Friday humour - April 29, 2005


     From Tony at Bluehaze:

           G'day,
     One bit of housekeeping first up ... more of a warning really - to all
     our contributors.  Keep in mind that your contributions are archived
     onto my web server - Click here - and that means that various search engines

     such as Google, Yahoo and so on can take copies into their databases.

     What that means is that if anyone goes searching for YOUR NAME on the
     web, they might find it in the context of a Friday Humour submission.

     This won't happen with Google for the time being because I just asked
     them to delete Friday Humour from their cache for a while.  But it will
     be picked up again eventually, so if you DON'T want your name associated
     with any Friday Humour jokes you've sent in over the years, let me know
     and I'll modify the archives.  I can substitute whatever you'd like,
     or delete your family name, or make you anonymous - it's your choice.
     Email us at fridayhumour~at~bluehaze~dot~com~dot~au and I'll modify the archive
     before we let Google start taking copies again!
                                   ------------

                And this week's LETTERS TO THE EDITOR section ...

     A succint comment from one reader (Peter from Illawarra Live Steamers)
     re Davo's editorial of last week re the current Oz Government and their
     lack of "... apology for not admitting they already knew what they
     promised six months was unsustainable ..."  Peter's comment:

         Q.  How do you know when a politician is lying?

         A.  His lips are moving.
                                   ------------

     Davo also stirred UK Beth with his comment " ... While we're in the
     praising mode - what do Bluehaze readers think about the appointment of
     a 78 year old gentleman as head of the Catholic Church? ..."

     UK Beth wrote:
     "Prophesy has always held that after John Paul II there would only ever
     be two more Popes. As a detached observer, I asked myself what could
     possibly happen that would be so severe as to end a 2000 year old scam
     of this sophistication in just a few years. Just think of it, all you
     have to do is sell guilt and forgiveness in unequal measure and people
     the World over will keep throwing their money at a Mob family so big it
     owns its own city state. It even has its own criminal enforcement branch -
     Opus Dei, that liquidates greedy and fraudulent bankers and leaves them
     hanging under London Bridges. The formula works - why screw  with it?

     But now they have... all semblance of real Christian values like
     forgiveness and tolerance have been abandonned as gays get back into
     their closets, pro-choice and euthanasia supporters are effectively
     excommunicated and millions in Africa will continue to die of AIDS
     and leave their helpless children to starve to death rather than
     learn about condoms from the Catholic Church.  God's Rotweiler will
     continue to bite the hand that feeds him, and since he looks good for
     another ten years or so it will be too late for the Catholic Church
     to have anything meaningful to say in the face of the ecological and
     environmental challenges that by then will define us all.  That is how
     the Papacy will end - as to survive its followers will have to take
     responsibility for themselves rather than handing it to a reactionary
     and foolish old man who believes that a dead Catholic is better than
     a live man or woman who thinks for themselves."
                                   ------------

     Finally, re last weeks "Can you get out of this room" puzzle as passed
     on by Trina ("there are less than 4000 people in the world can do it"),
     one reader from our westerly sister list commented:  "There is a bit of a
     problem with the puzzle.  The web page that a clue refers to is missing.
     You need to know that the missing web page was published in 1994."

     But another reader, Brian "Moses" Harwood from Shepparton, Vic, said
     "Well, there's one more now!  I don't usually brag, but I couldn't
     resist this one"  Okay, good on you, Brian (I got nowhere with it :-)
                                   ------------

     Okay, enough of that - it's another bumper issue this week because we've
     included a few long ones that've been waiting in the wings.  First up,
     this quickie from Hollywood Len ...
                             --------------------------

                                     OH JESUS

A Sunday School teacher of preschoolers was concerned that his students
might be a little confused about Jesus Christ because of the Christmas
season emphasis on His birth. He wanted to make sure they understood that
the birth of Jesus occurred a long time ago, that He grew up, etc.  So he
asked his class, "Where is Jesus today?"

Steven raised his hand and said, "He's in heaven."

Mary was called on and answered, "He's in my heart."

Little Johnny waving his hand furiously, blurted out, "I know!  I know! He's
in our bathroom!!!"

The whole class got very quiet, looked at the teacher, and waited for a
response. The teacher was completely at a loss for a few very long seconds.
Finally, he gathered his wits and asked Little Johnny how he knew
this.

Little Johnny said, "Well ... every morning, my father gets up, bangs on the
bathroom door, and yells "Jesus Christ, are you still in there?!"
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------


        Another new contributor, Jesse (at a certain Vic Govt department)
        passed this one on:
                             --------------------------

                                A GOLF STORY

A father, son and grandson go out to the country club for their weekly round
of golf. Just as they reach the first tee, a beautiful young blonde woman
carrying her bag of clubs approaches them. She explains that the member who
brought her to the club for a round of golf had an emergency that called
him away and asks the trio whether she can join them.

Naturally, the guys all agree. Smiling, the blonde thanks them and says,
"Look, fellows, I work in a topless bar as a dancer, so nothing shocks me
anymore. If any of you wants to smoke cigars, have a beer, bet, swear or
tell off-color stories or do anything that you normally do when playing a
round together, go ahead. But I enjoy playing golf, consider myself pretty
good at it, so don't try to coach me on how to play my shots."

With that the guys agree to relax and invite her to drive first. All eyes
are fastened on her shapely behind as she bends to place her ball on the tee.

She then takes her driver and hits the ball 270 yards down the middle, right
in front of the green. The father's mouth is agape. "That was beautiful,"
said the dad. The blonde puts her driver away and says, "I really didn't
get into it and I should have faded it a little."

After the three guys hit their drives and their second shots (she was closest
to the pin) the blonde takes out a nine iron and lofts the ball within five
feet of the hole.  The son says, "Damn, lady, you played that perfectly."
The blonde frowns and says, "it was a little weak. I've left a tricky little
putt." After the son buries a long putt for a par, dad two putts for a
bogey and granddad overruns the green with his pitching wedge, chips back
and putts for a double bogey, the blonde taps in the five-footer for a birdie.

The guys all congratulate her on her fine game. She puts her putter back in
the bag and says, "Thanks, but I really haven't played much lately, and I'm
a little rusty. "Maybe I'll really get into this next drive."

Having the honour, she drives first on the second hole and knocks the hell out
of the ball, and it lands nearly 300 yards away smack in the middle of the
fairway. For the rest of the round the statuesque blonde continues to amaze
the guys, quietly and methodically shooting for par or less on every hole.

When they get to the 18th green, the blonde is three under par, but has a
very nasty 12-foot on an undulating green for a par. She turns to the three
guys and says, "I really want to thank you all for not acting like a bunch
of chauvinists and telling me what club to use or how to play a shot, but
I need this putt for a 69, and I'd really like to break 70 on this course.
Look, if any of you can tell me how to make par on this hole, I'll take you
back to my apartment, give you some 25-year old Jameson's, fix you dinner,
and then show you a good time the rest of the night.  What about it?"

The yuppie son jumps at the thought. He strolls across the green, carefully
eyes the line of the putt and finally says, "Honey, aim about 6 inches to
the right of the hole and hit it firm. It will get over that little hump
and break right into the cup."

The father kneels down and sights the putt using his putter as a plumb. "Don't
listen to the kid, darlin', you want to hit it softly 10 inches to the right
and run it left down that little hogback, so it falls into the cup."

The old grey haired grandfather walks over to the blonde's ball on the green,
picks it up and hands it to her. "That's a gimme, sweetheart!  Your car or
mine?"

  [ AGE AND TREACHERY WILL TRIUMPH OVER YOUTH AND SKILL EVERY TIME ]
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------


          Here's another quickie from Steamboat Maria ...
                             --------------------------

                             A CHANGING WORLD

You know the world is different when the best rapper is a white guy, the best
golfer is a black guy, the tallest guy in the NBA is a Chinese, the Swiss hold
the America's Cup, France is accusing the US of arrogance, Germany doesn't want
to go to war, the 3 most powerful men in America are named 'Bush', 'Dick',
and 'Colon'!" and the leader of Australia is flanked by Abbott and Costello!
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          And an even quicker one from UK Beth Frear ...
                             --------------------------

                                      QUIPS

"I want to thank you for the importance that you've shown for education and
literacy."
    - G.W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 13, 2005

 [ Huh? ]
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          Plus one from John Sanderson:
                             --------------------------

                                 SAD BUT TRUE

"Normal is: getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through
traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job
that you need so you can pay for the clothes, car and the house that you
leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it."
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------


          From Unicorn Jon, here's Part 2 of the saga of ...

                             THE IMMIGRANTS

Luigi and Giuseppie decide that to become gainfully employed in their new
country - they would become truckies. After some training they go to the MVR
to sit their tests.  Giuseppie is first up, and he and the examiner head out
on the road.

Giuseppie is doing fine and the examiner starts to talk to him as he is put
through his paces. After a while, they're driving down a steep hill and the
examiner asks "Suppose you were coming down this hill and a car comes out
from your left and almost at the same instant, one comes out from your right?"

"I'ma go aright.  Alefta, aright, an I missem by thisa mucha" (he indicates
a small distance with thumb and forefinger).

"Very good" said the examiner.

Luigi's turn comes around and the examiner starts the same routine. "Suppose
you are coming down this hill, a car shoots out on you left and another on
your right - and at that instant your brakes fail.  What would you do?".

Without hesitation, Luigi says, "Ima gunna wake upa Giuseppie".

A bit taken back, the examiner asks "Why would you do that?".

"Because" explains Luigi, "He's never seen a fucken abig accident likea dis
before!"
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------


         Back over to the good ol' UK now and one from our Radio Producer
         guy over there, Chris Butterfield ...
                             --------------------------

                       BURGLAR CAPTURED ON FILM BY COMPUTER

                           By David Sapsted (17/02/2005)

A burglar has been jailed after being filmed by the computer he was stealing.

Benjamin Park, 19, broke into the home of Duncan Grisby, a software developer
who had installed a motion-activated security camera in his computer.

Park smashed a ground floor window of Mr Grisby's house in Cambridge and
stole the computer and other equipment worth 3,719.

The hidden webcam caught him in the act and a back-up system transferred the
images to Mr Grisby's private website. When 30-year-old Mr Grisby returned
from holiday this month, the pictures were handed over to police, leading to
the arrest of Park, who was already on bail for an attempted burglary in Ely.

Police tracked down Park, who had 33 previous convictions for theft, to a
block of flats in Cambridge, where he was arrested as he tried to flee.

Travers Chalk, the chairman of the Cambridge bench, sentenced Park to 11
months in prison after he admitted the offences. "You have a record which
is awful, dreadful," the magistrate told him.

After the case, Mr Grisby said he was "exceedingly disappointed" with the
sentence.

"It is a rather pathetic sentence to hand someone like that, a career burglar."

Det Sgt Al Page, who leads the Cambridge burglary squad, said: "It made our
job really easy and it was a pleasure to see the expression on Park's face
when we showed him the pictures as we interviewed him."
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------


          And one just passed on by daughter Rosie:
                           --------------------------


                              CHEMISTRY REVISION

ELEMENT NAME: Manium
SYMBOL: XY
ATOMIC WEIGHT: 180 + or - 50 pounds

Physical properties:
Solid at room temperature, but gets bent out of shape easily. Fairly dense and
sometimes flakey. Difficult to find pure samples due to rust and aging. Older
samples are unable to conduct electricity as easily as young samples.

Chemical properties:
Attempts to bond with WO (Element: Womanium) any chance it can get. Also tends
to form strong bonds with itself. Becomes explosive when mixed with Kd
(Element: Childium) for prolonged period of time. Neutralize by saturating
with alcohol.

Usage:
None known. Possibly good methane source. Good samples are able to produce
large quantities on command.

Caution:
In the absence of WO, this element rapidly decomposes and begins to smell.


ELEMENT NAME: Womanium
SYMBOL: WO
ATOMIC WEIGHT: Don't even go there!

Physical properties:
Generally round in form. Boils at nothing and may freeze any time. Melts
whenever treated properly. Very bitter if not used well.

Chemical properties:
Very active. Often unsatble. Possesses strong affinity for gold, silver,
platinum, and precious stones. Violent when left alone. Able to absorb
great amounts of exotic food. Turns slightly green when placed next to a
better specimen.

Usage:
Highly ornamental.An extremely good catalyst for dispersion of wealth. Probably
the most powerful income reducing agent known.

Caution:
Highly explosive in inexperienced hands.
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------


        To the pics.  First up, a pointer to a good alternate Media Player
        if you're having any problems with the standard Micro$oft Media
        Player - Click here and get Media Player Classic.

        This is a free open-source replacement for the buggy Micro$oft one,
        and it happily plays MOV and MPEG-2 movies too (if the codecs are
        already on your PC).  Most importantly, it doesn't "crash" when
        playing open-standard MPEG-2 (DVD) files.

        First up, a couple of Shockwaves from that guy in South Africa ...
Three Tenor Tots (sing along and enjoy): Click here
And if you're really got time on your hands, then this is probably for you.
Whoever put this one together had time on their hands ... Click here
                             --------------------------

         From Brett the Valentine:

The Honda rider was travelling at "very high speed" and did not see the Golf.
Swedish police estimate a speed of ~250 KM/h when he hit the car. The car
had two passengers and the bike rider was found INSIDE the car.
 Click here Click here Click here Click here

And - don't ever get this drunk: Click here Click here Click here Click here Click here
                             --------------------------


       From Ian J - "I came across this Charles and Camilla animation
       which is a ripper: Click here
       There are other animations and cartoons as well - Click here
       Always look forward to Friday, keep up the good work"
                             --------------------------

       And from Nike Steve: "After your 'crack' photos last week, I thought
       this might help ... (M$ WMV movie)" Click here
                             --------------------------

       Back to the UK and Chris Butterfield for this contribution:
A whole site of 'Ooops' pics! Click here
                             --------------------------

       And also from the good ol' UK, all these from Moonboot:
A groovy site for the watermellon crawl (has a song): Click here
Dance steps - Click here
and if you want the recipe - Click here
Also, if you want some drinking games afterwards, Click here
PS: (added Sat Apr 30) - Moonboot just gave me another link to the song
in case the geocities one is unresponsive.  It also has the lyrics, but it
does pop up an annoying advert (altho you can close it) - Click here

       Sir Moonboot also posted these over ...
Guide problems: Click here
Genie: Click here
Discrimination: Click here
Bank Robbery: Click here
Me too: Click here
Priorities: Click here
AfterLife (a 10Mb AVI movie): Click here
                             --------------------------

       From steamboat (Digi) Maria:

Another rollercoaster! Click here Click here Click here Click here
Tuna (M$ WMV movie): Click here
Motivate: Click here
Referee training (M$ WMV movie): Click here
Classic pics: Click here
What the ... ?  Click here Click here Click here Click here
 Click here Click here Click here Click here Click here
Latest public toilet architecture in Houston: Click here
                             --------------------------

        A radio Ham friend (Peter) sent me this one.  It's an audio file -
        part of the Victorian Police radio communications from last week,
        when they were chasing that 15 year-old who stole a tram ...

Got him yet? (MP3 Audio) Click here
                             --------------------------

        Mad Mick sent this over:
Tibetan personality test (M$ Powerpoint): Click here
                             --------------------------

        And some more miscellaneous stuff from Rowan Davidson:
Stuff (M$ Powerpoint): Click here
                             --------------------------

        Plus a couple of miscellaneous cartoons from Ian Watson:
Maniac: Click here
Oh, shit: Click here
                             --------------------------

         Doug sent in a collection of mind-tricks:
 Click here Click here Click here Click here Click here
 Click here Click here Click here
                             --------------------------

         Finally, this one from GROPWO ... "How'd you like to go in here
         after having 'one too many', hmmmm ...?"
The Wizard of ... Click here
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------


       Back to the ASCII stuff now and this one from long lost Trevor over
       in Africa.  He's currently hiding out in Capetown (which is a problem
       because Maayan's got a gig in Johannesburg, but we won't go into that)
       Anyway, Trevor mentioned this thing called "The Oracle".  This is
       a *really* old site that actually pre-dates the Internet by several
       hundred years.  As Trevor puts it:

    "Great fun and always weird answers.  My fave:

    The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply. Your question
    was:
    Are you in?

    And in response, thus spake the Oracle:
    } Yes, the Oracle is always on duty.
    }
    } Note that I nobly dodged the mature-audiences interpretation of the
    } question.
    }
    } You owe the Oracle a more lengthy grovel."

       Anyway, if you need help from the Oracle, check out The Internet Oracle
     at these spots: The Oracle - Click here
     Help: Click here
     An online form: Click here
     Email for the oracle: oracle@cs.indiana.edu
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------


          Now for another Moonboot collection (now back from from Africa -
          wonder if he went on any of Trevor's backpacking tours ...?)
                             --------------------------

                                      LOTTERY

A couple goes out to a restaurant. The woman calls the waiter aside and says,
"My boyfriend's bound to ask you what numbers won the Lotto!  These are the
numbers he bet on. Will you tell him they won?"  The waiter agrees.

Sure enough, the boyfriend asks which numbers won.  "Okay," says the waiter,
"we've got a telly in the kitchen; I'll go and find out." He tells the
boyfriend his numbers won.

Calmly, the man puts his car keys on the table and says to the woman:
"The car and the house are yours. I'm shagging your sister."

Somehow, they tell him he hasn't really won. He walks out and hasn't been
seen since.

                           ----====#===#===#====----


                              THE BRAIN TRANSPLANT

In the hospital the relatives gathered in the waiting room, where their
family member lay gravely ill.

Finally, the doctor came in looking tired and somber.

"I'm afraid I'm the bearer of bad news," he said as he surveyed the worried
faces.

"The only hope left for your loved one at this time is a brain transplant.

It's an experimental procedure, very risky but it is the only hope.

Insurance will cover the procedure, but you will have to pay for the brain
yourselves.."

The family members sat silent as they absorbed the news. After a great
length of time, someone asked, "Well, how much does a brain cost?"

The doctor quickly responded, "$5,000 for a male brain, and $200 for a
female brain."

The moment turned awkward. Men in the room tried not to smile, avoiding eye
contact with the women, but some actually smirked.

A man unable to control his curiosity, blurted out the question everyone
wanted to ask,

"Why is the male brain so much more?"

The doctor smiled at the childish innocence and explained to the entire
group, "It's just standard pricing procedure. We have to mark down the
price of the female brains, because they've actually been used."

                           ----====#===#===#====----


                                   NICE HAIR

A man walks up to a woman in his office each day, stands very close to her,
draws in a large breath of air and tells her that her hair smells nice.

After a week of this, she can't stand it any longer, and goes to HR.

Without identifying the guy, she tells them what the co-worker does, and
that she wants to file a sexual harassment suit against him.

The HR supervisor is puzzled by this approach, and asks, "What's sexually
threatening about a co-worker telling you your hair smells nice?

The woman replies, "It's Keith, the midget."
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------


              And this quickie from our ex-Shell man, Brian McNicol ...
                             --------------------------


                                    THE EARRING

A man is at work one day when he notices that his co-worker is wearing
an earring.

This man knows his co-worker to be a normally conservative fellow, and is
curious about his sudden change in "fashion sense."

The man walks up to him and says, "I didn't know you were into earrings."

"Don't make such a big deal, it's only an earring," he replies sheepishly.

His friend falls silent for a few minutes, but then his curiosity prods him
to say, "So, how long have you been wearing one?"

"Ever since my wife found the other one in my truck."
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                 Plus these two from Biggus ...

                                PROPER ETIQUETTE

During a "Good manners and etiquette" class, the teacher gives the following
problem to her students: "If you were courting a well educated young girl
from a prominent family and during a dinner for two you needed to go to the
toilet, what would you say to her?"

Mike replies: "Wait a minute, I need to take a leak."

The teacher says: "That would be very rude and improper on your part."

Charlie replied: "I'm sorry, I need to go to the toilet, I'll be back in
a minute."

The teacher says: "That's much better, but to mention the word "toilet"
during a meal is unpleasant."

And Johnnie says: "My dear, please excuse me for a moment. I have to go
shake hands with a personal friend, to whom I hope to be able to introduce
you after dinner. Better?"

                           ----====#===#===#====----


                                   QUICK, DOC

A man walked into a dentist's office and said "Doctor, I'm in one heck of
a big hurry! I have two buddies sitting out in my car waiting for us to go
play golf.  So forget about the anaesthetic and just pull the tooth and be
done with it - I don't have time to wait for the aesthetic to work!"

The dentist thought to himself, "My goodness - this sure is a very brave man,
asking me to pull his tooth without using anything to kill the pain."

So the dentist asked him, "Which tooth is it, sir?"

The man walked back to the door and called to his wife, "Come in here Honey,
and show the doctor which one hurts."
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------


        And finally for the week, one from UK Chris (son of Beth, that is).
        This is very much an ALTERNATE tour guide for the good ol' UK ...
                             --------------------------

                                 ALTERNATE UK TOURS

A new book, 'Bollocks to Alton Towers' provides a guide for those who wish
to eschew the big theme parks and other expensive jaunts in favour of a more
idiosyncratic outing.  Terence Kirby goes in search of inspiration.
    15 April 2005

                          BLACKGANG CHINE, ISLE OF WIGHT

The antithesis of theme parks. Blackgang Chine, perched near Ventnor on
the cliffs of the Isle of Wight is, say the authors of Bollocks to Alton
Towers, what Disneyland might have looked like had the blueprints been
drawn up by Enid Blyton.

The Chine, which means cleft or chink, was originally a Victorian
promenade garden, later expanded to include a model village and what the
book cryptically refers to "a whale in a shed". In the 1960s, after a
visit to the United States, Dick Dabell, the great-grandson of the
founder, decided to re-create Disneyland on the Isle of Wight, "with
smart shoes, a centre parting and lashings of ginger beer".

There are pleasant walks and models of traditional favourites such as
cowboys and dinosaurs. "Nothing clatters very fast overhead full of
over-excited teenagers and drops vomit on to you. No ghastly animal with
big velour feet will tell you to have a nice day.''

Blackgang Chine, near Ventnor, Isle of Wight, 01983 730052 - Click here
Admission: 7.50 (27 for family of four). Open 21 March-30 Oct 10am-5pm.

                 BRITISH LAWNMOWER MUSEUM, LANCASHIRE

Gardening is part of the British pysche, a universal national pastime
that encompasses both elderly women pottering around in cottage gardens
in the shires as well as cutting-edge
"gardens-as-contemporary-living-spaces" created by designers such as
Diarmud Gavin. We have a Museum of Garden History and a National Museum
of Gardening, so why not a British Lawnmower Museum?

This occupies the first floor of Stanley's Hardware, a shop in Southport,
Merseyside, and is an extended hommage to all things lawnmower-ish,
displayed on grass-look carpet.

Among the 200 plus carefully restored and preserved mowers are steam,
electric and petrol-driven versions, some bearing names such as Rolls
Royce and Hawker Siddley. They are also toy mowers, racing mowers and
hover mowers, as well as mowers owned by celebrities which include,
predictably, that of the gardening expert Alan Titchmarsh.

106-114 Shakespeare Street, Southport, Lancashire, 01704 501336. £1
adults, 50p children. Open all year 9am to 5.30pm except Sundays, bank
holidays.

                       KELVEDON NUCLEAR BUNKER, ESSEX

When the Cold War ended, the Government found itself with a number of
previously top-secret bunkers which had been built to house teams of
ministers, military commanders and other public servants in the event of
nuclear attack.

At Kelvedon, in a country lane near Chipping Ongar, Essex, an anonymous
bungalow disguised the entry to what would have been known as Regional
Government Headquarters for the South East; three storeys of
accommodation, stretching 100 feet down and protected by 10ft thick
concrete wall and one and a half ton doors of tank metal.

Built on the site of a former RAF station, it was bought back from the
Government in 1992 by the landowner and turned into one of the country's
most bizarre tourist attractions. Visitors descend into a curious
reminder of another age, when no one quite knew how long a nuclear winter
might last and the bunker cost the taxpayer 3m a year to maintain.

Kelvedon Hall Lane, Brentwood, Essex, 01277 364 883. Open 1 March to 1
October, weekdays 10am-4pm

                            HOUSE OF MARBLES, DEVON

Sited in an old building that use to house Bovey Potteries, this South
Devon curiosity is devoted to the joys of that most basic of children's
toys: the marble. Opened in 1990, it features marble-related toys and
games dating back to the 3rd century BC, as well as such delights as an
antique marble making machine.

It is, says the book, a fascinating example of how a traditional industry
can be presented to the public, creating a microcosm of the
manufacturing, retail and leisure industries. There are glassblowing
demonstrations, a gift shop (selling, of course marbles), a marble run
and restaurant - all for free. The marbles themselves are not,
unfortunately, made on site, but come from China, Mexico and India, the
home of modern marble production.

The Old Pottery, Pottery Road, Bovey Tracey, Devon, 01626 835358 - Click here
Open every day except the first two weeks of January. No admission charge
(but if you have children with you, be prepared to provide some pocket money
to spend in the shop).

                   KEITH AND DUFFTOWN RAILWAY, SCOTLAND

There's something about the small, preserved railways that exist in some
of the more obscure corners of the British Isles that inspires fanaticism
among the volunteers who run them and devotion in those who ride them.

The Keith and Dufftown Railway, which runs diesel trains, is one of the
most recent additions, running between Dufftown, reputed to be the malt
whisky capital of the world and the market town of Keith, stopping at
five stations on the way. The 11-mile line takes you past lochs, forests,
castles and distilleries. Dufftown, founded in 1817 by the Earl of Fife,
boasts seven working distilleries in the area, including the Glenfiddich
distillery, which sits alongside the railway.

Although the book regrets the absence of the more photogenic and more
expensive steam trains, it does point out that you get a better view from
a diesel coach window.

Dufftown Station, Dufftown, Banffshire, 01340 821181 - Click here
Trains run on the last weekend of every month from April to September inclusive
(but check beforehand). Return fares £8 adults, £4 child.

                         GNOME MAGIC, DEDHAM, ESSEX

Quite why the little blighters exert such a powerful fascination on the
imagination of the British public is a mystery, but they have been a
popular addition to gardens since first introduced from Germany in 1847.

This attraction, run by a former printer, Michael Bridges, is devoted to
their charms and one of the smallest and least ambitious visitor
attractions in the book. But it still boasts a formidable collection of
650, displayed around an attractive garden. Many are arranged in
tableaux, some of which the book describes as being of a satirical
nature, such as a Teddy Blair's Picnic and some "extremely blunt"
messages to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There is also square
bashing, a Mr Universe competition, some blissed-out hippie gnomes and a
murder investigation.

"A meeting with these Essex homunculi - be they a flowerpot-hatted
regiment of gardeners with little trowels or a horde of miniature
naturists sunning themselves by the pond - is a fetching alternative to
watching endless deleted scenes from Lord of the Rings," is the book's
verdict.

Gnome Magic, Old Ipswich Road, Dedham, Colchester, Essex, 01206 231390 -
 Click here  Open April to October, 10am-5.30pm (last entry 4.30).

For further details, telephone or e-mail info@gnomemagic.co.uk.

                      PORTEATH BEE CENTRE, CORNWALL

The Eden Project in Cornwall is a vast, expensive and hugely popular
attraction. Just a few miles away to the north, Bollocks to Alton Towers
recommends this far more modest celebration of nature in general and the
honey bee specifically. The centre features glass-protected displays of
bees at work alongside honey-making equipment and a history of bee-
keeping. Demonstrations for schools and other educational groups include
handling bees without protection.

There is a small tearoom and a shop which sells produce from the centre's
200 hives, including mustard, fudge and mead as well as the honey itself.

The book praises the "properly interactive staff" who encourage visitors
to ask questions and learn more about bees. It adds: "One of the simplest
and most pleasurable aspects of the Porteath Bee Centre is that it gives
you a chance to observe a load of bees going about their business. It's
extremely therapeutic, producing the kind of soothing, hypnotic effect
that makes aquariums so popular.''

Porteath Bee Centre, St Minver, Wadebridge, Cornwall, 01208 862192.

                   MOTHER SHIPTON'S CAVE, YORKSHIRE

Situated in the picturesque Yorkshire town of Knaresborough, the
petrifying well is believed to be Britain's oldest paying visitor
attraction.

The limestone-rich waters pour over sundry objects left by visitors,
gradually turning them to stone over the years. Inevitably, there is a
selection of celebrity items, including Queen Mary's shoe, left after a
royal visit in 1923 and "preserved like a granite gravy boat".

Nearby is the cave where the medieval prophetess Ursula Sontheil, known
as Mother Shipton, was said to have been born. Her prophecies, not set
down in print until 1641 -co-incidentally just after the owner opened his
attraction - included the fact that the world would end in 1981. It
didn't.

Although visitors may no longer swallow the backstory, says the book,
visitors still throng there for "a beautiful walk in a beautiful part of
the country with a folklore-filled grotto or two chucked in for good
measure".

Prophecy Lodge, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, 01423 864600 - Click here
Open March-October, 10am-5.30pm.  £4.95 adult, £4.35 child.

                      THE BECKHAM TRAIL, WALTHAM FOREST

Well, other famous people get blue plaques, so why not a heritage trail
devoted to Britain's most famous footballer. And no, this does not take
in Beckingham Palace, The Ivy and the Dolce e Gabbana boutique in Madrid
- but something far more prosaic. This is Waltham Forest Borough
Council's David Beckham trail.

It starts just off the unlovely North Circular Road in north-east London,
at the Peter May Sports Centre in Wadham Road, E17, where the young David
played for the under-10 side and reputedly scored more than 100 goals in
three seasons. It moves on to Walthamstow greyhound track, where he
worked as a 10-a-night glass collector; Ainslie Wood, where his
grandparents lived in a council flat; and his old school, Chase Lane
Juniors in Chingford Mount.

Various locations between Walthamstow and Chingford. Waltham Forest
Council, 0208 496 3000. For more details, Click here
The Beckham trail is not authorised, endorsed or licensed by David Beckham
or any of his representatives.

                        THE CUMBERLAND PENCIL MUSEUM

Everything you need to know and more about pencils and pencil-making is
at this small museum, based at the Cumberland Pencil Company premises in
Keswick in the Lake District, which still produces a wide range of
pencils for domestic and artistic use under the Derwent brand name. The
factory was established in 1832, a consequence of the cottage industry
that grew up around the mining of graphite at nearby Borrowdale.

The museum features such gems as the specially made pencils given to RAF
pilots during the Second World War, which contained a tightly rolled map
of Germany and a compass, and a sculpture of Bassenthwaite Lake, made
entirely from pencils. "The Cumberland Pencil Museum is a member of that
fantastic breed of attractions that somehow manages to hold the attention
by riffing over and over on the same narrow theme, until you just give in
with a grin,'' says the book.

Southey Works, Greta Bridge, Keswick, Cumbria, 01768 773626 - Click here
Open 9.30am-4pm daily £2.50 adults, £1.25 children
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[ End Friday humour ]


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