Thursday, 19 March 2015

Hilda Ogden & The Google Search

The other day I was contemplating writing an article for my column in the Hearts Matchday Programme about Scottish football in the 1970s. For an accompanying image, I thought I would try and search for a photograph on the old tin’ternet. The best web search engine - so I've been told - is Google so I typed the words 'Scottish football in the 1970s' and clicked on the image icon on my computer toolbar. I waited for hundreds of images of Scottish footballing icons of four and decades and more ago - but some of the results which flashed on to the screen were rather perplexing.

In no particular order, alongside the likes of Graeme Souness, Kenny Dalglish and Denis Law were:

Alf Ramsay - that Scottish football icon

Gordon Brown (a long haired Brown from the early 1970s)

Jimmy Reid, former Trade Union leader

Daybreak presenter Lorraine Kelly (so my wife tells me)

Bart Simpson in a Rangers top

German legends Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller

A team photograph of Elgin City - from 1936

Richard Branson in a swimming costume  (honest!)

Hilda Ogden, once a character in the popular soap Coronation Street

Penelope Keith

Elliot Gould

John Cleese as Basil Fawlty

Tony Curtis (God rest his soul) and Roger Moore as television's The Persuaders and, perhaps most disturbingly of all, porn star Linda Lovelace (I had to find out who this person was - honestly, mother...)

Interestingly, alongside a photo of an Aberdeen player who was a hero of the 1970 Scottish Cup Final - Derek 'Cup-tie' Mackay - was a black and white photo of a Soviet Union nuclear warhead.

Now, I find Google a useful tool for research purposes. But when I type in the words Scottish and football I don't expect to come across Hilda Ogden and Penelope Keith. Yes, they were stars in the 1970s - but I can't recall them performing at Tynecastle (although given some of Hearts performances back then, they probably would have provided a more useful defensive partnership than the one we had in Gorgie at that time…)

It may well just be me, of course. When I typed in 'Scottish heroes' I got a photo of Clint Eastwood and Donald Sutherland - Google had ignored the Scottish bit and gone for an image from the film Kelly's Heroes.

For some mild amusement I typed my name into Google and got numerous results about Mike Smith, the late television presenter and Mike Smith, the late lead singer of The Dave Clarke Five, a popular music combo of the 1960s. Interestingly, they both also share my middle name which perhaps indicates that Google is smart after all. It didn’t come up with ‘George Clooney lookalike’ though which is rather disappointing…

Alarmingly, when I clicked on images of my name one of the photos was titled ‘alien abduction’ while another was of a middle aged bearded gentleman with a naked beer gut holding a pint of beer. And, no, it wasn’t me…

The next time I conduct a search, I think I'll try and outsmart Google by typing in the word Morrissey i.e. the ex-lead singer of The Smiths. One of his famous lyrics went 'please, please, please let me get what I want - this time...'

Friday, 6 March 2015

Kids, Eh?

Listen, son, you're going to have to accept it. If your Daddy brings you up to follow Hibernian FC, you'll always be in the shadow of the mighty Heart of Midlothian

Great-Granny - my Daddy wants me to support Hibs but my Papa says I'll have a life of misery...

No, Hannah, don't you dare steal your Papa's pizza. Oi!

Sorry Max - but you're going to put up with Ava. She's your cousin...

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Happy 1st Birthday, Max

A very happy 1st birthday to my youngest grandson Max, pictured here with his proud mum and dad Michaela and Sean. It's hard to believe a year has passed since he arrived in the world six weeks early. But he's the apple of his Papa's eye.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Even The Cake Was In Tiers - Part 94

Now, Mr Smith, as I'm your best man and have even less hair than you do, it's my duty to ensure you're not hungover from last night. 

Now, just lean against this tree and try not to fall over....

Don't you even think about trying to find out what the Hearts score is...

What a bunch of posers. The guy in the kilt is all right though....

Listen, Max, it's not my fault your Daddy wants to bring you up as a Hibby.

Great-Granny with those great grandchildren

I don't know why you're laughing, I haven't paid for the reception yet...

The clock indicates Marion and I have been married for an hour. Meanwhile, along the road, there's still 45 minutes to play at Tynecastle and Hearts are only 1-0 ahead.

An emotional Ranter and his lovely new bride. Even the cake was in tiers...

Radiant. Stunning. Beautiful. A picture of loveliness. But enough about me. Here's a snap of the lovely Mrs Smith.

Friday, 20 February 2015

London Calling

After the truly wonderful day that was last Saturday and my marriage to the lovely Marion, we headed to London and our honeymoon. It's been nearly ten years since I was last in the Big Smoke and, given our experience this week, it's likely to be at least another ten years until I return.

The train journey down on Sunday morning went pretty much as planned - apart from a ten minute delay at Berwick where the driver opted for a 'safety check' (according to the message broadcast, I assume, from the ticket collector) Whatever it was that was being checked - and I suspect we'll never know - we were on our way south after ten minutes so there wasn't any real inconvenience.

What was a bit of a pain, however, was East Coast's seating allocation. I had booked two seats on the 11.30am Edinburgh Waverley to London Kings Cross through the on-line (see what I did there?) ticket booking website The When one books two seats one might expect these seats to be together. Marion was in an aisle seat in front of me. When we arrived in York, another couple had the same experience so we agreed to split the four seats between us so at least we were sitting alongside our loved ones rather than sitting behind them...

London itself  - or rather some of the people  - didn't impress me. I had booked our stay at an Ibis Hotel and looking at a photograph of a large hotel in London's Docklands area, I was sufficiently impressed to book two nights there. However, when we arrived - having paid a small fortune for the taxi journey - we were told we weren't actually booked into this Ibis Hotel but rather the smaller one a five minute walk away. When I say smaller, I mean minute - the room had space for a bed and not much else, the 'bathroom' was a small cupboard with a shower that meant you had to breathe in to close the door and the facilities were very basic. The view from the bedroom window afforded us detailed imagery of the rubbish bins at the back...

Public transport was laughable. The London Docklands Railway (LDR) ran adjacent to our hotel but getting to central London meant changing from a LDR train to a London Underground train and considerable inconvenience. Going by bus would have meant three changes - and London buses no longer accept cash (get yerself an Oyster Card, mate...) They do accept Visa Debit cards - but only one card per passenger.

Attempting to see some of the sights, we booked a Golden Bus tour.  They advertised that they came out to London's Docklands district every 20 minutes. Grand, we thought. Except on Monday morning, we waited close to the Excel Centre for a bus that never arrived. We made two phone calls to the company; firstly, we were told the next bus due would be in 30-40 minutes; after an hour and no sign of a bus, we phoned again to be told it would be another 15-20 minutes. Cold, tired and totally scunnered, we jumped into a taxi and headed into town.

Which brings me to my next gripe. London taxi drivers. The only thing I can say about them is that at least Dick Turpin wore a mask...

We spent Monday evening at the London Palladium watching the stage show Cats. The show was very good, slick and professional - but the staff at the theatre were less so. Several dozen patrons were kept outside in a night of pouring rain as we waited half an hour for the doors to open - which they did less than half an hour before the show was due to start. The ushers were less than helpful and if one wanted assistance to find one's seat then they would be in for a big disappointment.

Overall, our experience of London was not a good one. Rude, pushy, unhelpful people, a public transport system that assumes visitors know how it works and a Del Boy character who was selling tickets for shows at greatly inflated prices.

We were only there 48 hours but it was such a joy to return to Edinburgh on Tuesday evening. The taxi driver who drove us from Waverley Station to Leith was pleasant, chatty - and didn't try to rip us off. Had it been a London equivalent, I suspect our journey from the station to Leith would have encompassed Dalkeith, Musselburgh and Portobello.....

There's a line in the Monty Python film The Life of Brian where the question is asked 'What have the Romans ever done for us?' Well, they built London. I have to say, given our experience this week, I wish they hadn't bothered...

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Valentine's Day Wedding

Marion putting Hearts down for a home win in her fixed odds coupon

What do you mean he hasn't turned up yet? Try Ladbrokes...
Aye, Hearts won 1-0 and now have a 20 point lead at the top of the league

Right! Which one of you scoundrels has hidden Papa's glass of champagne?

Ah - so it was you, Jack the Lad....

Saturday 14th February 2015 saw me marry the lovely Marion in Edinburgh. A big thank you to those who came to share our special day. It was one of the happiest days of my life and I feel truly blessed to have married someone as wonderful as Marion.