The Lobby: Off-topic discussion

Hello and welcome to The Lobby! Your place to discuss subjects that just don’t fit in our other conversations. Make yourself at home!

Do you want to discuss an issue but can’t find the right place to post it? Or maybe you’re looking for somewhere to chat with your community pals? Well, you’ve come to the right place…

As with any community or conversation it can – and does – wander off-topic. This is perfectly natural, but it hasn’t always been possible to do so on some of our posts because of the precisely defined nature of each subject.

So, at the behest of some of our community members, we created this off-topic discussion area – The Lobby.

Any ideas spawned here in The Lobby could generate new posts for debate and discussion on Which? Conversation, so you – our community members – are able to help shape the direction of our community.

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Why do we have two Lobbies? Well, like all good franchises, we wanted to experiment with a sequel. But seriously, the original Lobby was so popular (with almost 13,000 comments), it was becoming hard to load the page.

So we’re starting fresh with what we’re affectionately calling “The Lobby 2”.

No comments from first Lobby have been deleted, and you can still link to comments, but you won’t be able to add new comments.


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I genuinely feel sorry for the government trying to cope how a minority are behaving during the coronavirus pandemic:

Yes – appalling behaviour. It annoys me that the media have made such a bad image of the lockdown as though it’s like a spell in prison or solitary confinement. This has given rise to the ‘stir crazy’ outlook that is used to justify the invasion of beaches and beauty spots. The Dominic Cummings misdemeanour hasn’t helped the situation.

Some have called for access to such places to be restricted or closed. I disagree, I think it’s the exits that should be stopped and let the incoming tide take care of the problem.

As for the disgraceful amount of litter and waste left behind, that is simply inexcusable. The PM appeals to the common sense of the great British public; . . . yeahhh. The entire extent of it was on show yesterday.

I suppose a lot of the transgressors were on furlough or supposed to be isolating.

I expect that most of us here have generally complied with what we have been asked to do by the government. I did until it was suggested that we should head to the shops.

Had the government moved from ‘stay at home’ to remain local, that might have been a better way of coming out of lockdown than permitting travel as far as we want for recreation. I don’t know if that would have helped protect the residents of seaside resorts and the public from itself.

In other Convos we bemoan that people should be responsibly, for example avoiding debt, scams and obesity, but perhaps the photos show that not everyone does behave responsibly.

On the BBC last night, one selected interviewee had travelled all the way from Milton Keynes to Bournemouth for a nice day out.

Perhaps we should call them ‘new wave travellers’. Thanks to their irresponsibility we could end up with local lockdowns and continue to put the NHS under pressure.

And according to the BBC News article, some came from Birmingham. They are both within the most distant part of England from the sea. Perhaps they expected the full seaside experience with all the peripherals but were sadly disappointed so joined the multitude already on the beach.

A barbecue on the beach seems to be the done thing these days. It would put me off completely. There’s not much worse than sand on your sausage.

I would not go near a public beach with loads of sweaty people taking off their clothes. Perhaps there are some private parts.

If people from the Midlands travel to the Dorset coast for a nice day out, where do you impose the ‘local lockdown’? The good people of Bournemouth don’t deserve any such restrictions.

The ‘unlimited travel for exercise’ permission needs to be strictly curtailed – no non-essential travel outside your own county [or one hour’s journey into a neighbouring one for those living on or near the boundary].

Maybe any of those on the beach should be made to pay for subsequent virus treatment!

That’s ambiguous and possibly unethical.

And where should Bournemouth residents go for a nice day out?

Friends who have retired to seaside resorts are having to stay at home during the good weather or go out very early in the morning. Like Ian, they are absolutely fed-up with hordes of tourists decending on their home towns to a far greater extent than usual.

The beaches do not belong to the residents; they are for everyone. However, what the invasion shows is simply how stupid and irresponsible many people are to crowd together. Nothing whatsoever to do with Dominic Cummings.

How to stop it? Close the beaches and car parks when enough people have arrived and send the rest home.

Bournemouth residents? Would they like to go to Birmingham or Milton Keynes? Shouldn’t think so.

It all down to an ostrich mentality when, against all the advice the lure of the sand takes priority over common sense. – The Ostrich Trap

It would be good if people would just turn round and go home if asked. I’m concerned that about could happen if that did not work.

As one of the people who was interviewed said, he did not know a single person who had been infected, so presumably he effectively did a risk assessment. The tourists invading the beaches are outside rather than cooped up in chicken processing plant.

I wonder if we need public information films showing the what has happened to some of those who have been infected with coronavirus, maybe without a warning that they contain upsetting scenes.

malcolm r says:
However, what the invasion shows is simply how stupid and irresponsible many people are to crowd together. Nothing whatsoever to do with Dominic Cummings.

I suspect you’re wrong about that. The blatant and gross disregard for essential safety measures, some might even say criminal disregard, introduced at the height of the pandemic in the UK by the senior government advisor, coupled with the PM’s utter inability to deal with him has almost certainly signalled to the vast majority of UK residents that the ‘rules’ are unimportant.

Laws work largely by consent. People n the UK are willing to put up with a great deal if they know, with certainty, that everyone has to abide by these rules. When they learn they’re not, it sends a signal.

Mmm, I don’t think I’m wrong about that at all. 🙂
These people should be well aware of the danger of them picking up an infection in an unprotected crowd and passing it on to, at least, their family members. If they disregard that possibility and the dreadful consequences that might ensue then I believe they are stupid and irresponsible, or are totally unaware of the pandemic. The latter is most unlikely.

I suppose he was also responsible for people jumping off Durdle Door and severely injuring themselves?

I think DC and BJ showed that we can all choose to interpret the rules as we see fit.

Malcolm: the action of Cummings had enormous significance. He is at the top of government and chose to ignore the very rules which he was pushing others to obey.

But since you have chosen to reintroduce that topic, I believe there’s a question which you seem to have missed. Do you believe it is responsible, legal or reasonable for someone who believes their eyesight to be flawed to take a sixty mile drive with their young child in the car to check that eyesight?

I did not reintroduce it and don’t intend to pursue it -:)

I think the attitude was one of desperation to get out and that took over all safety concerns that might have been in place earlier. Shops are re-opening, public spaces are too and the public is simply pre-empting the government because they’ve had enough. We all hope this doesn’t lead to a second spike in the virus, and maybe it’s been subdued enough to mean that infectious people are less available to infect others. Who knows? Even a crowded beach is a fraction of the population, so most of us are still obeying the rules. I would have thought that the chaos in Bournemouth was even worse than staying at home. Who loves grid locked roads, places with no loos and cafes and barely room to sit on the beach. It’s my idea of hell. I wonder how many considered they had had a good day out when they got home? Sadly, with foreign travel restricted we are going to have to get used to an overcrowded island bursting out of its shell and invading beautiful Britain in droves this summer.

It was I who suggested earlier that the ‘stir crazy’ mentality fomented by the media plus the irresponsible behaviour of Dominic Cummings gave those who transgressed the government’s restrictions a sense of legitimacy. Of course he didn’t cause kids to dive off the rock at Durdle Door, but through his misconduct he gave an excuse for people to make unnecessary journeys over long distances for their personal satisfaction. The failure of the Prime Minister to sanction his adviser demonstrated that similar wrongful action was considered to be acceptable.

While the beaches at Bournemouth and elsewhere do not belong to the residents, it is they who have to pay for their maintenance and cleansing. Colossal quantities of rubbish were left behind at Bournemouth. I don’t know the cleansing arrangements in Dorset, but at Great Yarmouth in Norfolk a similar, albeit lesser, invasion took place on Wednesday and the visitors left behind a mountain of rubbish several times more than the usual amount on previous year’s busiest days. Local residents volunteered to clean the beaches because the local authority did not have sufficient staff to empty the bins as fast as they were filling up or scavenge for litter along the foreshore. Soiled nappies and other unpleasant items were among the choicer deposits. The inconsiderate behaviour of the irresponsible visitors does impact on the local residents and it is a pity that the government and others don’t seem to be able to see that it is quite distressing for residents who take pride in their town.

Apart from the infection transmission issue, it does nothing to protect the NHS if thousands of cars are making unnecessary journeys on local roads with the potential for accidents and injuries. It means that medical facilities have to be on a higher alert status than would otherwise be necessary.

Regrettably there is a proportion of the population who think only about themselves and have no social responsibility. We’ve seen this at the seaside, at street parties, in parks and riversides for example. The particular problem of litter typifies this. This problem is not limited to post-lockdown; we see the same on normal bank holdays.

How to deal with it? Not a clue. Where would the herds go if the beaches were closed, or if visitors were limited? They’d no doubt still be on the road looking for a new destination.

We will have to hope that the proportion of the population that is behaving irresponsibly will not be sufficient to arrest the continued decline in deaths due to coronavirus.

Nicola Sturgeon has said that Scotland is ‘not far away’ from eliminating the virus. That could be a brave statement or one that might be regretted.

Mr S Mcmahon says:
30 June 2020

I believe the government should shoulder a lot of the blame. Throughout all the poor metrics, lost lives, no ppe, lack of care in care homes, etc. – the metigation was the resolve of the British people. However, the people were taken for granted, as the top advisers were exempt from these rules. Can it be so surprising that others also feel they are exempt.

Welcome to World Refrigeration Day, the day in 2016 when the Panama Canal’s third set of locks opened for commercial traffic, doubling the Canal’s capacity at an estimated cost of $5.25 billion and the day in 1870 Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre opened in Munich.

It’s a pity that refrigeration and air conditioning contribute to global warming as a result of energy consumption. At least we have phased out the refrigerants that were contributing to the problem.

And it’s a shame that in most cases air conditioning systems only recirculate hot air back into the atmosphere rather than through an integrated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning [HVAC] plant which can use the heat for other good purposes [such as water heating].

Air conditioning is often too intense. It is only necessary to reduce the heat in a space by a few degrees to improve comfort levels, not drop it to chilling temperature.

At present household systems are fairly crude but this will probably change to avoid the unpleasant chilling that many of us will have experience in hotel rooms.

At one time microwave ovens controlled power by switching (the magnetron) on and off for short time periods but newer models offer continuous heating at chosen power settings. The compressors in domestic fridges, freezers and simple air conditioners can only operate on or off at present.

Patrick Taylor told us about simple inexpensive domestic systems to help control heating and ventilation in homes. Hopefully these can be developed without the need to make them smart and controlled by a phone. The planned phase-out of gas heating will mean that there is a real need to minimise consumption and make use of heat recovery systems.

I was stupid enough to splash out on a portable air conditioner. It blows out red hot air through the window and leaves the room unchanged, despite the icy flow from the fan. A heavy lump of totally useless and noisy kit! Free to a good home!

We acquired one second-hand Vynor and your description fits it to a ‘T’.

The extractor hose is not long enough, so stands a couple of feet from the open window. An old sheet draped over the opening does prevent the hot air returning, but the thing only cools a small area near the window – eventually. ☹️

The portable systems are dreadful. Our fitted split-system air con did cost more, but it’s inverter technology, works perfectly and allows very accurate temperature settings.

Yes, the inverter technology is what is used to give proper power control in microwave ovens. I forgot to say that.

Em says:
26 June 2020

I’ll second that Ian. We did “invest” in a portable air conditioning unit with an exhaust hose about 15 years ago, which I eventually vented underfloor to avoid opening the window. However, it would only ever cool one room at best and was so noisy. So the devil’s choice of don’t sleep because of the heat or don’t sleep because of the noise. Plus the condensate started leaking everywhere as it got older, so I had to stand it in a tray to avoid ruining the carpets.

We started experimenting with a pair of 2 kW split units in the sun room and master bedroom eight years ago, and then went for a multi-split for all the main rooms during a major re-build three years ago. I am sitting here writing this in 22 degree C comfort, even though my office is not one of the rooms with its own fan coil (convector) unit.

I was rather concerned about how much energy we are using in the current heatwave, as the external compressors are working hard. The smart meter monitor was reading only 1.2 kW on Tuesday afternoon. I turned off the main multi-split (9kW cooling duty) and the energy consumption dropped to 600 W. That was with the two smaller units running plus, I realized later, the dishwasher.

We use the same system in reverse for heating in winter – no gas here. Overall, the installation, maintenance and running costs are not that different from oil central heating, if you have a well-insulated house, plus the bonus of cooling in summer.

I don’t have a girlfriend, but I know a girl that would get really angry if she heard me say that.

My drug test came back negative. My dealer certainly has some explaining to do.

Mine might occasionally come back positive for ibuprofen. It’s a performance enhancing drug at times.

The worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades.

I will be without a washing machine for a few months and have looked on line for one that I might plug into a sink and use as an alternative to the launderette. There are several around at about £130. I looked at Which? and found nothing, so don’t know whether these are cheap Chinese imports that catch fire or something that will actually wash clothes for me. I wonder if any camping enthusiast out there has had any experience of them?

You’re lucky if you have a launderette within striking distance. They have mostly disappeared near us except for a couple each about a mile away, but their locations don’t appeal. Even small flats and student lets are equipped with washer/dryers these days.

Don’t you just pine for the return of the bag-wash?

It’s difficult to know about safety, Vynor, and I have some concerns about the fire safety of even mainstream white goods. I suggest having a smoke detector nearby and turning off the machine if you have to go out.

Heat detectors are usually advised for use in kitchens. I have a smoke detector as well and put it in the dining room when I’m grilling or frying. Sometimes I manage to remember to do this before cooking. 🙁

When I was without a kitchen, I did nearly all my washing in the bath, sheets and towels got to have a soak and the rest worked well in a flexi tub.

I have an Electra spin dryer that looks identical to the Creda above, bought second hand decades ago. It is unlikely to ever wear out and although it has a couple of small rust marks on the outside, the stainless steel inside stays pristine and the rubber ring is still in excellent condition.

I did think of getting rid of it at one time, but glad I didn’t as it often comes in handy for things that want a quick spin.

These standalone spin-dryers can last for years. It’s worth looking out for signs of water leakage due to wear of the seal, hopefully before it gets into the motor below and causes a bang or the power to go off.

Electra brand products were originally sold by electricity showrooms. The brand still exists but like so many other familiar names the brand name has been traded by companies.

Good point wavechange, something I tend to forget to look for. I dread the washing machine springing a leak as has happened in the past.

Rumour has it that people used to keep coal in the bath. I presume that this was the galvanised steel bath that their grandparents used to use in front of the open fire or range. That would allow them to use the real bath.

Many thanks all. Who said anything about having a bath? My temporary kitchen will have a fridge, a freezer, a microwave and an induction hob. Some of the time I shall have a sink and a loo and when that isn’t possible I’ll be kicked out. Hopefully by the end, it will all be back, but I was hoping for something more sophisticated than a pail and a dolly peg in the interim.

Vynor – Go on a cruise if that is permitted when your works take place.

I guess ships have internet access for essential purposes such as contributing to Convo.

This discussion made me think about how my mother did the washing. I think there was a gas boiler and a wringer. I do remember her getting a Hoovermatic twin-tub because I fixed that a few times when my father was not available. Here is an old ad showing the model, though hers was in colour:

That’s very expensive, probably close to four figures today for that twin tub. We had a single version with an electric wringer on top -second hand.
I’m not tempted with any of the small washing machines on offer. Reading between the lines they are inefficient and compromised by cheap mechanics. None of them pump out water and none heat it. The craziest launderette I know consists of two machines , one large and one smaller, placed outside a supermarket next to the cash machines. I can imagine dropping clean clothes on the pavement while trying to empty them in to a container. People use it.

I’ve read about small machines being used in static caravans and on boats on forums discussing electrical matters. Some do have heaters because some of the discussion was about powering them from batteries via inverters on boats away from a shoreline. The general advice was to disconnect the heater and fill with hot water heated in other ways.

My only experience with a launderette was when I rented a flat when I was househunting. There were washing machines, one separate spin-dryer and tumble-dryers.

The Hoovermatic was expensive, though the price quoted my have been the RRP rather than what it would have cost my parents. I expect that it came with a full six month guarantee. Our fridge did. I don’t think we paid to have it repaired because we managed to keep it going until mum got her Electrolux front-loading washing machine, which proved a great deal more reliable.

Welcome to Armed Forces Day, the day in 1759 when general James Wolfe began the siege of Quebec and the day in 1957 when the BMC published a report suggesting a direct link between smoking and lung cancer.

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.

One of my favourites. 🙂

Well, that’s a weight off my mind 🙂

I like anti-gravity machines. The Americans call them elevators. 🙂

They’re positively hair raising 😉

I wonder if anyone has travelled in a paternoster lift without looking to see if there were footprints on the roof of the carriage.

In olden days at Risley, one of our cleaners used to hoover the carpeted floors of our paternoster while it was still running. She’d give each carriage a quick go as it passed her on one of the landings.

That would make a good YouTube video.

I wonder why people buy cordless vacs, which are expensive and batteries can be expensive to replace. The convenience for cleaning paternosters could be a unique selling point.

A problem arises with battery powered devices such as vacuums and power tools when batteries are not standardised and interchangeable. A perfectly good device can be rendered useless if a battery fails through ageing and either is obsolete or is so expensive as to make replacement uneconomic. I have a number of corded power tools that are old and still giving excellent service. I wouldn’t normally consider a cordless version unless mains-free convenience was essential.

Replacing cells in an existing dedicated housing seems the best way at present if easy access and fitting is provided.

A lift [or elevator, if we must] is not entirely gravity-defying. A considerable amount of the energy required to raise it is provided by the counterweight which balances the car. The motor drives the passengers upwards; gravity lets them down. Quite energy-efficient really. Paternosters have to be powered through their whole cycle and, for safety reasons, only the goods type are allowed to be installed in new buildings nowadays.

A great saving on doors too. Perhaps the one that Derek used was nuclear-powered.

Paternosters are not very friendly for the disabled and there are safety concerns. The one I have travelled on when I was a young tearaway (you are not supposed to go ‘over the top’) was responsible for a death and was taken out of service.

I thought the car is (roughly) balanced by another car heading in the opposite direction?

The principles are well illustrated on Gerard Hoffnung’s “The Bricklayers Lament” that I referred to elsewhere a few days ago.

Yes, Wavechange – that is so in the case of a paternoster lift but it is in constant motion whereas a conventional lift can rest between calls.

As well as being potentially hazardous for passengers and useless with some disabilities, the shafts of paternosters, being permanently open at every level, can act as a chimney in the event of a fire.

Sometimes I wonder how the potential risks of designs were not appreciated at the time. Early metal toasters with heating elements you could touch were plugged in to light sockets in the days before three-pin plugs were common. What could possibly go wrong?

I still look back fondly to my rides on a paternoster.

I must confess to having deliberately gone over the top at least once and also at least once absentmindedly.

I sure I would have also gone through the bottom too.

Em says:
28 June 2020

One of the craziest designs was the electric tablecloth. I have not seen one, but from the description, it was a bit like an electric blanket with no insulation, other than the felt cloth. This enabled electric “candles” to be plugged into the grid of bare wires by means of short pins in the base of the lights.

I understand this design concept was satisfactory, until someone spilt their drink on the table cloth and went to pick up their knife and fork. Had Which? been around in the day, I wonder what their review would have made of it?

Thanks Em. Here is an article about an electric tablecloth:

The present owners power their electric tablecloth and candles with a 12 volt battery.

Even nowadays it is not difficult to find ways to modify products to make them safer or last longer.

You might still find one through Amazon Marketplace fitted with a 2-pin plug. 🙁

🙂 I guess other online marketplaces might have them in stock too. If we could find order some bitumen we could tar them all with the same brush.

Here is a video by the other John Ward, who shows a device that heats a cup of water by passing mains voltage electricity through the water:

It’s shocking what anyone can buy online from abroad if they have the yen. The only control seems to be that we might be asked to pay customs duty.

Wavechange – I’d love to see the video; would you mind sharing the link?


(The original John Ward)

🙂 Patience please John. Assume my posts have not been finalised until the editing period has expired.

Your namesake gets up to some daft exploits but he is an electrician. I do look at his channel occasionally but the pay more attention to the original John Ward.

Of course.

I suppose an electric table cloth is marginally safer than naked flames during a romantic candle-lit dinner. And perhaps that is why cutlery often had bone handles years ago – nature’s natural insulator.

Perhaps it’s best to have the cutlery PAT-tested. An ideal job for ladies named Patricia.

Can someone please solve a long-standing mystery as to why my dual (2 bread) toaster only browns one side when inserting one slice, even though all four elements are fully operational, which inevitably means the bread is returned to the toaster resulting in one side of the bread browner (or burnt) than the other. This doesn’t occur when 2 slices of bread are inserted.

I don’t know why that happens, Beryl, but you could cut the slice in half before toasting it and get the result you desire. Getting the half-slices out of the toaster could be tricky, though.

I will certainly give it a go tomorrow John. I do have a pair of wooden tongues to rescue embedded bread so no problem there. I am still very curious to find out how or why this happens?

If all the heating elements look to be at the same temperature, the problem may because the bread is not being held centrally between the elements. This can be a problem with toasters with wide slots. If there is a mechanism to hold the slice centrally and it’s not doing so, it should be fairly easy to adjust, though not without dismantling it.

I have tried using both slots many times but the outcome is always the same.

There are clasps in both slots to hold the bread firmly in place, plus the 4 elements appear to work with similar radiance. I have noticed a differential time lapse in the heating up process between the first insertion and the second in each of the single slots and deduced it takes one element longer to heat up than the other during the first insertion. The second insertion heats up much quicker and needs constant attention to prevent one side burning, which effectively invalidates the functioning of the time control switch.

The mystery being, why does this phenomenon only occur
when toasting 1slice of bread and not with 2? Help!

I can understand why a second insertion heats up faster, understanding that the mechanism does not take into account whether the machine is cold or has just been used. From memory, two-slice toasters are often labelled to show which slot to use when toasting a single slice, but that is more to do with how browning is controlled than evenness of browning each side.

I don’t understand why the toaster should be OK with two slices but not one. A workaround might be to choose a low browning setting and turn the slice over half way through the process.

That is exactly the present status quo Wavechange. I am patiently anticipating its demise when it will be replaced with a new single slot appliance, preferably not Russell Hobbs. Do they still make them?

Beryl, our old Sage toaster had a setting to toast one side more than the other, it might have been called bagel setting.

Don’t know what it is called on a Russell Hobbs, but could you accidentally be selecting a one-side setting intended for buns instead of one-slice? Some of the icons on toasters are not very explanatory.

Which? does not list single-slice toasters in their filters but it might be worth looking through the photos. Hopefully most of the two-slice toasters do a decent job. I would expect a toaster to brown more on the side nearer the centre but not the big difference you have mentioned. Alfa might well have identified the problem but in my defence I don’t eat toast.

The best toast I had was with a thickish slice of fresh bread held on a toasting fork in front of a hot coal fire. It browned very quickly, leaving the inside steamy moist. I don’t know of a toaster that can get anywhere near to reproducing that (nor the tar bubbles that came out of the coal and then ejected a spurt of flame).

alfa, there are just three settings, one lever to start, one button for frozen and one to interrupt the setting. Its quite an old model but still in good working condition. Have been checking Amazon and there is only one single slice toaster advertised – another Russell Hobbs, the plus point being, a single slice toaster will save more energy – ideal for anyone living alone.

Malcolm you can still buy a long handled toasting fork if you have an open fire. I don’t recall ever having a toaster when I was young. We held a fork in front of an open fire, but in those days there was no central heating.

We once stayed in a Spanish villa which had no grill or toaster but we managed to find a rack which was placed over a gas ring on the hob on a very low setting with a slice of bread on the top. Not the best toast ever, but at least we managed to brown it without setting light to it!

Probably this time last year now, I was looking for a long 2-slot toaster that could fit pitta bread that is too big for conventional slots.

I thought I saw a few one-slots then, but had a quick look earlier and couldn’t see any. Pitta bread and round cottage style loaves are not exactly rare, so I can’t understand why manufacturers don’t make toasters for them.

I think most of our toast was done under the oven grill when I was young, but I do remember a toasting fork coming out occasionally.

The road to success is always under construction.

Diversion signs are in operation.

A man walks into a bar with a roll of tarmac under his arm and says: “Pint please, and one for the road.”

I believe that you can buy grass in some pubs. Weeds are another option.

Welcome to Log Cabin Day, the day in 1859 when the first dog show was held in Newcastle-on-Tyne and the day in 1948 we began Operation Plainfare airlift to West Berlin

Newcastle-on-Tyne is officially Newcastle upon Tyne but thankfully those who live there don’t seem to worry. I could not find any dog breeds associated with the place but the Bedlington Terrier was close.

I think it was Best Whippet in the early days.

My friend in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea [on the Northumberland coast] is most insistent that people spell it out in full and include the three hyphens [some kind of mythical marine creature I believe].

A mother asks her son: “George, do you think I’m a bad mother?”
Son: “My name is Paul.”

They are common names. Easily done.

Two donkeys are standing at a roadside crossing. One asks the other: “Shall we cross?”
The other shakes his head: “No way, look at what happened to the zebra.”

…………..and the elephant on the Trunk Road.

Was that the one that was A-Llama’d?

Was that the one with a sign to warn the camels to watch out for speed humps, or the one to warn the tiger what happens to cats eyes?

The Zebra was one we caught up with in our Jaguar.

Zebra crossings were joined by Pelican, Puffin and Toucan crossings. I think I will just wait to cross when the road is clear.

Beryl – I don’t mind the elephant on the trunk road but nowadays it’s often in the room.

If all intellectual means fail to shift it Wavechange you may need to hire a bulldozer. I think we may have inadvertently exited at the wrong junction 🙂

I lost my rifle when I was in the army. I had to pay £450 to cover the loss. I’m starting to understand why a Navy captain always goes down with his ship.

I had assumed you would have been fired for losing your weapon.

Unless he happens to captain Trident, in which case he might well stay submerged and head for Atlantis.


We have had a number of discussions about the fact that goods that don’t comply with safety and other requirements can be bought through large online marketplaces and there is an obvious need to make the marketplaces responsible for ensuring that their traders take what action is needed to deal with the problem and be subject to enforcement if this does not happen.

What we may never have discussed is that any of us can buy online directly from traders all round the world. We don’t know if company names are genuine or whether they pay any attention to regulations in their own countries, never mind those of countries where their customers are. Most people are probably happy to buy what they want at a price they are happy to pay and might not have thought about electrical safety, toxic chemicals, dangerous kids’ toys and so on.

Do we just have to trust our personal judgement of what is best to avoid or what should be done about this problem.

We have raised this before. There is nothing to stop an individual buying directly from any overseas source they find on the net. Only an interception by customs might save the day.

I have not paid much attention to the long-running Convo about importing goods but surely Customs are only going to be interested in ensuring that duties are paid, not in the safety and compliance issues.

I recently bought an item costing £4.26 including carriage to repair a product that would otherwise have to be scrapped, since it’s old and I could not source parts from anywhere within Europe. In the past I have only bought products from sellers which I have believed at the time to be based in Europe. The item from China arrived in less than two weeks and looks the part. All so easy, and for many people quite normal.

I think we are agreed that legislation to stop online marketplaces allowing their traders selling dangerous goods is a priority, but I believe its important to look at direct purchases as well. I don’t know if Which? has looked at the goods that consumers buy from abroad.

Customs can do spot checks but it is down to the carrier to collect vat and duty so it seems quite simple to personally import iffy goods. I don’t see any way of stopping it. However it will usually be “one offs” whereas with market places it can be large quantities.

I have never had any involvement with customs other than at work where I used to research materials to other labs and they were always of no commercial value, like those I received.

I cannot see any easy way of dealing with this problem, though we know what needs to happen with online marketplaces. eBay seems the difficult one with so many small companies and individuals that sell electrical products. Thanks anyway.

Shopping on line means electronic payment and, unlike the shops in the high street, in advance of any supply. Using a credit card allows payment from a source where there is money left to spend elsewhere still on the same payment card. Thus an illegal transaction could collect more than was agreed when the sale took place. Using the major market players like Amazon, there is a reasonable chance that the payment transaction will be correct, enough to make most people shop there more than once. Using a single supplier culled from an on line advert is a risk both for the supply of goods and the possibility of fraud. As with other risks, some might not care, but I suspect most would. Product safety is not guaranteed by any on line supplier. Reputable high street shops usually have better quality control and it is easier for shoppers to handle merchandise before paying and much easier to return them if faulty. Computer shopping is a better guarantee of finding an item quickly from a much larger stock base than any shop. Prices can be cheaper too, though not always. Twice recently I have been victim of pass the damaged parcel, and this is annoying and time consuming. This makes me selective when shopping on line. I’d still rather go to real shops for major items.

I have also been a victim of ‘pass the damaged parcel’ with a fan bought directly from Dyson. It arrived with enough marks on it to appear already used and refurbished. It is in hand though and I am expecting a replacement as soon as stock becomes available. I hadn’t used it until customer service said I was welcome to use it until the new one arrived. I have now found out why it was returned – the oscillate feature doesn’t work.

When I explained to Dyson I didn’t have a printer to print any return labels, it wasn’t a problem as the courier would do that on collection.🙂

The filters are new so I asked if I could buy them at a discount as they will be barely used and wasteful to just dump. Customer service have very kindly sent me a brand new replacement set as a gesture of good will !!!

At the other end of the scale, a friend who doesn’t use the internet has asked me to buy her some ‘Italian’ clothes online based on the name on the label. She has seen what she wants in a shop but they don’t have her size. I know that shop sells the equivalent of market clothes at greatly inflated prices.

A search of the name and a look at Google maps shows a tatty shop in London’s East End with a different name although 2 businesses are registered at the address, one with the name of the label. They have no COVID-19 info on their site.

Personally, I wouldn’t order from them and have told my friend my doubts so have sent an email to ask if they are fulfilling orders at this time.

I could lie and say they don’t reply, but if they do answer, I suppose I could be ordering them for her – with her credit card of course.

Some years ago I mentioned to a friend that my kettle had died and before I had replaced it I was brought a Russell Hobbs kettle that was on sale for six pounds something at Waitrose. It had not been used and I guess it might have been returned because the water filter was loose inside rather than clipped in place. The lid mechanism broke within the three year guarantee period but for what I had cost I was not going to ask my friend to take it back.

The well known online retailers seem to be good at replacing goods that arrived damaged or faulty (I don’t have much personal experience, but many have said this) but what happens if goods fail during the guarantee period or during the 5/6 year period during which retailers have statutory obligations to offer some remedy? It can be hard enough negotiating with someone at the customer service desk, so what happens with claims for goods bought online?

Welcome to International Mud Day, the day in 1888 of the first (known) recording of classical music made, Handel’s Israel in Egypt on wax cylinder (it was actually Baroque music) and the day in 1613 when the Bard’s Globe Theatre burnt down during Henry VIII (the cast were on fire)…

Here is the historic recording, now digitally transcribed:

On a phonograph you turn the handle to play the Handel.


A woman comes home late in the night and goes quietly in the bedroom. To her surprise, she sees male and female feet peeking out from under the blanket. Shocked and raging, she gets her baseball bat and beats and beats until all movement stops. After that she goes into the living room and sees her husband laying on the sofa.
He turns to her half asleep: “Oh, you’re home, darling. I’m afraid we have to sleep here tonight. My parents came for a surprise visit.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?

Mirror: “Kindly move aside. I can’t see anything.”

Perhaps that is an unfair question to ask a mirror.

“Daddy, what is an alcoholic?”
“Do you see those four trees, son? An alcoholic would see eight trees.”
“Um, Dad – there are only two trees.”