Category Archives: Amusing Stuff

The Best University Application Ever?

Application form

Now and again I come across something so “off the wall” and esoteric that I’m never quite sure what to do with it. As a life-long fan of Monty Python, this appealed to my quirky sense of humour, so I thought I’d share it for the benefit of anyone else who thinks trivia adds meaning to life.

This is (allegedly)  a genuine application from a student for a course at  Southampton University. I’ve reproduced this exactly as the original I received, since I think the sentence and paragraph structures add to the overall impact.

Interestingly, they (allegedly) gave him a place on the course.

3A ESSAY: In order for the admissions staff of our university to get to know you, the applicant, better, we ask that you answer the following question:

Q: Are there any significant experiences you have had, or accomplishments you have realised, that have helped to define you as a person?

I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Kenyan refugees, I write award-winning operas, and mange time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.

I woo women with my sensuous and god-like trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook thirty-minutes Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru. Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I had trials with Manchester United, I am the subject of numerous documentaries.

When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my garden. I enjoy urban hang-gliding. On Wednesday’s, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie.

Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have appeared on ‘Though The Keyhole’ and won a gold plaque. Last summer I toured Eastern Europe with a travelling centrifugal-force demonstration. I run the 100meters in 9.65 seconds. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles.

Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert missions for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life, but forgot to write it down.

I have made extraordinary four course meals using only some vegetables and a Breville Toaster. I breed prize-winning clams.

I have won bullfights in Madrid, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and chess competitions at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

But I have not yet gone to this University.

Maybe a few tips here for your CV?!

Later In Life

dalai lama quote

The following truisms arose from some of those who are perhaps not in the first flush of youth (I qualify!):

  • I started out with nothing, and still have most of it.
  • My wild oats are enjoyed with prunes and all-bran.
  • I finally got my head together but now my body is falling apart.
  • It was much easier to get older than to get wiser.
  • If God wanted me to touch my toes, he’d have put them on my knees.
  • It’s not hard to meet expenses….they’re everywhere.
  • These days I think about the hereafter….I go somewhere to get something and then wonder what I’m here after.
  • Funny, I don’t remember being absent-minded.

Fiftees Food Nostalgia

For those old enough to remember what eating was like in the UK in the 1950’s (and I do!)….

  • Pasta had not been invented.
  • Curry was an unknown entity.
  • Olive oil was kept in the medicine cabinet
  • Spices came from the Middle East where we believed that they were used for embalming
  • Herbs were used to make rather dodgy medicine.
  • A takeaway was a mathematical problem.
  • A pizza was something to do with a leaning tower.
  • Bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time.
  • The only vegetables known to us were spuds, peas, carrots and cabbage, anything else was regarded as being a bit suspicious.
  • All crisps were plain; the only choice we had was whether to put the salt on or not.
  • Condiments consisted of salt, pepper, vinegar and brown sauce if we were lucky.
  • Soft drinks were called pop.
  • Coke was something that we mixed with coal to make it last longer.
  • A Chinese chippy was a foreign carpenter.
  • Rice was a milk pudding, and never, ever part of our dinner.
  • A Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining.
  • A microwave was something out of a science fiction movie.
  • Brown bread was something only poor people ate.
  • Oil was for lubricating your bike not for cooking, fat was for cooking
  • Bread and jam was a treat.
  • Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves, not bags.
  • The tea cosy was the forerunner of all the energy saving devices that we hear so much about today.
  • Tea had only one colour, black. Green tea was not British.
  • Coffee was only drunk when we had no tea….. and then it was Camp, and came in a bottle.
  • Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.
  • Figs and dates appeared every Christmas, but no one ever ate them.
  • Coconuts only appeared when the fair came to town.
  • Salad cream was a dressing for salads, mayonnaise did not exist
  • Hors d’oeuvre was a spelling mistake.
  • Soup was a main meal.
  • The menu consisted of what we were given, and was set in stone.
  • Only Heinz made beans, there were no others.
  • Leftovers went in the dog, never in the bin.
  • Special food for dogs and cats was unheard of.
  • Sauce was either brown or red.
  • Fish was only eaten on Fridays.
  • Fish and chips was always wrapped in old newspapers, and definitely tasted better that way.
  • Frozen food was called ice cream.
  • Nothing ever went off in the fridge because we never had one.
  • Ice cream only came in one flavour, vanilla.
  • None of us had ever heard of yoghurt.
  • Jelly and blancmange was strictly party food.
  • Healthy food had to have the ability to stick to your ribs.
  • Indian restaurants were only found in India.
  • Cheese only came in a hard lump.
  • A bun was a small cake that your Mum made in the oven.
  • Eating out was called a picnic.
  • Cooking outside was called camping.
  • Eggs only came fried or boiled.
  • Hot cross buns were only eaten at Easter time.
  • Pancakes were only eaten on Shrove Tuesday – and on that day it was compulsory.
  • Cornflakes had just arrived from America but it was obvious that they would never catch on.
  • We bought milk and cream at the same time in the same bottle.
  • Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold.
  • Prunes were purely medicinal.
  • Surprisingly muesli was readily available in those days, it was called cattle feed.
  • Turkeys were definitely seasonal.
  • Pineapples came in chunks in a tin; we had only ever seen a picture of a real one.
  • We didn’t eat Croissants in those days because we couldn’t pronounce them, we couldn’t spell them and we didn’t know what they were.
  • Garlic was used to ward off vampires, but never used to flavour bread.
  • Water came out of the tap, if someone had suggested bottling it and charging treble for it they would have become a laughing stock.
  • Food hygiene was only about washing your hands before meals.
  • Campylobacter, Salmonella, E.coli, Listeria, and Botulism were all called “food poisoning.”

However, the one thing that we never ever had on our table in the fifties …. ELBOWS!!!


A letter to Mr Cameron

Dear Mr. Cameron

May I suggest that as a punishment for all these hooligans on our streets you put all the criminals into nursing homes and allow the nursing home residents to go into prison.

This way us pensioners would be able to make ends meet,  have free unlimited access to central heating and hot water, medical requirements and hobbies.  Each of us could  have secure furnished rooms equipped with our computer, TV and radio and be allowed free daily phone calls and all this with the benefit of constant video monitoring so we could be helped instantly should we fall or need assistance.

Our bedding would be washed twice a week and all clothing ironed and returned to our rooms. We would not have to shop for food as all our meals would be in house, delivered to our cells.  We would be relieved of finding the money to pay for all the increases in our bills.

We know we would be allowed family visits in a suite built for that purpose.  In addition  have access to a library, gym, swimming pool, gardens education and spiritual counselling, should we need it.

Sadly this enormous change would result in the criminals getting inferior food, being left alone all day unsupervised with no computers and internet access or free phone calls.  However, they would get a weekly bath and hardest of all they would have to pay the enormous sum of between £700-£900 a week  for these privileges – but no doubt you would find a way to subsidize this for them.

Also on another subject Mr Cameron, whilst writing I would like to know the real reason why we can no longer have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse or in Parliament.  Is this because you cannot possibly allow commands such as ‘Thou shalt not Steal’, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ and ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness’ to be visible in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians in case someone is offended!  

May I suggest Mr. Cameron that as a starting point to correcting all that is wrong in our society, you pass a law that all schools teach the ten commandments in an effort to re-educate our society in the basics of  respect, discipline and morality, and that you stop worrying about offending people of other faiths or no faith.

I feel sure Mr. Cameron, that  if you could see your way to implementing some of these changes, you would be assured of the grey vote at the next election.

Yours respectfully.

 S Dale

Happy memories of Punch and Judy

Had a great Bank Holiday weekend watching a show about a dysfunctional family, complete with husband and wife battering, child cruelty, and assault on a police officer. We had such fun, and everyone laughed when the baby was thrown out of the window. Ah yes, good ol’ Punch and Judy. It’s somehow comforting to know that the story hasn’t yet been ‘sanitised’ by the politically correct lobby (also known as the British Taliban), and is much the same as when I first saw it as a toddler – all those hundreds of years ago!


For those ignorant of such quaint customs, the story is roughly as follows:


The show starts with the arrival of Mr. Punch followed by the introduction of Judy. They kiss and dance before Judy requests Mr. Punch to look after the baby. Punch fails to carry this task out appropriately, sitting on the baby in a failed attempt to “babysit”, and even putting it through the sausage machine. He then drops it out of the window onto the floor. Cue little child who rushes to pick it up and on tippy-toes tries to hand it back to Punch – but can’t quite reach. Cue slightly taller child who similarly fails. This sequence continues until finally one of the older children in the audience finally has sufficient height to hand the baby back to Mr Punch.  Judy returns, is outraged, fetch’s a stick and the knockabout commences. A policeman arrives in response to the mayhem and is himself felled by Punch’s slapstick. All this is carried out at breakneck and farcical speed with much involvement from the gleefully shouting children in the audience. Enter Joey the Clown who suggests it’s dinner time. This leads to the production of a string of sausages which Mr Punch has to look after. Cue even greater audience participation with the arrival of the crocodile, which Mr. Punch does not see until the children shout out and lets him know. Punch’s subsequent struggle with the crocodile leaves him in need of a Doctor who arrives and attempts to treat Punch by walloping him with a stick until Punch reciprocates.  Punch then counts his “victims” by laying puppets on the stage only for Joey the Clown to move them about behind his back in order to frustrate him. A ghost appears and gives Mr. Punch a fright before it too is chased off with a slapstick. 


In the version I remember, a hangman would arrive to punish Mr. Punch, only to himself be tricked into sticking his head in the noose. This seems to have been expunged from this most recent performance, so I guess we have moved on with the times. Maybe later versions will include an ASBO or community service!. Anyway, great fun was had by all, and I’m so pleased I haven’t succeeded in growing up yet!



Flash mob sing La Traviata

On Saturday, April 24th, over 30 members of the Opera Company of Philadelphia Chorus and principal cast members from their upcoming production of La Traviata converged on the Reading Terminal Market Italian Festival in Philadephia. Wearing street clothes and blending in with the crowd, the artists swung into action after the first orchestral strains of the famed "Brindisi"  were piped through the market, giving a rousing, surprise performance for hundreds of delighted onlookers.

The four-minute piece won a thunderous ovation that included both laughter and tears from the audience. 

See it and hear it!


Don’t give up


For all those poor souls struggling to get their managers to grasp/understand/deploy social media tools in their work environment:

It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out nor more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things; for the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order; this lukewarmness arising partly from the incredulity of mankind who does not truly believe in anything new until they actually have experience of it.


With thanks to Euan Semple for the insipiration.

The one percent rule

I had ocassion recently to discuss the “1% rule” with a colleague, in relation to contributions to an on-line community of practice. My colleague professed to not having heard about it before. The hypothesis is that if you get a group of100 people online then one will create content, ten will “interact” withit (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will justview it. The key point is to look after your content creators, for they may be a rare species!

I first read the article in the Guardian Unlimited (July 2006) – should anyone wish to challenge the statistics!