struggle to see clearly, especially with the screen at any sort of angle. Between you and me, I suspect a pair of glasses might improve my situation... but since that will involve me having to admit that I'm getting on a bit, I'd much prefer to blame whoever designed this tablet.

Charging the machine up is a doddle - except that both the mains cable and the one that plugs into my PC are a bit on the short side. Within five minutes of plugging that USB cable in by the way, my computer had rolled out the metaphorical welcome mat and couldn't do enough for my 7-inch pink best friend. Music, videos, photographs of Siobhan Fahey in a variety of exciting poses... all were shared quite easily, with just a couple of clicks of a button.

Sorting out the Wi-Fi was a bit of a trial. In fact, it seems to be an ongoing problem. But, again, it's not really anything I can pin on this tablet. For some reason however, even though my home PC and laptop seem to cope alright, I have to be practically standing on top of my router before this particular device can pick up the signal. Which is strange indeed, considering it is quite happy to offer me the services of an unsecured network two doors away. It always manages to establish a connection in the end though. And, while maintaining that connection if I dare to visit any other part of my house seems thus far to be practically forbidden, at least they do recognise each other: which means I won't have to type in that stupid Wi-Fi password ever again.

I've tested the machine's Bluetooth credentials (courtesy of a small speaker and a significant portion of Bananarama's back catalogue) and they certainly pass muster. I have very little technical know-how, so the actual details of how much memory this thing can offer me and how fast it is capable of doing things mean almost nothing to me. I don't know what the mysterious slot on the back of this tablet with the word 'TFCARD' beside it means either, but I assume it is some method of connecting something that will give the machine even more memory and/or enable it to work even faster, in a manner I'll still be too dumb to appreciate.

There's an inbuilt microphone as well as the obligatory two cameras. The forward-facing one has served me well so far, taking snaps of baby birds, beautiful flowers and a strange cloud formation that I thought looked a bit like David Cameron. The camera that's designed to let you take selfies though, is quite another kettle of fish. Let's put it this way... there is probably no good time to have to look upon pictorial evidence that you resemble a fat Frankie Howerd; but discovering it as a direct result of snapping yourself modelling what you previously thought was your very sexiest expression is traumatic, to say the least. The fact that I now know of at least one (admittedly very good) reason why no woman will come near me is not exactly much of a consolation either. God, how much worse am I going to look with glasses?

This is a great tablet, and incredibly good value for money (at thirty quid or so, as it is at the beginning of June 2015 anyway). OK, so it doesn't quite have the sleekness of its costlier branded cousins. And it pulls no punches in letting you know if you've got a face like the back end of a bus. But I still regard it as being one of my more impressive Amazon purchases.

Especially because it's SO pink!


Best of British Postcards, 10 designs, 5 of each design, pack of 50
Best of British Postcards, 10 designs, 5 of each design, pack of 50
Offered by The Postcard Store
Price: £3.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If a picture paints a thousand words, then why am I so confused?, 8 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Like other reviewers, I purchased these 'Best of British' postcards mainly for Postcrossing reasons. For those not familiar with Postcrossing, it's a scheme which allows you to exchange postcards with random like-minded punters from around the world. Or, further afield I suppose - depending upon how much postage it would take to get a missive through the Van Allen belts.

These 50 postcards depict scenes of 'iconic images of what makes Britain and London famous'. Well - ten of them might do; but the other forty are just copies of those. Actually, only one of the images portrays London specifically - but, by gum, they've pulled out all the iconic stops for that one.

I'm no expert on the subject of cardboard quality and thickness (I'm boring enough as it is without branching out into something like that) but these postcards seem to be made of sturdy stuff. The images are of good quality while the reverse sides are pretty much blank, save for an incredibly faint line and a plug for the people who created them. There are no lines to help those of us with poor handwriting skills to write our addresses legibly; and, crucially, there is no text at all to describe what the images are supposed to be.

There's not even anything to indicate that they came from something calling itself the 'Best of British' collection. I guess the images themselves are supposed to tell their own tale. Which, I suppose, is why they claim to be 'iconic'.

I don't know though - ARE they? Let's have a look:

1. A Bulldog - He's quite cute... but they could at least have stuck a bit of red, white and blue on him. I certainly don't immediately think 'British' when I see him. Although, that hint of saliva does give him the air of a Beautiful British Cujo.

2. A Row of Deckchairs on a Beach - All open; all empty; and all tied together. Quite why anyone would want to sit like that at the beach is not made clear, but I'm horribly afraid the five random people I send this one to will assume that's how we ALL do things here in dear old Blighty as soon as the sun comes out. No donkeys. No ice-cream. There's not even an old bloke sitting there with his teeth out and with a knotted handkerchief on his head. Nope. Just a row of weird (and slightly sinister) deckchairs.

3. A Red Rose - I'm not entirely convinced that 'Roses' are a symbol of Britain as a whole. Even the chocolates are made in Poland now, aren't they?

4. The Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, a Routemaster Bus and a London Cab - The equivalent of marking four corners of your 'London' bingo card. Now it's 'Eyes down!' for Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper and a Pearly King.

5. A Red Telephone Box - shot from a tasteful angle, so you can't see the two dozen minicab business cards, the weird used-chewing-gum sculptures and the greasy remains of someone's kebab.

6. A Victorian Pillar Box - who amongst us has posted their wallet and housekeys inside one of these babies along with a fan letter to Siobhan Fahey? Ah, right. Oh well - that must just be me then.

7. A Collection of Royal Mail Stamps - Her Majesty in twelve different shades and denominations. The 44p blue shows her off beautifully. The diarrhoea-coloured 50p on the other hand, does her absolutely no favours.

8. Half a Dozen Strawberries - No, I'm sorry: there is absolutely nothing peculiarly 'British' about strawberries! Apart from the fact I suppose that, for two weeks every year, six strawberries like that in London would cost a fortune. Maybe 'Rip-Off Britain' is what is being represented here? Ah, well: that's fair enough. I take it all back then, M'lud.

9. More Royal Mail Stamps - Eight of them this time, marking the Queen's 80th birthday. Eight smiling black and white images of Her Maj... with not a trace of diarrhoea in sight.

10. A Red Mini Parked In The Street - At least, I think it's a Mini. I don't know very much about cars so I can't really tell whether this particular image depicts a British icon or not. And, classy image or not, I'm not sure anybody I send it to is going to understand the point of it either. Actually, you know, that doesn't even look like a British street. I mean for a start, there are no roadworks... .

These are very well-made postcards - it's just that some of the designs (certainly within the context of representing the 'Best of British') are a bit too abstract. At least, they are without a word or two from the creators to adequately explain them.

Still, I don't HAVE to use those particular ones for Postcrossing, do I?

No - I can use them all up on that noticeboard down at the supermarket: in those pathetic adverts I leave when I'm drunk. Those pathetic adverts where I try to sell myself as a low-class gigolo for the desperate (I've got my own teeth and car... and that's about it). You never know, one day some poor woman might actually BE desperate enough to reply.

Then I really WILL be in trouble!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 13, 2016 4:19 PM GMT


Bright Lights and White Nights
Bright Lights and White Nights
by Andrew Carter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's FAR more to this than meets the eye..., 7 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
DISCLOSURE: I paid for this book myself (with the closest approximation I could come up with for some actual hard-earned moola) shortly after finding Andrew Carter's invitation to read the work for free dwelling in my spam folder. I thought it was a serious crime novel and not the sort of thing I would normally read and review (always assuming, of course, that anyone in their right mind would ever even ask me). In addition to which, I only really leave my email address lying about the place on the off-chance that the lovely Siobhan Fahey will one day find some (hopefully slightly sordid) use for it. But I was so embarrassed by the way my email service treated poor Mr Carter - irrespective of the fact that he supports Leeds United - that I felt compelled to spend some quality time with his book.

And a worthwhile experience it has been, too.

Despite its apparent focus on the world of international drug-smuggling, this novel really doesn't read as a thriller or crime story. There's certainly not a great deal of suspense involved although, of course, the action is written in the first person; so it's fairly obvious right from the off that, in the absence of a Ouija board and someone to take down dictation, the teller of the tale will still be reasonably intact by the end of it.

The plot revolves around a Yorkshire-born Peter Crouch doppelgänger named Troy, whom the Fates seem to have it in for and whose life regularly threatens to disintegrate at the seams as a consequence. Let's remember that the Fates, of course, were women... and it's a woman who is primarily responsible for Troy's decision to abandon the delights(?) of Leeds and the depressing fruits of a mediocre Sociology degree in favour of an impulsive relocation to Hong Kong (on account of her own impulsiveness behind his back with a dodgy-looking driving instructor). In no time at all, Troy becomes the modern-day equivalent of Jeremy Brown, the English teacher in 'Mind Your Language', with an appropriately comedic collection of students to match.

Our man Troy does indeed become involved in a drug storyline, as a result of which he could face some very serious consequences - but there is a lot more noteworthy stuff than that going on here. 'Bright Lights and White Nights' is actually an extremely engaging tale of a young man coming to terms with the fact that, what his life lacks in promise, purpose and satisfaction, it more than makes up for in the departments of false hope and inevitable disappointment. Which certainly gives him a lot in common with me (apart from being young; I've got replacement fillings older than Troy) and which might help to explain why I warmed to the character so quickly. He's a creation that will doubtless appeal to both male and female readers. Andrew Carter uses him very effectively to give a surprisingly touching, delightfully humorous and always honest insight into the often overlooked (because they're usually completely buried beneath some form of bravado) complexities of the male psyche. And anyone who thinks those last four words constitute an oxymoron DEFINITELY ought to read it.

Setting the book in Hong Kong gives the author the chance to showcase a place he clearly knows and loves. There's a real depth to his descriptions of places and people. Much of it actually resembles a passionately enthusiastic travelogue. As someone whose only previous insight into this far-flung corner of the globe came courtesy of that-car-chase-scene-with-the-incredibly-catchy-music in 'Revenge of the Pink Panther', I consider myself to have been very pleasantly educated.

While the drugs angle does provide an entertaining (if occasionally far-fetched) reason for Troy's character to exist, I thought the whole sub-plot with Sophie (a friend who stole his heart at school and then forgot to give it back) was quite brilliantly done. Anyone with even the merest hint of an unrequited love in their back catalogue will recognise the symptoms. Ditto, anyone who has ever managed to requite it and then been forced to take a front row seat to watch everything inevitably going pear-shaped.

On the negative side the book does, on the odd occasion, take a somewhat liberal approach towards punctuation and to the English language in general. The situation with commas is sometimes confusing, but not a major problem. And things like '3 story buildings' have come about presumably as a result of adopting Americanised spelling. I suspect also that Mr Carter's spell-checker was up to some mischief a few times, shoving in things like 'careers fares' and 'sew the seed'. That doesn't quite explain the presence of a 'Jacky Chan' around the place though.

The book is by no means unreadable as a result of all this but, to a certain extent, it does distract a person from appreciating the impressive characterisations and the expertise with which the author paints such a vivid picture of Hong Kong. On a personal note, I found the most significant error within the text just after the big love scene. I'm not a particularly emotional man but the news that this romantic interlude was so energetic it managed to break the letter k off Troy's 'nob' certainly brought tears to my eyes on this occasion. Let's face it, something like that would be enough to distract anybody from anything.

The drug aspect to the plot becomes the story's main focus towards the end of the book and there is a clever twist to things. The ending genuinely confused me at first though (to be fair to the author however, that's not a difficult thing to do by any means). Basically, a woman advances rapidly upon a man and said man wordlessly hands over twenty big ones. The End. Having spent a good ten minutes going back through the pages, I was able to refresh my memory as to why such a thing was going on. Sad to say though, in my original confusion I did simply jump to the conclusion that the lady had suddenly decided to take up the oldest profession and that she was heading off into a spin-off novel of her own. I do feel that things could have been made slightly clearer so I don't think my confusion is entirely down to my having a filthy mind. Although I accept that probably does have a bearing on things.

This is a surprising book, on a whole host of levels. And, with a resounding two-fingers to the flawed judgement shown by my spam folder, it is one I would definitely recommend.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 13, 2015 7:23 PM BST


No Title Available

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not many bells and practically no whistles - but look: it's got BUTTONS!, 26 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this, reassuringly basic, device as a cheap disposable phone to keep about my person on occasional evenings out. I got the SIM-free version, and was able to transfer the regular-sized SIM-card from my previous phone, an unbelievably frustrating touchscreen job that was impossible to work with and which eventually got its comeuppance when I left its charger on the bus, rendering it completely useless. Which it pretty much was anyway, even when fully charged.

Not so this lovely little Samsung. It's got a proper keypad! Even better than that, it's got a work ethic that would put most modern gadgets to shame. There's an understanding between us that I want it primarily for phone calls and texts. And that's it. I think it even realises that, one day, I'm either going to drop it down the loo or conscript it into one of my loads of washing - as has been the unhappy end of many a phone of mine before it. Do you know what, though? It doesn't seem to care. Mind you, the single most useful thing I've done so far to keep our relationship friendly is to turn off the predictive text. That rotten invention is like a red rag to my blood pressure.

The battery-life is very impressive, although the place for the charger to plug in is usually covered by a flimsy little piece of plastic that I just KNOW I'm going to snap off very soon. The phone does show a certain amount of petulance by locking its keypad and authorising the screen to have forty winks if you don't press a button quickly enough for its liking. But those particular battles can be won (if only in the short term): first, with a long press of one button and, second, with a bit of a shift on.

I suppose it might be that some of the features I can get from this device might be down to the SIM-card itself but I can't believe it would make THAT much difference. Apart from that highly entertaining Sudoku game then, I shall assume the phone offers any user the following;

APPLICATIONS

A Converter (or 'Convertor', according to Samsung) for currency, length, weight, volume, area and temperature; a Calculator; a Stopwatch; a Timer; and a link to your network provider.

CONTACTS

All sorts of ways of organising the details of people who have had so much to drink that they view you as an attractive prospect on your occasional evenings out.

MESSAGES

A place to keep the text messages you get from people who have had so much to drink that they view you as an attractive prospect on those occasional evenings out. You can also send SOS messages to friends and family, should you find yourself looking for a way to escape from folk like that in the first place.

ALARMS

Five chances to set your alarm correctly plus, more importantly, up to thirty minutes' worth of Snooze time.

CALENDAR

Visit - and either fondly remember or make exciting plans for - any day between January 1980 and December 2099!

MEMO

Where you can write a memo to yourself to write more memos... or something like that.

SETTINGS

Where you can change the Profile of the phone, its Display, the Time and Date etc. Or you can put a whole host of codes in so that no-one - not even you, because you won't remember them - will be able to use this phone.

The phone is light and would feel right at home in the jacket of my work-suit or my trouser pocket - except that I didn't buy it to use when I'm at work. I bought it to take with me on my occasional evenings out; where it is very much more at home in my handbag.

This phone's most useful feature might yet prove to be the ability to 'fake' a call. Believe it or not I meet, on my occasional evenings out, the occasional man who is SO drunk that he thinks a 44 year old bloke with designer stubble and at least four spare tyres - albeit a bloke wearing a dress and stilettos - makes an attractive-enough looking woman to ask for his number. You wouldn't think there was that much alcohol in the whole world, would you? Next time I'm put in that position though, I might not need to give them this, highly disposable, number: I can instead pretend to be scrolling through the menu in order to take down their details while, in reality, 'faking' an incoming call from someone mythical who is likely to save me. Thor, or someone like that.

I expect I'll forget all about that feature though, under pressure and in the heat of the moment. I'm horribly afraid I shall probably forget my mobile number too and I'll hear myself reeling off my, much more permanent, home number instead.

Just like last time.


The Best Of James Bond: 30th Anniversary Collection
The Best Of James Bond: 30th Anniversary Collection
Offered by Bridge_Records
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars She wasn't looking - but somehow she found me, 25 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm rather pleased with this 19-track collections of tunes - despite not exactly being a fan of the James Bond films. I mean, if I were, I would presumably have bought at least the cassette of this when it was first released, way back in 1992. And I would probably have watched at least one of the James Bond films made since that time. So, no: I'm not a Bond fan. But I do know a decent tune when I hear it.

I only bought this originally for one song: I simply wanted a copy of 'Nobody Does It Better', that was all. It's a beautifully orchestrated piece of music. And the lyrics are second to none. I could, of course, have sent for Carly Simon's Greatest Hits or whatever... but it would take a braver man than me to buy a whole CD with nothing but her voice on it.

I will now be able to play that song - in VERY small doses - as I prepare for an evening of romance with a woman (however rare such an occurrence may be these days). Ms Simon can massage my ego while I'm standing there, admiring my naked form in the mirror, working on my Roger Moore eyebrow and wondering whether it might be worth giving Q a ring, to see whether he has something a little more impressive for me in the 'secret weapon' department.

Mind you, if I can't handle Carly Simon's singing voice, I don't know how I expect to be able to cope with viewing an image like THAT.

When I'm not using this disc to traumatise myself beyond all measure then, I can enjoy some truly classic Bond music. I haven't figured out why these tunes are all jumbled up here, chronologically speaking, but there are extensive - and very interesting - sleeve notes that give the story behind each individual Bond film and its music, and the films appear in the correct order there.

I have but one complaint about this disc: the serious lack of decent photos in amongst those sleeve notes. It's a purely personal thing but, rather than looking at some bloke hanging off an aeroplane or, indeed, seeing Sean Connery's face at all, I would much prefer to be looking at Maud Adams or Barbara Bach.

Mind you, I'd rather see a picture of J.S.Bach than to have to see Sean Connery's face at all.


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