READ all about it ...

Isn't it time we had a National Read The Small Print Awareness Day?

I've now decided that all I want for Christmas is a magnifying glass.

With all the confusing information being processed in our stress-filled, 24/7 lives we need a day where we highlight an ongoing need for transparency ... a catalyst to encourage people to stop and read the finer print on documents before putting our signatures to paper.

Many a Christmas morning has been ruined when no one had the foresight to peruse the instructions on the box that said batteries not included.

Some of the greatest contracts in history ensured that we were told all we needed to know.

When Moses received the first ever “tablet” device detailing The Ten Commandments there was no “PS” chiselled out in small letters.

And the Magna Carta didn't have any hidden extras.

In most documents there still persists the tiny print when certain information is reduced in font size putting us off reading any further.

Banks and utility companies are forever guilty of it.

Once bitten, twice shy I say, having been frustratingly locked into complex agreements I would have avoided had I read beyond the sinister asterisks.


I WAS once short-listed for a reporting role with Which magazine - the much-respected investigative journal. I had to sit an exam as well as a fact-probing interview.

I was greatly encouraged at the rigorous research demanded by the journal in their quest to write about goods and services for the benefit of consumers.

I didn't get the job but came away vowing to always read the small print and immediately became a supporter of the inspirational Plain English Campaign.

I set out to know more about my rights.

So when I heard that the Government requires energy suppliers to offer smart meters to all homes and small businesses across Great Britain by 2020, I was intrigued.

The fact is whether you accept one is completely up to you.

Smart meters are not compulsory, it is entirely our choice. I know, I have read the small print.

As for baffling Brexit (sorry, it can't be ignored, dear reader) I hope all our MPs - Remainers and Leavers – go over every bit of small print on the subject as the Commons debate it from next Tuesday.

Over in America, Donald Trump never reads any small print.

Enough said.


MISTER Portillo, I presume ...

It's always interesting to bump into someone you haven't seen for a while.

It has been many years since I went for lunch with Michael Portillo and a camera crew in tow.

It was a politically-correct meeting because happily it wasn't about politics.

He wanted to interview me about my book Talk like the Scousers.

In 2009, Michael was launching a new BBC TV series about his love of railways using the famous Bradshaw’s directory to travel across the UK.

The former Minister for Merseyside left the House of Commons to pursue a TV career and was back for another sell-out show at the Floral Pavilion last week.

I bumped into Michael - with his map-in-hand - outside the railway station. He travels to all his gigs by train.

"You won’t remember me - but I appeared in your first TV show," I said, tapping him on the shoulder.

"Oh, but I do," he said, grinning.

"We had a bowl of Scouse together."

As he walked away he shook my hand and said: "Do you know, Peter, that first episode was savaged by all the TV critics."

Then, he added, with a justified smug flourish: "I have recently completed my 300th programme."

Now that's what I call putting your career on the right track.

Michael then promised to buy me a bowl of Scouse on his next visit and an accent refresher top-up lesson.

Ta, la.


ANOTHER memorable interview was speaking to the late Kenny Everett's sister.

She told me all about her brother's acute shyness and child-like innocence.

Seaforth-born Kenny is back in the limelight being featured in the hit Queen film Bohemian Rhapsody.

He helped them break barriers with their single just as he pushed The Beatles with Hey Jude.

But it was The Kenny Everett Video Show that made him a household name with characters such as Cupid Stunt and Sid Snot.

Ahead of his time Kenny would have been 74 this forthcoming Christmas Day.

Now the box set will be on many festive gift lists.

Celebrities queued up to be ridiculed on his shows.

Who can forget Cliff Richard hanging up by his thumbs as Kenny announced before a commercial break "here's a Cliff hanger ..."

It was all in the best possible bad taste.


AND finally ...

If you come from Ireland there is only one place to be on St Patrick’s Day, to be sure.

But if you are on a mammoth national tour where is the next best place?

Wirral, it seems.

The legendary Fureys from Dublin, who gave us such sublime hits as When You Were Sweet Sixteen, will be at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton on March 17 in 2019.

Other venues, I hear, are now green with envy.

Peter Grant