INEXPLICABLY ... during a school chemistry lab exam a classmate once threw a bottle of water over me.

Alas, my hair was on fire.

I thought I had smelt burning earlier as I tried to figure out the workings of the Bunsen Burner.

I could never understand the instruction sheets.

But I am not alone in that life-long battle with deciphering anything technical.

From woodwork to metalwork all information seemed to me like an IKEA guide book - in Swedish.

Looking back, I feel saddened at those wasted lessons with other pupils and demoralised teachers.

Our education system then simply didn't prepare us for the outside world and how to 'take in' instructions.

I have not used a Bunsen Burner or test tube since.

I still have an un-opened compass and set square in a tin box from my schooldays.

Now we seem to learn more about all practical issues in life from Google apps.

I believe there should be lessons on the school curriculum on 'Surviving modern life – by understanding instructions.'

It would be the starting guide for those venturing out into the world – wide-eyed and clue-less.

A new survey from Trutex, school uniform suppliers, say we are baffled by something as simple as washing instruction labels.

We don't understand the settings on irons. And men are a wash out when they have to use a launderette.

Our fear of understanding instructions and small print on forms is getting worse from changing energy companies to mobile phone updates.

Happily, yesterday the Rail Delivery Group announced they are aiming to put us on the right track to get value-for-money tickets.

It seems there are millions of different rail tickets - but only a third of us passengers understand how to get the best deal from them.

We are lost before we set out.

Praise be to the Plain English Campaign for consistently calling out for clear, easy-to-understand instructions for all us consumers.


WHAT'S it all about ... Selfie?

'A Museum of the Selfie' has opened in Los Angeles.

Could it be anywhere else? Except, of course that is, Simon Cowell's office.

The Selfie has been dubbed 'the epitome of vanity.'

Tommy Honton, misguided co-founder of the museum, believes the 'selfie’ goes back as long as people started creating art.

He said: "Rembrandt and Van Gogh were selfie-obsessed due to their self portraits."

I'm glad he wasn't my art teacher.

Meanwhile author Jacqueline Wilson says an obsession with selfies and social media is ruining childhood creating "An awful kind of self-consciousness."

Wise words from the 72-year-old Dame Wilson, who gave us Tracey Beaker a stroppy teenager who in her latest book this October becomes a struggling single mum with a nine-year-old daughter.

And not a selfie in sight.


IRONICALLY, there are few laughs in the new film Funny Cow, which was 'inspired' by the life of Northern comedienne Marti Caine.

I once met her at a book launch. She had real towering charisma and, along with Wirral's Pauline Daniels, was one of the few female comics on stage and TV.

Despite incessant swearing and bleak storyline in this new, low-budget UK film there are lighter moments from two unlikely male characters.

One played by Jim Moir (better known as Vic Reeves), who plays a dreadful ventriloquist with a lion puppet with a beard.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The lion sings Born Free as Gorn Free.

There's also an unique Elvis tribute act with John Bishop, accompanied by his pooch also dressed like Presley called the 'Dancing Hound Dog' which like the unimpressed judge and Elvis ... leaves the building Both acts would win Britain's Got Talent Hands down.



One of the most disturbing stories I mused over while having a soak in the bath recently was the revelation that rubber ducks are perfect hiding places for germs and could lead to infection.

A Swiss study said the warm and humid environment in bathrooms is an ideal breeding ground for dense growths of bacteria and fungi building up inside these toys.

The men in white coats said plastic helps to nourish bugs.

I am not convinced my ducks are spotless.

I am going to continue having baths with my little yellow companions - it's water off a duck's back to me.


IF you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen ... oh, and give your apron back.

While nice Mary Berry is finding ratings for her new Home Cooking show are half-baked and Paul Hollywood's appeal sizzles like a toaster pop tart, across the Atlantic Gordon Ramsay is boosting ratings for Masterchef USA.

It is a brutal recipe for a reality show in which contestants are battered to a crisp and end up quivering like jellies as he dishes out expletives when they don’t cut the mustard.

There’s even a spectator’s balcony – ideal for throwing rotten tomatoes at the losers.

Tasty TV, though.


MAY Bank Holiday brought back childhood memories of going to New Brighton I loved the ferry trip, the fairground and the crowded beach.

But, oh how times have changed.

Back then people seemed to care for each other on days out.

A brand new past time has worryingly arrived ... forget Crazy Golf - here's Crazy Parking.

Some motorists must have had sun-stroke.


And finally

As a curtain-raiser for his forthcoming Autumn show at Chester Storyhouse, I pay tribute to one of the masters of topical wordplay – Tim Vine.

So, Tim, did you read about Wirral’s award-winning sausage maker Stephen Geoffrey Muff in the Globe?

Here's a man who always makes ends meat ...

Peter Grant