When the 5p charge on bags came in, I have to admit I wasn't a supporter. I worried that this would be the end of the carrier bag and if you didn't have your bag-for-life with you your only option would be to fill your pockets and try to juggle the rest.

My fears only partly came true. Sometimes in a shop you want to use a bag and they have a member of staff handing them out. They're 5p. I don't think they need personally guarding. Everything else in the supermarket is just left on shelves but those 5p bags get a guard.

In general the plan worked, there has been a reduction in the number of plastic bags used and therefore sent to landfill. However, the bags-for-life we use are thicker and they go to landfill too. Either the shops are selling us something that isn't fulfilling it's promise or they don't think we're going to live that long, which is a worry because they know what we've been eating.

This week science may have found an answer. They have discovered a moth that eats plastic. Wax moth larvae enjoy nothing more than munching on a plastic bag so we could use them eat the bags instead of sending them to landfill.

If we learned nothing else from the old lady who swallowed a fly it's that some solutions lead to bigger problems. We'd have loads of wax moths everywhere. Eventually we wouldn't be able to keep up with their hunger, we'd couldn't feed them more bags, they're 5p each now. They'd eat anything plastic and pretty soon that will include the £5, £10 and £20 note.

Pretty soon we won't be able to afford to buy things. That'll save even more carrier bags, I suppose.



We’re in an area where housing is an issue. For some the dream of owning their own home is painfully less likely than the dream where they turn up to work with no clothes on.

One solution we could copy from North London is the so-called naked homes. There’s a development plan to build low-cost homes that are no-frills, and by frills they mean interior walls, floor and even bathroom.

These 22 apartments in Enfield will have a kitchen sink, which is perfect for when people say, “What do you need for your new place?”

You get to say, “I need everything but the kitchen sink.”

The homes will be 40% cheaper than the market price but that’s in North London, so it’s still more expensive than most of us will ever manage without a good scratchcard.

It’s down to the buyer to finish the property which could be expensive. If I have learned anything from watching Grand Designs it’s that everything goes over budget and causes a divorce.

These homes are only really for people who can do the DIY themselves. What about the rest of us who were persuaded by previous governments that going to university would be a good idea? I can’t build a partition wall. Most of my DIY involves Blu tack.

I’m like the people who bought a diesel car when the government said they should. Where’s my education scrappage scheme?

If you can afford to buy one and do the work yourself you could get a good return on it.

But it has no bathroom. By the time you’ve moved in, sorted the floors and the walls you probably would have needed the toilet and there’s just that sink there. So you know what that sink will have been used for. And that shaves some money off the asking price.



L Test

Another general election. That’s nice. It seems like ages since we had a vote that divided everyone.

On the day Theresa May announced the election they cancelled ITV’s Loose Women, so at least some good has come from this.

While people get ready to fight about the details of Brexit again I tried to look for a story that could bring us all together.

The driving test is being changed. Anyone who has to share the road with others has probably thought the test needs updating, apart from bringing in retesting. People who drive already seem less keen on that.

I think the additional training part of the test would be key. It’s all very well being able to pass the basic test but if you’re going to use the roads it’s worth taking some advanced tuition. Like a course on how to deploy the indicators on a BMW. Really advanced and difficult stuff like that.

The new test will not test the driver on reversing round a corner, which makes sense. The only time you need that skill is after you have just realise you’ve turned down the wrong side street and you are so flustered you do a manoeuvre that looks like it’s from the film The Italian Job.

Learners will now be required to reverse park into a parking space. It’s similar to reversing round a corner but if you get it wrong you don’t just fail your test you also get a bill for some paint work. It’s that higher jeopardy that will focus the learner’s mind.

When trying to reverse park under test conditions it can get confusing. Some people will veer to the right, some veer to the left and some will mess things up. So maybe it is like the election after all.


Con Air

I often use this space to complain about travelling in our area. I spend on average 2 months a year queuing on the A127 at Ardleigh Green. That's not based on any real data but it sure feels like it.

Coming into town is bad enough but the queue going westbound is made worse by the fact only one lane is in use for driving down the A127 and one lane is basically a dedicated slip-road for a fast food restaurant. How bad are we getting that we have as many lanes for fatty foods as we do for actually driving?

Other times my anger has been aimed at our rail services. An actual piece of research said that office workers would be healthier if they stood up for around 2 hours a day. Looks like TfL are trying to help with that.

If you travel on the trains in the mornings there's a good chance you don't even know what colour the seats are.

I have also commented on c2c trains. I sit in the quiet carriage in the hope of some piece but there's always a young person using the phone loudly, saying the word “like” between all other words. I do what any proud Brit would. I quietly tut and look at the “Quiet please” signs.

All my travel complaints have disappeared now thanks to United Airlines. They are the ones who were filmed dragging a passenger from his seat when they had overbooked the flight. As he is dragged out of the plane his shirt rides up and his belly is on show.

As I sit in a queue or stand on a loud train I am grateful I'm not being carrying off with my belly on show. And those around me should be grateful of that too.



A list of the best views in Britain has been compiled. I sat down to read which local site would get an honourable mention. Imagine my surprise to fine that we didn't place.

The top ten includes hills and fields and such. Those rural scenes are all very well but you have to travel ages for a coffee shop, which seems odd because the milk for the latte comes from cows and you get those in fields. It's almost like they haven't thought it through.

Anything this list can offer we can do just as good locally.

They mention the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim, famous for its broken up rocks. So? Have you seen some of the pot holes we can offer? There used to be one outside Poundland you could holiday in.

At number three on the list is Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Forgive me if I'm wrong but Stonehenge is simply and old building that has been abandoned and left to go into disrepair. I think we can match that without even trying.

They also say Loch Ness is one of the best sights. When you go there it looks great, but you're actually there trying to see a big creature that you simply won't see. Stroll down Winston Way round the back of the cinema at night and you can see some creatures. Foxes and things, I mean.

At number one on the list is Snowdonia, specifically the view of Llyn Llydaw from the summit of Snowdon. I have seen many Lyns in Ilford and most have been a nice sight, thank you.

We always think scenery formed by nature is the best, and it is lovely, but don't miss out on the everyday sights we are surrounded by. What we human do is pretty good too.


Blue Passports

We're a week into life under Article 50 and already there have been some unexpected outcomes. We nearly declared war on Spain over Gibraltar, which is worrying. I think we'd win that war but even the mention of the W-word pretty much guaranties we won't get any points at this year's Eurovision Song Contest.

While war is generally considered as a bad thing it's worth taking a look at some of the positives we're getting from Brexit. A recent YouGov poll found that number two on the list of things leavers wanted to see brought back is the blue passport.

The Home Office has confirmed it will spend almost £500million redesigning our passports, which seems a lot but it's only two weeks worth of the £355million that's not going to the NHS.

Of all the real reasons to leave the EU passport colouring is up there with banana curvature but some people take this seriously.

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell said, “The humiliation of having a pink European Union passport will now soon be over.”

If I'm honest, I never gave it a thought. I certainly didn't refuse to travel abroad to avoid the shame of having to whip my pink passport out in a customs queue.

You see some UK tourists with their bright yellow shorts, socks paired with sandals, a bum-bag and Timmy Mallett inspired sunglasses. They don't look like they'd be embarrassed about the colour of their passport.

And it's not pink. It's burgundy. A colour named after a region in France. How is that now worse for a Eurosceptic?

If we're spending £500million on this I want a passport like the Nokia 3310 with changeable fascia. That way you could pick the cover you'd want.

I might pick a burgundy one. It goes well with my sandals.




Have you seen them? They are everywhere. You cannot escape them. And they are annoying.

No, I'm not complaining about the charity muggers on the high street for once, I'm talking about drones.

The number of complaints about drones has drastically increased. There were 3,456 incidents last year compared with only 1,237 in 2015.

It's a predictable trend. There are more drones these days so there will be more complaints. Back in 2011 the only drones you heard about were American military ones being sent in to destroy targets. So there were fewer complaints back then although possibly more serious ones.

There are many ways that we have found to misuse the drone technology. They are often used to smuggle things into prisons. I'm not fully sure how. All I know about smuggling things into prison is from watching Orange Is The New Black on Netlix and there is no way I'd want to have to shove a drone in there.

One of the most common complaints is about invasions of privacy.

Prof David Dunn, from the University of Birmingham, said: "Previously you had a hedge, you had a wall and you could do whatever you wanted in your garden without people disturbing you. That has changed because of drones."

I don't know what they do in their gardens up in Birmingham but do that indoors, you fool.

It's not the drone's fault, it's us. If you give us technology we'll misuse it. My mum used to enjoy standing by the curtains seeing what was happening on the street. If she had access to a surveillance drone she would have loved it.

We just need to stop the bad people using them for bad things. Now, if only there was a way we could keep an eye on them.


New Pound

It doesn't seem that long ago I was writing about the new five pound note. They were boasting of its technological advances, its fancy polymer and its see-through parts. They said it would be the hardest note to fake but the only thing it will be remembered for is its meat content.

No one seems to know how but cows were used in the production of the new note. I don’t get to feel as upset about that as a vegan, because I keep my notes in a leather wallet, but I was still surprised.

So I have been waiting to see what scandal will surround the new one pound coin that came out this week.

The dodecagonal coin is now legal tender and the same storyline happened. We have heard from experts saying it’s a state-of-the-art lump of metal with its hologram effect on the front and its tiny writing that make it hard to fake.

Now we wait for the scandal. They have laid the ground work with the Royal Mint saying there are extra security features inside the coin that they are not telling us about.

So we’re left the guess that the innards of this new coin are probably made of beef. And to make things worse, they got the beef from a cheap supermarket so it’s actually horse.

I bet the coin is hollow. Or the metal in the middle is actually cheap imported steel from China, putting UK jobs at risk.

What else could the immoral security feature be? They make the disc using the tallow from stray dogs they catch. That’s why it’s called a dog pound. Maybe.

The truth is, it’ll be the least forged pound because these days the pound is so weak there are no criminal gangs who can be bothered.


Office Crimes

There is a crime that is touching the lives of many people. It is a crime that is going unreported. Its victims are often left visibly shaken. It may have happened to you or someone you know. That crime is office lunch theft.

New research has found that a third of workers have had their lunch stolen in the workplace. I’m self-employed and often work from home so if it happens to me it’s actually a home invasion.

31% of office workers have also had their favourite mug stolen, which goes to show how some people have no morals. At least you can put a label on your mug. You can’t put your name on your lunch as easily. If you sew name tags onto all of your sandwiches it would take ages. It’s quicker to simply change your surname to Ginsters.

Put your name on a mug at work and someone will still use it. That’s why I had a special mug made that says, “World’s Best Impetigo Sufferer”. No one has touched it since.

It’s not just food – if you buy milk it will magically disappear, leave a nice pen on your desk while you walk to the printer, you may never see it again – but it’s the theft of food that seems the most galling because there’s nothing you can do. You can’t call the police. They tell you to stop bothering them.

You have to take the law into your own hands. I started leaving a Post It note on my sandwich in the office fridge that read, “Steve’s food. Do not eat. I have licked this sandwich.”

The good news is, no one took my sandwich that day. The bad news is, they left another Post It that read, “So have I!”


Eating with Joan Collins

For a while now I have wanted to have a go at the clean eating fad. People like Gwyneth Paltrow have made successful businesses out of telling people to cut out anything enjoyable about eating. That’s good because we were all wondering how she’d get by on the income from being a movie star alone.

I’m rather biased on this issue as eating is one of the two main sources of enjoyment for me and last week my home broadband was disconnected so I lost the other source.

I’m not saying my diet is always healthy but it is often fun. Some health food advocates say you should only eat foods that are in season. We made it through crème egg season and I made the most of it. When people quote the adverts and say, “How do you eat yours?”

I can only answer, “Quickly.”

The problem with me criticism of Gwyneth’s eating habits is, if someone pointed out that she is older than me but she looks so much better, my argument was left collapsed on the floor.

Thankfully this week Dame Joan Collins did the work for me. She had a go at Gwyneth’s fad diets and she’s much older than either of us and still looks great.

I wish I could look like her when I get that old. Not exactly like that. I’d like the young skin without the curves.

I’ve tried the cabbage soup diet where you only eat cabbage soup. I’ve tried the grapefruit diet where you only eat grapefruit. I didn’t even ask about the Rosemary Conley’s hip and thigh diet just in case.

From now on I will live the Joan Collins way when it comes to food choices. I even bought a wristband that says, “What would JC do?”


Short Marriages

In the UK, 42% of marriages end in divorce. Sad news but it means means 58% end in death, so if you have been divorced you may have got the better end of the deal.

There’s more good news for the divorced as new research says that beautiful people are more likely to have short marriages.

In the study women were asked to rate the attractiveness of 200 men in photos, basically what Facebook is for. The experts found the men who were ranked as more attractive had shorter marriages on average.

On the other hand, if you have just celebrated an anniversary linked to a precious metal or stone, well, I’m sure you have a nice personality.

The research was done by Harvard University but it doesn’t seem that complicated. The theory is that attractive people have more offers and more temptation put in their way. It’s not their fault. What were they meant to do, be moral and stay faithful?

For those of us with faces that aren’t our best feature, any stability in a relationship is caused by the fact we know we don’t get many offers. A partner may be a crazy and annoying blight but we worry we won’t find someone else right away and renting on your own can be expensive.

It’s hard to be beautiful. A few years ago journalist Samantha Brick wrote an article saying that she was hated because she’s so attractive. Then the internet told her how much they hated her, which must’ve convinced her she was really attractive.

The take home message from the university study is that for a long and stable relationship, ladies, you should go after someone who has a face for radio. Steve is on radio weekdays 2pm till 4pm.


Inflation News

It's that time of year again when they create a fictional shopping basket to work out the rate of inflation. They look at the cost of the items in that basket and work out how much the pound buys you. If that basket were a Poundland one we could save a lot of time.

There are around 700 items in this basket and yet I bet they'd still take it to the 10 items or less queue.

The new items added into this basket include cycle helmets and gin, which makes you wonder how much gin they are buying that they think, “I'm gonna need a cycle helmet tonight”?

Also on the shopping list is rice milk. I've never understood that. How do you milk rice? You must have tiny little buckets and stools.

Chocolate digestive biscuits are now in the shopping basket. We're eating so many biscuits now it's not just inflation that's going up. If we keep on like this the shopping basket will have to include trousers with elasticated waists.

They have also put scooters in the basket. How many scooters are you getting through that you need to buy them on a regular basis? Maybe if you didn't eat so many biscuits you wouldn't break so many scooters.

Bog-standard mobile phone handsets are being removed but if you were buying a lot of pay-as-you-go handsets you were probably a drug dealer.

Smartphones, however, are in the basket because these days they are selling like hot cakes, which if it's a Galaxy Note 7 is one of the warning signs.

One thing is for sure, with a basket full of 700 items including some as big as a scooter I bet the people at the Office for National Statistics wish they'd have spent a pound and got a trolley.


I'd Tap That

I am fairly sure I am being spied on.

Donald Trump claimed on Twitter that Obama tapped his phone calls and gave no evidence to back that up and I have no evidence that I am being tapped, so it must be equally true.

Then all the security officials in America said it wasn't true. Why would you need to bug Donald? If you want to record him saying something embarrassing just listen to his speeches.

When a White House spokeswoman was asked if Donald Trump accepted that he wasn't bugged she said, "I don't think he does. He firmly believes that this is a storyline that has been reported pretty widely."

Of course it has, the press reported that he tweeted about it. Just because something gets in the news doesn't make it true.

It was pretty widely reported that Trump splashed out on some hotel room entertainment in Moscow but it doesn't make it true, even though that would be funny if it were true.

Which leads me to my point, I am being spied on. Also this week experts claimed Samsung TVs could be hacked by the CIA and MI5 and they could use the microphone on the TV to listen to everything you say. Admittedly they would hear what you say while you're watching TV, so it would include things like, "Ooh, what's he been in before," and "Well, at least The Nightly Show makes the adverts look good."

Do I really think the CIA and MI5 have bothered to hack my TV to listen to me? Well, it's been pretty widely reported. Reported by me on my radio show and Twitter feed but still, it's been reported a lot.

So it's true. I don't mind though. I'm happy to get anyone listening.



I enjoy the property section. It's a window into other people's homes, although that's a bad metaphor because there are windows into people's homes, we call them windows.

I like seeing how other people live. I've been tempted to book in to see some properties for my own personal version of Through The Keyhole.

You see a lounge with a massive bar or a TV so big you know that's all the residents care about and you ask, “Who lives in a house like this?”

Imagine my excitement when I was looking at property section and saw the garages up for auction in Abbotts Close. I don't need to park in that area but after seeing David Cameron's £25,000 shed this week I got shed envy.

The former Prime Minister has bought the top of the range shed on wheels. Technically that type of shed is called a shepherds' hut. One presumes if they were known as a pig farmers' hut he wouldn't have bothered.

Cameron plans to sit in his shed and write his memoirs. Imagine how much better my columns would be if I had a shed too.

I could craft these words as I look at the lawn mower or the outlines of tools that are missing from the wall like a DIY crime scene. Sadly, where I live I can't have a shed.

So my plan was to get a lock-up and put a shed in it. Sadly, I didn't win the auction.

Instead I have to live without a shed and see pictures of Cameron's 16 by 7 foot hut with wood-burning stove, sofa bed and sheep's wool insulation. I say to myself in a Loyd Grossman voice, “Who would live in a shed like this?”

I don't think I could print the answer.

Music News

Music news can tell us a lot.

It was bad news for Bros fans as the Goss brothers announced they were cancelling half of their tour dates. They said it was because of “logistical reasons”, which is widely considered to mean they couldn’t get the band to the audience because the audience had decided to not buy tickets and stay at home.

I understand performing to five people in Newcastle can’t be much fun but, as someone who has taken a few shows to the Edinburgh Festival, if you get a small crowd you still put the show on. I’ve stood on stage saying, “When will I be famous?” but not for the same reasons as Matt and Luke.

They released a statement saying, “All ticket holders for the cancelled shows will receive an automatic refund.” That’s good because previously they have said, “I own you nothing. Ooh ar. Nothing at all.”

I would go on quoting Bros songs but I think I’ve done them all.

Meanwhile Steps have announced they’re getting back together. So, an 80s group cancel gigs and a 90s one put them on. I think this means the 90s is finally “retro”.

80s retro has gone on for longer than the actual 80s did. Decades of boom bring back happier memories than the decades that included a recession. I think that’s why we have had over 10 years of remembering fondly the shoulder pads, skirts and power ballads of the 80s (you should see what I look like in that radio studio).

Finally we are starting to enjoying the decade of Brit Pop, Ben Sherman shirts and seeing Chris Evans lose jobs on TV.

Also in entertainment news, Gorillaz are reforming. They’re from the early 2000s.

That 90s revival didn’t last long, did it?


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