A Watched Pot Never Sneezes

We all know that a watched pot never boils, but I’d always assumed that it never seemed to boil because when you’re standing there watching as opposed to doing something else, time crawls. But I’m beginning to wonder: could something quite different be going on here? Of course the watched pot does eventually boil (in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics, as OH keeps reminding me) but what if observing not only seems to slow it down but actually does slow it down? I have a feeling that this is a scientifically understood phenomenon, that observing a process without any other interference can change that phenomenon. It could be in quantum mechanics, I’m not sure; OH will correct me if I’m wrong. I would suggest timing the watched pot, were it not that timing is in itself a form of observation. It’s like those fitbit things people use to measure their sleep: there’s no way of knowing how much you sleep without the fitbit on your wrist.

Anyway I know from experience that watching a phenomenon can change it, sometimes dramatically. If you want to break a habit the best way is not to force yourself to abstain but to observe, to watch the thoughts and feelings that surround the habit and which are the key to letting it go. A propos of which, I decided to try an experiment. I have a condition called allergic rhinitis – which I suspect is just a name given to something they can’t explain – whereby my nose runs and I sneeze a lot without any external stimulus. This is compounded by eating milk products, so I should avoid dairy altogether. But I like cheese! Cow’s milk and yoghurt I can live without but there is no substitute for cheese. Be that as it may, I wondered: could sneezing be a habit that might be controlled by observing it? Or to put it another way, might a watched nostril never sternutate? I decided to give it a try. I would keep a record of how often I sneezed and how many times.

I’ll keep you posted. Bet you’re on the edge of your seats…

Kirk out

Happy New Year

Happy new year to all my readers. Thanks for sticking with me in 2021 and I look forward to your company in 2022. Here’s hoping for a better year – I’d like to see the back of covid and this government… oh, and I saw a lovely Yamaha 125 in a showroom window. I’d like that too please.

Kirk out

I’m 63% British and a Bit Neanderthal Apparently

So I got my DNA results today. No, I haven’t been involved in some sort of crime, I’ve had my genome sequenced for Xmas. Anyone can do this: there are various sites where you can sign up and for a fee you get a jar to spit in which you then send off, a bit like a covid test but without the anxiety, and then you get all sorts of information back about your genetic make-up.

Mine wasn’t terribly surprising. I know that I come from three generations of Londoners, but I also have one Scottish great grandparent and some Scandinavian input. You can find out loads more including your predisposition to diseases, but I haven’t done that yet. Anyway I’m 63% British or Irish, 28% French or Belgian and bits of Scandinavian. I’m also more Neanderthal than 53% of the population. Not sure what to make of that really, though OH reckons the Neanderthals have a bad press.

So now you know. I hope you all had a good Xmas and are enjoying the holiday.

Kirk out

Carry on Carolling

There’s a bell tower in Loughborough, just yards from our window in fact, called the Carillon https://www.carillontower.org.uk/ Most people call it The Carri-llon whereas, being a French word it should be pronounced Carry-on, but however you say it the bell tower is a focal point of the town. A couple of years ago I went up the tower and saw that the bells were rung not by means of ropes but via a keyboard, except not with piano keys but layers of wooden levers hit with the hand, a bit like Monty Python’s Mouse Organ but without the cruelty. Very strange. Anyway at lunchtime today a crowd gathered to sing carols accompanied by the Carillon. All the usual favourites were there; Hark the Herald, Away in a Manger (predictive text just suggested Away in a Mango), Ding Dong Merrily on High , Good King Wenceslas and many many more. It was cold but good fun, even if trying to keep in time with the Carillon made it a bit like that game in I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue where they try to sing in time to a record.

So that’s me over and out for a few days. Have a very happy Christmas and see you on the other side.

Kirk out

Boaster Jab

I’ve had my booster jab now. Not that I’m going to boast about it: I leave all that to the just-about Prime Minister. (Great joke on Dead Ringers: We now go to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson – unless you’re listening to the repeat). No, if I boast, let it be in the NHS that made all this possible. Mind you, it was a bit of a palaver: I turned up at the main entrance and asked for the Grace Dieu ward (named after a local abbey). I was wearing a mask of course so the receptionist didn’t hear properly. ‘The Breast Care centre? Yes of course…’ and she was half way through the directions before I stopped her and repeated my request. ‘For a booster jab, ‘ I clarified. ‘Oh, the Grays Dew ward? Yes, it’s round the back.’ Hopefully under my mask she couldn’t see me grimacing at the pronunciation. I went round and round until it seemed impossible that there could be any more back left, and still I wasn’t there. I stopped in a car park and some freshly vaccinated folk took pity on me. ‘It’s round the back!’ they said.

I got there in the end. A very nice soldier took my details: I’d heard the army were helping out but it was the first time I’d seen any. Finally I got the jab and having come nearly 9/10 of the way round the hospital, found a rather muddy short cut back to my car.

I’m a little tired this afternoon but no other ill effects. It’s a real boost…

Kirk out

Bon Mots

I am pleased to announce that the car passed its MOT. This is a feat which grows more improbable with each passing year as the Focus is now 17 years old and counting. Mind you, I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. I went down to the garage early as the arrangement is to turn up and wait. Alas, since Covid you have to book an appointment. What a turn-up! Anyway the guy said to leave it with him and he’d try to fit it in. I waited all day with no word and when I tried to call there was no answer. Poor little Bertie had to spend the night alone in the garage. Fortunately in the morning all was well and I picked him up safe and sound. That’s 3 years in a row he’s passed the test.

Kirk out

I Am Decorated

It’s a very bad time of year to be decorating, what with snow on the ground and ice in the wind, so call me eccentric but I’m deep into the bedroom. The reason for this unseasonable activity is that since the arrival of a sofa Actually Big Enough to Sleep On!!! I am now able to paint a room which has been annoying me with its tawdry muckiness for years. I’ve already tackled the mould and one wall is cupboards which I’m not going to touch so it’s basically three walls and a ceiling. I’ve actually made a start on the ceiling and made a right pig’s ear of it because I can’t see what the hell I’m doing. So I’ll just have to spend a few more hours flailing wildly around with the roller and hope for the best.

And here’s the lovely sofa that made it all possible.

Kirk out


I don’t watch a lot of quiz programmes on TV but I do still enjoy University Challenge and Mastermind, hence Monday night is quiz night.

I always watched Mastermind when I was younger and rightly or wrongly assumed that the contestants were there to display and test the knowledge that they had gained in some particular field. Of course they would have brushed up on the subject before coming on the programme, but essentially it was about the knowledge that they had gained in the course of their lives.

Not so nowadays. Last week I was stunned to see one of our neighbours on the programme. ‘Look!’ I said excitedly. ‘It’s that woman from down the road!’ Turned out it wasn’t as she lived in Manchester and when I thought about it I realised that her hair was different too. So why did she look so familiar? Eventually I worked it out: she’d been on Mastermind before, and probably other programmes as well. Last year’s winner had not only been a contestant in previous years but had also appeared on other quiz shows. People are in quiz leagues and clubs: they go quizzing up and down the country. It’s almost a profession.

The only quiz that does seem to be a genuine test of knowledge is University Challenge.

Kirk out

Why Oh Why Do I Do It?

You know how it is. We all have these bad habits, things we wish we didn’t do but somehow when it comes to it we do them anyway. A voice inside says, You know you’re going to regret this, but another voice says Aw, go on, how bad can it be? So you do the thing.

I’ve had one of those days today. A blog post over on Beetleypete was talking about the number of spam messages it received: 300 a day. Yikes! Having read it I headed back here to check how many there were in my spam folder. None! That was surprising: I didn’t know whether to be pleased or insulted that no spammers had thought it worth their while to contact me. Incidentally I get plenty on my email, the latest of which tried to persuade me that my LinkedIn account was in danger of being closed down unless I etc etc etc. Use my username then! Don’t just call me ‘dear LinkedIn user!’ Anyway, having been deprived of the tiny little frisson of checking out what idiotic messages were in my spam folder, I turned to the trash and immediately wished I hadn’t as lots of contributions from my last troll were still lurking in there.

As I say, it’s been one of those days: this morning I put a couple of items on freecycle and instead of waiting a while and then selecting, I replied to the first one who could be bothered to write a proper email (ie instead of can I have pls). Alas! Though this person said they could collect early afternoon I haven’t heard a dicky bird from them since.

On the plus side I went to the Outwoods today, which was lovely.

Kirk out