Just when you thought all you had to worry about was GM food the news comes that GM babies will soon be rolling off the production line.

Apparently it’s all to do with unhealthy mitochondria, the substance that gives the body energy.  According to the BBC website: ‘Defective mitochondria affect one in every 6,500 babies. This can leave them starved of energy, resulting in muscle weakness, blindness, heart failure and death in the most extreme cases.’

The government has backed recommendations by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that will alleviate this problem and help up to 10 (ten) couples a year.  In practice this means that a baby manufactured this way would have DNA from 3 people.  It’s not yet know if the birth certificate will be redesigned to reflect the new status: Father, Mother, and DNA contributor would be my suggestion.

This is hot on the heels of the government redefining the legal and dictionary definition of marriage, but presumably not God’s. I wonder what He thinks of designer babies, designed by someone other than Him?





Grass, snitch, blabbermouth, whistle-blower, canary, informant, nark, rat, sneak, weasel.

All of the above are terms of abuse for people who betray other people to yet other people in some kind of  authority position.

Let’s face it we’ve all done it: ‘Please Miss, Joe Bloggs has just said a rude word.’ or, ‘Please Sir, Peggy Sue stuck her tongue out at me.’ *

And perhaps some of us have not done it when we should have done. When we’ve witnessed some anti social act, or seen someone being bullied, or even something far more serious, when we’ve just let it slide, fooled ourselves into thinking that we didn’t really see what we know we did.

Every week I regularly see untaxed cars on the road. It’s the same cars week in, week out. Parked outside the owner’s homes. One of them has a tax disc that expired December 2012, another March 2013, while the third doesn’t have a tax disc at all.

I could have reported them by now, but haven’t, and I wonder why. It could be done anonymously, nobody would ever know.

Maybe it’s because I know the tax authorities already know; they certainly knew when I failed to file my SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) and hit me with a £40 fine. If they can’t be bothered about it – why should I?

And yet it bugs me. Every time I see these vehicles I feel a surge of annoyance that these people are getting away with it. I really must ring in and report them, mustn’t I?







*Other stereotypical names are available.

For some people it’s the dentist. You know that irrational fear? You come over all cold and clammy at the very thought of sitting in that chair and hearing the words, ‘open wide please.’

Well for me the words are, ‘just tip your head back mate,’ and the chair is the barbers.

When I was 5 or thereabouts my granddad (yes the same one that could have had an OBE but didn’t) took me to the barbers on Beeston Road in Leeds, where he had his hair cut. We parked up outside on the main road and entered the strictly male environment of the early 60s barbershop.

Inside it was packed with men and boys waiting their turn to be given the regulation short back and sides. I don’t think I was having my hair cut on this occasion, I was just there with my granddad, presumably to give my mum a break.

All was well for a while until it was my granddad’s turn. He sat in the chair, the barber did his business with the cape and the towel, started combing and cutting. So far, no problem.

After a few minutes of snipping the door opened and there stood framed in the doorway was a huge policeman. He looked around, crossed over to my granddad and said something to him. I watched with interest, then horror as my granddad got out of the chair and followed the policeman out of the door.

I honestly thought he’d been arrested mid hair cut and my only remedy was to scream and howl the place down. Everything stopped; the barbers all turned and looked at me, the customers in the queue looked at me, eyes in the mirrors looked at me. I didn’t care and nothing could stop me.

After a minute or two someone muttered something and everybody started laughing. It quickly became a competition; the more they laughed the more I howled; the more I howled the more they laughed. Eventually of course my granddad returned muttering something about having to move the car and being lucky not to get a ticket. The instant I saw him I stopped crying and everybody stopped laughing. He bought me some sweets on the way home and everything was fine.

Years later in my mid twenties I went to a barbers in Rugby and didn’t realise straight away that the barber was worse the wear with drink. Not falling over blind drunk but drunk enough that when I got home and looked in the mirror you could definitely tell that my hair was longer on one side than the other. I started going to unisex hairdressers after that and never had any more trouble.

My granddad with his daughter, my mum.

My granddad with his daughter, my mum.

Leave the car at home

This week in the middle of England the schools are closed and it always strikes me as amazing just how little traffic there is on my regular morning cycle commute at these times.

There are 3 secondary school, a middle school, a primary school, and two infant schools within approximately a mile radius of my house.

I’m not going to give you statistics of how many students there are at each school and estimate how many of those are taken to school by car, or bus, but my estimation is that when the schools are on holiday the traffic on my journey to work reduces by 90%.

That’s right – 90%!

Without even getting into environmental concerns that’s costing an awful lot of money in fuel.

When I was at school I walked there every day whatever the weather; 0.5 mile to my primary school, 1 mile walk to secondary school. My parents would have laughed if I’d asked for a lift to school but for most kids these days it seems to be the norm.

Is there a solution?

You could try something radical – leave the car at home and walk. You never know you might just enjoy it.


Two family revelations came to my attention recently – both courtesy of my dad, and both concerning my mother’s family.

‘Did you know,’ my dad said, over a family meal at Easter, ‘your granddad could have had an OBE.’

We all stopped eating, drinking, chatting, and stared at him. ‘Which one?’ I asked.

‘Arthur.’ He replied, meaning my mum’s father.

‘What do you mean could have?’ I asked, dreams of reflected glory fading rapidly.

The background to the story is this: in the late fifties or early sixties Arthur was a big noise in the local Labour movement. Among other things he was: the regional convenor for the engineering union, friends with Hugh Gaitskell the Leeds MP who became leader of the Labour Party. So, it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that he could have been nominated for an OBE.

The story was – and I’ve no means of checking this as Arthur is long gone and mum’s no longer around either – the phone rang one day, Arthur answered and was told by the caller, who introduced himself, that he was being nominated for an OBE, and would he accept? Arthur thinking he was having his leg pulled by his mates declined in no uncertain terms. Gradually, as time passed, and there were no chuckles, or sly glances, he came to the conclusion that it had been a genuine call and he’d turned down the chance of becoming an OBE.

The other revelation concerned my mum’s brother, Alwyn. In his teenage years he was both a keen musician, and an excellent footballer. Eventually he had to choose, and he chose the trumpet.

Now, I’ve heard Alwyn play the trumpet and he was very good. He had his own band for many years playing on the northern club circuit, and but for the odd bit of luck here and there, he could have been right up there at the top. He was a contestant on Opportunity Knocks in the 70s, okay, didn’t win, but showbands weren’t that big at the time.

But, what I didn’t know until recently, was that he was invited for trials with Leeds United – and turned them down!

I was incredulous. When I was at school, to have laid claim to an uncle who’d played for Leeds would have had me right up there at the top of the list for everything imaginable.

I’m just glad I didn’t know at the time.

I watched my son through the dining room window this afternoon. He was assembling a neat little pile of sticks and paper on the scrubby ground that never really recovered from his camping expedition last summer.

Over the pile of sticks and paper he erected a framework of garden canes to which he tied a hollowed out piece of baking foil. Any minute now he’ll be looking for matches I thought.

I went outside and casually asked him what he was doing. He must have thought me really dumb – after all, it was so obvious what he was doing.

He humoured me. ‘Making a fire.’

‘Why?’ I asked.

‘In case there’s a zombie apocalypse.’ He told me without batting an eyelid.

‘Is that likely?’ I wondered.

‘You never know dad. God said he would never destroy the earth again by using water, so it could be something else.’

‘And you think it could be zombies?’ I ventured, thinking I’d be better off inside reading the book of Revelation.

‘Nah, not really,’ he grinned, ‘but it’s a good excuse to make a fire.’

Then he cooked me some rice in the hollowed out baking foil, which to be fair wasn’t the best cooked rice in the world, but wasn’t the worst either.

Me? I kept looking round for zombies, hoping they weren’t attracted by the smell of wood smoke.

Written for the write on project on the subject of boxes.

The Write On Project

Topic: Boxes

To think outside the box has long been used as a metaphor for thinking creatively, for looking further than the obvious. According to the fount of modern human knowledge, Wikipedia, it has its origins in the Disney Corporation of the sixties when their workforce were given the classic 9 point puzzle to solve.

The challenge being to draw a line though all nine points without lifting the pen from the paper. It can be done, but only if you draw beyond the invisible boundary set by the outer points.

It is an overused expression these days; I tend to groan when I hear earnest executives exhorting their sales people to greater effort by use of this tired old phrase. To think outside the box has become a modern cliché. But like all clichés there is a deeper truth concealed.

In the western world particularly we tend to live…

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