Archive for May, 2011

More Off-Colour Jokes from Leonie:

May 31, 2011


My mate’s missus left him last Thursday, she said she was going out for a pint of milk and never come back!
I asked him how he was coping and he said, “Not bad, I’ve been using that powdered stuff.”
The police came to my front door last night holding a picture of my wife.
They said, “Is this your wife, sir?”

Shocked, I answered, “Yes.”

They said, “I’m afraid it looks like she’s been hit by a bus.”

I said, “I  know, but she has a lovely personality.”


Two men drink a little too much then on the way home find a mirror in the road.
The first one picks it up and says, “Blow me down, I know this face but I cant put a name to it.”

The second picks it up and says, “You daft bastard, it’s me!”


Patrick’s in jail.  The Guard looks in his cell and see’s him hanging by his feet.
“What are you doing?” he asks.
“Hanging myself,” Paddy replies.
“It should be round your neck,” says the guard.

“I tried that,” says Paddy, “but I couldn’t breathe.”

Two London builders are hammering floorboards down in a house.

Patrick picks up a nail, realises it’s upside down & throws it away.
He carries on doing this until Murphy says, “Why are you throwing them away?”

“Because they’re upside down,” says Patrick.
“You daft prat,” replies his mate, “save ’em for the ceiling!!”

South Africa: Elephant Road Rage!

May 31, 2011


These photos are from Thursday, Feb. 17 by someone from Centurion in Pilanesberg game reserve, South Africa .

The guy in the silver Volkswagen (second photo) was trying to get past the elephant.



Road rage – it affects us all…..

Thai Days: Dragon Spotted in School Toilet

May 30, 2011

My daughter, Annabel and her friend, Zoe, saw a ghost by the swimming pool. The story, reported on Hugh Paxton’s Blog a couple of days ago, had a strange ring of truth. Indeed word of the ghost with its shadow and its broken neck spread rapidly – nationally and via my blog internationally.  

It is with mixed feelings that I have to report the latest para-normal sighting.

This afternoon my daughter, with a friend named Maggie, were alarmed to hear peculiar growls and burbles from a lavatory cubicle at Patana international school. OK, nothing particularly unusual in that – the school’s fish curry can have that effect. What rendered the incident memorable is that on trying the door the two girls found it to be locked then noticed smoke rising from the cubicle.

Annabel informed me of these particulars, face deadpan, voice earnest. She then added that a tail slipped briefly out from beneath the toilet door. The tail had scales.

BLOG ED ADVISORY: Ghostbusters! In light of this latest sighting, don’t waste time and money visiting our swimming pool. And St. George, if you’re reading this, don’t bother polishing your lance and riding to the rescue of Patana! Methinks the Paxton family has a new story teller in its midst!

Focus on Plants. First in a series – Plant Neurobiology?

May 30, 2011

“we are just now starting to understand how evolved the communication system of plants really is. Until now, research has been essentially directed to the investigation of the chemical substances used by plants to communicate with each other; I, however, am convinced that plants are also able to use other communication systems.”

                              Professor Mancuso

With this year’s Chelsea Flower Show fresh in our minds – it seems a fine time for some botany, to launch a series that focuses on plants. We all know that animal life is, to a very great extent, dependent upon the plant life that cohabits our world, and indeed makes it habitable for us and most other creatures, but there is a great deal more about the Plant Kingdom to be generally appreciated. It is pretty wonderful.

Starting with plant sensitivity and communications, I would like to introduce the work of  Italian botanist Stefano Mancuso  – the father of plant neurobiology and co-founder of the LINV (the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology). LINV is at the cutting edge of plant science, their BIOKIS experiment rode into orbit on the Space Shuttle Endeavour recently and is currently underway on the international space station under the oversight of Italian ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori.

Though lacking neurons per se, he informs us that plants appear to transmit signals using action potential in the transition zones of their root tips. Prof. Mancuso states with infectious enthusiasm that “each root apex is able to detect and monitor concurrently at least 15 different chemical and physical parameters.” He presents a fascinating comparison of the internet with the root system of a Rye grass plant and reminds us that human network specialists can learn fro the plant world.

Before viewing Professor Mancuso’s presentation, you might wish to read an exclusive and insightful interview with him by Vikas Shah, Our Understanding of Life   on  Thought Economics blog.

Here is Professor Mancuso’s presentation for TED.

Inland Revenue: Taxes: Complaints,

May 30, 2011

I am grateful to Steve for sending the following:

It is a letter from a tax payer to the UK  Govt and a response. The response is very funny. The tax-payer’s letter isn’t printed but you will get a very good idea of what he had to say.

BLOG ED NOTE: The Inland Revenue is a Govt body entrusted to taxing everybody. Understandably they receive a great deal of abuse.


by Steve

This is a real reply from the Inland Revenue. The Guardian newspaper had to ask for special permission to print it. As a former local government officer, I am delighted that my fellow officers still retain a droll sense of humour!

Dear Mr Addison,

I am writing to you to express our thanks for your more than prompt reply to our latest communication, and also to answer some of the points you raise.

I will address them, as ever, in order. Firstly, I must take issue with your description of our last as a “begging letter”. It might perhaps more properly be referred to as a “tax demand”.

This is how we at the Inland Revenue have always, for reasons of accuracy, traditionally referred to such documents. Secondly, your frustration at our adding to the “endless stream of crapulent whining and panhandling vomited daily through the letterbox on to the doormat” has been noted.

However, whilst I have naturally not seen the other letters to which you refer I would cautiously suggest that their being from “pauper councils, Lombardy pirate banking houses and pissant gas-mongerers” might indicate that your decision to “file them next to the toilet in case of emergencies” is at best a little ill-advised.

In common with my own organisation, it is unlikely that the senders of these letters do see you as a “lackwit bumpkin” or, come to that, a “sodding charity”.

More likely they see you as a citizen of Great Britain, with a responsibility to contribute to the upkeep of the nation as a whole. Which brings me to my next point. Whilst there may be some spirit of truth in your assertion that the taxes you pay “go to shore up the canker-blighted, toppling folly that is the Public Services”, a moment’s rudimentary calculation ought to disabuse you of the notion that the government in any way expects you to “stump up for the whole damned party” yourself. The estimates you provide for the Chancellor’s disbursement of the funds levied by taxation, whilst colourful, are, in fairness, a little off the mark.

Less than you seem to imagine is spent on “junkets for Bunterish lickspittles” and “dancing whores” whilst far more than you have accounted for is allocated to, for example, “that box-ticking facade of a university system.”

A couple of technical points arising from direct queries: 1. The reason we don’t simply write “Muggins” on the envelope has to do with the vagaries of the postal system; 2. You can rest assured that “sucking the very marrow of those with nothing else to give” has never been considered as a practice because even if the Personal Allowance didn’t render it irrelevant, the sheer medical logistics involved would make it financially unviable.

I trust this has helped. In the meantime, whilst I would not in any way wish to influence your decision one way or the other, I ought to point out that even if you did choose to “give the whole foul jamboree up and go and live in India” you would still owe us the money.

Please send it to us by Friday.

Yours sincerely,

H J Lee Customer Relations Inland Revenue

‘The Shap Cat’ – spotted again.

May 28, 2011

There are tales of big cat sightings from around Great Britain, Devon’s are particularly famous, and a friend of mine told me that he saw one himself once when he was hiking on Dartmoor, and was able to observe it for a few moments and was certain that it was too large to be anything ordinary, but conclusive proof’ of these creatures remains elusive.

Some say that they are panthers released from private menageries when the health & safety rules toughened up, others say that they are large domestic cats viewed without anything alongside to give the viewer a proper sense of their scale.

I am aware of two reported sightings of ‘the Shap Cat’. Shap is an upland limestone area of Westmorland that is pretty wild in parts and boasts stone circles, a fine ruined  abbey and according to some locals, one or more unusual felids.

One account, given by a game keeper was of a lynx-like animal that broke from cover and jumped cleanly over a drystone wall.

The second report is very recent and describes a jet-black labrador-sized animal with long tail that jumped nimbly on to a dry-stone wall, paused for a moment and then jumped down out of sight.

Though I cannot confirm the accounts myself, I hope one day to catch a glimpse of the Shap Cat.

Leonie’s Bit: Yet Another Off-colour Joke

May 28, 2011


 One Monday morning the postman is walking through the neighbourhood on his usual route, delivering the mail. As he approaches one of the homes he noticed that both cars were still in the driveway. His wonder was cut short by David, the homeowner, coming out with a load of empty beer, wine and spirit bottles for the recycling bin.

 ‘Wow David, looks like you guys had one hell of a party last night,’ the Postman comments. David, in obvious pain, replies ‘Actually we had it Saturday night. This is the first I have felt like moving since 4:00 am Sunday morning. We had about 15 couples from around the neighbourhood over for some weekend fun and it got a bit wild. We all got so drunk around midnight that we started playing ‘WHO AM I.’

The Postman thinks a moment and says, ‘How do you play WHO AM I?’

“Well, all the guys go in the bedroom and come out one at a time covered with a sheet with only the ‘family jewels’ showing through a hole in the sheet. Then the women try to guess who it is..’

The postman laughs and says, ‘Sounds like fun, I’m sorry I missed it.’

‘Probably a good thing you did,’ David responded. ‘Your name came up 7 times.’

Time for a Ghost Story! Or Two!

May 27, 2011

No, not a real ghost. But a very good ghost story. Or Two?

Here in Bangkok it is just past 14:00 hours. I think. Annabel’s hidden my alarm clock. Or Khun Mee has relocated it. Or the alarm clock has strutted off in indignation – it is often ignored or swatted when it tries to do its job.

Perhaps it is a bit earlier. 13:00?

Anyway, it’s early afternoon. Of this I’m sure! 

But you wouldn’t recognise it as such. The cloud is low -not clouds, but a single cloud shrouding the sky. Rather freakishly occasional shafts of sunlight break through from time to time but overall I’m writing this in twilight with the splash (and occasional crash) of Monsoon rain. Thunder’s grumbling and there’s the vague flick of lightning somewhere close.  

Through the windows I can see the tropical plants – they manage to glow even in this light.

They are lush, profuse. It feels as if I am writing this post in a jungle.

To the first ghost story!

My beloved daughter, Annabel, and her friend Zoe were having a midnight swim in a pool near our house and saw a woman in the trees nearby who wagged her head. Annabel, assuming that it was somebody coming to tell her to get out of the pool, got out of the pool and (being Annabel) shouted “You’re under arrest!”

Here comes the thing.

The woman kept shaking a head attached to a very soggy non-supportive neck.

Annabel was initially very keen to tell us about the woman. But while details remained consistent, they were ambiguous. The woman was white (racially as opposed to glowing white), she didn’t say anything, her head kept falling to the right or left and she jerked. She didn’t come closer. Her arms moved in “a waving away way”.

Annabel and Zoe left the pool. No screaming, no hysterics. Both girls have powerful imaginations but they don’t see monsters under their beds. And when they tell you they’ve found a monitor lizard’s nest on the Shrine Island they are always right.  

Annabel talked about the incident a bit but lost interest when nobody else showed interest. Just another day, another strange thing wagging a broken neck and head by the pool. On to more  important things! Gymnastics! Play Mobil toys, “Berk is so annoying!” “Can I have a Husky”  “Please can I have more milk?” “What do we do if there’s a Tsunami?” “Why is the Sun called the Sun?” “Do ants have brains?”  etc.

That’s ghost story one.

Ghost story two is by Charles Dickens. I think it’s rather good. The Signal Man by Charles Dickens. Check

You can read it for free. Good for say I

A real service.


And be advised: Hugh Paxton’s Blog will be serving up a ghost story on a weekly basis from now on! And if it is a day such as today, you’ll probably get two of them!

Short Story and ShotgunShack Blog

May 26, 2011

HUGH PAXTON’S BLOG RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING FROM MASON WHO CAME ACROSS IT ON THE SHOTGUNSHACK BLOG. I’ve checked the blog – a lot of thought provoking stuff, Africa, aid, race, corruption etc. Give it a whirl. And thanks Mason for sending it in and bringing it to our attention.




I thought this was an interesting story and it reminded me of some of the stories I’ve heard from your stories in Namibia. It’s from the blog “shotgun shack.” Worth checking out if you haven’t seen it before.

Sent to you by Mason via Google Reader:


White Woman

via Shotgun Shack by Shotgun Shack on 5/24/11

It’s hot outside, the air still and heavy. I walk into the little bar at the small, localish hotel where I’m staying. It’s late morning after a late night out with my local co-workers in a small yet lively town in the interior of a country in Africa. Coffee in one hand, I’m in search of a big bottle of water to take back to my room. I hear… White woman…. I know you want to talk the white woman… She’s saying it loud on purpose to get my attention.

I turn around. They are sitting in the lounge area. She has a round face, large round eyes, dark skin and long braids. He is skinny, balding, his white skin weathered and freckled. She’s wearing a loose green and yellow patterned traditional dress. He’s in jeans and a t-shirt. They are both nice looking. I smile – this is the kind of town where it’s not out of the ordinary for people to strike up conversations with each other.

As I’m focusing in on the two of them, my local colleague raises her head over the sofa back at the booth next to them to say good morning. I hadn’t seen her as I came in. She’s there enjoying the air-conditioning.

I step back from the bar to greet everyone, forgetting about the water. Come, come, sit, the woman says, motioning her hands to the lounge seat next to her. He want to talk you. The man is smiling, nodding. I motion for my colleague to join us. The table has a few empty beer bottles on it and a very full ashtray. Dolly Parton is streaming out of the speaker above us.

They want to know where I’m from and what I’m doing there. My spoken French is barely passable. Their English is slightly better than passable. We explain ourselves in a mix of both.

I say I work for a development organization.To develop what? they ask. I don’t even know how to answer. Sometimes I’m not so sure we are developing anything, really. I’m having a crisis of purpose lately. My co-worker steps in to save the day. She explains our work. They kind of get it, but not really.

I am a professional hunter, he says. I am here with my wife.

If I am really your wife, she interjects.

He continues…. I have been in the bush for 8 months. You are the first white woman I’m seeing for so long time. There are no white woman here. Why are you here?

Yes she interjects; he is very excited. He really want to see a white woman. He’s been in the bush for so long time without seeing one. He’s only with black people like me. He want to talk you very much. I’m sorry my English is not so good. You see even he, he never talk English but he is so happy to see a white woman. He is talking so much English. You see him? Yes, so happy to see a white woman.

I try to figure out their relationship. Why is she joking about being his wife?

They light cigarette after cigarette. They order another round of beers and invite us to drink with them. We decline — beer right after coffee without food seems like a bad idea, especially after a night of plentiful African Guinness and whiskey.

The people here, the white people, they don’t talk to him, she says. They are his own people but they don’t like him.

They don’t like me because I live in the bush. I’m born in Africa, he says, I have more than 40 years and I lived only 11 years in France. My father was also in Africa — more than 40 years.

She tells about an embassy party where they were ignored. She says she drank beers and then asked them ’why you don’t talk my husband? You don’t like that he is living with me? You don’t like that he is in the bush with people like me? You don’t like blacks?’ She drank their free alcohol and ate their food.  She drank beers for him. She drank for their 2 children who are French citizens. She drank for herself. They did not ask us to come back.

I’ve never met a hunter. I’ve only seen fat, red-cheeked Afrikaaners and safari-geared Americans on planes and made assumptions that they were aggressive, blood thirsty, giant-portions-of-meat-eating, racist colonizers. It’s strange to talk with someone who identifies as a hunter, to feel my assumptions shifting and not matching up.

My colleague asks what they do with the animals that they kill. He says their clients hunt for sport. They take home their trophies — sometimes horns, sometimes cranium, sometimes the entire head and chest for mounting, sometimes the whole body for the taxidermist.

We eat the rest. We eat every kind of meat, the woman tells us.

She even eats her cousin, the man says. Baboons. She pinches the hair on his arm. The baboon is your cousin, not mine.

He lists the animals they hunt off on his fingers — elephants, lions, leopards, water buffalo, different kinds of antelope. Animals that I thought were not to be hunted. Animals I can’t imagine ever wanting to kill. He says endangered animals don’t exist and that extinction is a plot by the people at the WWF. There are many many lions in Africa. The WWF just wants to make money. This story that the animals are disappearing is for television, for Europeans and Americans.

The woman tells us that like him, she is also a foreigner. She is not native to this country. She and the man met in another country where he lived for several years.

I ask if they left because of conflict in that country. Bah, he says, the conflict is also for television. On television the conflict is a big thing, you see it and you think it’s so bad. In the bush we don’t see it. We have a happy life in the bush. There you are just living every day. The next day you wake up and do it again. You are just hunting, eating, drinking beer and fucking every day. People don’t have any worries.

Me, she says, I don’t worry anybody can come to bother me in the bush. It’s like a game for me. I’m not afraid. Because in my country…  in my country, she says… . She holds out one arm in front of her and puts the other index finger to her forehead. The rebels. They came. We were going away, we were leaving but they stop us. The corners of her smile bob up and down. Her eyes turn red and fill with tears that spill over down her cheeks.

Kalashnikovs, he says, nodding at her, dragging on his cigarette, taking another sip of beer, getting up to go to the bathroom.

I put my hands like this, up. I went to my knees. I tell them… I told them they are free to take everything. But they stay like this. She puts the imaginary Kalashnikov to her head again. She apologizes over and over for crying. She wipes the tears away with the flat of her hand but they keep falling. Her smile is a grimace. Above our heads, Dolly Parton launches into Jolene.

For me it is hard. We were three sisters. They… she puts her fists to her hips and makes a thrusting motion. They do this very hard. She tries to smile again. Sorry. Sorry.

You know when the war finished, they kill so many rebels. They put the bodies in the river. They told people don’t drink the water in the river. But me, I drink. I want to drink. I want to drink them. I want to take a knife to kill them but I can’t. So I drink. I want to cut them. I want to cut it off. To put it here, here in their mouth. But I can’t. I can’t. So I drink the water to know that they are finished. Me, I drink them.

He comes back from the bathroom. She blinks the moment away and smiles at him, pats him gently on the knee. They order more beers. The conversation comes back from the very dark place. She says he loves her because he stays with her through everything. He supports her. When he sees women he likes, he tells her and she looks the woman over too and agrees, or not.

Like you, she says, he has been so long without seeing a white woman. You see him, you see his body? He is like this, he is like a fish on sand. She flops her hand around on the sofa palm up, palm down, palm up, palm down, uncontrollably. He is talking so much, you see he doesn’t let you speak. He want to tell you his whole story. Here he doesn’t see white women. The white people here they don’t talk him.

He talks about hunting, his anti-poacher and his hunting chief. They are like his brothers. There is no hierarchy. They hunt together, they eat together, they celebrate together. In the bush life is simple, people are happy. We are happy, he says. Me and my wife.

If I am really your wife, she says.

They tell us we should go to the bush with them. You will like it, they say. It’s very nice. They ask for my cell phone number but I don’t have my work number memorized. They invite us to lunch but we decline. My colleague is tired of the “white people food’ the hotel serves and wants to go to a place around the corner. I can tell she is not so impressed with these people either and wants to get away from them, back to her comfort zone. I’m feeling sticky and sweaty. I tell them I’ll go to shower and on the way out to lunch, I’ll stop in and give them my phone number so we can see about going to their place later in the week.

You are leaving? she asks. Have we disappointed you?

No, no, I just want to bathe, I say. She laughs at me. Why?

I’m sweaty, I tell her. I’m not dressed. Look, I’m wearing my pajamas under my skirt. I only came down for coffee. She eyes me a bit differently. Oh, she says. Me, I want to see the change when you return.

I feel self-conscious now but I go to shower anyway.

I come back and they look me up and down. They comment on my clothing. My freckles. My shoes. They say I am beautiful. He looks happy. She drags on her cigarette and swigs her beer. She says his body is too excited. He is a fish out of water. She makes the flopping motion with her hand again. She doesn’t look so happy.

I’ve written down my name and number on a scrap of paper. I’m intrigued by the idea of going to ‘the bush’ with them. They are so much more interesting than my job at the moment. I can tell my local colleague is not interested at all. She doesn’t trust them. She likes things that are above-board. Things that are straight forward and familiar and respectable. Things that she knows.

We go Thursday he says. My driver will bring you. You come to see the animals. How can you come so far and you are only working, without seeing animals? There you will see them very close. It’s very nice.

Yes, come, she says. It’s beautiful. You will like it. We are so happy there.

My colleague says we need to leave to go to lunch. She says we will be in touch with them later on, but I can already tell she will make sure it never happens.

I give the woman the piece of paper with my name and number. She looks at it. She asks my name again. She raises her eyebrows and laughs. In my language, this means… She makes a circle with her hands and rests them on her thighs, in front of her groin. It is the meaning for this. For clitoris.

He laughs, takes a drag from his cigarette and another sip of beer. They look at each other. That is good, he says, nodding. That is good for me. I spend so long without seeing a white woman.

Things you can do from here:

Weather Folklore: Oak Before Ash …

May 26, 2011

… we’re in for a splash. This year our Oak trees sprouted leaves before our Ash trees did and so, as the weather folklore has it, we’re going to have a drier year.  While this may be true of southern Britain, which has been drier than normal, I’m not sure that we’ll necessarily have any drought in the north. Everything is incredibly lush in the garden at the moment and growing fast and well, it is coolish though. Perhaps some influence of the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud? Who knows.   The full saying, anyway is:

Oak before Ash, we’re in for a splash

Ash before Oak, we’re in for a soak

Last year we had Ash before Oak and we did get a soaking!

One thing that we can count upon at the moment is a fantastic show of Bluebells. This is a subject of nostalgia for many expatriate Britons. The bluebell wood below is in Longsleddale valley, Cumbria. We heard our first Cuckoo there on the first of May, a nice May Day gift and earlier than usual. If you are interested in seeing other Spring images, check out the spring gallery on

Bluebell wood

Bluebell wood

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