There are some things men just aren’t very good at - emotions, turning up on time, pretending to care about other people’s problems and, of course, buying presents for the woman in their life.
This Christmas, for instance, ISpy learned that giving the wife vouchers for Ann Summers and saying ‘knock yourself out’ is not considered an appropriately sensitive gift.
But any men who worry about their ability to suitably mark a big occasion in your wife’s life would be better served not taking a leaf out of Chris Kleis’s book.
The Iowa man wracked his brains trying to come up with a nice birthday present for his wife, Carol, and he certainly earns points for originality - he used 120,000 pounds of manure to spell out ‘Happy Birthday, love you’ in shorthand.
According to him: “It’s not hard. Any manure will work but the good, soft, gushy, warm stuff works the best. It kind of melts the snow”.
So, if your missus has a birthday in the next few days, there’s an idea for you.
But what’s really baffling is why did he write it in shorthand? After all, if you’ve just taken the time to collect 120,000 pounds of horse poop, surely the least you could do is take the time to write the whole thing properly?
Okay, now you can panic
The hysteria about the current cold snap continues unabated - although, as one colleague pointed out, witnessing thunder and lightning during yesterday’s snowstorm was like something from The Road - and the whole country has lost the plot.
So, as the last rational person in the land, ISpy urged people yesterday to stay calm and stop bloody panicking.
But, not for the first time, we were wrong. Because upon delivering yesterday’s finely crafted homily, we went home and brought the dogs out for a walk.
And, as the three of us went on our merry way, your hero promptly slipped and fell, landing on our arse, much to the amusement of our bastard neighbours and, presumably, the dogs as well.
So, now that we have been directly affected by the cold spell, it’s official - permission to panic.
In fact, we’ll probably all be dead by the end of the week.
He will be missed…
The death has occurred this week of Tsutsomo Yamaguchi, the 93-year-old survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic attacks. The Nagasaki native was in Hiroshima on business for Mitsubishi when the first bomb fell, and returned to his home town just in time to witness the second attack.
According to his obituary: “He suffered serious burns to his body and stomach as well as temporary blindness.”
His family, caught in the blast, either died in the explosion or succumbed to cancer.
And Yamaguchi’s nickname? Well, he was known as ‘Lucky’ Yamaguchi.
So, you get caught up in two atomic blasts, your family gets wiped out, you suffer serious burns and blindness and they call you ‘Lucky’?
Who says the Japanese have no sense of humour?
How depressed are you today? Are you knackered, skint and would prefer to simply stay tucked up in bed rather than go back to a job you hate?
Or are you feeling that the New Year brings a new start and if we can simply adopt a more positive, American-style attitude then we can all collectively drag ourselves out of the mire?
Well, if you’re one of those doughty types who likes to look on the positive side, then we have a solution for that — Celebrity Big Brother.
If ever even the most idealistic and hopeful individual needed proof that, as a species, we don’t deserve to exist, then surely it comes in the form of a programme which treats as stars a Russian waitress who shagged a married man old enough to be her grandad and a cage fighter who slept with the walking biological contamination unit that is Jordan. And Vinny Jones.
What’s even more depressing is the return to our screens of Davina McCall, the gurning, face-pulling talent vacuum whose sole contribution to the betterment of human kind was to make Jade Goody a star.
But it turns out she may not be as deluded as it first appears, because she admits that she won’t allow her children watch television: “It’s bad for them. It definitely affects their behaviour.”
And she has a point - although it’s a bit rich coming from a woman who fronts a programme which has done more damage to an entire generation than crack and syphilis combined.
Having said that, nothing on display on CBB is quite as traumatic as the promo for McCall’s new dancing show which features her in a figure-hugging leotard. Nurse! My eyes! Pluck them out, please!
He may be one of those artists who seems to suffer from chronic attention deficit disorder, given the number of different projects and musicians he has involved himself with, but there’s no doubt that Nebraska native Conor Oberst is a rare and unique talent.
His work as Bright Eyes has produced some unacknowledged classics, not least 2005’s Digital Ash In A Digital Urn.
That album contains probably his finest moment, the utterly entrancing ‘Easy/Lucky/Free’ which was arguably the best song of 2005.
The video was also truly superb and innovative; check it out on YouTube.
One of the most iconic novels of all time, JD Salinger’s Catcher In The Rye, is destined to never go out of fashion.
Featuring the prematurely misanthropic Holden Caulfield and his obstinate refusal to simply go with the flow of his middle class American life, it became a must-have for angry young men everywhere.
Sample quote: “I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, even if they’re sort of stupid, you half fall in love with them.”