Sunday, 29 April 2018

Super Volcano


A few years ago I was sitting at a café in Sorrento overlooking the Gulf of Naples in Italy watching the sun set. As I watched the golden sky, my eyes drifted across the water to the city of Naples.

Towering over the city was one of our planet’s most impressive natural structures almost as if standing guard like a silent sentinel.

Vesuvius 

Vesuvius From The Air
Unfortunately Mount Vesuvius isn’t exactly a sentinel, more of a dormant threat. It’s easy to admire nature’s handiwork but when the people who live around the Gulf of Naples see the volcano, surely they must wonder whether the volcano will ultimately destroy them just as it did centuries ago in perhaps the most famous volcanic eruption man has ever witnessed.
On August 24th AD79, the area saw the power of the volcano when it erupted and hurled molten rock, ashes, stones and noxious volcanic ashes into the atmosphere, with the nearby cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum being totally destroyed by pyroclastic surges. 
I visited the remains of Pompeii and I can only imagine how terrifying this assault of nature was. You can still see the remains of bodies of people who  were killed in the disaster in positions that showed the agony the people must have suffered in their last moments.

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Mount Vesuvius is an impressive sight and you can only wonder what would happen if a similar eruption were to occur today. In fact, there have been eruptions in the 20th century, both causing significant damage and killing people.
What is even more frightening is that relatively speaking Mount Vesuvius is just a normal volcano. There is something on our planet that can wreak havoc on a global scale – a super volcano.
Super volcanoes are huge and while they erupt far less frequently than their smaller brothers, when they do erupt, chaos ensues. Typically super volcanoes only erupt every few hundred thousand years.
Thank goodness for that.
However, we are actually overdue such an eruption. And that is very bad news.
How does a super volcano compare to a normal volcano, I hear you cry?
In general, a normal volcano hurls about a cubic kilometre of matter. A super volcano erupts over anything from one thousand times that amount to five thousand times that amount (and I think that experts are only guessing because we haven’t experienced such an event as human beings).
How many of these enormous monsters are out there, I hear you scream?
I did some research and discovered that there are twelve of them!
TWELVE!
One of the most famous ones you might have heard of is the Yellowstone caldera in the United States. Here are some facts about it.
The Yellowstone caldera measures 35 by 45 miles.
It last erupted 630,000 years ago and experts say that we shouldn’t get another for at least 30,000 years. Let’s hope not.
The Yellowstone park contains 60% of the world’s geysers.
There are 1000 to 2000 earthquakes per year in and around Yellowstone.
So what would happen if a super volcano were to erupt? Taking Yellowstone as an example, an eruption would be a complete and utter disaster that would cause some serious damage, although scientists are convinced that such an event wouldn’t necessarily lead to life on Earth being wiped out. It is thought that the last eruption led directly to the Ice Age.
Here’s what would happen.
Anybody in the vicinity would be killed. 
Any surrounding cities would be destroyed. 
The resulting ash cloud would be huge and falling ash would choke people in a huge radius when it fell back to Earth. In the case of Yellowstone, all the US states surrounding Wyoming would be devastated.
The ash cloud would cause global temperatures to fall by at least 20 degrees, with the long term effect of slowly killing vegetation and plant life, something we as humans need for our own food and the food of the animals we breed to nourish us, leading to widespread famine on a global scale.


The good news is that scientists are constantly monitoring volcanic activity throughout the world, so the eruption of a super volcano would not come as a massive surprise. The question is, even if scientists were to predict that a super volcano would erupt in a year, what on Earth could we do about it? 
The short answer is nothing, but world governments might be able to take steps to mitigate the effects on humanity, though to me personally, I’m not altogether sure how we would prepare. 
Let’s just hope that we’re not around when it eventually happens – and believe me it will.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Getting Warmer ...


We live in an amazing period in human history, a time when huge leaps in technology and science have provided the human race with advances that could not even be imagined several hundred years ago. That’s if you don’t count reality TV of course!

We are able to drive around in vehicles that make our individual countries much smaller places. The world too is getting smaller as we fly from country to country, in achievable time frames. If I want to travel to America I can board an aircraft at Manchester airport in the morning and land in New York eight hours later and have dinner in a fancy restaurant in Manhatten with time to add some graffiti to Trump Tower should I feel the need to do so (and I do, dear reader, I really do).

I can even get to the other side of the world in a day or so to give me an opportunity to discuss ball tampering with Aussies and get some tips.

For people who don’t like travelling, communication with the rest of the world technology comes to their aid too. My eldest son has just come back from Sydney, Australia and I managed to exchange several messages with him via an application on my smartphone in real time almost instantaneously, offering translation services like use of the word “dunney” and the phrase “fair dinkum”. He has posted photographs to make me jealous and I can express my envy in seconds.

This very post will cast out into cyberspace and can be read instantly by anyone in the world with access to a computer, tablet, smartphone and a strange masochistic streak.

As a race we are so proud of our achievements but sadly there is a cost – and we need to do something about it.

Technology is driven by electricity and in order to generate the copious amounts we demand and require we need to burn fossil fuels, as we do if we want to travel a small distance in our cars or fly to any destination in the world.

Sadly, burning fossil fuels generates carbon dioxide, or CO2, and the consequences of this are affecting the planet we call home. Carbon dioxide and other pollutants collect in the atmosphere and are basically turning Earth into a giant greenhouse. Sunlight and solar radiation should reflect off the surface of the planet and escape into space but, just like a greenhouse, these gases absorb  the sunlight and radiation and trap the heat, thus making our planet warmer.



If you have ever been in a greenhouse on a sunny day you will know exactly what I mean.

In theory we could achieve balance with plants because they absorb the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and convert it into oxygen. Sadly, we are significantly reducing the number of plants in the world through farming and deforestation, in some cases burning them, which in turn generates even more carbon dioxide.

It is a battle that the earth is losing.

Global warming sceptics, amongst them President Donald Trump, dismiss the idea of climate change due to human intervention as a myth. However, there are mountains of proof out there.

For example, all but one of the 16 hottest years in recorded history have occurred since the year 2000.

Think about that for a second.

Given the demand for electricity, travel and fossil fuels generally is it any surprise, especially since the human population of the world is also increasing rapidly – currently a staggering 7.6 billion people?

So what are the effects of global warming? And could it cause the end of the world?

We will face several challenges. If we carry on down the road we have embarked upon.

The level of the seas will rise, leading to coastal flooding which will include some major cities around the world. We may even lose the ice at the North Pole during summer months in a hundred years or two.

The weather will also be adversely affected with more extremes, stronger and more powerful hurricanes, severe snowstorms and flooding, something which will potentially lead to plagues and disease (a bad thing for a hypochondriac like me).

Paradoxically, other places will suffer droughts leading to famine and starvation.

The oceanic ecosystem will suffer too. As the ocean absorbs more carbon dioxide, its pH will drop making it more acidic and harmful to marine life.

For those who doubt that global warming is an actual thing (I’m talking specifically to people like Donald Trump), here are some other proven and alarming facts.

As of 2017, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are at their highest for 650,000 years.

The average global temperature is up by almost one degree Centigrade since 1880.

Arctic summer sea ice has declined by 13% per decade since the 1980s.

The global sea level has risen 7 inches in the past century.

What can we do about it?

We can stop listening to the Oompah Loompah in the White House for a start.

Sadly, you and I, dear reader can only contribute in a tiny way by reducing our carbon footprints and, perhaps using our own footprints to get to our destinations instead of jumping into our cars. As a race we need a technology leap that sadly isn’t being achieved as fast as we actually need it.

Even with countries aiming to reduce their emissions with targets, the global temperature will still rise – only more slowly.

Our fate is in our own hands. At the moment we are turning our planet into a toilet in a greenhouse.

I have hope though. I think the world is slowly becoming aware of the problem – too slowly if you ask me – but then again people like Donald Trump won’t be in power for too much longer to bleat about global warming being a myth.

Mind you, he’s so orange that perhaps he think it’s his own natural skin colour.

We could all end up looking like him.

The future of mankind?
And that should give us all the kick up the arse we need.


Monday, 2 April 2018

Contagion


My name is Dave and I am a hypochondriac.

For that reason, and that reason alone, the end of the world scenario that terrifies me most is the threat that we as a race could all be wiped out by a supervirus.

Imagine, if you will, a TV news announcement that describes a potential nasty bug that is spreading from person to person in numerous countries with no hope of recovery. From that point on, I would be totally and utterly convinced that the virus was in my system even if it hadn’t reached the shores of the United Kingdom yet.

In the past, I have been slightly perturbed when newscasters have mentioned benign bugs that are nasty but not lethal, even when they are confined to the deepest parts of Africa, say.



A few years ago there had been an outbreak of the deadly respiratory disease called Sars and it had surfaced in Hong Kong. Thankfully, the authorities had it under control eventually and it was then that my project manager asked me to go on a business trip to the city.  I read that the authorities at the airport were screening people as they came and left using thermal cameras in an attempt to detect elevated temperatures in travellers. I wrestled with my inner hypochondriac who told me in no uncertain terms that I was going to catch the disease even though it was under control. Normally I would have been over the moon to visit my favourite city outside the United Kingdom – but not this time.

Deep down I knew that I would be safe but that didn’t stop the hypochondriac inside whispering to me constantly through the flight: “You will catch Sars – that’s if you don’t have it already.”

The temperature in Hong Kong in the summer is quite a lot higher than the UK and you feel it the moment that you leave the aircraft. Such was my paranoia that I thought the thermal cameras would identify an elevated temperature in me as I walked towards immigration.

Of course, I was being utterly stupid and I passed through without a problem. My trip lasted three weeks, during which time I became an expert in the symptoms of Sars. Every time I felt slightly below par I was convinced that I had succumbed to the disease – even a few weeks after my return to Manchester.

I know that I am an idiot for allowing myself to accede to such moronic paranoia but I can’t help it. I wish I could.

Thus, if I were to ever catch a news report telling me that a deadly disease was spreading across the world, wiping out everybody who came into contact with it, I would probably worry myself to death months before the infection claimed me.

I would be an expert and would probably use all of my money to travel to the remotest part of the world, avoiding all contact with civilisation on my way, so that I could sit there in splendid isolation away from any human beings who might pass on the deadly virus to me.

That’s how irrational my inner hypochondriac is.

The perfectionist in me wanted to do some research into the possibility of humanity being wiped out by such a virus so I have had to silence the hypochondriac.

And thank goodness for that because I have discovered that it is highly unlikely that a pandemic could cause the extinction of the human race. Over the centuries, there have been several nasty little blighters that have tried their level best to take us all out – things like The Black Death, Ebola, various flavours of flu, Sars and HIV.

The good news is that there are steps in place to contain such outbreaks and the organisations and institutions that are responsible for this are damned good at what they do.

Yet, as I watch programs like “The Walking Dead” where a virus has wiped out all but the hardiest of humanity and turned them into flesh eating Zombies, I can’t help but think that maybe such a thing could happen. In fact, in the show, every human being actually has the disease anyway so that when you eventually die, you come back to life as a cannibalistic corpse whose sole  raison d'ĂȘtre is to munch on the living.

How nice is that?

My deepest fear is that there is a malignant virus living dormant in every human being ust waiting to be activated and murder us in the most horrible way possible. If I shove this thought aside for a moment (very difficult now it is in my head) the truth is that humanity would find a way were such a supervirus to suddenly appear – even if it were man made. Some form of humanity would survive and find a way perhaps living in a remote part of the world, like the top of a mountain range, the deepest part of the Australian Outback or an African desert. It wouldn’t be pleasant but we might survive.

And if you do live in such an inhospitable yet safe part of the world, get ready to meet me. I’ll be there the moment the first cases of the outbreak are reported.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Nuclear Holocaust


Whenever I see Donald Trump, two thoughts come to mind. The first I have ranted about on this blog so many times that I am not going to elaborate – basically the man is not fit for the office of President of the United States.

The second is a corollary of that sentiment – this man has the power to launch nuclear weapons at anybody who pisses him off.

While this seems unlikely, I think his words might just spark other lunatics to do just that – Kim Jong Un for example, a man who lives in fear of being toppled either by his own people or external forces. The recent war of words with the USA made me consider what would happen if Kim Jong Un were to launch an attack. Trump said he would be met with fire and fury like the world had never seen before.

Happy days, eh?

Equally, we have Vladimir Putin, a so-called democratically elected leader of a huge country with a nuclear arsenal that could annihilate most of Europe and the USA. Recent events in my own country, the poisoning of one of his own former spies on British soil, lead to retaliatory measures from our own government which were made with the barely veiled warning – “Do not threaten a nuclear power”.


The UK is also a nuclear power, with a smaller nuclear arsenal so we could retaliate and trigger World War 3.

With all of these threats looming, and other slightly mad and dictatorial leaders trying to acquire nuclear weapons, the future isn’t looking too good.

Some people say that owning nuclear weapons makes it unlikely that a nuclear holocaust will ever happen for fear of the devastating reprisals. But I say that it only takes one nutter to do something stupid and there are a few of them knocking around.

If World War 3 were to kick off, the initial attack would result in the annihilation of many major cities, wiping out the residents of those cities immediately.

The population of the world would be severely reduced and if you think the survivors would be lucky to escape then think again. Any towns and cities in the vicinity of the numerous detonations would not escape unscathed, simply because the aftermath of being close to a nuclear explosion would almost certainly eventually prove to be fatal. The survivors would almost certainly envy those killed immediately.

Residual radioactive material would be thrust into the upper atmosphere with winds spreading this over a great distance as it gradually fell back to Earth upon unsuspecting people who think they are safe.

Some people would die quickly while others would live longer but eventually succumb to the devastating effects.

Any people still surviving the nuclear fallout will still have problems. When a bomb explodes in the city it will hurl tons of debris into the atmosphere, so much in fact that it will block sunlight. Imagine this happening for numerous cities bombed across the globe; the amount of crap blasted into the atmosphere will be immense and the winds will also scatter this over great distances causing what is known as a nuclear winter. The global climate would be severely affected for at least a decade with soot being distributed over great distances by our wonderful winds.

For those who survived that there is also the prospect of a nuclear famine. A nuclear winter would affect agriculture for any survivors ultimately causing massive food shortages amongst the few people remaining.

The bottom line is that if there were a full scale nuclear war then we as a species and our animal colleagues will almost certainly face the prospect of total extinction. Of course it depends on how many weapons are used and the number of places that are annihilated.

If Putin or Trump or any potential psychopath thinks that unleashing a nuclear holocaust to save his own country then he is severely mistaken.

If you are interested, and have a morbid curiosity, you can simulate the effects of a nuclear detonation on your city using something called NUKEMAP (you can find it here). This gruesome web site allows you to specify a city and the size of the bomb and find out the extent of the fireball radius, the air blast radius and the thermal radiation radius.

Living only 5 miles from the centre of Manchester, I would be killed almost immediately if any bombs were to drop – a blessing in disguise I guess because I wouldn’t know what hit me.

Equally disturbing is MISSLEMAP which allows you to check the range and accuracy of the weapons of mass destruction in the world (you can find it here).

Again the UK is fully in range of anything launched from Russian soil so again I am right in the firing line.


Basically, my opinion is that if one or more nutters start a nuclear war then we are fucked even if we are lucky enough to be on a remote island at the time.


Sunday, 18 March 2018

10 Years


I’m interrupting my End of the World series of posts to highlight a little milestone in my life.

Wednesday 21st March is the 10th Anniversary of “The Plastic Mancunian”.

Yes, that’s right – I have been posting inane drivel on this blog for ten years.

Can you believe that?

On Friday March 21st, 2008, I wrote and posted my first tiny little missive about the trauma involved in supporting a third rate football team called Walsall.

Although it wasn’t a particularly auspicious subject, sadly the same sentiment rings true today. I still support Walsall Football Club, my home town team, and they are still shit, threatening to ruin Saturday afternoons for me in the football season with their sometimes totally inept performances. Sometime, however, they do me proud and actually win games.

Enough of that nonsense – I don’t want to depress myself.

So what has happened to the blog since that first post?

Basically, I‘ve written 720 posts (including this one), mainly involving small essays. I have ranted mercilessly about things I don’t like, tried my best to introduce my wonderful musical taste to the world, talked about my travel exploits and skirted around the things that have popped in and out of my life.

Some of it has been funny, some of it has been controversial and some of it has been rubbish.

I’ve steered away from certain subjects such as my job. One day, when I finally quit or retire, I will let rip about my career – there is a lot of material there – but for now that subject is taboo – lest I get into trouble. I think that deserves a blog in its own right to be honest.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand; I have enjoyed writing these mini articles – even the bad ones.

The truth is that in the last few months I have been debating whether or not to call it a day – and the bad news is that I have decided, for now at least, to carry on for a while.

I’ve enjoyed the interactions with people from across the globe; UK, America, Australia, Europe and even places like Russia – it’s a truly global thing.

I’m also happy to have stamped a little of my inner thoughts on the vast universe of the internet – even though future generations might put me down as being a bit of a goon.

I don’t care really.

So what’s changed in 10 years?

I have become older, wiser, fatter and more grumpy but, ironically more happy with life. My work still irks me but now I can see the light at the end of a long and frustrating tunnel.

My hair is still mad and I now have grey streaks at the side. My eyesight is worse – I now wear varifocals and am even more frustrated about wearing spectacles than I was as a child.

I’ve learned a lot of stuff from reading other blogs – some amazing stuff in fact, written by some very funny and very interesting people with the same desires to put a little bit of themselves out there into cyberspace. You know who you are.

I’ve written about 75% of a rather terrible novel that needs a lot of work but may one day see the light of day (after approximately a thousand rewrites).

I’ve done a fair amount of travelling too, including weird and wonderful places like Brazil, Japan, Canada, USA, Iceland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Oman as well as a lot of European countries.

Mrs PM and I are celebrating 20 years together this year – and I am still a slave to two very old but very demanding moggies. All of them have been with me for the past ten years.

My two boys are now adults – one of whom is travelling to Australia on Friday for what I suspect might be the beginnings of a life-long love of travel. I'm proud of them both.

However, they do make me feel quite old – but I also feel quite young too in a bizarre way. People tell me that I don’t look my age. Judge for yourself.

Here I am in 2008 when the Plastic Mancunian first arrived.

Mrs PM and I in Hong Kong in 2008
And here I am now.

A selfie in Abu Dhabi taken last Friday
Regular readers (if there are any) will probably cringe at this next sentence – here’s a beautifully mellow song by one of my favourite bands to finish off (I love to end on a song). It's by a band called Riverside and is called "Towards the Blue Horizon" and is in many ways quite apt.




I’ll see you soon for the next post which will discuss the next instalment of the End of the World.

Perhaps I should have reconsidered that topic if I'm trying to be positive.



Saturday, 10 March 2018

Asteroid!


I thought I would have a chat about the end of the world. I’ve done a little research and there are countless ways in which the Earth could be destroyed or suffer such a terrible calamity that there entire human race is wiped out.

I’ve narrowed the list down to ten possibilities – five realistic and five more ridiculous. Over the next few posts I shall attempt to discuss them in my own peculiar way, starting with the realistic ones and heading into weird territory after that.

First up: asteroid collision.

You may have seen the movies Armageddon and Deep Impact which basically have this subject covered. In both films, the Earth is threatened by a huge asteroid and the world combines forces to try to avert catastrophe.

While I enjoyed both films, ultimately they were the kind of film where you have to switch off your brain and enjoy the carnage – otherwise you end up laughing throughout the movie saying things like:

“WHAT? A bunch of oil riggers are going to drill a hole and blow up this asteroid with a nuclear bomb?”

The truth is I am sure that America has a plan to destroy any huge rocks they discover heading towards the Earth; they always manage to save the world across the pond.

But surely their success depends on the size of the approaching asteroid. For example I’ve read about something called a rogue planet and, worse, a rogue star and no bomb will be big enough to destroy either of those, I can tell you.

Basically a rogue planet is something at least the size of our moon that drifts through the galaxy uninfluenced by any star. If such a thing hurtled into our solar system all we could do is hope that one of the outer planets decided to add it to their collection of moons.

We certainly couldn’t destroy it – and even if we could, there would be thousands of smaller pieces all heading towards us each with the power to wipe us out with the same ferocity as the relatively small one that wiped out the dinosaurs all those years ago.

The truth is that I think such a thing is unlikely to happen in our lifetime.

However, if it did, and the asteroid wasn’t a giant planet sized monster, we could try asking it nicely via the medium of a huge explosion whether it would consider joining our little family (the Earth and the Moon); we could guide it into an orbit that would give us something even better to look at during the night time. The downside to this is that, of course with an extra moon, lots of things would happen on Earth.

For example, we would suffer earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes would start to erupt in a cataclysm that would also do some serious damage to humanity across the globe. The new moon itself might also go as far as to cause a mass extinction itself.

If we were to be wiped us out, perhaps the creatures that evolved in a million or so years’ time would look back at our fossilised bones and make a movie called “Quatenaric Park” about humans resurrected from the blood in the stomach of mosquitos from our time, terrorising whoever is in charge of the Earth at the time.

That all sounds a bit silly to be honest doesn’t it?

But the question is, does it sound sillier than plans to build a spaceship and send a bunch of brave volunteers on a one way trip to an Earth-like planet in the Goldilocks Zone of a distant sun? I guess ultimately we will end up doing this anyway – unless we are visited by aliens who help us to sort something out with their local neighbourhoods.

But that is something for another post.

Basically, my opinion is that if a fairly chunky piece of space rock is on collision course with Earth then we are fucked, even if a brave bunch of oil drillers volunteer to blow themselves and the asteroid up with a nuclear bomb.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Room 101 (Part 4)



As I get older, I am generally getting happier but when something really pushes my buttons, I feel the need to rant and these are becoming more frequent, despite my attempts to be more positive.

So I thought I would do something cathartic and liberate myself of more reasons to rant by popping ten more things into Room 101 so my nightmares can be inflicted on somebody else.

Here goes:

People who do not flush the toilet.

I expect toilets to be pristine when I use them. Sometimes it’s too much to ask for total cleanliness and I can tolerate some minor misdemeanours. But when I enter a cubicle in a public toilet and see a vision of Hell itself because the previous occupant has selfishly left it in such a state that Satan himself would howl in anguish, then I simply cannot forgive them. 
Worse, if the toilet lid is down and I have locked the door before lifting the lid then I am trapped in there. I can’t leave because if there is somebody waiting then that person will think I am responsible for the filthy mess.

January

Of all the months in winter, January is the worst. I can cope with December because Christmas is just around the corner and we get to have a party and time off work. February is bearable because the days are getting longer and the weather generally improving. 
However, January – all 31 days of it – is a wretched month with short, cold days and long dark freezing cold nights. Moreover, after the highs of Christmas we are all brought crashing down to earth in a month that is full of people preaching about how they are going to lose weight and go alcohol free. 
I’ve heard of people now detoxing by becoming vegan for the month and renaming it Veganuary. The month is so fucking awful that I totally need to drink and eat bad food to get through it.

Workaholics

When it comes to work, I am very professional and my aim is always to get the job done. At the same time, I want to enjoy a decent work/life balance and not let my job dominate my entire life. 
There are people around who sadly seem to be driven by something else and in order to achieve their goals do not mind working silly hours. Some people are worse than this and expect everybody else to be as dedicated to work as they are. 
Such people look down on others because they want to see their families and not work until 8 pm every night. 
Personally, I think that you need rest to perform. When I arrive at work at around 7:30 am, my mind is at its most incisive and I am much more productive. As the  days passes, my mind becomes less sharp and I become less productive. It is the same for most people. When I leave at around 4 to 4:30 I am ready to get the rest I need. If I carry on working,I don’t achieve much. 
So when Mr Workaholic urges me to stay until 8 pm I only have two words for him: “Room 101”.

The Daily Mail and The Daily Express

Of all the terrible tabloids in the UK, these two rags are the worst.

In my opinion they are purveyors of hate-filled right wing fake news and unproven scaremongery.

Don’t get me wrong, there are respectable right-wing papers out there that put a different slant on the news that is actually worth reading.

But not these two. Their headlines encourage the politics of hate – when it suits them. Some of their headlines and stories are scandalous. At the moment it seems that the only people who read these rags are the older generation and I can thankfully see a time in the future when newspapers like this start to fade from our lives.

I probably won’t be around to see that day but in the meantime if putting these two into Room 101 helps then I am delighted to do that.

Jamie Oliver

I really do not like TV chefs but Jamie Oliver is the worst of them all.
Not content with his awful accent and his use of words like “pukka” he has also tried to use his “celebrity” to suggest stupid things. Once he suggested that women should deny sex to the men in their lives unless they start cooking.

Who does he think he is?

 Before you accuse me of anything, I have to tell you that I do cook – and not because I have been blackmailed by Mrs PM because of Jamie Oliver. His TV shows and appearances make me want to rant mercilessly. I refuse to go his restaurant in Manchester, unimaginatively  called “Jamie’s Italian”. Mrs PM even has one of his recipe books and when it is out on the kitchen table with his smug grinning face leering at me as I pass, I turn it over in disgust. I would throw it away but Mrs PM would be upset.

And finally...

That will do for now.

I will almost certainly be ready to consign more annoyances into Room 101 soon.

Certain things are living on borrowed time.

Do you agree with my choices?