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Mr. Sneekly "Paul Lynde Fan" (Brentwood)
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I Used to Know That: Maths
I Used to Know That: Maths
by Chris Waring
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Face Your Fears!, 21 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My friends have been telling me for years that I am 'not like other men' and I suspect my purchase - and subsequent enjoyment - of this book will do nothing to disabuse them of that notion. Because you see, while most blokes with a mid-life crisis pencilled-in just buy themselves a motorbike and begin a clandestine relationship with a bottle of Grecian 2000, it seems that I have decided to REALLY rebel by signing up for an OU degree. However, with nothing much to distinguish my intellect from that of a couple of bits of old two by four, it struck me that it might be a good idea to prepare myself for further education by trying to blow some of the cobwebs away from the former education I had completely forgotten about.

Maths seemed like the perfect place to start although, it's fair to say, I approached this work initially the way a member of the Bomb Squad might size up a suspect package. Then again, if you're going to embrace education in all of its forms then, at some stage, you're going to find yourself embracing a subject that's about as cuddly as Rosa Klebb... and that's Maths, no question about it.

Actually, you know, that's really not quite fair. In Chris Waring's hands, Maths is nowhere near as horrific as it always seemed. It's actually, dare I say it, logical and - depending upon how drunk you are - even fairly enjoyable!

Maybe that's because he uses humour in his dealings with it? Or maybe it's because he knows he's got to go out of his way to paint this subject in an attractive and comprehensible sort of light? Or maybe it's because the aim of a book like this is to take you steadily through things in an orderly manner, rather than to force you to attempt (and then probably make a complete hash of) endless pages of problems that don't seem to have any relevance to real life?

Perhaps it's just that Mr Waring is always happy to go at your sort of pace, as opposed to giving you a detention for being a thicko and then launching a high-velocity piece of chalk in your direction.

Most impressively, he doesn't undo all his good work by forcing you to complete any kind of test at the end of the book. In fact, he doesn't ask you to do any sort of Maths yourself at any stage. That's genius really, because it takes the pressure completely off the reader. When viewed as a book ABOUT Maths rather than a Maths BOOK, it suddenly becomes far less intimidating.

Eight different topics (Arithmetic, Fractions, Probability, Statistics, Measurements, Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry) are given the chance to redeem themselves. Some of them rattle along at quite a pace but Mr Waring never loses sight of the fact that he is effectively the PR man for education's answer to Hannibal Lecter and so, very sensibly, he won't ever leave the two of you on your own.

As a non-threatening, understanding and encouraging way of getting on more friendly terms with secondary school Maths, this book doesn't go too far wrong.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 23, 2015 10:39 PM GMT


Paul Lamond  You Be The Judge
Paul Lamond You Be The Judge
Offered by Premier Life Store
Price: £23.49

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My living room, my rules!, 19 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Paul Lamond You Be The Judge (Toy)
This is a strange sort of game. On the one hand, you can rattle through it in practically no time at all using, for the most part, just a little common sense. And, since there are only ever two possible verdicts in each case, you've got a fifty per cent chance of getting it right, even if you're employing the services of a coin to help you come up with your answer each time.

But, lurking beneath the surface, you'll find a very interesting collection of legal conundrums, the real-life solutions of which can really make you think. Each case and verdict have to fit on opposite sides of an 8.5cm x 5.5cm piece of card, so details are a little thin on the ground, but each verdict is explained pretty well. The cases seem to come from all over the place (especially the USA) although, sometimes, it's not even made clear in which country a case was heard. It makes little difference I suppose within the context of a board game but, nevertheless, it is a minor irritation.

As for the competitive element to the thing though, I'm afraid I find the Rules of Play that they've come up with to be a complete waste of time. The game and its players deserve better: MUCH better.

It is designed for two players / teams, aged 12 and over. Where they got that minimum age from, I have no idea, but the inference would seem to be that people younger than that would be bored out of their minds. I'm not too sure about that although, having tried the game out so far only on a collection of half-drunk (and, somewhat argumentative) adults, I've got nothing to actually back up that statement.

You're split into two Teams (A and B) and you share a weird-looking scorecard and a die which only goes up to three. You remember that coin you were going to use to help you decide the outcome of all these cases? Well, before you do anything else, you're going to need that coin to help you decide which team goes first, whereupon a member of that team will take one of these cards and read the 'Case' out loud to everyone.

The major problem I have with the rules is this: both that player AND the rest of their team are now supposed to read the verdict silently to themselves, while the opposition talk about the case between them and/or start their individual coin-tossing. The question is... WHY??? Why can't both teams ponder the case for themselves right from the off? Wouldn't it make for a far more interesting game if BOTH teams were considering their verdict? Would it not, in fact, make it a far more competitive game?

Even more mysteriously, for a game that's called 'You Be The Judge!', the opposition team in this case is supposed to then say 'We the jury are FOR or AGAINST'. Is the judge on a tea-break then? What on earth's going on!?

Well anyway, a correct verdict allows the winning team to roll the die and to then put 'X's in the corresponding number of boxes on that weird scorecard. Then the other team gets its turn and the roles are reversed. The first team to fill all the boxes, wins. But, there are only eleven boxes on that weird scorecard - the game, according to the official rules, is designed to be over and done with in a matter of minutes.

Hardly in keeping with the spirit of the legal profession is it, getting things sorted out at that sort of speed?

We dumped the official rules (and that numerically challenged die) by the wayside pretty quickly and, with some small alterations, managed to reinvent this as a truly interactive (if also somewhat argumentative) game that lasted for almost two hours. Both teams were invited to ponder the facts of each case AND give their verdicts, with the teams taking it in turns to have first crack at the one, single, solitary 'X'. The reading out of the verdict then, invariably, provoked an interesting little debate.

Yes, one or two of us did get a little too carried away (quite possibly to the extent that, had the judge in fact been anywhere around, he would've locked the whole lot of us up for contempt), but it was still a heck of a lot more lively than the tediously dull fare served up by those official Rules of Play.

It was so successful, in fact, that I can see it becoming quite a regular little event!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 20, 2014 10:50 PM BST


Cooks & Co Sliced Jalapenos 2.8KG
Cooks & Co Sliced Jalapenos 2.8KG
Offered by Sweet Addicts
Price: £13.71

5.0 out of 5 stars I wonder how many toilet rolls Peter Piper would've picked...?, 19 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Cooks & Co Sliced Jalapenos 2.8KG
A friend of mine visited the Cash & Carry recently and bought me back one of these, simply colossal, cans of jalapenos.

They were less than a fiver there. Not that I'm advocating that you yourself should try to sweet-talk a lady into getting these for you more cheaply - not a bit of it. Because, finding oneself indebted to a woman can lead to some quite significant problems, of the 'Now you owe ME one, Big Boy' variety. Believe me, that's a cumulative debt I am very reluctant to settle - and I'm not too keen on shattering any size-related illusions either. After this latest purchase though, she simply unloaded an additional ten cans of air freshener and three dozen toilet rolls, wished me the best of luck, and drove off.

I like all jalapenos, but crunchy ones like these are my absolute favourites. They're in vinegar too, giving them a wonderfully piquant flavour. And you get an AWFUL lot of crunchy jalapenos in a can the size of a paint-tin, although I suppose that does mean that this might be an unlikely purchase for anyone who dabbles only in the occasional pickled pepper. Or, arguably, for anyone who isn't involved in some kind of World Record attempt and/or does not have an ambition to be mentioned in the 'Strange Deaths' section of the 'Fortean Times'. They can be poured into a large food storage container and then kept in the fridge for quite a long time though.

These things are so moreish that I've been eating them like crisps... and then regretting it, like billy-o. The actual eating of them isn't that difficult: it's what happens to you after you've swallowed them that's unpleasant.

Broadly speaking, we're talking;

- strange intestinal noises of the kind that cause your companions to proclaim, with great authority, 'Did you hear that? That was thunder, that was!'

- ghastly intestinal smells of the kind that cause your companions to flee the scene in search of a breathable atmosphere which won't singe the hair in their nostrils

- the ability to cover a short distance at quite some speed yourself in your own quest for the nearest understanding toilet bowl. If it is subsequently discovered that, due to considerable overuse, that room is still inexplicably short on loo paper, you might also find yourself able to cover short distances rather awkwardly with your trousers round your ankles, hoping and praying that your next-door neighbour doesn't choose that particular moment to pop round

- the ability to affect nonchalance while in conversation - through the letterbox - with your next-door neighbour who, having grown increasingly concerned by the sound of your toilet flushing constantly day and night for the past couple of weeks, does indeed choose that particular moment to pop round, and thinks you might have a problem with your pipes. And he's not wrong there, either.

No? Oh well, that must just be me then!


The Complete Superted Series 1-3 [DVD]
The Complete Superted Series 1-3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Superted
Offered by nagiry
Price: £6.05

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can you 'Spot' Jon Pertwee...?, 16 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was obliged to send for this 36 episode 2-disc collection recently for my two little relatives (aged 6 and 9) purely because, frankly, I got the distinct impression that my description of the show and my memories of same were being treated, not as the reminiscences of someone with a decent appreciation of animated comedy, but as the ravings of a complete and utter lunatic.

I don't think they believed me when I tried to describe the star of the show (voiced by Derek Griffiths), for instance. He comes from humble and rather tragic beginnings, having started life as a shoddily-made teddy bear who, to the absolute disgust of the narrator, found himself being thrown away 'like a piece of rubbish'.

I think I might've lost them when I spoke of his rescue by a Spotty Man (voiced by Jon Pertwee) who was out and about on some kind of interstellar daytrip, and who just happened to be rummaging around in the factory bins when he decided to help himself to a bit of stolen property.

And they definitely didn't believe that a pinch of 'space dust', as dispensed quite liberally by 'Mother Nature' (which, to me, sounds like some kind of codename that's been assigned by the Drug Squad) can give one of life's rejects special crime-fighting powers, with just the merest hint of a secret magic word.

For all his impressive abilities though, Superted finds himself perpetually engaged in the fight against what is, quite possibly, the most inept gang of crooks in history. We've got Texas Pete (Victor Spinetti) as gang-leader, an especially mean-spirited cowboy who has his fingers in an awful lot of different criminal pies. Left to his own devices he might occasionally be a match for Superted and Spotty but, thankfully, he has decided to take two 'bumbling sidekicks' out of the unemployment queue instead.

First we have Bulk (Roy Kinnear), who possesses flabby brawn in spades, but who was very much short-changed in the brains department. And then there's Skeleton, who is (wait for it now!) a skeleton, voiced by Melvyn Hayes. Ah, not JUST a skeleton though, but a coward who seems to be, how can I put this, very much in touch with his feminine side. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course - there's nothing wrong with a man wearing pink slippers either, if it comes to that.

Do you know, I can sort of see why my little relatives were sizing me up for a straightjacket now...

Not to worry though because, having spent a while in the company of this 3-series complete collection themselves, they too have come to appreciate the wonderful weirdness that is, Superted. Jon Pertwee's rather cowardly spotted alien is the big draw, I think. But then, there's not much he did that isn't eminently watchable. And the show is funny. The three villains especially have a beautiful - if thoroughly hopeless - little dynamic.

The picture quality is not amazing, but that's not really a problem. In fact, I have only one complaint about this collection, and it's one that I don't suppose could've been helped, given how short each Superted adventure is (roughly ten minutes): but, by gum, hearing that closing theme so many times in one sitting can REALLY get right up a person's nose.

What makes it worse is that (a) it is so darn catchy, and (b) I have absolutely no idea what the lyrics might be. And yet I STILL find myself trying to sing along with it!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 24, 2015 1:51 AM GMT


Lawyer's Latin
Lawyer's Latin
by John Gray
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.98

4.0 out of 5 stars I hereby pronounce you... oh no - perhaps I don't?, 15 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Lawyer's Latin (Hardcover)
In what, I presume, is a sign of an impending mid-life crisis - and despite the thinly-disguised incredulity of pretty much everyone who knows me - I am giving very serious consideration to enrolling myself on an Open University Law degree next year. I know that Latin probably doesn't feature very much in the modern legal world but, if I am to win over any learned but curmudgeonly potential familial benefactors (and thus convince them to put their hands in their pockets in order to help me with the tuition fees) I need Latin words and phrases to impress them with: and lots of 'em.

In any case, this book's scope extends far beyond the interest of just lawyers and law students. Folk simply aren't given the opportunity to study Latin as an academic subject these days which, in combination with the media's relentless drive to 'dumb down' everything, must conceivably have left vast numbers of people quite in the dark about even the most basic Latin terms referred to here. And I would probably have included myself in that number, although I actually DID do battle with ablatives and datives way back when.

Not that there's anything like as scary as those two grammatical heavies lurking in here. You'll find just the Latin entries arranged in alphabetical order, alongside their English translations. In addition, there will usually be a literal explanation of why any lawyer might feel a burning desire to incorporate such a phrase into their daily life plus examples of where some of them HAVE been used, in legal history as well as other fields such as literature and the arts.

Of course, once you've learnt all these phrases - especially if you're not a lawyer - then you're probably going to have to share this little work with everyone you know, so that they can learn them too. It's all very well dropping an 'in vino veritas' or a 'festina lente' into the conversation... but if all you get in return for your trouble is a blank expression or an offer of a quiet place to lie down, then that can definitely leave you wondering why you bothered.

There aren't many laughs to be had within these pages, which is unfortunate. I wasn't expecting a volume which delivered gags at a faster rate than Ken Dodd (although some of his jokes are so old that someone like Tacitus might well have had a hand in them originally), but I think a bit more humour might've worked wonders.

A much more serious crime in my opinion however, is the complete lack of any guidance with regard to the correct Latin pronunciation. Instead, it's suggested that the reader might also like to fork out for 1998's 'A Dictionary of Latin Words and Phrases', which apparently represents the fount of that particular branch of knowledge. I'm not so sure I want to be doing that.

Yet, if I don't, I fear that - far from sounding intelligent - I am instead going to end up giving the impression that I am more than a tad bit daft.

Mind you, there's nothing so unusual about that I suppose.


50 Golden Years
50 Golden Years
Offered by Direct Entertainment UK
Price: £9.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take it to the Max!, 15 Oct. 2014
This review is from: 50 Golden Years (Audio CD)
I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Max Bygraves' work, although I'm still a good few years away from my own 50th golden one. Indeed, one of the nicest Christmases I've ever experienced was made especially enjoyable when I volunteered to lead two dozen elderly care-home residents in a rousing accompaniment to a couple of hours' worth of the very finest that Max had to offer.

I never realised the immense charisma Max had until then. Some of which, I was delighted to find, managed to rub off on me. By heaven, I was irresistible to the ladies that day alright. I think I rolled out a barrel with every last one of them!

Having said that I did send for this particular collection while under the deadly influence of a heck of a lot of alcohol, as opposed to any imminent desire to relive my lady-killing experiences. More specifically, I'd just found footage of Max on the internet impressively giving it large with the medley that brings this 14-track disc to a close.

Oh, I do beg your pardon; of course, Amazon don't want you to know the contents of this rather lovely collection at all, do they...?

Well, knickers to that - if you'll pardon the expression.

1. One Of Those Songs/Baby Face/Swanee/Toot Toot Tootsie/One Of Those Songs(Reprise)

2. Somebody Stole My Gal/Margie/I'm Just Wild About Harry/Ma He's Making Eyes At Me

3. Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer

4. It's A Sin To Tell A Lie/I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles

5. Danny Boy/Green Green Grass Of Home/You'll Never Walk Alone

6. What'll I Do/Eidleweiss/True Love

7. She'll Be Coming 'Round The Mountain/Long Way To Tipperary/John Brown's Body/Happy Wanderer/Roll Out The Barrel/Viva Espana/Knees Up Mother Brown

8. Don't Dilly Dally/Sheik Of Araby/Yes We Have No Bananas

9. Underneath The Arches/Shanty In Old Shanty Town/Hometown/Heart Of My Heart

10. You're A Pink Toothbrush

11. I Can't Give You Anything But Love/Have You Ever Been Lonely?/Together

12. Who's Sorry Now/I Love You Because/Me And My Shadow/Moonlight And Roses/You Were Meant For Me/You Are My Sunshine

13. Happy Days Are Here Again/I'm Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover/When You're Smiling/Powder Your Face With Sunshine/Put Your Arms Around Me Honey

14. Side By Side/Charmaine/Singing The Blues/Show Me The Way To Go Home


Cases In Court (Pan)
Cases In Court (Pan)
by Sir Patrick Hastings
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars The Battles of Hastings, 14 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Cases In Court (Pan) (Paperback)
All I knew of Sir Patrick Hastings KC prior to reading this book was that he was a barrister of some repute, and that he was to have been engaged to defend Jon Pertwee before a 'jury' of his peers when the future Mr Gummidge was accused of scrawling graffiti upon the lavatory walls of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

A sudden attack of conscience on the part of the real culprit saw Sir Patrick losing THAT brief, but I hoped it might indicate that he was a man who was not afraid to deploy a good sense of humour in his writing. Even so, I was slightly afraid that 'Cases in Court' would prove to be the kind of work that could cheerfully escort its reader into the sort of slumber that would make Sleeping Beauty's dalliances with the Sandman seem like a mere forty winks.

Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.

In fact SO entertaining is this book - which was first published in 1949 and then subsequently republished a number of times in the years immediately following Sir Patrick's death in 1952 - that I can't believe such a fine piece of historical writing has never been afforded the dignity of a much more modern outing.

This book contains Sir Patrick's recollections of five murder trials, six trials for libel or slander and ten other assorted cases with which he was personally involved. He writes with tremendous warmth and enthusiasm and clearly had no shortage of wit. His work contains no shortage of comedy and laughs either.

Thankfully, he focuses much more on the background, characters and personalities involved in each case during the main body of the book, keeping his legal observations and his thoughts on the intricacies of jurisprudence largely to the beginning and end of it.

Particularly entertaining chapters include 'The Case of The Talking Mongoose' and 'The Case of the Three Sisters'. However, the crème de la crème has to be 'The Stockbroker and the Yo-Yo', in which a Mr Blennerhassett takes great exception to his good name being associated with a toy so addictive that it can apparently send stockbrokers off to the funny farm.

This is an absolute gem of a book!


You be the Jury: No. 2 (Hippo puzzles)
You be the Jury: No. 2 (Hippo puzzles)
by Marvin Miller
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars ALMOST perfect, 11 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this book for two little aspiring detectives, aged 6 and 9, who had already made short work of You be the Jury: No. 1 (Hippo puzzles).

It's a highly entertaining set of books, most especially for any frustrated adult actors: reading out the facts of these cases in a variety of voices really does help those junior jurors to enter into the spirit of the occasion.

The twenty 'courtroom mysteries' coming at you are as follows;

1. The Case of the Flying Toy
2. The Case of the Troublesome Twins
3. The Case of the Sleeping Prisoner
4. The Case of the High-Kicking Horse
5. The Case of the Leaky Basement
6. The Case of the Missing Ring
7. The Case of the Broken Display Case
8. The Case of the Mysterious Fire
9. The Case of the Polluted River
10. The Case of the Broken Goldfish Bowl
11. The Case of the Jelly Bean Jubilee
12. The Case of the Filbert Flub
13. The Case of the Sports Superstar
14. The Case of the Disappearing Shopper
15. The Case of the Burning Barn
16. The Case of the Squashed Tomatoes
17. The Case of the Missing Talk-Show Host
18. The Case of the Nosy Neighbour
19. The Case of the Hotel Break-in
20. The Case of the Barking Dog

Each case comes equipped with three 'Exhibits', somewhere within which will be a clue which effectively proves beyond reasonable doubt the innocence or guilt of the accused so that you, the jury, can reach the right verdict.

Or, failing that, I suppose you could just flip a coin and hope for the best.

This book clearly has American origins although some steps have been taken to make the contents more British. The money is in sterling, for example, and the spelling is perfectly proper. There is though, as in the first book, a noticeable lack of proper British legal terminology. I know it's 'only' a kids' book, but I don't suppose Her Maj would be too impressed to find court cases here being prosecuted by the 'State' instead of the 'Crown', for instance.

Nevertheless, it's still a source of great entertainment - for ALL ages!


TECHGEAR® Asus MeMO Pad 7 (ME176CX) CLEAR LCD Screen Protector With Cleaning Cloth + Application Card
TECHGEAR® Asus MeMO Pad 7 (ME176CX) CLEAR LCD Screen Protector With Cleaning Cloth + Application Card
Offered by TECHGEAR Solutions
Price: £2.29

5.0 out of 5 stars ASUS marimba!, 11 Oct. 2014
There's not much you can say about a screen protector really, is there?

I mean, it possesses no special magical powers - other than the ability to prevent grubby fingerprints from playing havoc with your ASUS ME176CX screen.

According to the relative who asked me to find this for him, it was very easy to apply and does its job extremely well. He's the impatient sort too so, if he says it was easy to apply, it really must be.

Excellent value, all round!


You be the Jury: No. 1 (Hippo puzzles)
You be the Jury: No. 1 (Hippo puzzles)
by Marvin Miller
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Let justice be done though the heavens fall, 11 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this book, together with its companion volumeYou be the Jury: No. 2 (Hippo puzzles), for two aspiring detectives, aged 6 and 9. It's surprisingly good fun for an adult to read the cases out loud though, especially when it's apparent that your young audience is taking the whole thing so seriously!

The book contains 'ten courtroom mysteries' to deliberate over. They read like a list of stories by Erle Stanley Gardner;

1. The Case of the Dangerous Golf Ball
2. The Case of the Rotten Apples
3. The Case of the Squashed Scooter
4. The Case of the Wrong Bag
5. The Case of the Missing Will
6. The Case of the Fast Getaway
7. The Case of the Power Blackout
8. The Case of the Speedy Jewel Thieves
9. The Case of the Crazy Parrot
10. The Case of the Hunter's Shadow

Each case comes equipped with three 'Exhibits', somewhere within which will be found a clue to the accused's innocence or guilt. People are prepared to go to great lengths to try and deceive the court, too.

This book clearly has American origins although some steps have been taken to make the contents more British. The money's in sterling and the cars are right-hand drives... but, for some strange reason, we've still got things like 'district attorneys' being mentioned. It makes for an odd reading experience at times although the introduction to each case, which gives the point of law that is central to the ensuing arguments, certainly does help to focus the mind.


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