Helston Flora Day

In the town of Helston in Cornwall, May 8th is called the Flora Day. It is an auspicious occasion with pagan origins. The townsfolk dance all day, through the town, and sometimes actually in and out of the houses.

This photo was taken in 1932. See the litte chap, far right leading the dance? That’s my Dad.


Santa’s sleigh in the sky

If you have little ones and they are up early on Xmas morning (and what child isn’t? ) and the weather is clear then point them towards the heavens at 5:55.

With a couple of minutes’ patience scanning the sky to the south and southwest and a little luck they’ll see Santa’s sleigh heading home!

That’s the London time. Birmingham is a couple of minutes afterwards and Cornwall two more minutes later.

Find out more.

(it is, of course, the International Space Station)

Skyscraper Challenger

I was the second oldest participant in the 2023 Skyscraper Challenge in aid of Tommy’s (prenatal death research and counselling). This involved a 660′ abseil down the side of the Leadenhall Building (aka Cheesegrater) – having first climbed 42 flights of stairs (1095 steps).

The 42 floor ascent begins…. 

1095 steps later. Time was 34:05. Could have been quicker but I kept company with another participant who was struggling
Partway down….


So far, so good. View is amazing. [Photo by Anne W]
Almost there! [photo by Anne W]
…and across the finish line! [photo by Bernice O]


The Date from…..Maidstone

I won’t say the date from hell, not that bad so Maidstone will suffice.

I’d been chatting to a lady on a dating website. We seemd to be on the same wavelength so arranged to meet up. She said she was coming up to London to see an exhibition at Tate Britain and could we get together then.

Starting a first date in an art gallery, especially in times of covid masks, didn’t appeal for me so I suggested that I should meet her outside afterwards and we could take the boat to the City. With this she concurred and a day was agreed.

A couple of days later she messaged to say she had a change of plan, was not going to the Tate but was happy to meet me at Cannon Street around 12:30 – 1 o’clock. We arranged that she’d text me at 11 when she set off. All fine with me, a much better arrangement.

On the day I got myself into the City in good time. I never mind being early as there are always places to explore. 11 o’clock came and went, then 11:30 and no message. At noon my phone pinged with the message:

“Just leaving for Victoria change of plan. I will meet you at Tate Britain, let you know when I’m there”

– with nary a please, thank you, nor even a “sorry-but-would-it-be-ok-if…?”.

This was not going to plan. Also my first ever 21st century date in 2017 had also started at the Tate and that proved to be a dud. Still, eternal optimist that I am….

So, Underground to Victoria. On historic grounds I won’t say ‘tube’ as the District Railway was not tunnelled but dug as an embankment and the roof put back on – but I digress. Emerging from the station I found another message:

“I’m a member so you won’t need to pay”

Hmm! So we were going to some exhibition.

Some 25 minutes walk later I arrived at the Tate and sent a message saying where outside I was. No reply but she appeared in person.

We exchanged greetings and she told me that she had tickets for an artist called Paula Rego – who is no doubt very good, but that was hardly the point.

At the entrance I reached for my mask and she said “Oh, do we have to put masks on? I don’t see the point when I’ve been double jabbed”. Being a little dumbstruck I held my peace on this one, but it was followed by (and I paraphrase) “The only people at risk after two jabs are those with underlying health conditions and they shouldn’t come out anyway”.

By now my tongue had toothmarks, possibly long term ones.

I said I’d nip to the Gents while she picked up the tickets, she said this was fine but when I got back she told me that there had been a mistake: “A friend gave me the ticket because she couldn’t go but I’ve just found that it’s only for one person and they don’t have any spare places”. It was only later, looking back, that I questioned the veracity of this statement – but more on this later*.

She then said that we could go for coffee but then say goodbye so that she could go to the exhibition!

Consider my feelings at this point. I’d planned some things for us to do in the afternoon, somewhere to eat afterwards, been out since 9:30, spent an unnecessary hour in the City then travelled 45 minutes across the Capital to end up on a date lasting probably fifteen minutes having been upstaged by some artist I’d never even heard of.

We got coffee and cake – though she moaned about the quality of the latter – and finally got to chat. In fairness, she did seem a decent enough soul and struck me as somebody who’d be quite good fun in company down the pub but very different from how I’d perceived her from prior online chattings.

As we parted she said “We’re not really right for each other, are we?” to which I placidly replied “Yes, I think you’re probably right” whilst actually thinking “there ain’t no bargepole long enough”.

* Later, on reflection, I reckoned the mistake about the ticket was balderdash and just an excuse to get rid of me.

Definitely worst date this century, actually possibly since my teens. This is not so bad, the next one must surely be better – and if it isn’t I’ll really have something to write about!

Scammer frustrated

I would not ordinarily take any pleasure in wasting somebody’s time, raising their blood pressure and upsetting their morning, but there are exceptions….

I had a call, apparently from Amazon, to say that my Prime subscription had been renewed for £79.99 but asking if I wanted to cancel.

Knowing it was a scam I took the call. After saying that I wanted to cancel I was immediately ‘upgraded’ to somebody else. He asked if I had access to a computer.

As it happened I had an old laptop to hand, devoid of data but in working order so I decided to see how they were going to play this.

I was asked to open a browser and was directed to the AnyDesk website. AnyDesk is a legitimate piece of remote control software. Following their instructions (and playing dumb and non-IT literate) I downloaded the program and let the scammer take control of the computer.

Thence my browser was taken to a fairly amateur Google form where I was asked for name, address, the amount I wanted credited plus my bank details. I filled this all in with fake data and the aforementioned amount of £79.99

After this a screen appeared confirming a payment of £7,999 – a hundred times the original amount. I was told that I must have typed in the wrong amount and that I’d need to pay back the extra. Scammer asked if I used online banking.

I said that I did but would have to see to this later as I had a medical appointment. This caused him to get quite agitated and tell me that if it wasn’t sent back right away then I’d be under investigation for money laundering. I persisted saying that it could be done later.

So aggravate matters further I told him that I needed the toilet and kept him waiting for another few minutes. Back on the phone he was telling me that the police would be called if I didn’t send the money back right away. Noting that the call had been going on for almost 30 minutes I decided it was time for a break and put the phone down. See below for the next chapter…

The Scam?

I wish I’d had a redundant online bank account with ninepence in it just to see what would happen.

My suspicion is that they’d dup somebody (the ‘patsy’) into logging into his or her online banking where, of course, there’d be no mysterious £7,999 deposit. They’d then say that the money was on its way and tell the patsy to send £7,920.01 back to Amazon to correct the credit to the original £79.99.

Sadly people must fall for this.

…to continue the story

A minute later the phone rang again. Scammer was back with an irate “How dare you put phone down on me?”. I said I’d not put the phone down on anybody, this got an angry “Just now!”.

“Oh”, I said, “You were talking to my father, he’s gone to the clinic”. This invoked: “It is not his money, he must give it back. You need to log into his online banking”.

I told him I’d only just got in and asked him to tell me what the situation was. At this point he lost it.

“That is not your money, your bloody father must send it back”. He then said that this was money laundering and the police would be coming if the money was not sent back. I calmly explained that this was not a money laundering situation and the police would not come round until there’d been a proper investigation. This caused more ranting whereupon I asked if this was the sort of behaviour expected from Amazon employees. At which point, I am delighted to report, apoplexy appeared to set in at the other end of the line!

I toyed with telling him that he himself had been conned but reckoned he’d be more frustrated thinking that he’d come so close to a £7,900 payday.

Accordingly I put the phone down satisfied that he’d spent 45 minutes not being able to scam somebody else.

Brian and Roger

“Brian and Roger” chronicles a series of voicemails between two divorced dads.

One of them is manipulative. The other one is nice.

Improbable situations, sometimes outrageous, strong language at times.

This programme is not suitable for those of a genteel disposition.

iPad etc:-

Apple Podcasts


Tune-in Podcasts

Acast Podcasts

It’s a podcast so you may need to download a program or app.

Caution: can be addictive and lead to AFOCL incidents.



Back in 2001 I was on contract in Aldgate. I’d take the train to London Bridge, walk along the Thames Path then across Tower Bridge and St Katherines Dock to get to work.

Just outside the station a homeless chap called Martin used to beg. I’d buy him a sandwich or a cup of tea a few times each week.

One morning Martin wasn’t there, not the next day either, nor ever again.

I didn’t think much of it: people move on.

Four years later I was boarding a train in Woking, when a voice called “Oi! Mate! Hold on!”.

I looked round and it was Martin! Neatly groomed, smart casual shirt and new pair of jeans.

Here’s the story.

He was begging at his usual pitch when a woman walked past, glanced at him, walked on a few paces then stopped, came back and asked him “Are you Martin?”

When he affirmed she said: “I’ve not seen you for years. I’m your Aunt!”.

Auntie lived in somewhat humble and dilapidated accommodation nearby but she took him in.

Two weeks later her number came up on the Premium Bonds! They moved out to Surrey and she set him up in his own gardening business.

“Listen mate”, he said to me, “I owe you a drink, in fact several drinks. Give me your number and we’ll go for a beer”.

So I gave him my number.

Never heard from him again!

I wish him well though.