HERE’S another sector of society that I condemn utterly: parents. In fact, I dislike families as a whole and believe that issue, if that is the word, should be raised in socialist pods with prog rock and audio selections from Tolkien pumped into their pathetically soft heads.

Families are self-obsessed, protective and exclusive. They are the origin of all tribalism, nationalism and war. You can be telling parents an interesting and amusing anecdote and, just before you get to the punchline, they turn away and start going goo-ga to their bairn. Just because it’s fallen on its head or something.

They pay no attention to a chap at all. It’s disgraceful. That said, I’m on record as praising modern parents for treating their children respectfully and answering their inane inquires rather than, as my dad did, telling me to just shut up and eat my bridie (if it was a Sunday).

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I was an enthusiastic supporter of the smacking ban but, recently in a city leisure centre’s changing rooms, revisited that approbation.

There were only four showers and, as so often, one family was monopolising them all, which they did for so long that I had to give up and go home covered in sweat and Lynx.

This was not before listening to their brat bawling and shouting. Repeatedly, it actually intoned: “I am cross!” And, instead of asking if it wanted a medal, they just said solicitously: “Are you cross?” And I thought: ‘The stupid git’s just telt you that.’ On and on it went until I started to think the only cure was to boot it up the arse. But the parents just cooed: “Are you cross, Humphrey?” Eventually, I felt I had to take command of the situation.

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As well as declaring its fury, the diminutive dimwit had been bawling “No!” in that feline way you get in parts of Once Great Britain: “Neiaouw!” Every ruddy vowel in the language engaged. Pointing at it sternly, I thundered: “It’s not neiaouw. It’s no. N. O. Two letters. Wretched infant.” The child stood open-mouthed in shock and never uttered another word.

No, only kidding. As usual, I never said anything at all. Just pulled back my leg and … remembered that oppressive legislation. Then I slouched off home to write an angry poem. “Wetness! Wetness all around! But none for me.” Pithy, but needs work, I think.

Many unhappy returns

LIKE most respectable citizens, I rarely return items bought online. I’m far too busy to repackage things and take them to the Post Office. Also, it feels shameful.

Furthermore, I imagine the people I’ve bought from – perhaps Markies or Lewis, J – feeling sad at the item being returned, and wailing: “But what have we done wrong?”

However, this week, we learned that almost half of garments bought from websites are sent back. That’s £4.1 billion of clothes. Some people with a broken moral compass buy several items, from which to choose one.

When I get a garment that doesn’t fit or suit me, I put it in the charity skip. Mind you, it’s rare for me to spend more than £50.

I did return a non-playing CD once, and will own that it was simple to do so compared to back in the day, when you’d to drink four cans of Skol lager and a bottle of Scotsmac – “the bam’s dram” – before plucking up the courage to return a faulty vinyl record to the grumpy, middle-aged man in the wee shop, sitting there in his Perry Como sweater, with no idea what a Led Zeppelin was anyway.

Time to tee off

I WAS wearing a 20-year-old Beatles T-shirt and ready to hit the gym when, with time to kill, I read a fashion expert saying: no-one over 28 should wear a T-shirt, and certainly not one with the name of some old band on it. Egad!

The critic was, like everyone nowadays, female, and went on to diss men for looking in the mirror and saying: “Yeah, that’ll do.”

Not so. I take care with my T-shirts, ensuring they’ve a slogan or symbol across the chest to hide my moobs. It’s a conversation starter when your bust bears the words “Hamilton Academicals” or “Jesus is risen”, if these are the slogans that do the job. Then there are the arms.

You can’t wear long sleeves to the gym. I tried an anorak but it got sweaty. Obviously, a sports jacket, despite the name, is out. So it has to be some kind of T-shirt.

On my first visit to a gym, thinking it was what everyone wore, I donned a vest, but soon discovered these were just for the muscly chaps.

My problem with T-shirts is that I’ve arms like pencils. Possibly one (or two ideally) of those sleeve tattoos would help. I could get one depicting hairiness and muscle definition, perhaps also a motor bike or a spanner, or whatever it is real men like.

Maybe I should update my band reference. Are Aphrodite’s Child still going? Strawberry Alarm Clock? The Peanut Butter Conspiracy? See? Don’t say we chaps don’t put any thought into our T-shirts.

Little pouch of pleasure

Snus is supposedly the reason Swedes have the lowest rate of smoking in Europe. It’s a nicotine-substitute pouch that you stick in your mooth. It’s banned in the EU, but Sweden negotiated an opt-out. How weird. Snus increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. But you’ve got to have some fun in your life.

Just desserts

Quite rightly, two thirds of Britons don’t know what posset, parfait, ganash, tuile, torte or coulis mean. On fancy dessert menus, they refer variously to sauces, cakes, glazes and wafers. So why not use such proud British names? A message in my earpiece: sauce is from Latin via French, cake Scandinavian, wafer foreign. Only glaze is English (Germanic). It’s disgraceful.

Bug bites

The capitalists are making us eat insects. The preservative E120, found in everyday products including cake, yoghurt, sweeties and lipstick, is often produced from ground up cochineal beetles. Shellac (E904), used on fruit, is a resin produced by female lac bugs when laying eggs. Ach well.

See salt?

They’re shouting again about salt increasing blood pressure. All together now, like wolves howling at the Moon: howowow? It’s like alcohol causing dehydration. How? It’s a liquid. These matters are beyond comprehension, best taken with a pinch of salt.

See red?

Here’s the latest natural “cure” for humanity’s natural state, depression: strawberries. Gub eight a day to also avoid dementia. Predictably, the key ingredients in strawbs are anthocyanins, which produce the red pigment. Cheer yourself up by making a torte out of them. And don’t forget to sprinkle it with beetles.