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Teenage Mutant Ninja Hurdles – How Martial Arts Have Taught Me Persistence Pays And Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

Back in 1983, when I was 14, I started practising martial arts. Like many people who become martial artists, I started off with karate. Shotokan karate, to be precise. And like many people who start fight training, I became absolutely obsessed with it. Here is a photo of me taken at Christmas that year: Read More…

Context – Why Charity Can’t Be An Excuse For Everything And Not All Uniforms Are Sexy

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One Friday afternoon, when I was in Sixth Form, me and my friend Shane abandoned our usual lessons, put on our Ku Klux Klan uniforms and ran around the streets demanding money. I realise that sounds a teeny bit racist and possibly a trifle thuggish, so please allow me to explain myself. There was a good reason for our little afternoon outing. Read More…

The Magic Cooking Pot – How To Make Happy Memories With Lots Of Time But Very Little Money

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 When I was a kid, around about this time of year, there was one little treat I used to look forward to more than anything else. I always knew this treat was coming because my mum would wash out The Big Black Cooking Pot. It looked a bit like the one in that picture, but a lot less fancy and a hell of a lot more battered. It must have held a good couple of gallons and you had to put it across two gas rings to use it. And The Big Black Cooking Pot being washed out could mean only one thing. Home-made soup. Read More…

Jackie Paper Isn’t Dead – How Rolf Harris Can Tell You If You Are Sad And Puff The Magic Dragon Got A Very Raw Deal

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That’s Jimmy Savile. The most prolific sex offender to stalk the corridors of the BBC. And that was up against some pretty stiff competition, as Operation Yewtree has repeatedly revealed. For the last four years, I have had my fingers crossed, repeating the mantra “Please not Johnny Ball. Please not Johnny Ball. Please not Johnny Ball.” The entire edifice of my happy Seventies childhood would fall down about my ears if any terrible revelations about Johnny Ball came to light. Nothing so far, thank goodness. Read More…

The Hole In The Wall – How You Shouldn’t Annoy Farmers And Why It Is Unwise To Pay Attention To Thoughts You Have At Three In The Morning

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When I was in my early twenties, I became terrified of a door. It wasn’t one of those spooky, haunted doors you used to get in Hammer Horror films. It was a perfectly ordinary, perfectly functional door. But this door scared me more than any portal to a room full of ghosts or monsters ever could. Read More…

Poisoning Pigeons In The Park – How A Tin Box And A Magic Virgin Made Me Realise I Might Be Becoming A Man

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We all have teachers who inspired us when we were at school. We were ungrateful little bastards back then, of course, and didn’t recognise or appreciate that inspiration. But it was always there, waiting to be remembered fondly when we eventually became adults. Read More…