Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Must blog more!

I really must use this blog more, it seems people read it.

Social media shrinks the world

When I began my career it was with a three-ton Remington typewriter that deafened the street, now I can find friends in Louisiana with the flick of a finger.
Social media has shrunk the world, technology is advancing at such a pace that it is difficult to keep pace with the latest developments and new inventions that were once the stuff of science fiction are an everyday occurrence.
But at what cost is all this in terms of progress? Sales of printed books have plummeted as the world spends an increasing portion of its life on computers, tablets and mobile phones and I worry sometimes that there is a danger of losing the power of joined up thought. Recently I was reading a piece sent to me on the Internet and half a dozen of the sentences written didn’t even begin with the standard capital letter. Worrying.
I know people who are closing their Facebook accounts now because they have almost taken over their lives, and I have to say that on Twitter some of the most inane facts and comments are creeping in now. Do you really need to say , “Goodnight tweeps”? Just turn the thing off!
Neither is the net and social media the province of the young, as it was. Increasing numbers of older people are using the social interaction on offer and in many cases it can provide a relief for loneliness and replace a social life lost due to immobility or loss of a partner, so no bad thing there.

Drives you mad

Motorists are often an easy target but I notice that recently some have been getting away with blue murder.
Did you read about the idiot who was caught driving with his hands behind his head? The clot was doing 62mph on a major road in a large four-wheel drive and argues in court that he was in full control of the car. Fortunately the court didn’t agree and banned him for a year and imposed a hefty fine and community service order. But what possesses these people?
There are also cases of motorists still driving with over 30 and sometimes 40 points on their licences because magistrates have shown leniency towards their circumstances. Why? If you’ve clocked up that amount of points you’re quite simply not fit to drive a vehicle and I have serious doubts whether you should be using a wheelbarrow without stabilisers.

To lick or not to lick?

Do you seal your envelopes? Apparently whether you should or not has been the subject of a major and no doubt costly operation. Many older people labour under the misapprehension that you can send an unsealed envelope with a second class stamp on and it will be delivered first class. Err, no.
The younger generation have other ideas. One Internet observation reads, “ Whilst I do seal my envelopes the first thing that came to mind when I saw the headline was the story that went round when I was at school and later repeated on a viral email about cockroach eggs being laid on the glue and when you lick it if you get a paper cut they can hatch in your lip.”
A quick Google showed this story is still on the urban legends websites but it wouldn't surprise me if that was the reason for people around early 30s.

Health and Safety nonsense

Yes I know I’ve twittered about this before but here goes again.
Our village church clock was stopped for several months recently because the Health and Safety ogres decreed that the ladder used to reach the mechanism was too short. This was despite it having been used for years by a six-foot plus ex-policeman. Consequently it was twenty past three in Haworth for eight months until a grant was raised to provide a longer ladder!
You couldn’t make it up could you? The bell ringers swung on ropes every Monday night during that period but the poor chap couldn’t wind the clock up because some mentally challenged twerp had nothing better to do than condemn the ladder.
Have these people nothing better to do? How come one of them was lurking in Haworth Church clock tower to see the ladder in the first place?
And he was back at Christmas to chuck Santa Claus out of the boiler room because there might have been asbestos! Poor chap had to cuddle customers in a gazebo outside the building. Talk about no room at the inn, and the donkey had to wear a coat.
These chaps would have been a riot in Bethlehem. There’s have been no stable accommodation, too draughty and get those sheep of the bedclothes. You cannot bring your camel in here and stop swinging that foul smelling stuff under the baby’s nose….and has that chap with the wings got a Civil Aviation licence? The mind boggles.

What happened to taste?

What has happened to taste? I remember drooling at the taste of traditional British food as a youngster but it seems that everything has taken on a blandness since we put most of it is boxes and plastic, which we have to refrigerate within three minutes of opening or the contents self-destruct.
We’re lucky in having a traditional butcher close to us and to see a freshly cooked piece of real meat coming out of the oven steaming with flavour is a novelty. Invariably I’ve eaten the first slice before I reach home and the rest doesn’t last long either.
Compare it to the heavily packaged, over promoted tripe which adorns many supermarket shelves and it’s no contest. Some of the stuff tastes no better than bird seed and is way overpriced. No wonder we waste so much food.
And have you noticed the fishmonger or butcher in super stores? He has to wear more plastic than the produce. Gloves, hairnet and hat, and that’s only the men. How did we survive the age when haunches of bacon hung in the grocers, butter was sold loose, you didn’t need to shrink wrap a cauliflower and there was still muck on fresh carrots?

No travellers on Twitter!

Scientists who have been trawling social networks like Facebook and Twitter for evidence of time travellers say they have drawn a blank.
Researchers believed that if humans in the future had discovered a way to visit the past they might leave clues online by mentioning events which had not yet happened.
Astrophysicist Robert Nemiroff of Michigan Technological University and his team decided to trawl the internet in the hope of 'teasing out' time travellers.
They selected search terms relating to two recent phenomena, Pope Francis and Comet ISON, and began looking for references to them before they were known to exist on Google, Bing, Facebook and Twitter.
But all they found was one blog post referencing a Pope Francis before Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope on March 16, but it seemed more accidental that prescient.
"In our limited search we turned up nothing," Prof Nemiroff said. "I didn't really think we would. But I'm still not aware of anyone undertaking a search like this.
"The Internet is essentially a vast database, and I thought that if time travellers were here, their existence would have already come out in some other way, maybe by posting winning lottery numbers before they were selected. "
The project came about following a card game last summer where Prof Nemiroff questioned whether time travellers would use social media and how you might find them.
"I'm always doing stuff on space and time," he said, adding, "This has been a lot of fun."

Does he get paid for doing this I ask? They walk amongst us!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Tour de France

We understand that the precise route for the Tour de France will be announced tomorrow, October 23rd. The event comes to Haworth on July 6th 2014 and will now figure increasingly in our blog and at www.bronteradio.com and www.voiceofthevalleys.net where it has its own pages.
This is going to be a once in a lifetime event and here at Bronte Media we'll be keeping you up to date with all developments. More news as we have it.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

No Virgin in Haworth!

Mobile moments of madness

There have been moments recently when I have been sorely tempted to launch my mobile telephone into orbit, pre-programmed to crash to earth on Richard Branson’s head.
Since the beginning of the year my signal from the Virgin network had been gradually worsening often to the point where using a carrier pigeon would have been more effective. Of course the first line of defence for all mobile phone companies are the foreign call centres where everyone is called Godfrey or Marion and you know they’ve never been called that in their life. They’re irritatingly polite and heavily scripted on how to deal with awkward customers going ballistic down the phone and threatening to do all manner of unspeakable things.
“Oh we’re very sorry for the inconvenience Mr Graham,” trilled one after 45 minutes on the helpline which was the cut off, probably because a passing pigeon had blocked the one bar of signal which I was using. They want you to give in and go away don’t they?
“Oh we’ll be giving you another 3,000 texts as compensation Mr Graham, isn’t that wonderful?”
No! I want to speak to someone not write everything in text, I replied, quietly steaming and thinking of what I’d like to do with the operator’s headset.
Many calls later I was allowed permission to speak to the technical department and, amazingly, I actually understood what he was saying. Virgin had decommissioned a mast close to our area and the signal was weakened because of it and there were no plans to recommission it in the future. Oh nice, I live high on the Yorkshire moors and would have thought there was plenty of room for a new mast, but no, said the technical man. I was put through to the public relations department and a very polite chap confirmed that my signal would not improve and I was free to leave Virgin without penalty!
I was in a quandary about who to go to for service, or should I revert back to the two syrup tins and a length of string which had been so effective in my youth? And cheaper. I settled for Talk Talk but for three days that was precisely what I couldn’t do, talk, until numbers had been ported, sims transferred and I had to threaten to separate at least three help line operators from their important bits.
My wife opted for a package with one of those tablet come Kindly wotsit gadgets. It’s amazing the stuff they have now, even a phone that reacts when you look at it. I’m hanging on until they have one which soothes you when you can’t make a phone call, brews tea and makes a bacon sandwich. Sorry, just having another moment of mobile madness!


Tyred of wasted money

It seems to me that an incredible amount of money is wasted on rather useless items, many in the name of education.
Our local school has just unveiled a “tyre park” which has cost a staggering £10,000. Now how many swimming lessons or creative activities could that money have bought instead of dumping a pile of old painted tyres for pupils to clamber across?
In my schooldays we were quite happy with a playground area where we fashioned wickets from a dustbin, chalked goalposts on the wall and if anyone had dumped a load of old tyres there we’d have thrown them out. Progress?


Stuffed mice keep embalmer happy!

I have serious worries about the lady embalmer who stuffs dead mice and dresses them up for a hobby.
I didn’t know there was a “Master Chef” award for embalming but Liz Davis was named Britain’s Embalmer of the Year at The Good Funeral Guide award ceremony. Goodness knows who the celebrity judges were but they’d have a stiff task before them.
For fun Liz’s hobby is stuffing dead animals, dressing them up and selling them on the Internet. Apparently it takes about an hour and a half to stuff a mouse and get it in position. One of her subjects has been dressed up as Lord Nelson.
You begin to see my cause for concern don’t you? She gets the mice already frozen from the local pet shop. The alternative fate for them would be ending up as a snake’s dinner. The finished articles sell for up to £50 on the Internet.
So if you see someone’s granny stuffed and displayed on eBay you know Liz has had a senior moment!


Earning conservation stripes

A Brazilian family have shown their dedication to saving endangered tigers - by moving seven of them into their home. Bet they don’t need a burglar alarm.
Father of three Ary Borges rescued two tigers from a circus eight years ago and built a sanctuary in his garden.
Now the family live, eat, and even swim with the giant man-eaters in their backyard pool in Maringa, near Sao Paulo.
And shockingly Mr Borges even lets his two-year-old granddaughter, Rayara, ride on the back of the fully-grown big cats.
Mr Borges, 43, said: "I was never worried about my daughters co-existing with these animals
"You have to show the animals respect and love - that's how you get it back from them."
The 43-year-old and his daughters Nayara, 20, Uyara, 23, and Deusanira, 24, walk the tigers on leads and feed meat directly into their mouths.
They even allow them into their kitchen during mealtime and let them lounge around the house.
Incredibly, Uraya, who also works as a dog trainer, is happy for daughter Rayara to interact with the massive predators with minimal safety precautions.
She said: "Rayara loves playing with the tigers - she sees my dad interacting with them and she goes crazy.
"But it's safe. I would never expose her to a dangerous situation.
"Every day since they were born we have taken care of them and fed them so their instincts become dormant.
Oh yeah, and one day they may wake up.
Potty trained pussy!

A West Midlands cat-lover has amazed animal experts by teaching his pet to use a human toilet.
Luke Evans, 29, from Solihull, says he got fed up with his cat Salem using a smelly litter tray in his second floor flat so he trained nine-month-old Salem to go to the toilet in his bathroom by offering cheese-flavoured treats as a reward.
The talented cat can apparently also shake paws and roll over - and is currently being taught to fetch.
Mr Evans, who lives with his partner, said: "A lot of the time we don't even realise that he's been to the loo.
"Sometimes we hear him scratching at the seat but it's only when we step into the bathroom and see the evidence in the toilet that we know for sure.
"He can't use the flush yet - he needs more training for that. It took a couple of months for him to pick it up - we used a child's toilet training seat at first.
"I guess it's a pretty rare thing. I mentioned it at work and everyone was pretty amazed."
Local vet Becki Pratt said: "We see many talented animals here at the clinic but Salem is a cut above the rest.
"We've heard the phrase: 'You can't teach an old dog new tricks', but apparently you can teach a young cat anything - as Salem has proved."
I’d like to see them do the same with the tigers in the previous piece.

Spreading the news

A North Shields man loves Marmite so much that he's changed his surname by deed poll to match the yeast spread.
Saire May - now Marmite - made the leap to show his 'devotion and passion' to the dark brown paste.
"I'm not exactly sure how old I was when I first tried Marmite, but I just remember eating it as far back as I can remember," he said.
"I like the smell, the taste, the texture. I think I pretty much like everything about it."
Mr Marmite, 38, says he easily gets through a jar a week and also collects Marmite paraphernalia including limited edition jars, cufflinks and a recipe book dating back to the Second World War.
"My family think I'm mad. However my mum just shrugged her shoulders, she expects this kind of thing from me," he added.

It’s the sort of silly idea which could spread.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Have a look for my bloody leg

Sixty nine years ago tomorrow (September 25th 1944) a British Army sergeant was walking through the countryside around Venlo in the south eastern Netherlands.
It was no ordinary walk. Led by a Welsh sergeant, the column of soldiers was aware that the surrounding countryside had been mined by the Germans. They were part of the tail end of what was known as Operation Market Garden, a major offensive against Nazi occupied Holland.
The Welsh sergeant stepped on one of the mines and was killed instantly. The British sergeant got the full blast which blew away the lower part of his left leg and peppered his whole body with shrapnel leaving him seriously wounded.
He was rescued from the scene and flown back to a Worcestershire hospital where he spent much of the next few months undergoing treatment, which involved removing a further portion of his leg and painstakingly removing the shrapnel from the entire front of his body and face.
Six months earlier he had married his sweetheart in a tiny church in a Yorkshire mill town where he was born. After a few days in Blackpool on honeymoon he had returned to the bloody heart of the battle against Germany. What happened on that September morning meant the honeymoon was well and truly over.
Eventually, after many months, he returned to the Yorkshire mill town. They sent him an artificial leg by train to the railway station. He had to walk two miles on crutches to pick it up. He put it on in the station waiting room, walked out and for the next 51 years, worked, saved, raised a child, even taught him to play football and cricket, and generally defied what that bloody awful weapon of war had done to him..
He said to his son, "If you ever go to Holland have a look for my bloody leg will you?"
In a few weeks the country will fall silent to remember those who lost their lives in conflict, in fact in many conflicts before and since that awful September morning. I always remember with them and feel fortunate that the name of that British sergeant was not etched in letters upon the memory of this country, unlike his Welsh counterpart and friend.
And Dad, if I do ever go to Holland, I promise to have a look for your bloody leg.

Friday, 2 August 2013



Talk your way out of a jam!

It is a source of great concern to me that the Germans are already working on the next generation of cars which are going to “talk” to each other, see round corners and see through lorries.
For someone who can remember starting a Morris 1000 with a crank handle this is a worry. I remember headlight dip switches on the floor, adhesive heated rear windows, trafficators which popped out to say which way you were going and tyre chains. If you could read a number plate at the prescribed distance, avoid ploughing into too many pedestrians, do a three point turn in a space the size of a football pitch and recite the Highway Code you passed your test. Now the blasted car is going to talk to me? I don’t want one!
I have enough problems with a sat nav trying to chuck me in the river somewhere off the M6 without the car talking to me as well, I normally have sufficient coping with my wife. Vehicles equipped with "car-to-x" technology, should warn of hazards far beyond the vision of the driver including traffic jams further along a motorway or a vehicle making an emergency stop up ahead.
The organisation behind the technology is Frankfurt-based Safe Intelligent Mobility Testfield (Sim TD), a consortium of vehicle manufacturers with factories in Germany.
Mercedes Benz-maker Daimler is leading the project and BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Ford and Opel are also involved.
They have already held the world's largest field test of car-to-car communication around Sim TD's home city: 500 drivers signed up to test the tech and clocked up a total of 1.7 million km (1.1 million miles).
Sim TD says you can expect to see the first talking cars on the road in 2015. That’s it for me. The first time any vehicle speaks to me I’m hanging up the keys and buying a bike. It’s ridiculous. Imagine you’re tootling down the High Street and suddenly the car announces that someone has done an emergency stop three miles away so be careful. Too much information.
And how are the ladies going to cope? It’s not so many years since the fairer sex were hanging their handbags on the choke handle, so what’s going to happen when the flipping dashboard starts talking?  I see trouble and consternation, and there’s worse to come. Audi is testing other mechanisms, including a vibrating steering wheel and force feedback pedals - a pedal which pushes back or vibrates when the driver tries to accelerate.
"That will get the driver's attention," says Robert Manz, an Audi developer. Oh it will Robert, I guarantee it. Why do we need a vibrating steering wheel? I have a picture of obeying my sat nav by taking the next left and suddenly the steering wheel vibrates and as I press the brake it presses back at me. I’m not going to be pleased and neither is the bus driver coming towards me as I career onto the other side of the road.
Interactive traffic signs and traffic lights equipped with sensors will also talk to each other and swap information with cars in the area. Oh will they? That’ll be fun, you’ve just pulled away on green and the traffic light leans forward and announces 3p a litre off at the local supermarket and, in fear, you lurch into the path of another oncoming vehicle which will now be able to shout pre-programmed obscenities at you, flash its own headlights and take a picture at the same time!
There will be tears before bedtime. I have arranged for machine guns to be fitted under my front bumper, an ejector seat and a wide screen TV where the windscreen used to be because it is obvious I will no longer have to look where I am going, the blasted car will do it for me.

Bollards

And while we’re on the subject I had a chuckle at this story.
A man had to be rescued by a policeman after his head became wedged inside a traffic bollard for two hours.
The unfortunate chap was unable to free himself after putting the cone on his head while joking with friends in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.
John Waterman, who captured the incident on his mobile phone, said: "I came out of Burger King and this man had the bollard stuck on his head.
"I had seen him walking with it on top of his head five minutes earlier, but now it was pulled right down.
"No one was helping him because they thought he was just messing around."
Eventually, a police officer and passer-by managed to free the man, who was applauded by a crowd of onlookers. Did anyone think to ask him how his head got there in the first place?


Gathering winter fuel

At last the axe has fallen on winter fuel payments to expats sunning themselves in exile. It has long puzzled me why those basking in winter temperatures warmer than our summers can get the handout of up to £300 without question.
Now it beggars the question, will the thousands saved by this measure be handed out to deserving cases here at home? Silly of me to think that. Throw another log on the fire.


Senior moment!

An elderly armed robber failed to flee the scene - because he was too slow putting his walking frame into his getaway car.
The 64-year-old man robbed a woman at knifepoint in the car park of a shopping centre at Geelong, near Melbourne, Australia.
He aimed to steal her car - but was still trying to pack several bags and his walking frame into the vehicle when police arrived to arrest him.
Police say the man, from Queensland, had bought a knife from the shopping centre and approached the 22-year-old woman as she was about to leave the car park.
He held the knife to her throat and demanded she gave him the car. He drove a short distance before stopping to load up the car.
But by this time the woman had called police who arrived in time to make the arrest. The man has been charged with armed robbery.


Cool cat and dog

A cool cat and his shades-wearing canine friend have been turning heads on the streets of a Chinese city.
When shoppers see the odd couple, they might think the fussy feline is literally taking the dog for a ride.

But owner Xu Wan, from Kunming, Yunnan province, insists the pair really are the best of pedigree chums.
"When I started taking the dog for a walk the cat would mew as if it didn't want to be left at home," he explained.
"So I bought a small lead and brought the cat too.
"But the cat soon got tired of all that walking and very quickly worked out that it was easier to ride."
Now the pair turn heads as they join Xu, 64, for his daily trip to the shops.
"They love their walks and never fight," he said.


A load of rubbish

Some councils certainly fall under the category of mentally challenged. Our local boffins have decreed that before you can use the local recycling centre in future you have to take along proof of residency and you will be issued with your own disc to display in your windscreen.
Not content with having more recycling sections than you could ever possibly use they are now fussy in case some infiltrator might bring rubbish in from further afield.
Have they nothing better to do with their time than dream up this rubbish?









Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Barlick Spud

The media is full of the 50th anniversary of Dr Beeching's decision to carve up our railway system. Was I just 11 years old when they chopped The Barlick Spud?
Growing up in a 1950's Northern mill town  is indelibly etched on my memory and has forever shaped the way I look at life now. Some say it's a jaundiced view. Well, yes, we had jaundice in those days; we had TB, rickets, polio and diphtheria  whooping cough, measles, scarlet fever and chicken pox and were only just in the early stages of vaccinating against two of the complaints, polio and diphtheria  But an astonishing number of us survived the rest of the complaints and were tougher and stronger for it.
Obesity wasn't a problem. I'm old enough to have had my sweets and orange juice rationed, and so precious was food that one of my earliest memories is of a younger friend lunging from his pram with bared teeth when I ventured to pinch one of his chips.
The age is often caricatured now but if you lived it, it was a surreal world of gas lamps and fog, syrup of figs and glycerine and lemon, depending which orifice had a problem, and steam trains. In my home town, Barnoldswick, between Colne and Skipton, and you'll miss it if you blink, we had a railway station, until that bugger Beeching started. It was a magical place for me.
Shunting on a Saturday morning where an engine shoved the newly arrived and laden trucks to the far end of the station and the empty ones back out ready to go for more precious coal the following week. My grandfather's coal yard was one of several in the railway sidings. W.A. Smith's Best Coals. He had an advert on screen at The Majestic pictures and used to give yellow and black motiffed pencils to his best customers. He called his horse Nigger as well, you couldn't do that now. Old Nigger once knocked the brake off the cart down Bethesda Hill and careered off ending up with his head through the Co-op window, coal everywhere and stood benevolently munching the shop's carrots while pandemonium reigned in the street outside.
There was a level crossing on Station Road and the Station Master would shuffle back and forth opening and closing the gates, keeping impatient motorists and cyclists at bay with a whistle and a stare that would have melted Blackpool rock.
Ahh, Blackpool, and Morecambe, and if adventurous, Southport. At Wakes weeks, the annual July holidays, if you were very fortunate, you'd roll up at the station laden with enough food and drink to keep a small army going for a month and pay your 1s 3d apiece for a day return to the seaside. Posh people stayed for a week in boarding houses, a then modern day concentration camp where you'd have to pay threepence a day extra for a towel and the landlady often resembled a Nazi stormtrooper chewing a wasp.
You'd chug out towards Earby and open the window for a breath of fresh air, they had leather straps to open the windows then, and you'd be hit by a lung full of smoke as you went under the Rainhall Bridge. Likely as not your Dad would clout you with the cricket bat strung on the side of the suitcase to make you shut the window and sit down. But there were adventures to be had in the corridor. Peeking in the other carriages I well remember a courting couple having a very intense brief encounter which ended abruptly when I turned on the carriage light.
The Barlick Spud. So called because a local engine driver used to bake and roast potatoes on the engine's boiler and eager children would be at the station queuing for a tasty treat at the end of the journey. Magic.
The bright sparks who went to the Skipton Grammar schools used to travel from Barlick station but Dr Beeching put an end to all that and shut it. They used to shovel them out on two double-decker buses after that.
I remember going to see the last train into the station in 1963 and wiping away a tear even as a child because I knew I was witnessing the end of not just an era but a way of life. The old station site is a supermarket car park now, characterless and dull, but on a dark November night I'll swear you can hear a whistle blow and the mist conjures up the smell of The Barlick Spud.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Off the beaten track




Born to be King or Queen

Well didn’t that cause a media kerfuffle? No sooner had the ink dried on Lord Justice Leveson’s pen to give the British press a kick in the rear when all hell breaks loose as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced that Kate is expecting. No doubt as the new year wears on there will be many more scramblings and in summer expect carnage as the race is on for the first picture of the newborn.
Cameramen and reporters were almost killed in the media scrum to take up pole position outside King Edward VII hospital where the Duchess had been admitted with morning sickness in the early stages of her pregnancy. Why do they do it? All they are going to see is a hospital door for goodness sake. Kate’s hardly likely to come tripping down in her nightie to pose for pictures in between retching, is she?
Some of the words which come out of media mouths on such occasions can make you equally sick. Charged with filling three minutes on the main news they come out with all manner of tripe. Under new laws, even if this baby is a girl, it will be third in line of succession to the throne. Bearing in mind the longevity of the Royal Family I reckon she could be around 87 before she comes to the throne and I certainly don’t think I’ll be at the street party to celebrate.
One conversation between media types discussed what would happen if she had twins. Eventually the concensus was that the first child to emerge would be third in line to the throne. Fascinating, they go to college for this you know.
It’s been over 2,000 years since we had such fervour over an impending birth, and look at the trouble that caused. Every guest house was closed and the poor beggar ended up in a stable jostling for position with cows, sheep, singing shepherds, camels, a donkey and a confused surrogate father who claimed he hadn’t done anything to Mary anyway! (Oh dear, there will be letters).
Joking apart, good luck to the Royal couple, they were one of the few bright spots in the year 2012 and let’s hope the chastised media minds its manners with them and their future family as we go into 2013.

Twittering Pope

I could of course make some very irreverent remark about the fact that the Pope has opened a Twitter account. But he’s got something going for him for he picked up over 300,000 followers in the first 24 hours of tweeting putting Stephen Fry and others in the shade.
I have a sneaking admiration for any 85-year-old who takes up social media but note that he has a new media department who will doubtless be handling his tweets before publication. It remains to be seen if congregations dwindle in the light of this innovation or whether many turn over in bed on Sunday morning and reach for their lap top!

When Irish eyes are smiling!

We recently rented out a property after receiving quite a bit of Internet interest but it was the last enquiry which made me chuckle. It said simply by text, “Would you consider renting to an Irish escort?”
I didn’t reply and the following day received another text with a link to the escort’s web site. Checking, as you do, I was staggered at the rates she was charging, £170 an hour….she could certainly have paid the rent!


Dogs in the driving seat

Given that they have usually four perfectly good legs why would you want to teach a dog to drive?
A New Zealand animal charity is doing just that because it reckons that owners will be more encouraged to adopt them if they show signs of increased intelligence.
Right then. I’ll admit it’s handy if you’re out to a party and don’t want to drive. Instead of your wife you could take the dog to drive you home but if the police stop you don’t count on being home before morning, they will have questions.
The charity put Porter, Mont and Ginny behind the wheel of an adapted Mini Cooper and after just eight weeks are reported to have put it in gear, accelerate and steer, something which is beyond many humans after they have passed their test!
So far the dogs have been driving with the help of an assistant inside the car but the next move is to let them try solo, on live television. Simon Cowell wait for this. According to an instructor, they will hop in, start the car, put it in gear and use the accelerator. Thankfully this is being done on an off-road track but the charity has visions of carrying it further.
When I see a Jack Russell driving a Mini Cooper down the motorway I will know it’s time to hand in my licence.

Coffin therapy

Next time you fancy a lie down try a little coffin therapy! A Ukrainian man is encouraging people to lie down for 15 minutes in one of his coffins to “prepare for the afterlife”. Now why would I want to do that?
The coffin maker has been in business for ten years and says the feeling is just like being in a bed. It’s the same sheets and pillows with its own special aura. You can choose from one of ten coffins in a special room with birdsong, falling water and he says you go home in a completely different mood.
Err, no thanks

Is your man a pig?

A US company has created a gift for the man who has everything - bacon flavoured shaving cream.
J&D's new product is described as "high end, luxurious bacon-scented shaving cream" and is on sale for about £9.
Inventor Justin Esch said: "There is nothing more powerful than the smell of bacon, nothing. Bacon is the smell of champions.
"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and bacon is the best part of breakfast. Why not smell like it and be the best?"
The self-titled "bacontrepreneur" has also come up with other pork inspired products such as bacon roses, bacon lip balm and bacon baby formula.
And, for those "who love bacon to death", he has created a £2,000 bacon-wrapped coffin.
Mr Esch added: "Bacon is delicious, people get excited when they smell it. When you walk into a room don't you want people to be excited to see you?"
I told you they weren’t all locked up.


Little lit up donkey!

Hundreds of donkeys are to be fitted with glow-in-the-dark ear tags in Botswana to stop accidents on rural roads at night.
About 500 of the animals will be fitted with the reflective tags in the north of the country where one in ten crashes is donkey-related.
I think it’s a wonderful idea and also recommend the tags for those barmy joggers who tear around in pitch blackness.
The UK-based Society For The Protection Of Animals Abroad is paying for the Maun Animal Welfare Society, in Botswana, to carry out the project.
Laura Higham, outreach veterinary advisor for SPANA, said: "The people that own working donkeys are some of the very poorest in Botswana's society and often have no choice other than to let their animals roam freely in search of food in the sparse desert environment.
"This practice is essential, but obviously makes the donkeys vulnerable to accidents and we hope that this simple solution will help reduce the number of collisions caused by the animals every year."
The charities hope the project will be adopted in other parts of the country, and will be the first step towards making reflective tags a legal requirement for freely roaming livestock.
Isn’t science wonderful?