Unlike Hermione Grainger of Harry Potter fame, PR guru Andy Skinner has not yet worked out how to be in two places at once, hideous though the concept in itself is.

So when he magnanimously offered his services to the Birmingham Young Professional of the Year Awards on a pro bono basis, he failed to check what else he might be doing on the night of the awards, May 17.

The day also coincides with The Birmingham Post Corporate Golf Challenge at Blackwell Golf Club (a couple of team places still available) which he and Pip Elson run every year and he will be overseeing the handing out of prizes and MC-ing the merriment at the post golf awards dinner.

It will teach Skinner not to be so generous with his firm's time.

He only took up the BYPY gauntlet because as he tells it "some preposterous PR fluffy had told the BYPY awards committee that she couldn't possibly do it for the money on offer, and I thought why are we discussing money about something that is intended to benefit us all in the future?"

He denies his beloved Scrumpy Jack had anything to do with it, and before she knew it awards organiser Joy Stefanicki had Skinner's ASAP Ltd news machine firing out releases in all directions.

Bit like his accuracy off the first tee on May 17, one suspects!

* * *

For those born before 1986... According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 60's, 70's and early 80's probably shouldn't have survived.

Because our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint which was promptly chewed and licked.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, or latches on doors or cabinets and it was fine to play with pans.

When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just flip-flops and fluorescent 'spokey dokey's' on our wheels.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or airbags - sitting in the passenger seat was a treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle and it tasted the same.

We ate chips, bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy juice with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing.

We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and no-one actually died from this.

We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then went top speed down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and could play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark. No one was able to reach us and no one minded.

We did not have Playstations or X-Boxes, no video games at all. No 99 channels on TV, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no DVDs, no internet chatrooms.

We had friends - we went outside and found them.

We fell out of trees, got cut, and broke bones but there were no law suits.

We had full on fist fights but no prosecution followed from other parents.

We played chap-the-door-run-away and were actually afraid of the owners catching us.

We walked to friends' homes.

We also, believe it or not, walked to school; we didn't rely on mummy or daddy to drive us there because it was just round the corner.

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls.

We rode bikes in packs of seven.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of...they actually sided with the law.

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever.

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

And if you're one of them. Congratulations!

* * *

Now let's check if we're getting old . .

1. You understand what was written above and you smile.

2. You need to sleep more, usually until the afternoon, after a night out.

3. Your friends are getting married/already married.

4. You are always surprised to see small children playing comfortably with computers.

5. When you see teenagers with mobile phones, you shake your head.

6. You remember watching Dirty Den in EastEnders the first time around.

7. You meet your friends from time to time, talking about the good old days, repeating again all the funny things you have experienced together.

Yes, you're getting old!

* * *

Economics explained by cows

SOCIALISM: You have two cows and you give one to your neighbour.

COMMUNISM: You have two cows; the Government takes both and gives you some milk.

FASCISM: You have two cows; the Government takes both and sells you some milk.

NAZISM: You have two cows. The Government takes both and shoots you.

BUREAUCRATISM: You have two cows; the Government takes both, shoots one, milks the other and throws the milk away...

TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow dropped dead.


You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create a clever cow cartoon image called Cowkimon and market them worldwide.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows, but you don't know where they are. You break for lunch.

A SWISS CORPORATION: You have 5,000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.

A CHINESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported the numbers.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You worship them.

A BRITISH CORPORATION: You have two cows...both are quite mad!

* * *

Some supposedly true stories from TV and radio shows...


Anne Robinson: In traffic, what "J" is where two roads meet?

Contestant: Carriageway.

Anne Robinson: Which Italian city is overlooked by Vesuvius?

Contestant: Bombay.

Anne Robinson: What insect is commonly found hovering above lakes?

Contestant: Crocodiles.

Anne Robinson: In olden times, what were minstrels; travelling entertainers or chocolate salesmen?

Contestant: Chocolate salesmen.

Anne Robinson: The Bible, the New Testament. The Four Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and...?

Contestant: (long pause) Joe?

Anne Robinson: Who was a famous Indian leader, whose name begins with G, revered by millions, who was assassinated and received a state funeral?

Contestant: Geronimo!


Eamonn Holmes: What's the name of the playwright commonly known by the initials G.B.S.?

Contestant: William Shakespeare.


Searle: In which European country is Mount Etna?

Caller: Japan.

Searle: I did say which European country, so in case you didn't hear that, I can let you try again.

Caller: Er... Mexico?


Presenter: Which is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world?

Contestant: Barcelona.

Presenter: I was really after the name of a country.

Contestant: I'm sorry, I don't know the names of any countries in Spain.


Wright: On which continent would you find the River Danube?

Contestant: India.

Wright: What is the Italian word for motorway?

Contestant: Espresso.

Wright: What is the capital of Australia? And it's not Sydney.

Contestant: Sydney.