22nd March 1995, Series 29, programme 51. I lost the first letters round (I got 7 (“ingrate”), Sue got 8 ) and I never recovered. I remember Carol Vorderman being a very nice person, the dictionary guy being a bit stuck-up, and David Jacobs being very old.


For a better start in life


First time I saw Emily and Joshua’s alphabet blocks I was a bit sceptical. They’re so surreal, and the photos looked like they might’ve been photoshopped. But real they are. And to prove that they’re no fluke, I just found my own version while out shopping here in Birmingham. I was browsing in a cheap-shop (one of those where everything costs £1) when I saw this item among the children’s toys:


I’m sure that 90% of the toys for sale in Britain are made in China, but the quality is generally better than this piece of junk. I had to buy it though, for the Chinglish. Look closer:

Chinglish in Brum

That’s some dictionary they must be using. The words “refection” and “carbonado” had completely passed me by, until today. And that’s bad luck, picking the most obscure spelling of “cookie” (as a translation of “bread”). Not such bad luck though, to pick “malt” when the word you need is in the picture. I wish I could say that from now on I’m going to call Big Macs “Greatness Folds”, but it’s too much of a mouthful.

Notice that the blocks are numbered 13-24, so I’m sure there must be a 1-12 set out there somewhere… Happy hunting!

Photo parade

Jim’s Gem’s

I’d like to see apostrophes banished from English altogether. But in the meantime, can’t we force signmakers to take an English test? (Shop in Bedworth)

close-up The sign by the door is 98% error-free.

Crosswells pub, Langley

One of my pet peeves! (Sign on The Crosswells Inn, Langley)

Bloxcidge Street

I just thought this was an odd name. (Street in Oldbury, near West Bromwich)