These intriguing and deeply unsettling photos, entitled Why Men Die Before Women, 
were sent to me by Eric and Jean

In this blogposting…
* The Darwin Awards
* Albert Einstein
Go for it…

For those of you unfamiliar with this wonderful institution, the Darwin Awards are given to people who ‘benefit the human gene pool by removing themselves from it’ - often in almost unbelievably spectacular ways that border on the insane.

I don’t think we did justice to last year’s Darwin Awards so here, for your delight and delectation, are some of my favourite citations...

A young couple were driving along Via Dutra, the largest motorway in Brazil, with tons of heavy traffic, at 0600 and in thick fog. They decided that this was a good time to park the car and make love.
So they parked on the motorway in the right-hand lane, rather then at a service area or even on the hard shoulder.
Naturally, given time a cargo truck encountered a "speed bump," instantly killing both of them during the act of procreation, which makes this a rare ‘double’ Darwin Award; two people making two obviously bad decisions AND natural selection acts at the very moment the two are reproducing.
A textbook case.

A disabled man, annoyed that a lift closed and departed without him, thought it over before ramming his wheelchair into the doors not once, not twice, but three times in all - only to plunge down the now-empty lift shaft to his death. Simultaneous success and failure combine to earn the 40-year-old ‘Angry Wheelchair Man’ lasting immortality as a Darwin Award winner.

In the late autumn and early winter months, snow-covered mountains become infested with hunters. One ambitious pair climbed high up a mountain in search of their quarry. The trail crossed a small glacier that had crusted over. The lead hunter had to stomp a foot-hold in the snow, one step at a time, in order to cross the glacier.
Somewhere near the middle of the glacier, his next stomp hit not snow but a rock. The lead hunter lost his footing and fell. Down the crusty glacier he zipped, off the edge and out of sight.
Unable to help, his companion watched him slide away. After a while, he shouted out ‘Are you OK?’
‘Yes! came the answer.
Reasoning that it was a quick way off the glacier, the second hunter plopped down and accelerated down the ice, following his friend. There, just over the edge of the glacier, was his friend...holding onto the top of a tree that barely protruded from the snow.
There were no other treetops nearby, nothing to grab, nothing but a hundred-foot drop onto the rocks below. As the second hunter shot past the first, he uttered his final epitaph: a single word, which I cannot repeat here.

During the American Sprint Car Series, two crew members - smart people with a high degree of mechanical ability - were working at a custom machine shop when they dreamed up an unusual thrill ride. The men put a a 55-gallon barrel in the car park, poured in four gallons of methanol, sat on top of the barrel, and lit the bunghole!
Apparently they thought the barrel would skid across the parking lot like a rocket, with a tail of flame shooting out, and two rodeo clowns sitting on top waving their caps and wooting! But instead of sliding across the pavement...well, four gallons of methanol in a 55-gallon drum greatly resembles a bomb.
The barrel blew up beneath them with so much force that the end of the barrel landed 120 feet away. The two inspired mechanics ended up in Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where one man lost his life. The other survived with a sobering lesson on the power of internal combustion.

A 35 year-old man from Braila was only trying to fix a broken soil tamper, a tool his father had made himself and used for decades. The metal handle of this family heirloom had rusted loose and our man was trying to weld it back into position, but unfortunately he was welding the metal rod onto an antique WWII cannon shell.
Yes, the family had been banging a cannon shell against the garden soil for two generations!
Specialists from the Bucharest ISU (General Institute for Emergency Situations) stated that the first weld had been made in a harmless position, but the second weld was made in exactly the wrong spot. The heat triggered the shell to explode, mortally wounding the man. In his defence, he was sure the projectile was harmless because his father had used it to compact earth for almost 40 years.
If one generation doesn't get it right, the next does.

Kelita H was travelling ‘at highway speed’ in her Chevy, cruising down Country Road 519 with the wind blowing through her hair, when she and her passenger decided to swap seats. In this situation, a less hasty person would stop the car for a ‘Chinese fire drill’ but Kelita was a little more creative than that. Fortunately, you see, her car had an open top.
She stood up, pulled herself onto the roof - and she fell. And then Kelita was travelling solo ‘at highway speed’ down that country road.
The Fayette County Coroner's Office reported that the 20-year-old died from injuries sustained while impacting a guardrail.
On the way down, her foot hit the steering wheel and the car veered left - but her passenger, who was still inside the vehicle, grabbed the wheel and averted his own possible demise, thereby demonstrating the wisdom of learning from the mistakes of others. That passenger, by the way, easily earns an Honorable Mention himself, as he was arrested and charged with driving on a suspended license with improper registration and no insurance.

An electrical discharge made toast of municipal guard Arthur de Souza Coelho, 47. According to police reports, he had installed a tiny electric fence around his car to protect against the frequent robberies that occur in his neighborhood in Belem, Para. Then (direct translation from Portuguese) ‘he forgot that he had left the fence switched on and he ended dying with the electric shock.’


Every now and then a completely new window into the world opens before our eyes. Here we have rural Dutch families enjoying their traditional winter sport, carbidschieten, or Carbide Shooting. It's a ridiculously dangerous machine akin to a potato gun, designed to hurl projectiles from the mouth of a metal milk churn.
It begins with moistening calcium carbide and placing it in a large milk container. The damp CaCb emits acetylene gas which builds up inside the container. Then a spark is supplied, causing the pressurised gas bomb to blow the lid (or packing) off the milk jug.
Our nominee, a 54-year-old male, was having the time of his life - right up to the moment he poured a container filled with liquid oxygen over a fire to ‘flare it up’ - and the container obligingly exploded.

Let the Darwin Awards be a warning.  Learn from the mistakes of others. You don't have time to make them all yourself...

I’ve featured quotes of Albert Einstein before on the blog.  He always strikes me as a man who knew a thing or two about the human condition and had a neat and elegant way of expressing his thoughts.

Two things are infinite - the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.

Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.

If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.

The difference between genius and stupidity is - genius has its limits.

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.

Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous.

I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

Our next AGM will take place at 1100 on Wednesday 19 October.  I’m not sure where yet - but at least we have a date.

Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com
A friend of mine recently sent me this picture of midnight at the North Pole.  Isn't it lovely?
In this blogposting…
* Linda’s Joke
* Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know
* Northumbria Food And Wine Festival
* News From Nowhere
Onward and upward..

(...and she should be thoroughly ashamed of herself)

A woman takes her pet duck to the vet.
The vet says ‘Your duck is dead.’
The woman says ‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes’, says the vet.
‘How can you be so sure?’ says the woman. ‘You've done no tests!’
So the vet brings in a labrador retriever which sniffs the duck and shakes his head.
Next, he brings in a cat which sniffs the bird and shakes its head.
Then the vet says, ‘Sorry, but as I said before, your duck is dead.’
He hands the woman his bill.
She shouts ‘£820 to tell me my duck is dead??!!!’
The vet says ‘If you had taken my word for it the bill would be £20 but Lab Reports and Cat Scans cost extra’.

As Linda said in her email…‘boom! boom!’

* MI5 used to have special kettles kept solely for steaming open envelopes.
* Only one in every 250 million births is a case of conjoined twins.

* Bill Clinton was invited to appear on Dancing with the Stars, the US version of Strictly Come Dancing.

* Penguins find their family members by sniffing them out.

* The world's smallest aquarium contains just two teaspoons of water.

* Elephants can paint. 

* Red-haired donors are being turned away by the world's largest sperm bank because there is a lack of demand for their "product".

* Facebook now hosts 4% of all the photographs ever taken.

* Yawning cools down the brain.

Here’s something a bit special for your diary - The Northumbria Food and Wine Festival, which will be taking place in Tynedale Park, Corbridge, between 7 and 9 October.

There’ll be wine-tasting, live music and classic local cuisine.  Tickets cost £20, and included in the price are tokens for wine samples and a commemorative tasting glass for you to use at the festival and then keep.

Take a look at their lovely, tempting website for more info:

A man tried to board a flight from Miami to Brazil with bags of exotic snakes and tortoises stuffed in his trousers.  He was stopped and arrested after passing through a body scanner at Miami International airport and the animals were confiscated by the Department for Fish and Wildlife.

It has been estimated that the wildlife smuggling trade makes £6bn a year from transporting endangered species.

In 2009, a man was caught smuggling three iguanas inside his hollow prosthetic leg…

And 2…

The fantasy of seeing banknotes fluttering down from the sky came true for Dutch motorists after a package containing cash apparently fell from a bank transport truck and split open.  The incident triggered a dangerous scramble for the euro bills on the busy A2 highway near Maastricht as people parked on the hard shoulder and ran into the road to scoop up loose notes.  Police confirmed that, for a short while at least, it really did ‘rain money’ - although it wasn’t clear how much cash was lost or how it could have fallen from the truck…

Please send me any odd news clippings like these - I love ‘em!

Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com

In this blogposting…
* Planking:  2
* Middlesbrough
* The World - A Truckshunter Geography:  2
Të vazhdojë me kujdes - dhe të kënaqeni!

The awe-inspiring picture above was sent to me by Ellie; it’s of her son planking in a pub.  I like him already, and he has inspired me to attempt the feat at our next AGM.

No, seriously.

Thanks Ellie.

A few days ago, as I was lounging indulgently atop the family ottoman, enjoying an iced finger and a warming afternoon posset, my ever-curious eye lighted on an intriguing little news nugget tucked away on page 44 of The Guardian.  It was concerned with the doings - or the lack of them - of Sir Stuart Bell, who is being hailed as England’s laziest MP.

He is 73 years old and has not held an open constituency surgery for 14 years.  Apparently he refuses to answer his phone (even though his wife is paid £35,000 a year as his ‘office manager’) and, by all accounts, spends quite a lot of time living in France, where he once wrote an erotic novel called Paris Sixty Nine, of which this is an extract…

(WARNING: Those of a nervous disposition should avoid the following paragraph at all costs.) 

'And she keeps on sucking, sucking and nibbling and filling me with yearning, with desire to thrust her back on the bed now,  strap her to it the way the schoolteacher had shown me… I wanted that she be tied to the bed and I dominate her, rape her, burst inside her and be cleansed.’

As you’d expect with verbiage as laughably florid as that, Sir Stuart is a staunch Christian and churchman; in the Commons debate about the equalisation of the age of consent, he said that it was not ‘morally right or socially desirable' to give homosexuals the same rights as heterosexuals, believing that boys of 16 and 17 should be ‘protected’ - though not, interestingly, girls of the same age.

With a record and reputation like Sir Stuart’s, it seemed odd to me that there is a parliamentary constituency in England that consistently votes him to the Commons as their MP.  Then I discovered which constituency it was.

Middlesbrough East.

Only the mahogany-brained inhabitants of that benighted and tragic town could vote for a man like this, election after election.  They would, after all, vote for an earwig if it had a Labour rosette attached to its pincers.

When I first started my illustrious broadcasting career on Paul’s Saturday show and began my campaign of Bishop Auckland abuse, a listener called in to ask why I disliked that town so much.  ‘Bishop Auckland’, she said, ‘was heaven compared to Middlesbrough’.

I admitted at once that she had a fair point.  As dreary and as vapid as Bishop Auckland undoubtedly is, it is as nothing compared to the horrors of Middlesbrough - one of the very few towns I know with no redeeming features at all.  None whatsoever.

Its people are sour, unsmiling and resentful - as well they might be - and everything they say sounds like either an insult or a death-wish.

It has no history of any interest to anyone - not even its own inhabitants.  Until 1840 or so, there was nothing there but a farm.  Now, there are smelly, litter-strewn streets, a local diet of Glaswegian unhealthiness, industrial decrepitude, endemic and nationally-infamous violence and a population who, with Liverpudlian charmlessness and intellectual poverty, don’t seem to know or care about the cesspit they call home.

Unbelievably, it also has a university - which understandably calls itself ‘Teesside’ rather than ‘Middlesbrough’ university, which would be a contradiction in terms.

Even more unbelievably, it also has a recently-opened Museum of Modern Art.  For a town with Middlesbrough’s obvious problems, I cannot think of a more gloriously inappropriate development.  Like the town itself, it beggars belief.

You may think that I’m rather overstating my case here.  In my own defence, I should say that I grew up in the unbeautiful coal-mining area of East Durham and I know very well that not every town or village can be Barnard Castle or Alnwick or Corbridge (God forbid).  Everywhere must have its workaday towns and cities - places that exist to be lived in and worked in rather the be looked at.

That, however, is no excuse for the profound and peculiarly assertive ugliness of Middlesbrough - both literal and metaphorical.  If it was a human being, Middlesbrough would be beneath contempt.

It is a pitiful aberration of a town and any defence you might want to make of it would fall on deaf ears.  When, after all, did you last choose to visit it?  How often (be honest) have you ever heard anyone at all say ‘I know - let’s go to Middlesbrough for the day!’

Hell will be covered with a mile-deep layer of permafrost before I ever set foot in Middlesbrough again.  It takes people of a strangely uncritical mindset to contemplate even passing through it, let alone living in it.

The kind of people who vote for Sir Stuart Bell as their MP.

And so we resume our journey of discovery, surprise and occasional bewilderment as we investigate the flipside of the world’s countries, uncovering as we go those wayward and unexpected facts you don’t find in conventional textbooks and which make armchair travel so liberating.

This time, we shine our torch into the dark corners of…

Any country whose population idolised Norman Wisdom to the extent - and for as long - as Albania's did must be more than a bit weird, don’t you think?  For forty years, he was the only ‘Western’ celebrity whose films were permitted on Albanian tv and he was granted the freedom of the capital city - Tirana - in 1995.

On a visit in 2001, which coincided with the England football team playing Albania in Tirana, his presence at the training ground eclipsed even that of David Beckham. He appeared on the pitch before the start of the match wearing a half Albanian and half English football shirt. The crowd went berserk when he performed one of his trademark trips on his way out to the centre circle.

Comedian and writer Tony Hawks joined forces with Norman Wisdom and Sir Tim Rice, jointly releasing a single called Big In Albania in an attempt to enter the Albanian pop charts. It reached Number 18.

Yes, seriously weird.  (And I speak as one who has sat on the same sofa as Norman Wisdom - although not at the same time.)

When I was young, Albania was a bit of a mystery.  It was Europe’s only virtually closed country, ruled by the obligatory Mad Megalomaniac - in this case, a tyrant called Enver Hoxha (say Hodger) - who made Albania a kind of blueprint for North Korea.

One of his more interesting ideas was to ban the ownership of cars altogether, thus forcing people onto the country’s notorious trains - which, for decades, were by far the cheapest and slowest in the whole of Europe.  It cost less than £5 to travel the entire length of the country - a journey that usually took at least two days (in a country about half the size of England) in trains that often had no windows and, sometimes, no floor either.

Problems arose, though, when cars were finally legalised in 1992.  After 52 years without them, Albania had no traffic laws, no traffic lights, very few paved roads and no system to introduce driving licences. Cars were routinely stolen in Western Europe and smuggled across the border - the most-prized being Mercedes-Benz.

The result was chaos, with Tirana alone having 208 car-related deaths from March to September of 1992. At the time, this was the highest death rate per capita in all of Europe.

Quite a country, huh?

In a way, it’s hardly surprising that Albania was - and, in many ways, remains - something of a European mystery.  For a start, it has Europe’s highest per capita Muslim population - over 70% - having been conquered and administered by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century.

Secondly, it was home to the wonderfully flamboyant and eccentric King Zog, whose glorious picture I couldn’t resist adding here.  He ruled the country until it fell to Italy in 1939.
His Majesty was a lot more than merely flamboyant.  He survived 55 assassination attempts, during one of which he became the only national leader in such circumstances to actually fire back, wounding his assailant.

His son (Crown Prince Leka I) once bought Ronald Reagan an elephant from Harrods.

And his grandson (Prince Leka II) was born in a Johannesburg hospital room which, for one hour only, was declared to be Albanian territory.

One final oddity for you to consider before you make up your mind about spending a week or two in Albania.  The national currency is the lek.  There are 100 qindarka to each lek.  But it’s not as simple as that.  There are two valuations of the lek running side by side - the old lek and the new lek.  As far as I know, this set-up is unique in the world.  For ease of reference, I include here a picture of the rather handsome 100-(new)lek note, which shows the parliament building in Tirana.
If you decide to visit Albania - and why not? - you may find it useful to know the numbers from one to ten...

një, dy, tre or tri, katër, pesë, gjashtë, shtatë, tetë, nëntë, dhjetë

(Albanian is a bit if a mystery language, too.  Its nearest relative is Maltese.  Helpfully, Wikipedia tells us that it’s ‘a revised and merged form of the two main dialects, Gheg and Tosk, but with a bigger influence of Tosk compared to Gheg’. 


In any case, I find the similarity between the Albanian and French words for four quite unsettling.)

You may also find it useful to know the first words of the National Anthem…

United around the flag,
With one desire and one goal,
Let us pledge our word of honor
To fight for our salvation.

It goes on to say how, even though God himself has decreed that other countries will be destroyed, Albania will remain forever.  Which is comforting.

Finally...if you’re not sure where Albania actually is - it’s directly east of the heel of Italy, across the Adriatic, over the road from Corfu and next door to Greece.


My grateful thanks to Peter and Sid for providing much of the information about Albania in this posting.

Our next visit will be to Algeria.  Get to it, kids!

Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com
 An invention...
...and someone 'planking'
In this blogposting…
* Planking
* Inventions
* Spepere
* Albania
Proceed with caution...

Over the last few weeks, I’ve received quite a few emails that feature interesting - or just plain odd - photographs.  I thought I’d take this opportunity to share two of those emails with you…

By her own admission, truckshunter Lynne doesn’t get in touch with me very often or very regularly; only, in fact, when she discovers what she calls ‘something startling’.  And ‘Planking’ is certainly startling.

As you can hopefully see from these pictures, the idea is to lie rigidly face-down in as unlikely - and as difficult - a place as you can find and then have yourself photographed doing it.

I love crazes like this, which show the innate absurdity, and deeply comical, aspects of the human condition.

They also show just how daft we are.

 If you want to give planking a whirl, send me a photo and I’ll feature it on the blog.

And I definitely think that planking is something we should try doing at the next AGM.  I can hear your enthusiasm from here.

A friend of mine has directed me to a website that features these amazing inventions for which a market has yet to be found.

I think they’re terrific…

Don’t forget to keep an eye on Serge’s blog.  In his latest postings, you can see some awesome photographs of ice- and sand-sculptures, as well as pictures - and even a video - of the recently-acquired (and pleasingly productive) hens, the most troublesome of which is called Hildie.

Just click on Serge’s image in the Followers block on this page, then on the name of his blog in the pop-up window.

(You can read an introduction to this dangerous and subversive new feature in blogposting 295.)

I’m glad to say that it will soon be time to continue our online journey round the world, taking our by now traditional sideways look at each country we visit.  Having done the dirty on Afghanistan in posting 298, we’ll be paying a visit to Albania in the next few days.

So now’s the time to do some serious internet surfing and library-browsing to see what obscure and surprising facts you can dig up.  After all, the publishers of the Lonely Planet Guides have rated Albania as the top place to visit in 2011 - so there must be something there that’s worth going to see and facts about it that are worth searching out.

Like fr’instance...

Albania is the 58th happiest country in the world, which makes its citizens happier than those of Russia, Ukraine and Tanzania but not nearly so smugly content as the people of El Salvador, New Zealand or (especially) Malta, which apparently has the happiest population on Earth.

Send whatever luscious snippets you can find to me as soon as possible.  I’m expecting great things: don’t let me down.

(And thanks to the three people who are enthusiastic enough to have contacted me already!)

Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com
In this blogposting…
* Two Short Planks
* 1,001 Buildings
* WildlifeReport:  Penguins
On with the motley...

A big Thankyou to Linda for sending me these two photos taken at AGM XXVIII (at the Tanfield Railway).

The first shows what Linda unkindly calls ‘the witches of Eastwick’ at East Tanfield station.
The second shows me at Causey Arch station Skyping with Serge in France.  (For those not in the know, ‘Skyping’ is making a video call via a computer, portable or otherwise.  In this case, Serge could see us and talk to us on his computer in France, just as we could see him too.  Skyping is free.)
The fact that Skyping is possible, from a portable computer on the move, suggests an exciting new possibility to me.  If I bring my computer to AGMs as a matter of course, truckshunters unable to attend - and who have a computer at home or wherever they are - can Skype with us for a while and join in the fun.

What do you think?

Prompted no doubt by the list of inane complaints made to Thomas Cook and featured in posting 302, the wonderful Martin, of Houghton-le-Spring, has sent me this list of answers given by contestants in tv quizzes.

I know there are several lists like this doing the internet rounds but I’ve never seen this one before - and I like it a lot.

Which Duke lives at Woburn Abbey?

There are three states of matter:  solid, liquid and….?

What is the name of the insect which makes honey?
The honey fly

What Z is a human who has returned from the dead?

Name a Paris landmark

Name an animal with horns
A bee

Name something that flies without an engine
A bicycle with wings

If you know of any others, send them to me, please.

And thanks, Martin.

Time once again for the next ten ‘buildings you should see before you die’, as recommended in the lovely book I got for Christmas last year.

The buildings in the book are in chronological order. This list brings us up to 1462.

If you’ve seen any of them, or plan to, please get in touch.

I’m delighted to say that, with numbers 92, 93 and 98, my tally has gone up to eighteen - a respectable total of which I am immensely proud!

91 - Santa Maria da Vitoria Monastery, Portugal
92 - Florence Cathedral, Italy (above)
93 - Ca’ d’Oro, Venice, Italy
94 - Kumbum Chorten, Gyantse, Tibet (above)
95 - Palazzo Medici, Florence, Italy
96 - Hotel Dieu, Beaune, France (above)
97 - San Francisco and Temio Malatestiano, Rimini, Italy
98 - Brussels Town Hall, Belgium (above)
99 - Malbork Castle, Poland
100 - Palazzo Piccolomini, Pienza, Italy

Having reached number 100, we’re now 10% of the way through our journey and it’s taken us all over the world.  Perhaps we can forge links with another truckshunter project - our World Geography.  If we’re not careful, this blog could turn into a kind of ‘alternative encyclopaedia’!

National totals so far are:
Italy 23, France 8, Egypt 5, England 5, China 5, India 4, Spain 4, Ireland 3, South Korea 3, Syria 2, Croatia 2, Iraq 2, Japan 2, Uzbekistan 2, then 1 each for Afghanistan, Armenia, Belgium, Cambodia, Denmark, Ethiopia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Isreal, Libya, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Tibet, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, USA, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

My thanks to Dave for sending me this interesting and little-known fact of penguin life.  He writes…

Did you ever wonder why there are no dead penguins on the ice in Antarctica?  Where do they go? 

Wonder no more!

It has recently been discovered that the penguin is a very ritualistic bird which lives an extremely ordered and complex life. 


A penguin is very committed to its family and will mate for life, as well as maintaining a form of compassionate contact with its offspring throughout its life.  

And if a penguin is found dead on the ice surface, other members  of the family and social circle have been known to dig holes in the ice, using their vestigial wings and beaks, until the hole is deep enough for the dead bird to be rolled into it and buried.

The male penguins then gather in a circle around the fresh grave and sing:

"Freeze a jolly good fellow"

"Freeze a jolly good fellow."

Then they kick him in the ice hole.


Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com
In this blogposting…
* Julie Andrews at 70
* Thomas Cook
* Kev’s One-Liners
* The Diet
* Albert Monroe
Don’t just sit there…

I’ve handed this posting over to Linda, Dave, Kev, Vivienne, Hildie, Eric and Jean - with my grateful thanks to them for helping to keep this blog afloat during what is a difficult time for me.

I hope you enjoy their contributions.  They’ve certainly lifted my spirits over the last couple of weeks.
The pictures were sent to me by Eric and Jean.  As you can see, they are part of a mobile phone ad campaign.  Aren’t they clever?

The awesome - not to say sainted - Julie Andrews recently gave a charity concert in New York to mark her 70th birthday.  In a wonderfully honest tribute to old age, she re-worked the words of My Favourite Things as follows...

Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Cadillac's and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

When the pipes leak - when the bones creak,

When the knees go bad, 

I simply remember my favourite things,

And then I don't feel so bad. 

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,

No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions, 

Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring, 

These are a few of my favourite things... 

Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin', 

Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin', 

And we won't mention our short shrunken frames, 

When we remember our favourite things. 

When the joints ache- when the hips break,

When the eyes grow dim,

Then I remember the great life I've had, 

And then I don't feel so bad. 

Apparently, she received a standing ovation from the crowd that lasted over four minutes and repeated encores.  And I’m not surprised.

Thanks, Linda.
Vivienne has sent me this list of complaints received by Thomas Cook from some of their less savvy customers.

I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.

It's lazy of the local shopkeepers to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during 'siesta' time - this should be banned.

We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our swimming costumes and towels.

A woman threatened to call police after claiming that she'd been locked in her room by staff. In fact, she had mistaken the "do not disturb" sign on the back of the door as a warning to remain in the room.

The beach was too sandy.

We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as yellow but it was white.

No-one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled.

There was no egg-slicer in the apartment.

We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.

The roads were uneven.

It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England but it only took the Americans three hours to get home.

I compared the size of our one-bedroom apartment to our friends' three-bedroom apartment and ours was significantly smaller.

The brochure stated:  'No hairdressers at the hotel’. We're trainee hairdressers - will we be OK staying there?

We had to queue outside with no air conditioning.

I was bitten by a mosquito - no-one said they could bite.

My fiancé and I booked a twin-bedded room but we were placed in a double-bedded room. We now hold you responsible for the fact that I find myself pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.

As Vivienne quite rightly remarked - these people are amongst us and the vote!

Thanks Vivienne.
Kev has sent me this lovely list of groan-inducing one-liners, all of which are up to his usual standard.

An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.

A man takes his Rottweiler to the vet and says, "My dog's cross-eyed, is there anything you can do for him?"
"Well," says the vet, "let's have a look at him."
So he picks the dog up and examines his eyes, then checks his teeth. Finally, he says, "I'm going to have to put him down."
"What? Because he's cross-eyed?"
"No, because he's really heavy."

I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find any.

I went to the butcher's the other day and I bet him £50 that he couldn't reach the meat off the top shelf. He said, "No, the steaks are too high."

A man woke up in a hospital after a serious accident. He shouted, "Doctor, doctor, I can't feel my legs!"
The doctor replied, "I know you can't - I've cut off your arms!"

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly; but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank, proving that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.

A sandwich walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Sorry we don't serve food in here."
Two aerials meet on a roof, fall in love and get married. The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.

Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar. One says, "I've lost my electron."
The other says, "Are you sure?"
The first replies, "Yes, I'm positive..."
A jump lead walks into a bar. The bartender says, "I'll serve you, but don't start anything."

A dyslexic man walks into a bra.

A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says: "A beer please, and one for the road."

Hildie has txted me this joke.  Originally it was, of course, an ‘Irish’ joke, a genre which is much, much funnier if you change the Irishman into a Sun reader.

An overweight Sun reader on a diet is told by his doctor..  "Eat regularly for 2 days then skip a day ..... Then eat regularly again for 2 days then skip a day.  Repeat this routine for 2 weeks.  The next time I see you, you should have lost 5lbs."  

When the Sun reader returned, he had lost 60lbs.

"That’s amazing!!" the doctor said.   "Did you follow my instructions?"  

"Yes, and I thought I was going to drop dead on the third day!!"  

"From hunger?" asked the doctor

"No - from the bloody skipping!"

Thanks Hildie.

Dave Shannon has sent me this intriguing picture.  All you have to do is look at the picture close-up - then move about ten feet away and look at it again.

Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com
Shaggy (or perhaps Daphne)
In this blogposting…
* This Blog
* Words, Words, Words
* Shaggy and Daphne
Now - cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war...

Thanks for all your good wishes on my reaching the landmark 300th posting.  And thanks, also, for your fortitude, patience and forbearance on staying the course with me and getting this far without permanent psychological damage.

Further exhaustive research has shown what an incredibly lively lot you are, too.  You've left no fewer than 3,886 Comments on this blog; that's an average of almost 13 Comments for each posting!

The same research has revealed - as I suspected it would - that there are truckshunters in even more parts of the world than I at first thought.  So please give a warm welcome to blogsters in Brazil, Poland, Greece, India, Belgium, Sweden and China.  Occasionally, I find myself wondering what on Earth they make of my endless ramblings about local words, forgotten heroes and public transport in Lyon.

Maybe we should have an AGM in Brazil or Greece…

Speaking of endless ramblings…

You should know by now that I find words and language hugely enjoyable.  I really love delving into why we say what we do - in whatever language we happen to use - and why and how words came to mean what they mean.

Did you know, for example, that ‘silly’ originally meant ‘blessed by God’?  Or that ‘with’ meant ‘against’?  ‘Meat’ was any food at all.  In the 13th century, a ‘girl’ was a child of either sex and in the 16th, a ‘bully’ was a 'sweetheart' or ‘fine fellow’.

English is indeed a language where words refuse to stand still and obey any rules; I reckon we’re lucky to speak it as natives, and are thus able to manage its intricacies and complications with comparative ease.  From my chats with foreigners learning it - mostly French people - I’ve learned how slippery it can really be.

The meaning of ‘quite’, for example, is notoriously difficult to pin down for foreigners learning English.  I was quite alone means that I was totally alone.  You are quite right means that you are exactly, totally correct.

But York is quite nice means something much less emphatic.  York is fairly nice.  It’s acceptably pleasant (which is true, I suppose).  I stay up quite late means I stay up fairly late - but not until dawn.

A native speaker of English knows the difference without thinking - instinctively.  But a learner trying to guess which sense is intended can get into trouble very easily.  After all, when we say someone is quite poorly, we usually mean that they are very ill indeed.

Quite a problem.

I had a satisfyingly word-based chat with a neighbour the other day.  Fuelled by copious amounts of curiosity and craft-brewed cider, we began to wonder why, when we have inert, uncouth, disturb and ruthless, we don’t have ert, couth, turb and ruth.  (Trying to research explanations was great fun: try it!)

And he drew to my attention a peculiar usage I’d not previously noticed.  Why, he asked, is the phrase for long only used in a negative sentence?  We say It didn’t take long but not It took long; I didn’t know her for long but not I knew her for long.

It also happens in a phrase like I won’t be long; yet we can’t say I’ll be long.

I haven’t a clue why this anomaly exists or what conceivable linguistic explanation there is for it.  If you think you can shed some light on the matter, get in touch.

My neighbour also drew my attention to a July newspaper cutting he had pinned to his noticeboard.  He thinks it’s the perfect story of ‘survival against impossible odds’ - and so do I.

‘Two goldfish left behind during the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 181 people in February have been found alive after four-and-a-half months trapped in their tank without food or power for their filter.  Shaggy and Daphne were on display in the reception area of Quantum Accountants in the downtown area, which was made off-limits after the earthquake.  Company director Vicky Thornley, who has given them to her son, said she was sure they’d be long dead when she was finally allowed back into the building.  The fact that three of their companions had disappeared may be a clue to their astonishing survival.’

I love that story.

Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com