THE festive season evokes all kinds of reflection and introspection. The other evening at the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties, a fellow unburdened himself of a traumatic experience of his callow youth.
He was 17. He'd just left school and was playing Under-20 club rugby. He went into a sportsshop to buy his first jockstrap. He looked about nervously. To his horror, a good-looking lady, probably in her thirties, approached.
"Can I help you?
"I'm l-l-looking for an athletic s-s-s-support."
"No problem. What size are you."
He blushed scarlet and began stammering completely incoherently.
She sighed. "I'm talking about your waist size."
He still shudders when he thinks of it, this fellow said. He's never quite recovered.
"So you're still wearing that same jockstrap?" somebody asked. "You never went back to that shop?"
The humour is rough and ready at the Street Shelter.
BRITAIN'S Foreign Office reports its high commissions, embassies and consulates abroad receiving more than 330 000 calls last year from citizens who needed help.
While almost 5 000 were from those who had been arrested and more than 3 400 from those who had landed up in hospital, there were also inquiries of a much more unusual nature.
Among the strangest was a man who wanted to know if there were vampires in Poland. The reason for his concern? A woman he was due to meet for a date had asked his blood type.
A caller in the US wanted to know which contestant had been voted off Strictly Come Dancing the previous night, while a caller in the Netherlands had questions about the plot of Braveheart.
Although most British embassies will provide a list of local lawyers if you find yourself arrested overseas, they are not used to being asked for a list of women you can marry - as was the request from a man in Argentina.
Meanwhile, a man in Thailand wanted diplomatic backing as he argued against paying for a massage, because he had fallen asleep during it.
Someone in the Canary Islands wanted a new hotel room after a stray cat urinated on his bed, while a man in New Delhi wanted to know if the British High Commission was selling vegetarian sausages.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "I can regretfully confirm that the Foreign Office isn't able to offer advice on vampires, rogue stray cats or Strictly contestants. And our capacity to deploy veggie sausages remains sadly lacking."
PRESIDENT Donald Trump was named Man of the Year for 2018 by Isis. He received the news personally from the leader of Isis, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who Trump described as "a terrific, fabulous guy," According to the New Yorker.
"I got along great with him, and he said a lot of nice things about me," Trump said."
He is expecting to receive an official Man of the Year plaque from Isis in the next few weeks.
"It's a particularly impressive honour when you consider Isis was co-founded by Hillary and Obama," Trump said.
Yes, this is satirist Andy Borowitz again, getting off to a good start.
He: "I was a fool when I married you."
She: "I know. But I was in love and I didn't notice."
The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. - George Orwell