What is it about dads and Rovers? Especially the ‘lovely’ 75 with cream leather upholstery, contrasting piping and burr walnut fascia. My dad (and Sharon’s) has always aspired to own a Rover, and continues to do so despite Rover having gone bust for failing to produce good enough cars. There is still a (dwindling) generation who associate Rovers with quality British craftsmanship and achievable luxury (Jags and Mercedes were out of range, and for the professional, established middle class only). The Rover lover yearns for the days when British was best and foreign cars were unreliable rust-buckets built by untrustworthy foreigners. Hopefully there are enough discounted and used Rovers around to see our Dads through to the end of their driving days. We’d hate to see them go ‘foreign’.


Hot men

By Sharon Clampin

What is it with men and temperature?

You’re sitting in a room perfectly comfortable when a man crashes in huffing and puffing like a middle aged menopausal woman mid-flush, complaining about the unbearable heat in here. Failing to take into consideration the fact that he has raced some individual, or more likely vehicle, on his cycle ride in – the obvious cause of his beaded forehead – he immediately starts throwing open windows and turning on air conditioners and fans. This is done in the most dramatic fashion possible and culminates with him standing star shaped in front of an air conditioner positioned to blast up his shorts (never trousers!) and shirt. In case you’d not noticed, he’s HOT! If you dare to suggest that it’s not actually that hot, a look of total disbelief crosses his face. He walks up to the thermometer and announces the temperature – you must be confused and not know your own mind if you’re not HOT!

In the same situation, a woman will typically ask if anyone else thinks it’s hot in here and accepts the consensus, quietly turning things on or off as necessary.

Why the drama boys – or am I just being terribly naive about why you like us girls to sit in an icy cold room?


What is it about Dolphins that makes everyone want to swim with them? It’s on everyone’s bucket list, like terrifying yourself with a skydive or getting a bit of Chinese nonsense tattooed on your shoulder. Maybe it’s because Dolphins are supposedly extremely intelligent mammals, but then swimming a couple of lengths of Highgate Baths with Stephen Fry isn’t on many people’s bucket list. I think it’s more to do with the genetic quirk that has turned their mouth up at the corner into a cheeky little smile. If their mouths turned down into an evil scowl I bet swimming with Dolphins wouldn’t be so popular. Nobody wants to swim with Tuna, for instance. Maybe if they did we’d be eating Tuna-friendly Dolphin mayo sandwiches.



The French have rules for kissing. I wish we did. They give two to their family, three to their friends and a french one to somebody they’d like to sleep with: or something like that, I think. The English don’t have kissing rules, apart from not kissing your dad if you’re male and over five year’s old. I’ve recently started kissing my mum again after a 35 year gap – but only ‘goodbye’ – never ‘hello’. I have good friends who expect to be kissed and good friends who would lamp me if I tried. I also have occasional acquaintances who expect at least two and, most worryingly, clients who move in for a quick ‘mwah’ in meetings. This never used to be a problem: after the age of five or six I never expected another kiss, unless it involved tongues and a bicycle shed, but since we’ve gone European I walk a daily minefield: one kiss or two? Start on the left or right? Physical contact or ‘air’ kiss? Moist kissy-noise or silent? Somebody send me the rules please.

Lots of love,
Neil xxx


By Neil Smith

They’re over-rated. Don’t get me wrong – they come in handy for chewing poorly cooked meat and biting your way into bags of pork scratchings, but I don’t buy into this obsession with ‘perfect’ teeth. I’ve always been quite fond of my gappy fangs – and my boney growth, which has the dentists whistling with admiration. One dentist even offered to peel back my gums and file down the bone for me. Er, no thanks, I’d rather the unsightly lump. Teeth with personality didn’t hold back the careers of Shane McGowan or Freddie Mercury. And green teeth never stopped Sven Goren Eriksson dating beautiful women, although he’d struggle to land a part in the OC. So, for a smile with character: drink more Tizer and smoke more fags. A Hollywood smile – who needs one? My Auntie Peggy’s got one, and she keeps it in a glass by her bed.

Alpha male

By Neil Smith

When I was a boy my Dad said to me ‘Son, a firm handshake is a sign of strong character’. I don’t really do the big powerful handshake thing – I just kind of adjust the pressure ’til it more or less matches that of the ‘shakee’. I think it’s only polite. These days when I shake my Dad’s hand (at funerals or New Year’s Day) I do tend to turn up the pressure to ‘strong character’ to keep the old man happy. I find the big handshake moment in business meetings a bit tiresome (it’s always the little fellas that are the worse) with the eye contact thing and the palm-down death grip. They think they’re letting me know who’s boss – but I think it’s probably just a trick they learned in the ‘assertiveness’ module of their ‘marketing for short people’ course. They don’t scare me – unlike the Dutch graphic design student whose vice-like grip brought tears to my eyes and resulted in an operation to pin my 5th metacarpal. It turned out that I’d broken my hand a few weeks earlier in an inter design group football match brawl, but hadn’t noticed. Brawling in a friendly football match – now that’s the sign of a strong character.