Thursday, 28 June 2012

Send them to PPI hell

A SPECIAL place in Hell should be reserved for companies laying siege to us in our own homes about payment protection insurance.

I will go mad if I get one more call about PPI because things have got so bad now that I’m averaging about four a week despite angrily ordering all such callers to delete me from any list they have.

The people ringing have varying accents from the US to India, are scrupulously polite, greet me like a long lost friend, inquire about my health and ask what sort of day I’ve had.

Then they happily broach the fascinating subject of PPI and the rich rewards which are potentially waiting for me to cash in on, a point shortly followed by a pithy comment from me and the sound of my phone being crashed back into the cradle.

However, there may be some hope for us all.

A Weymouth man, equally frustrated at this unwelcome tide of calls, has come up with a great response to such callers. It may not deter them but it will put them off their stroke and entertain the poor householder.

He got a PPI approach from a woman who introduced herself, explained why she was calling and asked to speak to Mrs Woodward.

The man, in the deepest bass voice he could produce, replied: “Speaking...!”

He then enjoyed the stunned silence for a few seconds before putting the phone down. Come on! Fight fire with fire and give these people their comeuppance.

Now you know what it feels like

THE group of American veterans was sat quietly lost in their memories when a man came up and asked them what it had been like in Vietnam.

The group was reluctant to talk about experiences which were still clearly painful to them and they refused to be drawn, but unfortunately the man was insensitive and persistent.

Again he asked them to give details of their experiences and again he was rebuffed, but this was a man determined to pick over old wounds and he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

For the third time he asked the veterans what it had been like serving in the jungles and finally one member of the group got up and gave him a reply.

He grabbed the man by the back of his neck and rammed his face into a nearby privet hedge, saying: “That’s what it was like in Vietnam.”

Strangely this seemed to answer the man’s question and he left them alone after that!

Incandescent with rage at councillors

SCREAMS of outrage dominated a recent meeting of Weymouth and Portland planning committee.

Now councillors’ decisions don’t always please everyone and I’ve seen angry members of the public storm out before, some even commenting harshly as they left.

But the fury displayed at this meeting was so loud it drowned out debate even when windows were shut... because the anger came from a pair of seagulls outside on the roof!

They were quite simply incandescent with rage at the sudden appearance of a large group of humans visible through the glass just feet from their nest with two eggs in it.

Members and public had to tough it out and they were helped by a welcome bit of light-hearted distraction related by one councillor.

He revealed that one planning application had seen a woman very interested in the creams and waxes available at the new “polish” shop, not realising it had a capital “P” and was actually the Polish delicatessen in King Street!

Is that what ouzo is for?

A WEYMOUTH man on holiday in Greece arrived at his accommodation, dumped his suitcase, and popped out briefly for a bite to eat before going to bed as it was late and he was very tired.

Unfortunately his tiredness meant he forgot to close a window and by morning he had 30 mosquito bites and looked like he was suffering from chickenpox.

Later that day he took his spotty complexion to a local bar where he bemoaned his fate to the owner who tried his best to help.

The sympathetic owner told the man that he might like to consider a sovereign remedy for his spots which basically involved rubbing the famous Greek national drink, ouzo, over the bites.

The man’s troubles then got a lot worse rather than better when he attempted to crack a joke, saying: “I always knew that ouzo wasn’t made for drinking!”

Sadly the bar owner didn’t see the funny side of the comment and threw him out!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

July set to be busiest month of the year!

FOLLOWING the past few busy weeks of early summer events and before the next rush comes along, I’m taking a week’s break in sunny Majorca.

I could say this was coming direct from the Spanish island - the View From Majorca, as it were - but in truth I actually wrote this column before leaving on Saturday.

As you read this it will be almost July - how time flies - so I thought I’d take this opportunity to look ahead at some of the upcoming events that will be taking place after I return. Following the great start to summer we have already enjoyed over the past few months, these are set to make the season a continued success and are not to be missed!

Lyme Regis Football Club Comedy Night and Beer Festival 
AS A long-time supporter of the club and a member of the fundraising committee, I could be a little biased but I’m really looking forward to the Seasiders’ first ever beer festival over the weekend on July 6th to 8th. 

The event will combine local beers and ciders, live music and the club’s second comedy night on Friday 6th, following on from the success of the first in 2010. 

Local bands performing will include Delta Tango 7 and Something French. 

Entry to the festival on the Saturday and Sunday is free with tickets for the comedy night costing £10 and available from club chairman Howard Larcombe on 07974 651 624. 

What a shame that the annual Axe Vale Festival and Axminster Beer Festival was cancelled across the border but hopefully the weather will perk up for this weekend.

All funds raised will go to the club’s ongoing refurbishment project.

The Charmouth Challenge 
ON THE same weekend at the club’s beer festival is the annual Charmouth Challenge in our neighbouring village on Saturday, July 7th.

The eight-mile run, including a gruelling climb up Golden Cap, and 2.5 mile fun run draws fitness fanatics in from far and wide as well as many local residents. 

The day’s events will start with a fete at Charmouth Primary School at 1pm, with the fun run starting at 2pm and main Challenge at 2.30pm.

In the past 20 years the event has raised in excess of £55,000 for the primary school and it is hoped funds can be considerably boosted in this Olympic year.

The Olympic Torch relay comes to Lyme 
SPEAKING of Olympic year, this visit from the Olympic Torch on Thursday, July 12th is set to be the biggest day in Lyme’s recent history.

The torch is scheduled to arrive in town at 3.35pm bringing crowds of thousands to watch it carried down Charmouth Road, up Broad Street and Pound Street, and finally down Cobb Road to the harbour. 

Two torchbearers have already been announced but, after rumours that a celebrity and well-known sportsperson could also be joining them, we’re eagerly awaiting the big day to see who our mystry guests are!

After the torch leaves we’ll be celebrating our own sporting heroes with a parade and plaque unveiling for The Corinthian rowers at the Marine Parade shelters.

It’s going to be a great day for Lyme!

Uplyme Summer Show
THINGS are set to quieten down again for a week or so after the torch visit but don’t miss Uplyme and Lyme Regis Horticultural Society’s annual Summer Show.

This quintessentially English countryside event has become far more that a flower show over the past few years, offering traditional entertainment for the whole family including dog shows and steam train rides.

The show will be held at Uplyme Village Hall and on the King George V Playing Field on Saturday, July 14th from 2pm to 5pm.

Lifeboat Week
OF COURSE, the month will end with Lyme Regis Lifeboat Week (July 21st to 29th), this year set to be more spectacular than ever (I think I said that last year but this year tops it again!).

The week’s biggest events will include performances from the Red Bull Matadors and the Red Bull Harbour Reach (July 21st), a naming ceremony for the new “Spirit of Loch Fyne” lifeboat (July 22nd), the Admiral Sir George Somers Parade (July 25th), a drop-in from the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team (July 27th), the Bathtub Race (July 28th), Mark Hix’s Food Rocks food festival (July 28th-29th) and the grand finale of the Red Arrows, pictured below (July 29th).

July is surely set to be the busiest month of the year... I’ve got my camera at the ready!

Easily spooked need not apply

AN UNUSUAL and ghostly summer job opportunity had just opened up.

Ghost Tour leader Carl Salter is looking for an apprentice to help him with this summer’s spooky walks.

Mr Salter hold the tours every summer season, starting in July, to raise money for his chosen charities. However, next year he will be away during summer so this year he hopes to train up an apprentice to take the job on in 2013.

He said applicants should have an outgoing personality, good story-telling skills and a vivid imagination.

“Psychic training will be provided and spirits from the other side will choose the successful applicant,” he joked.

Those interested should join Carl for one of this summer’s tours, which start on Tuesday, July 3rd. They will be held every Tuesday and Thursday night throughout July and August, starting outside the museum at 7.30pm.

The one and a half hour tours cost £3.50 per adult and £1.50 per child with this year’s profits going to Lyme Regis Majorettes and Carl’s favourite animal charity KAT, based in Nepal.


THE award-winning Sub Tropical Gardens at Abbotsbury are widely recognised for their outstanding horticultural, historical and public appeal. Assistant head gardener Tim Newman has worked in the gardens for two years and is well placed to explain why so many visitors come to explore the woodland walks and gardens. As well as being a qualified horticulturalist he is also a ‘budding’ artist with a special interest in botanical drawing. Tim is 37 years old and lives near Evershot.

HOW did you get into this job?
I was self-employed in Somerset as a gardener but I decided I wanted to work in a garden that had some meaning behind it. So, I went off to New Zealand and worked in Christchurch Botanic Gardens. When I came back, I worked as a volunteer at Bristol Botanic Gardens and gained more experience, so when this job came up I had all the relevant experience.

HOW did the sub-tropical gardens come to be here?
They began life as a walled kitchen garden within the Earl of Ilchester's estate back in the 1700s. Then during the 1800s successive Earls began travelling abroad as diplomats. The fourth Earl in particular was a keen botanist so he brought back specimens from all over the world and that’s how the sub-tropical collection got started.

WHY do the gardens flourish here in Dorset?
Well the climate in this particular spot is ideal. There is warm sea air and a blanket of evergreen oaks that help keep the warmth in plus we’re in a bit of a rain shadow so it isn’t too wet. So really we’ve got a mini Mediterranean climate going on.

WHAT is a typical working day like for you?
We start at 8am, check our areas and carry out any noisy or disruptive work before 10am, when the gates open to the public. Then I’ll liaise with the curator and the team and decide what needs to be done. 

THE gardens recently won an award, what was that for?
Yes, this year we won the 2012 Garden of the Year Award which is sponsored by Christies International and The Historic Houses Association. It’s a very prestigious award that’s been going for 28 years and it identifies us as a national treasure which is obviously a huge compliment.

WHAT’S the most rewarding aspect of your job?
It’s a really good team to work with and its great coming in each day knowing that there’ll be something different and interesting to do and see; something new comes in to flower, you know every year that it’s going to come round again but somehow it’s still always a surprise. It’s interesting being able to step into this sub-tropical world every day, and then step out of it back into the surrounding native flora and fauna – this is a bit of an oasis.

WHAT’S in bloom right now?
At the moment the Rhododendron luteum is in bloom. It’s a bright yellow flower with a lovely fragrance.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

They were our halcyon days

WHEN old journalists get together, stand by for a late night!

The last dinner guests at the excellent Wheelwright Inn, Colyford, on Friday evening had long gone by which time we were deep into coversation about whether local newspapers will survive.

We all had a different view. By we I mean me and two of the best reporters I have worked with over a career spanning nearly 50 years - Geoff Baker and Mark Hollands.

I’ve lost count of the young reporters that have worked for me during that time but these two were top of the crop.

It’s over 30 years since we last worked together during my first editorship at the Sidmouth Herald.

But one thing we did agree upon was that they were definitely our halcyon days.

Geoff went on to work on the entertainments desk for the Daily Star, followed by 15 years as Paul McCartney’s head of PR; Mark emigrated to Australia where he worked as foreign editor on The Australian and then went into the world followed by a series of top jobs in the media which has enabled him to retire at 47!

He was back in the Sidmouth area catching up on family and friends.

Mark joined me as a fresh faced cub reporter at the age of 16 on the princely sum of £23 a week.

Both were filled with ambition  in our fun-filled Herald days and both ended up at the top of the tree in their incredible careers.

They both spoke with great affection of their days on the Herald and were kind enough to say that their time under my tutelege had an enormous infuence on their lives.

Needless to say, I’m enormously proud of both of them and their considerable achievements.

Geoff is now back living in Lyme, having penned a brilliant book about the rock business. Last week he wrote a incisive piece on McCartney’s 70th birthday for the Daily Mirror.

Mark returns to his family in Oz to enjoy the good life and concentrate on writing crime thrillers, promising to return again soon.

GREAT sadness, especially among my age group, following the death of Sue Bounds in Axminster.

I  grew up with Sue and went to the same school in Lyme Regis.  We knocked around as youngsters and she went on to marry Les Bounds, my big football buddy in Axminster.  They were the perfect couple. We did not meet that often in the intervening years but when we did she always asked after her home town.

Sue had fought her battle with cancer with great bravery and fortitide. Les told me at the recent dinner at Sector Lane that things were not looking good but her death still came as a shock to all who knew and loved her.

She had a delightful, quirky character and in our younger years she was always the life and soul of the party.

Our thoughts are with Les and her two sons, Jamie  and Adam, and all Sue’s family.

She was a very special lady.

Rain sinks festival for first time in 18 years

ME and my big mouth, or should I say clumsy pen!  Like many others, I got suckered into thinking summer had just arrived in my page three From the Editor’s Chair editorial last week and was saying how much I was looking forward to the Axe Vale Festival.

The sunshine lasted no more than a couple of days before the rains returned and for the first time in 18 years the showground at Gammons Hill is so wet that the festival - one of the most popular and enjoyable one-day shows in Devon - has been cancelled.

The hard working committee behind the festival - led this year by Claire Morgan - have coped with inclement weather on a number of occasions in the past but have always managed to overcome. This year was different, such has been the verocity of the rain this week on an already soaking wet site. There was no hope of it going ahead.

Show or no show, perhaps this is as good a time to reflect on what an important role the Axe Vale Festival has played in helping worthy causes in and around Axminster. Since that very first show in 1994 the festival has raised nearly £300,000 with £186,000 going to the running costs of the  Flamingo Pool in Axminster and a further £111,000 in donations to other groups and charities. Last year Axminster Hertitage benefited to the tune of £20,000.

The organisers will have been mortified by having to call off the festival, such an important part of the summer scene in the Axe Valley.

Next year’s show will return bigger and better over the weekend of June 22nd-23rd.  Put it in your diary now.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


SPORTS fanatic Ben Dobson, from Honiton, has set up his own personal training business, BD Training. At just 22-years-old, Ben has a wide range of sports-related qualifications, varying from being a black belt in taekwondo to a badminton coach, plus a degree in sports coaching and development from Newport University in Wales. He formerly attended the Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis.

WHY did you decide to become a personal trainer?
I became a personal trainer to help people and make them feel good about themselves. I’m really good with people, which I like to emphasise.

WHAT services do you offer?
I work with people with a wide range of ages and varied skill levels. I also have a wide range of qualifications, I’m a black belt in taekwondo, I coach badminton, I’m a weight trainer. I can offer weight loss programmes, toning, nutrition and general well-being. 
For example, one client had not done any exercise in her life. She was 23 and a size 16 and within nine weeks with me she dropped to a size 12 through exercise and an eating plan.
I have cheap rates because I’m just starting out and I offer a free consultation with no obligation to come back. The hardest part is putting on the trainers.

WHAT sports do you enjoy?
Everything really! Rugby, rock climbing, surfing, basketball – just so many.

WILL you be watching the Olympics and which events are you looking forward to?
Yes, I’ll definitely be watching them. I’m a sprinter myself so I’m looking forward to the 100 metre sprint and the relays. I love the aspect of having the Olympics in the UK this year.

WHAT are you other personal interests?
Just any sport really, health and fitness. I’m also looking to set up classes during winter in East Devon and in Lyme Regis.

WHAT do you like about living in East Devon?
The space – you can go wherever you want, whenever you want. The availability of resources is also quite varied. I’m a country boy really.

WHAT would you change or add to the area if you could?
I’d like to have a larger leisure centre with better sports facilities. Also stuff for young people to do to help them get into sports.

WHAT three items would you want if you were stuck on a deserted island?
A penknife, my rugby ball and other people.

WHERE is your ideal holiday destination and why?
New Zealand because you can ski, surf and go to the beach.

A right royal celebration

WELL, we’ve sent her off happy and glorious, long to rain over us in conditions representing true English summer weather.

Naturally the odd cloudburst couldn’t dampen a surge of local and national patriotism for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and if Union Jacks painted on people’s cheeks ran a bit in the rain then no one cared.

There was everything from Union Jack fingernails to Union Jack dresses, waistcoats, hair grips, flags, bunting, tablecloths and I even saw a Union Jack pint glass.

It was empty, but everything else was overflowing with Jubilee spirits as people sat down at tables groaning under the sheer weight of sandwiches, sausage rolls and Aunt Ethel’s lethal sherry trifle.

The morning after was quiet, too quiet, just a drifting memory of plastic bowler hats, crumpled serviettes and people asking for paracetamol.

Still, these things have got to be done and any monarch who commands the nation’s affection for 60 years deserves a right royal celebration.

In any case, the Jubilee helped get Weymouth and Portland and the rest of the nation into shape ready for the next landmark which will be the Olympic torch relay, followed by the Olympics, followed by the Paralympics after which it will be just 15 weeks until Santa giving us some Yo! Ho! Ho! 

Bet you can’t wait for Christmas shopping.

Showing true Olympic spirit . . .

WEYMOUTH has been given a chilling example of what could be waiting for businesses come the Olympics.

One outlet was genuinely concerned about how it could continue operating in the face of heavy access restrictions and a mass influx of visitors.

So it attended various Olympic meetings and talked to officials about what it needed to do to get staff to work and to ensure deliveries of supplies didn’t get snarled up and delayed by the Greatest Show on Earth.

Being particularly forward thinking, the business looked at its Achilles heel and realised that if its chilling equipment broke down then they’d need to ensure they could get experts in quickly to repair it.

Unfortunately, when freezer repair workmen were contacted it turned out that they knew about the Olympic scrum as well and wanted nothing to do with it unless they got strict – and expensive – guarantees.

Believe it or not, the workmen said they were not attending sites in Weymouth after 10am during the Olympics unless shop owners agreed to pay any £60 parking fine they might incur through breaching any restrictions. 

Ice work if you can get it!

Draw some and then some . . .

CUTTING edge technology has always been an integral part of my life and only last week I learned how to switch my mobile phone on without having to ask a passing toddler how to do it.

Now, while this is child’s play for the rest of you, it isn’t for me, but I recently came across an aspect of mobile phone technology being used in Weymouth that even aficionados of the phone were still getting to grips with.

I speak in hushed tones of Drawsome, a phone addition which enables users to knock up a quick multi-coloured painting on-screen ready for their next exhibition at the Tate.

Those getting to grips with this skill in the town centre were some way past drawing “smilies” and clever paintings ranged from a peacock to a more luridly sexual subject that even the Tate might blush at.

There seemed no end to what could be produced and their artistic efforts swiftly attracted attention from people nearby.

Having realised that the spectators watching this art being produced were quickly trying to have a go on their own phones, I felt I should also do my best with my phone.

Dammit! There’s never a toddler around when you need one!

Not injured but dead

A FORMER nurse living in Weymouth decided to speak out after a motorcyclist with a blaring exhaust overtook five cars in a row including the one she was travelling in along the coast road to Weymouth.

The sheer blast of noise as the motorcyclist howled by her sparked memories from many years ago when the focus on safety concerns was perhaps not quite so sharp as it is in modern times. 

She told me that in her days as a nurse the hospital wards were full of motorcyclists recovering from their injuries, but this was not so nowadays.

I expected her to go on and say that modern wards were overflowing because of faster machines and faster roads but not a bit of it.

What she actually said was she felt modern wards were not so full of recovering motorcyclists... because more riders were being killed. 

Judging by the antics of this rider I’m not surprised.

Perfect Sunday morning... parrot included

I SPENT last Sunday morning volunteering on the information desk at the Jubilee Pavilion on Marine Parade. 

This is my second year volunteering here. I only do about two Sunday mornings each month and a few people have asked me why I do it and “don’t you get bored?”

To be honest, I don’t often have much else to do on a Sunday and I’m not really a sit-at-home-and-do-nothing kind of person. Plus, on most days throughout summer, there’s not many nicer places to spend a Sunday morning.

This was particularly true last weekend - a perfect Sunday morning. There were lots of people about, the sun was shining, a brass band playing and the monthly farmers’ market made the shelters quite an attraction for the day.

It was also making me incredibly hungry and I dashed out of the pavilion door to buy a burger as soon as I was relieved of my duties at lunchtime.

I’ll be honest, on quiet days it can sometimes get a little tedious, especially when the most asked question is “where are the toilets?”

However, I perked up on Sunday when, to my surprise, a man with a bright green parrot sat on his shoulder walked in! 

So quiet was the bird that I didn’t actually notice it at first. When I eventually looked up at the man as he passed by my desk looking at the displays, I did a double take. Was I imagining things? Was I that hungry?

I had never seen anyone walking around in the open with a pet parrot and was a little worried it would start flying around the room. But it was so well behaved, especially considering all the seagulls on the seafront. The bird quietly nibbled on a beaded necklace around the man’s neck and didn’t make one single squawk. 

The gentleman was a quiet visitor too. He didn’t ask me any questions and I was quite silently mesmorised by the parrot so I didn’t say anything either! 

Perhaps I should’ve asked its name and thanked him for brightening up my morning.

A HIGHLIGHT of last weekend for the town was the Thanksgiving Day celebrations, marking the anniversary of the end of the Siege of Lyme in 1644 - a six week battle in which, against all odds, the parliamentarian people of Lyme defended their town against Prince Maurice and a force of 6,000 royalists.

The celebrations usually include a low-key parade on a weekday evening but, as this year the anniversary fell on a Saturday, events were extended throughout the afternoon with the annual procession being cheered on by a much larger crowd than usual.

Led by the Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Sally Holman, the procession included Taunton Garrison re-enactment group and many local people in 17th century dress, including several town councillors - some of which are not often seen in the town’s many parades because of their anti-royalist and civic opinions.

One councillor later commented on Twitter that it was a shame the irony of some people joining in both the jubilee and Thanksgiving Day celebrations was “lost on most”.

I thought this a little unfair and I’m sure most realised the irony of celebrating Lyme’s parliamentarian past just weeks after the Diamond Jubilee. But royalist, parliamentarian,   whatever, they probably wanted to join in both events, remembering the history of their town and celebrating the present community spirit. 

I don’t think you have to be a staunch parliamentarian to join in such an event, nor did you have to be a strict royalist to join in the jubilee.

I thought the Reverend Stephen Skinner summed this up quite well in his prayers on Marine Parade following the procession. He said that despite our differing opinions we work together as a community. 

Anyway, it’s not often I comment on councillors’ actions in this column so enough of that.

1948 sailing torch comes to Lyme

IT is now just three weeks until the Olympic Torch Relay arrives in Lyme Regis and excitement is quickly building, especially with the rumoured prospect of a celebrity or well-known sportsperson making an appearance.

If you can’t wait until then, this Saturday will see the arrival of a different Olympic Torch in Lyme Regis.

A replica of the 1948 sailing torch is currently making its way from Torquay to the Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth, and this weekend will be stopping at Lyme Regis Sailing Club.

The original was carried through Torre Abbey in Torquay, welcoming 25 athletes who were about to take part in the sailing.

Sixty-four years later it will arrive in Lyme Regis by a flotilla from the Axe Vale Yacht Club. Sailing club members will carry it around the Cobb before it is displayed in the clubhouse alongside a book of support for the British Olympic sailing team. 

The torch will be the centerpiece of a celebration barbecue at the club that evening, before it moves on to the Cotswold Water Park. 

Unfortunately I won’t be around to see it (can’t complain though, I’ll be flying to Majorca for a week’s holiday!)

It will, however, return to Lyme Regis on July 5th for a flotilla of boats from the club to complete the relay journey to Weymouth.

ALSO this weekend, don’t miss the start of the annual Coast to Coast Motorcycle Run on Marine Parade at 9.50am on Sunday.

This annual event has become quite a spectacle with hundreds of vintage motorcycles lining up on the seafront before heading off on the trip to Weston Super Mare.

The event raises funds for charity Headway Somerset, helping those in our neighbouring county to live independently following brain injury. 

Please go along and support!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Driving on the assault course

UNEMPLOYMENT is a serious worry for Weymouth and Portland but not if you are in the shock absorber repair trade which probably can’t hire enough people.

Go down routes such as Spa Road, Radipole Park Drive, Barrack Road and Goldcroft Road or sites such as Asda supermarket and you’ll know just what I mean. Bone-shaking jolt after bone-shaking jolt awaits motorists driving in these areas.

It doesn’t matter if you do just 20mph because you still find your teeth smashing together and if you slow down altogether to five miles an hour then every loose object in the car seems to take off like a cautious example of pancake tossing.

The effect on vehicles forced to use such routes regularly is bound to be damaging. Measures such as “sleeping policemen”, metal curves or shaped concrete hillocks were brought in with the best of intentions to improve safety, but I feel it is a solution done on the cheap.

In tight areas maybe such constructions are the only way to get people to slow down although, if it is tight, they should hardly be speeding in the first place.

On more open routes surely chicanes or priority stop-go areas would be better since it would help public safety without exposing drivers to assault course conditions followed by the need for emergency dental treatment.

Is your elderly neighbour starving to death?

WHEN I first read it I thought the British Diabetic Association had sent me a massive misprint, but it really is true that one million elderly people daily suffer malnutrition.

This naturally includes a number of such cases in Weymouth and Portland, but what it doesn’t include is older people in hospital or a care setting. The figure is purely for those older people living in our community, many of whom eat less than one meal per day.

These people are the so-called “invisible population” and the BDA is trying to highlight the issue in Weymouth and Portland as part of its national campaign which can be viewed at

It stresses that malnutrition is not a problem facing third world countries but is alive and well here affecting some of the most vulnerable people in our society, costing the NHS £13 billion annually, a figure similar to the cost of obesity.

So as you fork the next mouthful of your evening meal food into your mouth make sure you keep an eye on elderly neighbours to ensure they are get something as simple as at least one good meal per day.

COMEDY comes in all walks of life but it can sometimes come into your own life when you least expect it.

I’d taken advice from some Weymouth builders and DIY sites on how I might best treat a concrete floor to prevent dust going everywhere and give it a hard working surface.

They all recommended using a special paint which sets like rock, the type you often see on the floor of commercial garages which get a lot of heavy use.

No problem, I thought, so off I went and bought a can of this stuff, opened doors and windows, cleared the floor area and began to paint while listening to a nice Kraftwerk album followed by a bit of Stravinski’s Rite of Spring.

Then I became aware that all was not well.

Now I know what you may be thinking. You’re wondering if I’d somehow painted myself into a corner. Even I’m not stupid enough to do that, but I am stupid enough not to have realised that by the time I completed the last few brush strokes I could no longer reach the window to close and lock it... nor could I reach the music deck power point to switch it off.

So my decorating triumph got a classical music encore...and again and again and again.

In fact this went on for nearly six hours by which time the floor was dry enough to tip toe within reach of the switch and turn off the deck. Believe me, silence is golden!

Just don’t bother us with the silly stuff

WE can all relax a bit now after the Health and Safety Executive contacted me to say national claims they tried to ban pins being used to secure remembrance poppies are wrong.

They also said that a local painter I highlighted who claimed he’s been warned off hanging his works over a staircase because of concerns they might drop on someone’s head had nothing to fear from them because “HSE has not made any such requirement and would not give any attention to such trivial risks”.

Their spokesman Max Walker said: “Health and safety is very often mis-used as an excuse for any unpopular decision made for other reasons entirely such as insurance costs.

“I would be very surprised to see any evidence of HSE staff giving any “silly” advice as they are busy investigating fatal accidents and very serious injuries and have no time for getting in the way of perfectly sensible and normal every day activities.”

So, now you know. Poppy pins and hanging paintings are OK.