Saturday, 29 March 2008


I have conducted my life in obedience to two maxims passed on to me by my

Noble Friend

The first;

“ It only costs a little more to travel first class”

The second ;

“The best is barely good enough”

In Biblical times codes of conduct were, it is alleged, dramatically handed down

witten on stone to an eager Moses. Nowadays the internet performs the function. Two

stories I collected from the ether also contain valuable lessons on getting to

grips with life (preferably round the throat);

The first;

A philosophy professor filled a jar with rocks, His students agreed it was full..

He poured pebbles into the jar and they rolled into the open areas between the

rocks. The students again agreed it was full. The professor poured sand into the

jar and it filled every space. "Now," said the professor, "I want you to recognize

that this is your life."

"The rocks are the important things -- your family,your spouse, your health, your

children -- things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full."

"The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car.

The sand is everything else. The small stuff.

If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the


"The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small

stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you."

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your

children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing.There

will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and do the

garden. Take care of the rocks first -- the things that really matter. Set your

priorities. The rest is just sand."

A student took the jar and poured in a glass of beer which filled the remaining


Which proves: that no matter how full your life is, there is always room for a beer.

The second;

A husband and wife were dining at a restaurant when this absolutely

stunning young woman gives the husband a big open mouthed kiss. The

wife says, "Who the hell was that?"

"Oh, "she's my mistress."

"Well, that's the last straw, I want a divorce!" "I can understand

that," replies her husband, "but remember, if we get a divorce it will

mean no more shopping trips to Paris, no more wintering in Barbados, no

more summers in Tuscany. no more yacht club. ."

A mutual friend enters the restaurant with a curvaceous blonde

"Who's that woman with Jim?" asks the wife.

“His mistress," says her husband.

"Ours is prettier," she replies

Being a Night News Editor was easy, just so long as you managed to stay awake. I kept sleep at bay by spending most of my shift in the pub.,
On this one night though in the eraslry days of the Sunday Mirror in Manchester,I ws intrigued by a series of paragraphs our free-lances
Were phoning in from all over Yorkshire.
Freelance economics dictated that they send over tempting paragraphs rather than complete stories, because the news desks would always ring back for more details and that meant they were paid for them whether the stories were used by the papers or not, whereas a submitted story was only paid for if it was used.
These paragraphs were all sightings of Charlie Chaplin in various towns in the county.
The Chief Sub Editor was a Scot called Bob Johnstone, a veteran of the China Post and a kind of genius, the only man I knew who drank whisky by osmosis. If he stood next to a bottle it emptied miraculously.
The paper had booked him into a hotel near the office but he went there so rarely, when he did go the proprietor’s dog, confused by this stranger, bit him.
From then on when his shirt was dirty he sent a messenger out to buy a new one and threw the old one into a waste paper basket.
Clutching the paragaphs he came over to the news desk. He said
“ Chaplin is obviously visiting the theatres he knew as an unknown comic. Logically the next one will be Doncaster. When we are finished here lets take a taxi over to Doncaster and do a feature for the Daily Mirror.
We called a cab and pausing only to buy Bob two bottles of whisky for the journey ( two because he might have dropped one) we set off for the Danum Hotel in Doncaster. The journey took two and a half hours and we arrived at around 2.30 am to find an American reporter already waiting. He told us that Chaplin was only going to give on interview the next morning and he had booked it.
Bob said to me “ Go and find a bed and leave this Yank to me”
The hotel was full but I tipped the night porter and he found me an empty bath where I slept fitfully.
Bob meantime plied the American reporter with so much whisky, he passed out. Whereupon Bob woke me and I took the American’s place at breakfast with Mr Chaplin who was charming.
Between the whisky and the fitful night it wasn’t the best interview I have ever done but I rembembere when I said “ But you haven’t any luggage with you” he pulled out a well filled wallet.”
“ In life,” he said “ that is the only luggage you need”
Which is another lesson I have carried with me over the years…


From Last week’s Times
“ Sir,
It was never possible to travel from Bradford to Blackpool entirely by tram (letters March 17) The journey would have involved three breaks between tram termini totaling more than 20 miles (Hebden Bridge-Summit, Blackburn-Preston and Preston-Lytham)
With just one eight mile break (Hebden-Bridge to Summit) it was however possible to travel from Wakefield to Liverpool
Yrs etc
John Cundill,
London SW15 “