Making predictions is a mug’s game, so don’t worry – mine will be 100% wrong (again!)

IN his palatial City office in London’s Canary Wharf, my friend – chief economist of a major, global financial institution – sits behind a desk so gargantuan it could the solve the issue of Heathrow’s third runway.

Chewing the fat with him one day at the height of the 2008 banking meltdown, I asked this master of the universe when he thought the crisis would end.

Instead of answering, he just shrugged, then nodded towards an ornate plinth in the corner of his mini fiefdom, on which was mounted a soccer-sized crystal ball.

‘Take a dekko inside that,’ said my friend eventually. ‘You’ve a better chance of finding the answer in there than from me.’

I left, shaking my head and musing on the folly of making predictions.

This thought was rekindled last week, when I read an apologia from a financial whizkid, who wrote, ‘No-one expected this sudden, sharp drop in crude oil prices.’

His buzzword was ‘sudden’. Because, if the anointed experts had seen it coming, there would have been no shock.

STARDOM BECKONS: Cyberhackers will forced movie moguls to move to North Korea, so Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un will be an Oscar winner

STARDOM BECKONS: Cyberhackers will force movie moguls to move to North Korea, so Young Leader, Kim Jong Un, will be an Oscar winner for his role as Wonder Woman

In fact, looking back, the only person in my experience to make an accurate prediction was Madam Petrulengo, the palmist on Blackpool promenade, who forecast I’d get a ticket on my car parked outside on a double yellow line. She was right; I did.

So, generally, it’s been my firm prediction that the likely outcome to making predictions is the predictions will be totally wrong. And, so far, my record has been 100% accurate.

Nonetheless, since it’s that time of year, worst luck, when my arm is twisted into risking a spot of soothsaying, here goes…and heaven help us if I’m right.

Firstly, the nightmarish potboiler that’s a story of purblind Eurozone politicians will rumble on, with no consensus to ease the plight of the EU’s jobless, homeless and hopeless. Shovels will be issued to Euro commissioners, so they can did themselves into bigger holes.

Beyond-the-barmy, Right-wing parties – like France’s National Front, Hungary’s Jobbick and Greece’s Golden Dawn – will democratically vote to end democracy, while Brussels Europrats will take 2015 off and nobody will notice any difference.

Vladimir Putin will order Russians to bathe in oil, because – at $60 a barrel and sliding – it’ll be cheaper than water. The population of Moscow, barring oligarchs who can afford to import Evian by the tankerload, will assume a brackish, oleaginous glow, so they’ll be light-reflective. This will reduce the number of pedestrians struck down by drunk drivers at night, thus hailed as a health and safety success by the Kremlin.

END OF THE ROAD: With petrol-powered vehicles banned, rickshaws will be London's most popular form of transport

END OF THE ROAD: With petrol-powered vehicles facing a ban, rickshaw pullers will rush to become London’s most ‘eco’ form of transport

Americans will finally realise President Obama is actually a hologram, since he’s been as effective as one for the last half-dozen years. During 2015, he’ll gradually evaporate like the Cheshire Cat in Alice In Wonderland, with only a grin left behind.

Hillary Clinton will declare her intention to run as Democratic Party candidate for the White House and she’ll face Jeb Bush, brother of G Dubya and son of HW, who’ll fly the flag of the Republican cause.

US geneticists will then discover only members of presidential dynasties possess that unique strand of DNA – the two-faced, lie-through-the-teeth, back-stab helix – to be leaders, so there’ll be a nationwide hunt for descendants of Richard Nixon to stand in future hustings.

North Korean cyber-hackers will blackmail Hollywood’s movie moguls into relocating their studios to Pyongyang and the dashingly handsome Young Leader, Kim Jong Un, will be the next James Bond, Batman and Wonder Woman, a role for which he’ll award himself an Oscar.

A bloke called Nigel will decide who wins next May’s UK General Election.

No, not that Nigel – the UKIP Farage one – but Nigel Dodds, whom nobody outside Northern Ireland (and few inside it for that matter) has ever heard of.

But with an expected mish-mash outcome to the result, with neither of the major parties winning a majority, the minor cast members will be crucial players in deciding who rules. In short, reprising 2010, the tail will wag the dog.

Which is where Doddsy comes in. Tipped to replace Peter Robinson as leader of Ulster’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – the bunch invented by the late Reverend Ian Paisley, who brought the fire and brimstone of religion to bear on politics – Nige could even emerge as Deputy Prime Minister, depending on which way he throws the dice of his eight MPs.

After much cogitation, as a huge fan of Wallace & Gromit, he will come out in favour of Ed Miliband for Prime Minister, since the Labour leader is a doppelganger for Wallace and Wensleydale is also the DUP’s favourite cheese.

NOBEL LAUREATE & CIGAR MAGNET: Pope Francis will scoop the Peace Prize and the Vatican worldwide rights to selling Havana cigars

NOBEL LAUREATE & CIGAR MAGNET: Pope Francis will scoop the Peace Prize and the Vatican worldwide rights to selling Havana cigars

The Tories will sack David Cameron, merge with UKIP to become the Conservative, Unionist and UK Independence Party and elect London Mayor, Boris Johnson, as leader, who’ll make Nigel – the Farage one – Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Nick Clegg will quit as head honcho of the Liberal Democrats; their core voters will switch to the Greens, who’ll demand a ban on all forms of petrol-powered transport, resulting in an influx of Hong Kong rickshaw pullers, in anticipation they will eventually replace London’s Routemaster buses.

In the Middle East, the Saudis will wreck the Iranian economy by driving down the price of oil to a bucket of camel dung a barrel and do a back-channel deal with Israel to buy the Matzoball Bomb – a doomsday weapon with a difference, since all infected by its fallout turn Jewish.

It will first be tested on the headbanging jihadi rabble of IS/ISIL/ISIS, thorns by any other name in the side of humanity, who will – en masse – discard their AK47s to become rabbinical students.

Pope Francis will be awarded the Nobel Peace prize for his role in patching up the 45-year US-Cuba tiff; the Vatican will be given the worldwide concession to peddle Havana cigars.

Finally, the space probe, Cassini, will discover huge gold and diamond deposits on Saturn; FIFA will announce the 2026 World Cup will be held there.

So those are my forecasts for next year. But they’ll be wrong all counts, because, from long experience, I learnt there’s  no future in making predictions.

Were you a turkey or a mastermind with my EXTRA tricky Xmas quiz? Find out now…

CHECK out how you scored in my Xmas Eve EXTRA tricky trivia quiz – and find out whether you were a turkey or mastermind:-

HEADLINE HITTERS OF 2014: 1 – b (A ‘wuss’); 2 – a (Dame Helen Mirren); 3 – c (Bacon sandwich); 4 – TRICK QUESTION: Yamazaki was voted the world’s best malt whisky; 5 – b (Sharon Osbourne); 6 – a (Sheep); 7 – c (Russell Brand)

READ ALL ABOUT IT: 8 – a (Mouse); 9 – c (Oscar Wilde); 10 – TRICK QUESTION: Richard III; 11 – a (Paddington Bear); 12 – b (Mary Had A Little Lamb); 13 – c (Lady Chatterley’s Lover); 14 – a (Sherlock Holmes)

UNLUCKY DIP: 15 – b (Omega); 16 – TRICK QUESTION: The Bible doesn’t name Lot’s wife; 17 – c (M&Ms); 18 – a (Skin); 19 – b (Potassium); 20 – a (Chef); 21 – b (October – it has 31 days plus an extra hour, because the clocks go back)

THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOWBINESS 22 – a (Paul Newman); 23 – b (Jess); 24 – c (Funerals); 25 – a (Rolling Stones); 26 – c (Green); 27 – b (North Yorkshire); 28 – TRICK QUESTION: Felicity Shagwell is Austin Power’s sexy sidekick

ALL IN THE PAST: 29 – a (William I – a.k.a. The Conqueror); 30 – c (Istanbul); 31 – c (Ronald Reagan); 32 – TRICK QUESTION: Boxing Day is also St. Stephen’s Day; 33 – a (Scientology); 34 – b (Newfoundland); 35 – b (1961)

VIVA ESPANA: 36 – b (Barcelona); 37 – c (Nose); 38 – b (V); 39 – a (La Coruna); 40 – TRICK QUESTION: Queen Letizia was once a TV reporter; 41 – c (Three – France, Portugal & Andorra); 42 – b (Costa Smeralda – it’s in Sardinia)

SO WHERE THE HECK ARE WE? 43 – b (Monaco); 44 – a (Cardiff); 45 – c (Superior); 46 – a (September); 47 – TRICK QUESTION: Saudi Arabia has no rivers; 48 – b (Greenland); 49 – c (Sargasso)

A SPORTING CHANCE: 50 – b (Red); 51 – a (Hearts); 52 – c (USA & Canada); 53 – b (Preston North End – Beckham was on loan there from Man United); 54 – a (Indianapolis); 55 – c (Carousel); 56 – b (Maria Sharapova)

IT AIN’T ROCKET SCIENCE:  57 – c (Wikipedia); 58 – b (Suntan lotions); 59 – a (Tin); 60 – c (Freckles); 61 – TRICK QUESTION: There are 16 ounces in a lb; 62 – b – (Geography); 63 – a (240,000)

… AND THE NUMBERS GAME: 64 – a (206); 65 – c (775); 66 – TRICK QUESTION: Halley’s Comet appears every 76 years; 67 – b (5); 68 – a (64); 69 – b (880,000); 70 – a (5,000)


60 to 70 Excellent, you’re an egghead…but get out more often; 45 to 59 Very good, you’re a star in the pub bar; 30 to 44 Above average, though more swatting up is needed; 29 to 15 Below average, so clearly you watch too much Coronation Street and not enough of The Chase; 14 to 5 Let’s face it: you’re a bit of a plank; Below 5 You’re the Forrest Chump of the family!

Try my EXTRA tricky trivia quiz…it could drive you Christmas crackers!

HERE’S my annual seasonal gift to Views From The Mallorca Pier readers – a quiz that’ll separate the Christmas turkeys from the Yuletide masterminds.

So grab yourself a mince pie and pop the bubbly to get your mind fizzing over these 70 teasing questions…but beware: in each section there’s one question that’s EXTRA tricky, because none of the multiple-choice, optional answers are correct.

No prizes, except the glory of claiming you’re the brightest bauble on the Christmas tree.

But you’ll have to wait until next Friday, December 26, to find out, because that’s when I’ll publish the solution.

So get cracking with a trivia quiz that will drive you Christmas crackers!


MILI-BLAND: The Labour leader did little to convince he is the UK's Prime Minister-in-waiting

ED MILIBAND…what’s he eating? – See Question 3

1 – FORMER US President Bill Clinton made headlines in 2014, by calling present White House incumbent, Barack Obama, what?

a) A fun guy; b) A ‘wuss’; c) A golf nut

2 – WHICH 69-year-old theatrical ‘aristo’ became the new ‘face’ of cosmetics giant, L’Oreal?

a) Dame Helen Mirren; b) Dame Diana Rigg; c) Dame Julie Andrews

3 – BRITAIN’S Labour leader, Ed Miliband, suffered his most embarrassing moment of the year when photo’d making a mess of eating what?

a) A McDonald’s cheeseburger; b) A great British fry-up breakfast; c) A bacon sandwich

 4 – The Japanese tipple, Yamazaki, was voted the world’s best what?

a) Beer; b) Sake rice wine; c) Sherry

5WHO said Prince Harry told her to ‘F*** off’, after she asked him to look after her handbag on a visit to Buckingham Palace?

a) His sister-in-law, Kate; b) Sharon Osbourne; c) Angelina Jolie

 6THE Chinese New Year starts on February 19 celebrates what creature?

a) Sheep; b) Dragon; c) Tiger

7WHICH gobbledygook gabbler won the Plain English Campaign’s 2014 Foot In The Mouth award?

a) Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson; b) London Mayor’s Boris Johnson; c) Comedian Russell Brand


Groucho Marx - See Question 8

GROUCHO MARX…were his dying words witty? – See Question 9

8 – WHAT creature was Robert Burns referring to in his poem that starts, ‘Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie…’?

a) Mouse; b) Louse; c) Grouse

9 – WHICH wit’s dying words were, ‘Either the wallpaper goes or I do’?

a) P.G. Wodehouse; b) Groucho Marx; c) Oscar Wilde

10 – WHICH Shakespearean king pleaded, ‘A horse, a horse – my kingdom for a horse.’

a) King Lear; b) King John; c) Henry V

11 – WHICH kiddies’ character was created by Michael Bond?

a) Paddington Bear; b) Rupert Bear; c) Yogi Bear

12 – WHAT nursery rhyme provided the first words ever recorded on the gramophone by its inventor, Thomas Edison?

a) Jack & Jill; b) Mary Had A Little Lamb; b); c) Three Blind Mice

13 – BY was name was the Oliver Mellors better known?

a) The Count of Monte Cristo; b) Tarzan; c) Lady Chatterley’s Lover

14 – Which fictional detective had a cleverer brother called Mycroft?

a) Sherlock Holmes; b) Columbo; c) Miss Marple


Mars Bar - See Question XX

MARS BAR…was it invented in 1941? – See Question 17

15 – WHAT is the last letter of the Greek alphabet?

a) Epsilon; b) Omega; c) Zeta

16 – WHAT’S the name of Lot’s wife, turned into a pillar of salt for looking back at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?

a) Miriam; b) Deborah; c) Amanda

17 – WHAT type of sweet did Mars and Murrie develop in 1941?

a) Mars Bar; b) Chewing gum; c) M&Ms

18 – In human anatomy, how is the epidermis better known?

a) Skin; b) Ear lobe; c) Finger nail

19 – THE letter K is the chemical symbol for what element?

a) Sulphur; b) Potassium; c) Krypton

20 – WHO would wear a hat called a toque?

a) Chef; b) French Foreign Legionnaire; c) Cardinal

21 – FEBRUARY is the shortest month, but what’s the longest?

a) August; b) October; c) December   


Postman Pat & his black-and-white cat - See Question XX

POSTMAN PAT & HIS CAT…but what’s the pussy’s name? – See Question 23

22 – WHICH Hollywood legend created a best-selling salad dressing?

a) Paul Newman; b) Robert Redford; c) Sylvester Stallone

23 – WHAT’S the name of Postman Pat’s black and white cat?

a) Bess; b) Jess; c) Tess

24 – MONTY Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is the most requested song at what events?

a) Baptisms; b) Weddings; c) Funerals

25 – WHICH band performed the first tune on BBC’s Top of the Pops in 1964?

a) The Rolling Stones; b) The Beatles; c) The Who 

26 – WHAT colour is The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?

a) Red; b) Yellow; c) Green 

27 – IN which real-life UK county is fictional Downton Abbey?

a) West Yorkshire; b) North Yorkshire; c) South Yorkshire

28 – WHICH movie hero’s sexy sidekick is Felicity Shagwell?

a) Ironman; b) Spiderman; c) Captain America


Berlin Wall...but when did it go up - See Question XX

BERLIN WALL came down in 1989…but when did it go up – See Question 35

29 – WHICH English king was crowned on Christmas Day?

a) William I (The Conqueror); b) Edward II; c) Henry III

30 – WHICH ancient city was once known as Byzantium?

a) Rome; b) Athens; c) Istanbul 

31 – WHICH US President once said, ‘You can tell a lot about a fellow by the way he eats jellybeans’?

a) Gerald Ford; b) Lyndon Johnson; c) Ronald Reagan

32 – WHICH saint’s day falls on Boxing Day, December 26?

a) Francis; b) Luke; c) Bartholomew 

33 – SCI-FI writer L. Ron Hubbard created which religious cult?

a) Scientology; b) The Moonies; c) Jehovah’s Witnesses 

34 – WHAT was England’s first overseas colony?

a) Virginia; b) Newfoundland; c) Bermuda

35 – THE Berlin Wall came down in 1989, but in what year did it go up?

a) 1951; b) 1961; c) 1971


Spain's Queen Letizia...but what was her job? - See Question XX

SPAIN’S QUEEN LETIZIA…but what was her job? – See Question 40

36 – IF you arrived at El Prat Airport, where in Spain would you be?

a) Madrid; b) Barcelona; c) San Sebastian

37 – WHAT part of Captain Robert Jenkins’ anatomy did the Spanish cut off to cause a nine-year war with Britain?

a) Ear; b) Testicles; c) Nose

38 – EVERY Eurozone state’s banknotes have a letter on them to denote their origin, but which one identifies Spain’s euros?

a) S; b) V; c) E

39 – FROM where did the Spanish Armada set sail to attack England in 1588?

a) La Coruna; b) Seville; c) Bilbao

40 – Before marrying into the Royal Family, Queen Letizia did what job?

a) Air hostess; b) Page 3 girl; c) Dentist 

41 – How many states border Spain?

a) One; b) Two; c) Three 

42 – Which of the following isn’t a Spanish holiday hot spot?

a) Costa Calida; b) Costa Smeralda; c) Costa de la Luz


MUNICH'S OKTOBER BEER FEST...but in what month does it start?

MUNICH’S OKTOBER BEER FEST…but in what month does it start?

43 – WHICH European mini state has been ruled by the Grimaldi dynasty for over 700 years?

a) San Remo; b) Monaco; c) San Marino 

44 – WHICH British city has a district called Splott?

a) Cardiff; b) Plymouth; c) Newcastle

45 – WHICH is the greatest in size of North America’s Great Lakes?

a) Michigan; b) Erie; c) Superior

46 – IN which month does Munich’s beer-guzzling Oktoberfest begin?

a) September; b) October; c) November 

47 – WHAT is Saudi Arabia’s longest river?

a) Tigris; b) Euphrates; c) Nile

48 – NUUK is the capital of what island?

a) Iceland; b) Greenland; c) Madagascar

49 – WHAT sea has no coastline?

a) Aral; b) Coral; c) Sargasso


DAVID BECKHAM...he played for which lowly team - See Question XX

DAVID BECKHAM…he once played for which lowly team – See Question XX

50 – WHAT colour is the bull’s-eye on a standard dartboard?

a) Gold/yellow; b) Red; c) White

51 – IN a pack of cards, which king doesn’t sport a moustache?

a) Hearts; b) Diamonds; c) Clubs

52 – WHICH were the first teams to compete in an international cricket match?

a) England & Australia; b) India & England; c) USA & Canada 

53 – SOCCER legend, David Beckham, was briefly a star in which lowly side?

a) Millwall; b) Preston North End; c) Leyton Orient 

54 – WHICH motor racing circuit is nicknamed The Brickyard?

a) Indianapolis: b) Silverstone; c) Brands Hatch?

55 – THE soccer anthem, You’ll Never Walk, comes from which musical?

a) South Pacific; b) West Side Story; c) Carousel 

56 – WHICH tennis belle has a grunt of 101 decibels – louder than a lion’s roar?

a) Anna Kournikova; b) Maria Sharapova; c) Serena Williams


PRINCE WILLIAM...what did he study at uni? - See Question XX

PRINCE WILLIAM…what did he study at uni? – See Question 62

57 – WHAT was Jimmy Wales’s great, Internet invention?

a) Google; b) Face Book; c) Wikipedia 

58 – WHAT product’s performance is measured in SPFs?

a) Condoms; b) Suntan lotions; c) Mobile phones 

59 – WHAT metal’s chemical symbol is Sn?

a) Tin; b) Lead; c) Aluminium

60 – LENTIGINES is the medical term for what skin condition?

a) Blackheads; b) Acne; c) Freckles

61 – HOW many ounces are in a British imperial pound?

a) 10; b) 12; c) 14 

62 – PRINCE William has a university degree in what subject?

a) History of art; b) Geography; c) Astrophysics  

63 – THE Moon is approximately how many miles from Earth?

a) 240,000; b) 320,000; c) 410,000


HALLEY'S COMET...but how often does it appear? - See Question XX

HALLEY’S COMET…but how often does it appear? – See Question 66

64 – THE adult human body has what number of bones?

a) 206; b) 216; c) 226

65 – ACCORDING to the BBC how many rooms are in Buckingham Palace?

a) 375; b) 575; c) 775

66 – HALLEY’S Comet appears every how many years?

a) 46; b) 56; c) 66 

67 – EU-approved bananas must have how many sides?

a) 4; b) 5; c) 6 

68 – HOW many love-making positions are described in the Karma Sutra, the world’s oldest sex guide?

a) 64; b) 69; c) 72

69 – IN the acclaimed exhibit by artist Paul Cummins, about how many ceramic poppies were planted at the Tower of London to commemorate each British soldier lost in WW1?

a) 770,000; b) 880,000; c) 990,000 

70– HOW many people does the bible say Jesus feed with five loaves and two fishes?

a) 5,000; b) 6,000; c) 7,000




Men can be morons, but women can’t throw and they’re quiz show ditherers

PUTTING up the Christmas decorations, I placed two chairs on either side of the French window to string the fairy lights across the top of the pelmet and down each side of the drapes.

The gap between the chairs was a tad under two metres – easily jumpable, in my humble estimation, though a view not entirely shared by my lady wife, whose name escapes me.

‘Are you crazy?’ she queried, an inflection of disbelief in her tone. ‘You’ll break your neck.’

If ever the gauntlet of challenge was cast down, those words were it.

So I duly made the defiant leap, missed the second chair by a big toe’s length and fell on my…er, nether regions, emitting an involuntary ‘Ouch!’

Feigning unhurt and disguising the bolt of pain searing through my body, I got to my feet, ignored the look of exasperation writ large on Mrs. A’s face, climbed on chair No.2 and completed the chore in womanly fashion.

This small act of masculine hubris was, however, an example of what scientists have recently labelled Male Idiot Theory (MIT), whereby men take the sort of risks – occasionally lethal – that don’t even cross the minds of females.

Evidence it exists has been drawn from a 20-year study of the Darwin Awards, an annual review of the craziest ways people have perished, which revealed almost 90 per cent were ‘won’ by men.

GETTING THE POINT: One man gets a sharp reminder of the dangers of running with bulls

GETTING THE POINT: One man gets a sharp reminder of the dangers of running with bulls

Named after naturalist Charles Darwin, whose survival-of-the-fittest research revolutionised evolutionary thought, it recognises those who have inadvertently improved the human gene pool by eliminating themselves from it by acts of monumental folly.

Writing in the Christmas edition of The British Medical Journal, Australian boffins admit they’re puzzled why men are willing to take unnecessary risks and wonder whether it’s driven by an irresponsible rite of passage or the pursuit of masculine social esteem – the so-called ‘bragging rights’ factor.

Examples cited included a man who decided to steal a ride home by hitching a shopping trolley to the back of a train, only to be dragged two miles to his death, and the terrorist who unthinkingly opened his own letter bomb on its return-to-sender, after he posted it with insufficient stamps.

Then there was the bloke who shot himself in the head with the ‘spy pen’ gun, just to show his friend it worked, and the thief attempting to nick a steel hawser from a lift shaft – unbolting it while standing in said lift, which then plummeted to the ground, killing him.

Dr Dennis Lendrem, of the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, explains, ‘Idiotic risks are defined as senseless risks, where the apparent payoff is negligible or non-existent, and the outcome is often extremely negative and sometimes final.

‘According to MIT many of the differences in risk-seeking behaviour, emergency department admissions, and mortality may be explained by the observation that men are idiots and idiots do stupid things.’

WORDS FAIL: Apparently, warning signs are for wimps in this animal fan's opinion

WORDS FAIL: Apparently, warning signs are for wimps in this animal fan’s opinion

There can be little doubt Darwin Award winners seem to make little or no attempt at risk assessment. They just do it anyway and in some cases, the intelligence of the award winner borders the moronic.

Lendrem also cited the role booze can play in making fellas feel invincible, as in the instance of the inebriated trio engaged in a variation of Russian roulette, alternately taking shots of alcohol, then stamping on an unexploded land mine.

Inevitably, the mine detonated, demolishing the bar they were in and killed all three.

Not quite a Darwin Awards contender, but worthy of mention, was the man who slipped when using a belt sander as an auto-erotic sex aid and lost a testicle.

Only quick thinking saved the remaining one, as he repaired his scrotum with a staple gun.

In a modest effort to balance the gender books, it’s my belief males learned to react instinctively – even if occasionally inanely – from the dawn of time, taking on woolly mammoths with a simple wooden spear to bring home dinner, while fending off sabre-toothed tigers.

Don’t forget, either, it was mainly blokes who had to go to war – Joan of Arc being one of the rare exceptions (but she was French, which speaks volumes about Frenchmen) – and dauntlessly sailed the seven seas to expand knowledge of the then known world.

It was Christopher, not Christine, Columbus who discovered the Americas and Captain James, not Jemima, Cook, who found an entire continent existed beyond Africa.

I could rattle on about the derring-do of us mere blokes, even if they’re occasionally tinged with lunacy, like Paris’s abduction of Helen – whose fair face launched a thousand blips, let alone ships – and caused the destruction of Troy, according to the Trojan Horse tale.

THIS'LL FIX IT: Six floors up and the aircon unit is here's how a real man mends it

THIS’LL FIX IT: Six floors up and the aircon unit is loose…so here’s how a real man mends it

But let’s be clear: males and females are hardwired differently. And that’s evident from early development, which is why my six grandsons believe they’re Spiderman and my lone granddaughter is busy combing My Little Pony’s tail.

I also believe blokes get a raw deal nowadays, evidenced by a succession of TV ads portraying males at feckless twerps, like a recent Samsung commercial for a plug-in gizmo called an Evolution Kit, which even women panned as ‘sexist’.

Then there’s all this nonsense about fellas not being ‘multi-taskers’. Well, let me tell you that while I’m writing this, I’m also eating a tuna baguette, drinking copious cups of tea, answering the phone and organising my pencils in order of the sharpest.

Not that I haven’t the highest regard for the opposite gender. After all, my wife is a woman, so was my mother, as is my daughter. And females make far more interesting conversation companions than men, unless you want to limit chat to sport, sex, cars and more sport.

But, generally speaking, how many women can throw a ball straight? And have you noticed how so many of them dither on telly quiz shows, wracking their brains, getting the right answer, then talking themselves into the wrong one? That’s providing they don’t run out of time.

Conclusion: we blokes can be idiots, but at least we’re decisive.

I rest my case.

PS: Don’t miss my tricky trivia Christmas Eve quiz in Wednesday’s blog – that’ll sort out the girls from the boys!

Silence isn’t so golden if we’re driven to keep our mouths shut out of fear

THE other day an email arrived in my inbox, accusing me of being a ‘neo-con’.

I’ve been called far worse and really didn’t take it as the insult intended, largely because the missive spewed such far-Left drivel, it might have been lifted from the Socialist Workers Party’s hymn sheet.

Just for the record, the sender ended by advising me to ‘keep your neo-con views to yourself.’

‘Nuff said. Except the post slated by whoever hides behind the nom de plume, DemoFan, was my call for Britain’s politicos to emphasise the positive side of immigration and stop playing the UK Independence Party at its favourite game.

By any measure my piece was ‘neo-lib’, perhaps a reprise from my days as a Gucci socialist (failed) and hardly ‘neo-con’, an Americanism that came to prominence as a barb aimed at President G. ‘Dubya’ Bush’s cronies.

But what got my goat was being told to shut up by someone, I guess, who’d take to the barricades at the drop of a Stop The War Coalition hint or an invite to a CND jamboree in Trafalgar Square, if, indeed, there are still enough members left in it to fill the fountain.

LET HIM SPOUT: So-called hate preachers, like Andjem Choudary,  should be given air time to condemn themselves from their own mouths

LET HIM SPOUT: So-called hate preachers, like Andjem Choudary, should be given air time to condemn themselves from their own mouths

Clearly, DemoFan’s versions of democracy’s saintliest virtue, the freedom of speech, is that it was okay to say what you liked, so long as its mantra echoed his. And any philosophy falling short of that is taboo, fascist or – as in my case – ‘neo-con’.

Yet, if I were to categorise myself it would be as a ‘free-thinker’, hidebound by politically correct rules imposed on Western society by the real fascists: a hardline, censorious liberal elite who have strangled public debate in ways more reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984 vision of Big Brother’s Thought Police.

That notion occurred last week when I read a YouGov survey, which reported that 41% of Brits don’t feel free to air their opinions and that Britain, home to the Mother of Parliaments, has developed a ‘culture of silence’.

Of course, I realise that stat includes headbangers who believe Hitler should be beatified as St. Adolf, others on a day out from the funny farm and a few, token Flat Earthers. But it also encompasses many with mainstream opinions on techy topics, such as immigration, religion, ethics and their political preferences (admittedly, it takes some guts to fess up to voting Lib-Dem nowadays).

For the record, the poll also said 40% felt they could sound off at will and 17%, who reckon there’s too much freedom anyway.

Nonetheless, in a so-called free society, it’s worrisome that two out of five citizens keep their thoughts to themselves out of a dread they may hurt someone’s feelings, perhaps prompt a Twitterstorm and get their Facebook page trolled.

The largest proportion of the self-censored (38%) said they feared speaking up in case they uttered something illegal, while 28% stayed silent because they couldn’t stomach criticism. A further 10% thought airing their ideas might damage their careers prospects.

However, of all those polled, an overwhelming majority (77%) agreed on one point: too much protection is given by officialdom and the media to religious believers from ideas and arguments which might offend them.

In its summary of the survey, the New Culture Forum, which commissioned it, pointed a particularly scathing finger at universities, where it claimed free speech ‘is carefully monitored, not by the state or the campus administration, but by the students.’

It added, ‘Student unions now see the mental wellbeing of the student body as a reason to ban anything from a pop song to a reading group.’

ON THE LEASH: The report rapped students' unions for the control they exercise on campuses

FREEDOM TO SPEAK? The report rapped students’ unions for the ‘mind’ control they exercise on campuses

Since today’s generation of undergrads – many of whom love nothing better than a juicy demo and a chance to kick those fascist lackeys, the police – will deliver tomorrow’s leaders, I can only surmise more Big Brothers are rolling off the production line.

So, while we quite rightly have laws banning hate speech and incitement to racism, we’re in danger of stifling legitimate argument, not because it might cause actual bodily harm, but because someone, somewhere might be offended.

Britain once had a proud tradition of allowing people to speak their minds, often a shrewd ruse to suss out the real odium peddlers, who’d damn themselves from their own mouths.

But when the BBC announced that British National Party leader, Nick Griffin – a real, live neo-Nazi – was to appear on its flagship political forum, Question Time, a tidalwave of outrage nearly quashed the broadcast.

To their credit, the Beeb bravely stuck to its script, the BNP nasty duly appeared and got the pillorying his despicable views richly deserved.

That example is one of the exceptions rather than the rule, because invariably received wisdom is to gag debate, which is Home Secretary Theresa May’s policy, as she seeks to ban extremists from TV, like the so-called hate preacher Anjem Choudary.

I’d say: bring them on and let’s hear their obnoxious ravings, so we’re all aware of what degree of danger they pose.

The Establishment, though, doesn’t subscribe to the view people are capable of making up their own minds, so silence is foisted on them.

PUBLISHED & DAMNED: Instead of defending Salmon Rushdie from a death sentence fatwa, Britain's Establishment attacked the writer

PUBLISHED & DAMNED: Instead of defending Salmon Rushdie from a death sentence fatwa, Britain’s Establishment attacked the writer

Such was the case when Salmon Rushdie’s Satanic Verses hit the bookshelves in 1988, provoking a fatwa death sentence from Iran’s then Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. Yet, instead condemning a gross and medieval assault on a long-prized Western freedom, the great and good cravenly attacked Rushdie.

Nor did the fabled, fearless British Press cover itself in glory, when not a single Fleet Street newspaper dared reproduce the ‘Mohammed Cartoons’, after an obscure Danish daily sparked worldwide debate on whether founders of the great religions could be satirised.

Yet, when a ComRes poll early last year asked what freedom people prized most, freedom of speech topped the list by a country mile.

Clearly, the public subscribed to the notion, ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’ – a quote wrongly attributed to Voltaire and actually the words of his biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall – and that is a plucky and noble sentiment.

More’s the pity, then, the Establishment is too cowardly to share it.

Plebs 2, Toffs 0 – rare victories for the ruled against our snotty rulers

THERE’S a hoary adage in this weird, old words business, ‘When in doubt, leave out.’

The advice is – invariably sound, in my humble experience – that if something wasn’t provable beyond a reasonable doubt, you dropped it like a hot brick, unless you had a fetish for appearing before bewigged m’lords in libel courts.

Andrew Mitchell, the UK Coalition government’s former Chief Whip, is a prime example of the ‘doubt dictum’ ignored and it’s cost him – so far – £3-million for the privilege of abusing his privilege.

Brimming with hubris, he committed legal hara-kiri by suing The Sun newspaper for libel, after it leaked details of the words – and particularly the slur, ‘f***ing pleb’ – Mitchell used in a ruckus with police, when the plods refused to open the gates of Downing Street so he could wheel his push-bike through them.

In court proceedings of what became dubbed the Plebgate Scandal the scales were tipped by the contemporaneous notes of the reporting officer, a PC Rowland, whom the judge, Mr. Justice Mitting, believed on the basis the copper was…er…too thick to have made it up.

In his summing up of the case, the judge said the officer was ‘not the sort of man who would have had the wit, imagination or inclination to invent, on the spur of the moment, an account of what a senior politician had said to him in temper.’

ON YER BIKE! Ex-Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, loses a £3M libel case...because cops wouldn't open a gate for his pushbike

ON YER BIKE! Ex-Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, loses a £3M libel case…because he lost his rag, after cops wouldn’t open the Downing Streets gate for his pushbike

While this speaks volumes about the intellect of a section of London’s Metropolitan constabulary, it also illuminates how utterly insulated from reality and real people – if, indeed, coppers qualify as such – those who believe they were born to rule truly are.

Mitchell, rich enough to take the huge libel fees hit, remains unrepentant and unabashed, continuing to think he is a ruler, not a ruled.

It’s a fault-line in the minds of many of the arrogant elite, too consumed with the aphrodisiacs of wealth and power. So it’s no bad thing that, from time to time, they’re reminded of their human frailties by we of the hoi poloi.

Adam Boulton, Sky TV’s Political Editor, recounts an anecdote of another brought to earth with a humiliating bump: one-time Conservative head honcho, Michael Howard.

Once stopped in his tracks by a PC from going through a barred door, the then Home Secretary stomped, ‘Do you know who I am?’

Showing commendable cool and cheeky defiance in the face of his self-proclaimed better, the policeman merely clicked on his radio and said, ‘Er, Sarge, we got a bloke here who doesn’t know who he is.’

TAXI TANTRUM: Former UK minister, David Mellor - seen here with his partner, Lady Cobham - lost his cool with a London cabbie

TAXI TANTRUM: Former UK minister, David Mellor – seen here with his partner, Lady Cobham – climbed down after he lost his cool with a London cabbie

Last week rage similarly did for fallen Tory grandee, David Mellor, who appeared ‘tired and emotional’ – Private Eye magazine’s euphemism for alcoholically challenged – when launching a foul-mouthed rant at a taxi driver during a ride home from a bash at Buckingham Palace with his partner, Lady Cobham.

Furious at the route they were on, he called the cabbie ‘a sweaty, stupid little sh*t and smart a*se’, adding, ‘Shut the f*** up’ and, for the autobiographical one-upmanship, ‘I’ve been in the Cabinet, I’m an award-winning broadcaster, I’m a Queen’s Counsel – you think that your experiences are anything compared to mine?’

Alas for the arrogant Mellor, in 1992 forced to resign as Heritage Minister after his month-long holiday in Marbella as guest of the daughter of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s paymaster made headlines, the canny cabbie taped the exchange, which appeared – you’ve guessed it – in The Sun.

At least Mellor, who is to broadcasting what your truly is to astrophysics, had the good grace to apologise for his tirade the following day, presumably his champagne goggles having faded.

However, it’s still my earnest hope that London’s 25,000 Hackney carriage drivers will blacklist Mellor and even Transylvanian minicab drivers will switch off their sat-navs if he ever chances into their back seats and turn his 20-minute hop from Westminster to Chelsea into a five-hour tour round the M25.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a grudging admiration for coppers and cabbies, since they wield the power to represent the revenge of the have-nots against ludicrously vain authority figures, too bumptious for their boots.

But, borrowing from Karl Marx, sometimes it is the massed ranks of the proletariat, coupled with the wonders of 21st Century social media that does for those who use their position to do unto others, even if the others are higher up the greasy pole.

OFF LIMITS: Top Republican aide, Elizabeth Lauten paid the price for slagging off President Obama's daughters, Sasha (left) and Malia

OFF LIMITS: Top Republican aide, Elizabeth Lauten, paid the price for slagging off President Obama’s daughters, Sasha (left) and Malia

Just such an example was the American public’s response to top Republican aide, Elizabeth Lauten’s vicious attack on President Barack Obama’s daughters, Malia, 16, and 13-year-old Sasha, press-ganged into appearing with their dad on TV at the tradition ‘spare-a-turkey’ Thanksgiving Day ceremony.

Typically bored and glum as teenagers are, the girls trundled through the motions of doing their bit, but certainly didn’t deserve Lauten’s eviscerating insults, posted on her Facebook page (since deleted).

‘Dear Sasha and Malia,’ she wrote patronisingly. ‘I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play.

‘Then again, your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter. So I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the good role model department.’

The post went on to advise the girls to ‘rise to the occasion and act like being in the White House matters to you.’

And, to twist the knife of spite a further turn, Lauten added, ‘Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar.’

Frankly, the girls were clad far more appropriately than I’ve seen many teenagers.

And, while their father isn’t necessarily at the top of many folks’ Christmas card lists, his children are off limits – a point rammed home to Lauten by an avalanche of on-line condemnation the silly woman richly deserved.

After prayerful reflection and probably much prodding from her Republican Party bosses, a contrite Lauten apologised and quit, saying she ‘had judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager.’

So power to the people – even coppers and cabbies – in showing up our egotistical betters as being less than half our equals.