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.

What happened to the original Lobby?

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.


To ensure The Lobby remains a healthy and friendly place for you all to share your thoughts, musings all of our Community Guidelines apply, with the exception of one:

You may go off-topic… that is the purpose of The Lobby.  🙂

Looking for other areas to talk?

• Website feedback: Let us know about any technical issues, and share your ideas on the future of Which? Conversation closure: A discussion about the closure of

Which? Members: Discuss issues related to our organisation, including governance

Welcome to the Lobby!

So without further ado… welcome! What are you waiting for!?


I have just been able to sign in for the first time today. Until now my account has been locked and I couldn’t sign in or comment, but I could read everyone else’s comments. It seems that it was just me since no one else has been affected. I had something to say to John, agreeing with him about a comment he made. I’ll search through and see if I can find it again.

Hi Vynor,
There is a problem with logging into the convos at the moment.

I have signed in but it doesn’t actually look like I am signed in as the Sign in/Register is still at the top and below this box I am being asked for Your name & Email address

F5 (refresh) sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t, but we do seem to be logged in even if it doesn’t look like it. This time it worked and I can post a reply without trying to log in again.

Thanks Alfa. I think my second computer (used in the boat) has just updated my browser. The old one still opens but it refuses me entry to speak on Which Conversation or to log in. Click and nothing happens!. This one works, so I know what to do. I have also experienced the problems Ian mentioned (was that yesterday?) and for a week or two, postings have not appeared on the front page, but do when I log out and log back in again. It seems as though Jon is sorting this out for us.

As I was about to go out this morning there was a call from someone with a foreign accent, saying that he was calling from Trading Standards about my bank owing me a lot of money. Normally I would try to find out something about scams I have not heard before but I did not have time to say that I did not have time to listen to scams today. I don’t know if this is a new or old scam but I have not had this one before.

I haven’t heard this one either. I wonder if it is a new twist of PPI.

Welcome to Tell An Old Joke Day, the day in 1935 when the first greetings telegram was sent in Britain and the day in 2019 Global warming was determined to be the fastest in 2,000 years; scientific consensus that humans are the sole cause is at 99%, according to three major reports published in journals “Nature” and “Nature Geoscience”

I wonder what the climatologists of the time made of The Medieval Warm Period followed by the Little Ice Age?

I was going to look for my missing watch, but I could never find the time.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Take your parents as an example.

………and if they were both vegans????????

My wife likes it when I blow cool air on her when she’s hot, but honestly…I’m not a fan.

She may prefer some H/air conditioning?


The previous quips and wisecracks are all eminently suitable for OJD and distinctly déjà vu. I hope we can look forward to some new jokes tomorrow.

Finding new jokes is a bit of a Sisyphean task, John.,..

I know, . . . and the strict observance of political correctitude does not help.

I have been wondering whether an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman will ever be able to meet again – social distancing at the bar notwithstanding – or whether their stereotypical reflections on the idiosyncracies of life will now be consigned to the archives of existence never to be repeated or emulated.

I don’t understand what a Sisyphean task is and it sounds Greek to me.

Definitely Greek Wavechange. I think the boulder rolling King gives us one description of what hell might be like – if it exists. I certainly would not apply the definition to Ian’s jokes. Some may be less funny than others, but none are futile and useless and the only ones that “roll back down” are those that have been told before. Ian should be encouraged in his labours which have nothing to do with self-aggrandisement and a lot to do with starting each day with an interesting comment or two and a trio of quips to raise a smile.
It’s good to get back to a site where the signal is reliable. It has been a frustrating few days.

Absolutely. Without Ian’s efforts we would have to produce them ourselves. 🙁 I’m happy trying to produce a witty response but would find it hard to produce the original jokes.

I totally agree Vynor.

And Ian is certainly not a futile jester.


Welcome to Carousel Day, the day in 1959 when the SR-N1 hovercraft crossed the Channel in just over 2 hours and the day in 1814 when Stephenson introduced his first steam locomotive, a travelling engine designed for hauling coal on the Killingworth wagonway named Blücher

Actually, according to George Smith in “Wylam, 200 Years of Railway History”, Blücher was Stephen’s 2nd travelling engine – the first was called “My Lord” as a reference to Lord Ravensworth, who was Stephenson’s employer and had authorised the work to build those engines.

Also, Blücher would not have been very famous before 1815.

I’ll let them know, Derek.

Thanks Ian.

I used to live and work in the North East, so I am fascinated by all the railway history there.

As they do me, Derek. I used to live at the bottom of a railway embankment along which the Racket was trialled in the Rainhill trials.

I thought it was the Rocket that was used in these trials, rather than the Racket, but maybe it was noisy. 🙂

Perhaps Racket was the correct pronunciation in scouse.

I believe it was Richard Trevithick who is credited with producing the first high pressure steam locomotive to run on rails – Pen-y-Darren. The later Rocket was one of three locomotives that competed in the Rainhill trials pulling passengers in trucks, where it won.

The choice of Blücher as a name is also interesting because Smith claims that the development of those early colliery engines was a response to shortages of horses and their fodder, as caused by the Napoleonic wars. But for that, he speculates that railways would not have developed in the way that they did.

Smith also mentions that George Stephenson’s most important contribution was the development of rails that were actually strong enough to withstand the weight of those engines.

People are making end of the world jokes as though there were no tomorrow.

I cannot see any future in telling that sort of joke.

Many a true word is spoken in jest as it’s always today. Tomorrow is a concept that never arrives.

Son: “Dad, can you tell me what a solar eclipse is?”
Dad: “No sun.”

Two windmills are standing in a field and one asks the other, “What kind of music do you like?”
The other says, “I’m a big metal fan.”

Nice to see that joke going round 😀

These wind turbines seem to be the cause of windy weather. I have noticed that when they are stationary there is very little wind.

Some years ago I knew a university tutor who honestly thought the windmills were actually creating the wind…

It’s possible, but it would take far too much electricity.

Strictly speaking, windmills are only there for grinding and milling. The wind bit is just the driving force, as in watermill. I don’t think anyone has invented a name for an outside wind gathering wheel or set of blades that doesn’t mill. Thus, we have a generic that covers everything, even when it doesn’t. You can’t live in a wind turbine.

Many ‘windmills’ were used to pump water for land drainage, irrigation and other purposes. Windmill would not be correct in these cases but seems to be in common use.

A small one to grind coffee beans could be fun.

Q: What is the mantra of a windmill and wind turbine

A: One good turn deserves another.

Wind is air flow. Therefore, strictly speaking a water mill should be a water flow mill.

I have a book by Walter Rose, who lived at Haddenham in Buckinghamshire in the 19th century. They were a wood working and property maintenance family business, cutting trees and timber to make barns and houses, water pumps, recogging water wheel gears and the like. He describes one typical job of making and fitting replacement sails on a local windmill. They used to commute many miles to work, even in those days, but usually on foot.

Perhaps we could turn the wind turbines round and blow against the wind to prevent damage from gales? Then they could have come to Michael Fish’s rescue.

That is exactly what we did on route to Spain at the time of Michael Fish’s famous faux pas The pilot announced due to flying into unusual conditions which would decrease our speed by about 100mph our ETA would be delayed. We didn’t find out the reason until we arrived back home a week later to find a neighbours tree sprawled across the garden.

Wavechange – A large number of the ‘windmills’ in Norfolk were indeed used to raise water for land drainage and irrigation and were called ‘windpumps’. Horsey Windpump on the Broads [near Great Yarmouth] is a noted example being the youngest [1912] and one of the largest in the county. It is in the care of the National Trust and is open to visitors following restoration although it is not yet fully operational as further adjustments are required to the sails.

i have always been impressed by the massive engineering and construction of windmills when you consider the forces at work on them and the work they had to perform, often with a number of different mechanical functions taking place simultaneously. The millwright was one of the most highly-skilled and well-rewarded trades in Georgian and Victorian times, and the miller was usually a pillar of the community because his work put bread on the table and enabled farmers to prosper.

I visited the broads in the early 80s and saw several of these magnificent structures.

We had a working windmill in the region but the sails and cap were removed for repairs and goodness knows when it will be back in working order. I heard that our council was keen to dispose of it because of the costs involved in maintaining it. A local landmark is the tower of a former mill, but the machinery was removed many years ago.

”Many holidaymakers will be deeply angry that the government didn’t make this decision 48 hours ago, ”.
Unfortunate for those who travelled. However, given the prevalence of COVID then they took a risk in choosing to holiday abroad. My daughter had a long-standing visit planned to Italy in August for a family get-together but decided the risk was not worth taking so cancelled, to protect both herself and family.

I’m more concerned about protecting the UK from further infection and deaths than the inconvenience of holidaymakers. Plenty of places to go in the UK while the virus continues to plague us.

We have to understand, Malcolm, that populist arguments are expected of travel journalists; their continued employment depends on keeping the wheels of the travel trade turning.

If we all took our holidays in the UK there would be little to write about. Which?, of course, has spoiled that by drawing up and publicising a list of the best places to go to for a peaceful time in beautiful surroundings, so they will be swamped with trippers now.

Reading some of the papers yesterday you would think we had all been locked up in a salt mine for ten years so we are desperate to get away “for a well-earned break”. Well-earned?

As you say people have taken a risk and it hasn’t paid off everywhere. I was not surprised that Spain opened the gates so soon after their epidemic, but it was a foolhardy move and the UK government has, rightly in my view, acted to impose some control over a further spread of the disease. Could it have been sooner to spare a few travellers the inconvenience of isolation for a couple of weeks? Who knows? Each situation has to be addressed as it evolves.

I wonder if once Michael Gove and Grant Shapps had left for Spain someone took the opportunity to keep them out of circulation for an extra 2 weeks? 🙂

The crackdown was said to be introduced as soon as information was received. Really, the government can’t win, can it?

I would have hoped Which? would have made a more sensible and responsible response.

Re-reading the press release my eye was caught by this paragraph –
The government must give urgent clarity on whether it will be updating its FCO advice on travel to Spain, as this will have a more serious impact and may require tour operators to bring holidaymakers home early at a time when they are already under huge financial strain“.

Aside from being unsure why there might be any need to bring holidaymakers home early, I was wondering why people on holiday in Spain should be presumed to be “under huge financial strain”. In any case, the sooner they get home the more money they will be saving – apart from on the heating bills, of course. Once people have had a holiday there is little to show for the expense so I doubt that many people “under huge financial strain” are abroad right now or are going away in the near future.

”This is the third announcement we’ve heard from the government regarding travel to Spain in the last three days. Hundreds of thousands of UK holidaymakers in Spain or about to fly are utterly confused.

I am not sure why all these people should be utterly confused. If they listen to the news they will be aware that the pandemic is still there, world wide, and that we are warned of spikes being likely and that travel advice will be subject to change. Therefore anyone planning a holiday abroad, not an essential trip, should know they are taking a risk. Particularly so now when the pandemic is still quite fresh.

While the spikes in Spain may be fairly localised, information given yesterday showed that even the “best” locations in Spain and the islands had COVID incidences that equalled the worst in the UK.

Presumably Spaniards and visitors may travel between hot spots and other places – I imagine the natives also go on holiday – and would help spread the infection.

So I regard those who put holidays before not only their health, but that of family, friends and contacts, are being selfish and irresponsible. Isolation is protecting us from them.

Arguments were made by vested interests. Travel companies, local tourism, club owners and such that it was the wrong decision because of the effect it would have on the tourism industry. I’d regard protecting the nation after all the efforts we have made as far more important. You can replace businesses, but not lives.

The UK acted too quickly? When information shows that a greater danger is emerging I’d have thought any delay in implementing precautions, leading to more infections and deaths, would have justified real criticism.

France is considering closing its borders with Spain.

I suggest for now holidaymakers support the UK and choose a vacation here.

I can’t remember whether it was on our regional news bulletin or the national TV News yesterday, but a senior representative of Stansted Airport was complaining about the reintroduction of isolation for travellers returning from Spain. He was fearful that a number of airports would probably have to close as a result of the pandemic; he seemed to think everyone would sympathise with his concern. Bring it on, I say.

Since whole TV series are made out of holidaymakers’ gripes and whinges about the slightest inconvenience this is just routine for the season.

I support Malcolm’s recommendation to have a holiday in the UK; the country is suffering a massive drop in incoming tourism so taking our spending overseas at this time is inflicting a double whammy on our own businesses.

Welcome to Holistic Therapy Day, the day in 1882 when Wagner’s Parsifal opened in Bayreuth and the day in1894 when Aldous Huxley was born in Godalming.

You take away the looks, money, intelligence, charm and success and, really, there’s no real difference between me and George Clooney

Two fish are sitting in a tank. One looks over at the other and says: “Hey, do you know how to drive this thing?”

They were most likely Portuguese Man ‘O war fish.

No, it’s not my plaice.

Whatever you do, always give 100 %. Unless you’re donating blood.

I think I will stick to being a blood owner.

The discussion about food standards and descriptions, and healthy eating, has provoked me to comment [i.e. rant] on the role of the food producers in controlling the markets and on the tendency of consumers to ignore safety and nutrition guidelines which has placed such a strain on the health services. See –

It has taken a pestilence to alert the powers that be to the consequences of bad lifestyle habits and behaviours, and perhaps something will be done about it at last. The debate about plant-based foodstuffs might appear to be a side-show in comparison but it is important that society gets a grip on the conduct of major food companies. We are in danger of eating out of the palms of their hands as they manipulate laws, standards and compliance for the primary purpose of making bigger profits.

We have been seeing many images over the past few months of food banks in operation; It has astonished me to see how much junk food and fizzy pop is being doled out to supply some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. I can see the argument that the food banks are not there to control people’s diets and tell them what to eat but I cannot accept the lack of responsibility that attitude represents. The food banks are supported by public money, community funding and voluntary donations; is there not a moral duty there to act in a way that improves recipients’ health and well-being?

At last the problem of obesity is getting prominent attention – largely because of its propensity to exacerbate the progress of a deadly virus. One suggested remedy is to push junk food TV commercials out to the late evenings where they will have to compete with the gambling adverts for airtime. That won’t stop the continuous flow of flyers that come through our doors advertising – in lurid coloured detail – a mixed bag of fast foods showing special deals for additional quantities and tempting promotions for teeth-rotting accompaniments and unhealthy drinks.

What also disgusts me is that this culture is proliferating under the guise of the robust British character: that we are independent therefore strong, won’t be told by the nanny state what to eat and how to behave, can show contempt for the law, to reason, and to the interests of society, and can put ourselves in hospital because we have paid for it. I fear this attitude has infected government.

And will the anticipated changes to junk food advertising cover social media?

Mmm, strong stuff John and I agree. While it is down to us to look after our bodies we owe it to society to keep as healthy as possible. There could be a war time campaign to help us, but overdoing this would lead to a mass switch off. No one likes to be lectured. A more subtle approach might work if it can be thought through. I also agree that, necessary as food banks seem to be -and we should cry shame for that – stuffing the packs with junk food is criminal. It is possible to eat well and eat inexpensively. Not a great delight, but not that bad either. Junk food is usually fast food, requiring little effort before eating. I wonder if anyone can make fast non-junk food that people will buy? Perhaps a look at life styles could bring a change too if priorities focussed more on the kitchen and less on getting on to the next activity. Eating is an important part of life and should be taken seriously. That doesn’t mean the Ritz, it means cooking well and eating wisely. Schools used to teach domestic science. It is time that all household skills came back to the curriculum. Parents have a part to play, but busy lives and the need for double incomes militate against all parts of good family life….for some. I was lucky.

Welcome to Norfolk Day, the day in 1586 when Walter Raleigh first brought to England from Virginia and the day in 1944 when Britain’s first jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor, was used in combat.

More jokes will follow when the system allows more than a single joke to be posted…

We deserve to be told more about what Raleigh brought to England. It was not the bicycle, and potatoes and tobacco were apparently already known.

I was going to raise my Norfolk flag to celebrate Norfolk Day but it was raining heavily. The sun has come out now but the moment has passed.

It’s also Scotch Whiskey Day…

There is doubt over whether Walter Raleigh ever set foot on the north American mainland.

The historical legend that Raleigh threw his cloak over a puddle so that Queen Elizabeth could keep her feet dry is also possibly apocryphal. The location of this deed has never been properly recorded and several places have claimed it.

Scotch Whiskey Day sounds a bit Irish to me.


There’s Whiskey and there’s Whisky, but a single malt goes against the grain.

Please may I have a double of the single.

My boss is going to fire the employee with the worst posture. I have a hunch it might be me.

Perhaps it’s time to try impressing or misleading the boss. Posturing, they call it.