Sunday, 30 November 2008

Happy St. Andrews Day

To Scots everywhere! The greatest country in the world.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

An Apology

In fact, a sincere apology...

Over the past months I have posted rants on this blog and forwarded 'funny' pictures and jokes to friends who I thought shared the same sense of humour. Unfortunately this wasn't the case and I seem to have upset quite a few people who have accused me of being sexist and shallow.

If you were one of these people, please accept my humblest apologies. From now on I will only post rants and send emails with a cultural or educational content such as old monuments, nature and other interesting structures.

Below, you'll find a picture of the Pont Neuf Bridge in Paris. For those of you who are interested, Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris and took 26 years to build. Construction began in 1578 and ended in 1604. "Le Pont Neuf" is actually made of 2 independent bridges, one with seven arches and the other with five arches.

Fascinating, I'm sure you'll agree...

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Letter to America

To our American cousins:

I don't want to celebrate Thanksgiving as this is an American celebration and means sweet Fanny Adams to me.

I don't want to purchase Viagra or any other sexual health-enhancing drugs.

I won't be thinking of others 'during the forthcoming holidays'. If I were a religious person I would doubtless celebrate Christmas; but I'm not so I won't.

I will not be participating in on-line surveys for American companies I have never heard of.

I do not want daily bulletins on celebrity news on tinpot Americans I have never heard of. Or any Z list 'celebs' come to think of it.

I do not want cheap personal loans.

I do not want to receive 'hot financial advice' on how to make my dollars work for me. I have no dollars in my possession, never have and, unless I actually visit the States, never will.

I have no interest in purchasing the latest Chevy Malibu - I prefer to sit in the passenger seat of life.

I do not want to hear about the latest 'movie' news. In this country they're called films until such time as we become the 51st State of America.

A time, I fear, which may not be far off....

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Husband of the Year...

goes to this fella.

But...a female acquaintance of mine told me the other day how men are the root cause of most women's problems. For example:
Woman has Man in it;

Mrs. has Mr. in it;

Female has Male in it;

She has He in it;

Madam has Adam in it;

And, she went on (and on) have you ever noticed how all of women's problems start with MEN ?

MEN tal illness

MEN strual cramps

MEN tal breakdown

MEN opause

GUY necologist


Tsk, tsk. As long as they can still carry the beer...

Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Old Squirm

"We are restricted by playing in Scotland, we compete with Celtic. Hearts split us one year and, early in my tenure, Celtic weren't always second but really, it is a bit of a foregone conclusion most of the time. That does not make the menu as interesting as it could be. But there is no sign of the English route opening up for us. Why do they need us? The bottom clubs are like turkeys, they won't vote for Christmas."

Quote from Rangers chairman David Murray in The Scotsman last Friday.

Personally, I would be delighted if both Celtic and Rangers scarpered off to England. Next Saturday lunchtime Hearts 'entertain' - if that's the right word - Rangers at Tynecastle. As happened three weeks ago when the other half of Glasgow's gruesome twosome came to Gorgie, there's little doubt the travelling support will subject us sectarian chants. When Rangers come, doubltess there will be never-ending songs about three hundred year old battles, famine and being up to their knees in blood. When Celtic were in Gorgie there were songs glorifying joining an Irish terrorist organisation.

Celtic and Rangers have dominated Scottish football for the best part of 130 years. Occasionally their dominance is broken - Hearts and Hibs in the 1950s, Aberdeen and Dundee United in the 1980s - but for the most part Scottish football's silverware ends up in Glasgow. They are the two biggest clubs in Scotland with the largest followings so it's only to be expected. What is unpalatable for any fair-minded football fan is the sectarian bile which emanates from some of their supporters. Even in a 21st century devolved Scotland, even with the likes of David Murray and his Celtic counterpart John Reid condemning such behaviour and insisting their respective clubs are doing all they can to stamp it out, such offensive behaviour is still very much part of the make-up of the Old Firm followers.

I haven't been to Celtic Park since Hearts won the Scottish Cup there in 1998 and I haven't been to Ibrox since 1999 when a Rangers fan visually abused my daughter by dropping his trousers - this happened inside Ibrox and when I complained to a nearby police officer I was laughed at and told if I wasn't happy I should leave. But I believe that Celtic still play The Fields of Athenry at Celtic Park and Rangers bellow out the 'clean' version of Follow Follow at Ibrox. Doubtless all part of the club's determination to stamp out sectarianism...

David Murray's moan that the SPL is a foregone conclusion most of the time therefore not making the menu as interesting as it could be begs me to ask Mr Chairman if he's having a laugh. He quite rightly says Hearts did split the Old Firm in 2006. But when that occurs, as has happened when the likes of Dundee United, Aberdeen and, dare I say it, Hibernian have the makings of a team that can challenge for honours, the Old Firm simply buy the best players. Hearts lost Steven Pressley and Paul Hartley of the 2006 team to Celtic. Derek Riordan couldn't stop scoring for Hibs so Celtic simply bought him and stuck him in the reserves for two years. They also bought Scott McDonald from Motherwell, Mark Wilson from Dundee United, Gary Caldwell, Scott Brown and Chris Killen from Hibernian and Barry Robson from Dundee United. Rangers squad includes Kris Boyd and Steven Naismith bought from Kilmarnock, Kirk Broadfoot from St. Mirren, Steven Whittaker and Kevin Thomson from Hibernian and Alan McGregor from Dunfermline.

So, Mr Murray, why is it there is little competition in the SPL for you and your Glasgow neighbours? Perhaps the Old Firm should reflect that it's being so successful in Scotland that has made their clubs what they are. Any move to the English Premiership would see the the pair of them struggle to obtain mid-table mediocrity. How long would their supporters put up with such lack of success? In any case, I strongly suspect clubs in England wouldn't care to have the sectarian nonsense of the Old Firm supporters on their doorstep on a regular basis.

Some of David Murray's comments are self-righteous and, frankly, an insult to the rest of Scottish football. If only the Old Squirm would pack their bags and head off elsewhere and leave the rest of Scottish football in peace - quite literally...

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Christmas Rant Number 94

Disclosure Scotland Guidelines on Santa Claus
It’s expected that such a position will involve contact with children. As a consequence, you have to determine whether or not the position is a child care position in terms of the Protection of Children (Scotland) Act 2003 (PoCSA) as amended and this can depend on the nature of the arrangements put in place by the employers, or those wishing individuals to act as Santa. Details of PoCSA and what constitutes a child care position are available on the Publications Page of our website.

It’s important to note that simply having access or contact with children does not mean that the position is a child care position and is capable of being Disclosure checked at Enhanced level. At one extreme, if you wish to employ a Santa for work in a shopping centre or store for a prolonged period (e.g. four weeks), you would have to (1) consider whether or not the role involves Santa having sole charge of children or that he has unsupervised contact with children AND (2) that this forms part of the position’s normal duties.

From the Disclosure Scotland website

Hmm. Aren't you glad that such organisations exist to guide us through the minefield of life? The opening sentence - it's expected that such as position will involve contact with children - is particularly helpful. I'm sure the likes of Jenners store in Edinburgh will be looking at that and thinking 'damn - that never occurred to us. We'll have to give Santa the sack....unless, of course, he's got a Claus in his contract'

In other news, it has been alleged that bears defecate in the woods and it is believed the Pope may have Catholic leanings...

Monday, 17 November 2008

Cumbernauld: A Love Song

A Scottish musician has penned a love song dedicated to a town described as the "most dismal" in Scotland. Carolyn McGoldrick is releasing Cumbernauld: A Love Song to raise money for children with cancer.

The former resident of the infamous Lanarkshire town was given a cultural grant by North Lanarkshire Council to fund the recording of the single. She said she wrote the song as a reaction to all the publicity the town had suffered in recent years.

The song is currently available to download from Carolyn's website and is being released on CD in the next few weeks.

From the BBC News website
Like Carolyn, I also grew up in Cumbernauld - late 60s/early 70s - and I love the place! I used to live in McGregor Road, just a short walk away from the shopping centre. Although I moved away when still quite young and I now live in Edinburgh, I still hold a lot of affection for Cumbernauld. Some people put on a face when I say I grew up there - but I'm proud to say I lived there. I still try and visit when I can as it holds a lot of special memories for me, of a time when my parents were still together, of friends and happy occasions.

Carolyn is a very talented musician this song and others can be heard at her excellent website

The single is out in December and it's an extremely worthwhile cause.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Long Lost Friend

The moment that we met
There was something so familiar
I felt like I'd known you for a thousand years
And there inside your eyes I saw a light that I'd been missing
Somewhere deep inside
All of the lonely disappeared
And, baby, now you're here I feel like I have found
A long lost friend that I've lived for all my life

A gentle hand
A part of me I've been trying to find
And now you're here
And the search comes to an end
I've found my long lost friend
Every move I make
Is to the rhythm of your heartbeat
Every single breath you take
You take with me
Oh, I ask myself
How did I ever live before you?

You came into my life
And put all the pieces into place
When I saw your face I knew that I had found
Like a storm out of the blue
Love rained down on me and you
So complete and so unexpectedly
Like a movie in my mind
I've seen a hundred times I feel like, I've loved you before...

Long Lost Friend
Now you're here
And the search comes to an end!
I've found my long lost friend

A Good Reason To Head to Croatia

The Croatian government has banned Christmas and New Year parties in the public sector because of the global financial crisis. State-run firms and organisations have also been told that they won't be allowed to dip into their funds to buy Christmas presents.

The ban follows a proposal to freeze public-sector salaries next year. Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said there was no need for panic, but the country had to be serious.

"For that goal we forbid buying of Christmas and New Year's gifts as well as organising of Christmas and New Year's receptions," said Mr Sanader.

From the BBC News Website

I can't say I've ever entertained any thoughts about visiting Croatia. Until now. Cancelling Christmas parties is an excellent idea in my bah-humbug book.

I have opted out of my office Christmas Party this year as have some of my colleagues. Like most other organisations ours is a corporate bash where all the different departments attend. I simply no longer have the urge to sit in a room full of people who either give you grief or simply choose to ignore you if you pass them in the corridor the rest of the year. Trying to make small talk to someone who you don't really give a toss about whilst wearing a stupid paper hat, eating barely edible turkey and having bloody Shakin' Stevens singing Merry Christmas in the background isn't my idea of fun. And paying way over the odds for the privilege merely adds insult to considerable mental injury.

'So what are you doing for Christmas? Are you having the family?' Sorry, I'm not going to answer your ridiculous questions because then I would feel obliged to ask you the same and I really couldn't give a Jonathan Ross about you or your family. No offence...

Enduring the meal and the smalltalk is bad enough; there's the 'disco' afterwards. Middle aged women who in normal circumstances barely give you the time of day are suddenly transformed by a couple of glasses of cheap red wine and drag you on to the dance floor 'because it's Christmas'. Strangely enough, come Monday morning they're back to their non-communicative ways and looking quite sheepish as they try to remember what they were up to on Friday night.

So (paper) hats off to the Croatians. Christmas becomes more and more of a commercial festival with each passing year. And for this grumpy old ranter more and more tedious.

Wake me up when it's January...

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Eight Words With Two Meanings

1. THINGY (thing-ee) n. Female...... Any part under a car's hood. Male..... The strap fastener on a woman's bra.

2. VULNERABLE (vul-ne-ra-bel) adj. Female.... Fully opening up one's self emotionally to another. Male..... Playing football without your best defender.

3. COMMUNICATION (ko-myoo-ni-kay-shon) n . Female... The open sharing of thoughts and feelings with one's partner. Male... Leaving a note before taking off on a fishing trip with the boys.

4. COMMITMENT (ko- mit-ment) n. Female..... A desire to get married and raise a family. Male...... Trying not to pick up another women while out with this one.

5. ENTERTAINMENT (en-ter-tayn-ment) n. Female..... A good movie, concert, play or book. Male..... Anything that can be done while drinking beer.

6. FLATULENCE (flach-u-lens) n. Female.... An embarrassing byproduct of indigestion. Male...... A source of entertainment, self-expression, male bonding. Something to do in bed other than sex.

7 MAKING LOVE (may-king luv) n. Female...... The greatest expression of intimacy a couple can achieve. Male.. Call it whatever you want, just as long as we do it.

8. REMOTE CONTROL (ri-moht kon-trohl) n. Female.... A device for changing from one TV channel to another. Male... A device for scanning through all 375 channels every 5 minutes.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


These workmen are installing bollards to stop nurses from parking on the pavement outside the Royal Hospital in Belfast. They are cleaning up at the end of the day.

I don't know how long it took them to get home though...

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Lest We Forget

Armistice Day when the nation stands

Once more with tears in their eyes,

For a generation that gave their all,

And paid that ultimate price,

Upon orders made by much lesser beings

Than those lovingly remembered today,

They will never be loved or missed

As those brave souls are, on this Remembrance Day.

Friday, 7 November 2008

The Confession

In 1965, an elderly Italian man who lived on the outskirts of Rimini, Italy, went to the local church for confession. When the priest slid open the panel in the confessional, the man began:

"Father .. During World War II, a beautiful Jewish woman from our neighbourhood knocked urgently on my door and asked me to hide her from the Nazis. So I hid her in my attic."

The priest replied: "That was a wonderful thing you did, and you have no need to confess that."

"But there is more to tell, father... She started to repay me with sexual favours. This happened several times a week, and sometimes twice on Sundays.'

The priest said, "That was a long time ago and by doing what you did, you placed the two of you in great danger, but two people under those circumstances can easily succumb to the weakness of the flesh. However, if you are truly sorry for your actions, you are indeed forgiven."

"Thank you, father. That's a great load off my mind. I do have one more question."

"And what is that?" asked the priest.

"Should I tell her the war is over........?"

Fair Funding for Voluntary Sectors

Fair funding for voluntary sector services. A petition raised by Simon Macfarlane on 15 October 2008.

Petition by Simon Macfarlane, on behalf of STUC, SCVO, Unite, UNISON and Community Care Providers Scotland, calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to demonstrate support for the voluntary sector by agreeing a national framework for public service contracts based on our 2007 pact to, in particular, ensure equitable wages and conditions between front line voluntary sector workers delivering public services and public sector workers, and to help deliver five year funded contracts.

Please sign the petition using the link below:

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Three Aussies on a Train...

Three Kiwis and three Aussies are travelling by train to a conference. At the station, the three Aussies each buy tickets and watch as the three Kiwis buy only a single ticket.

"How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?" asks an Aussie.

"Watch and you'll see," answers a Kiwi.

They all board the train. The Aussies take their respective seats but all three Kiwis cram into a bathroom and close the door behind them. Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the bathroom door and says,"Ticket, please."

The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on. The Aussies see this and agree it was quite a clever idea. So after the conference, the Aussies decide to copy the Kiwis on the return trip and save some money (being clever with money,and all that).

When they get to the station, they buy a single ticket for the return trip. To their astonishment, the Kiwis don't buy a ticket at all.

"How are you going to travel without a ticket?" says one perplexed Aussie.

"Watch and you'll see," answers a Kiwi.

When they board the train the three Aussies cram into a bathroom and the three Kiwis cram into another one nearby. The train departs.

Shortly afterwards, one of the Kiwis leaves his bathroom and walks over to the bathroom where the Aussies are hiding.

He knocks on the door and says, "Ticket, please."

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Hiring and Firing

One of the best bloggers around, Adullamite - my fellow Jambo and the only Hearts supporter still alive to have witnessed the club's Scottish Cup triumph over Hibernian in 1896 - has had some disparaging things to say about Human Resources professionals

Now as an HR professional myself - although some might challenge the word professional in my case - I feel I must defend my fellow hirers and firers. I'm sure my good friend June in Seattle - a fellow HR professional - would agree. Some of the people I come across on a daily basis at work would test the patience of any reasonable human being.

Interviewing potential new recruits is the easiest bit. That said I've interviewed some numpties in my time and have endured stoney silences, people who just won't shut up for five seconds and people who give just totally irrelevant answers. I've also had the 'funny' handshake - but that cuts no ice with me.

I was introduced to one interviewee a few years and she greeted me with 'Hello Mr Smith, I've heard a lot about you - but I'm sure none of it is true'. I swear I had never seen her in my life before (she didn't get the job)

An applicant interested in a Home Help's job stated in her form that her current duties as a cleaner included moping and hovering. She was a right barrel of laughs at the interview...

Dealing with existing staff is far more stressful than recruiting new ones. Some people will take out a grievance if someone so much as looks at them the wrong way. And some of the disciplinary cases I've been to would send a shiver down your spine. Although I still smile at the memory of an old Trade Union official who didn't particularly like the fella he was 'representing' at a disciplinary hearing and asked me what time we were kicking the s**t out of him. I suggested that, if it was all the same with him, we would merely dismiss him...

But one thing the HR profession will never be is popular. I remember someone telling me he was glad he didn't work in a job that was so unpopular. And he was an auditor...

But to Adullamite and others I say this. For a business to operate successfully it needs to employ the right people. And to recruit - and retain - the best you need to have right people to do so. Those right people being arguably the most important of any organisation (including the NHS!) - the good people of Human Resources!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Sign of the Times

When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed. Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh: "I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated".
So that was what went up under the English version which barred lorries from a road near a supermarket. "When they're proofing signs, they should really use someone who speaks Welsh," said journalist Dylan Iorwerth.

From the BBC News website

Amidst all the doom and gloom in the news at the beginning of November, there was this nugget which brought a smile to my normally torn features. It made me think about what might be done with road signs using technology available today. Instead of the old painted signs there could be neon lights with computer generated messages - in English, of course. For example:

Approaching the Sheriffhall Roundabout in either direction 'Men Allegedly at Work Doing Mindless Roadworks - Expect Delays of Several Days. Bring Food and Blankets'

Yes, This is Yet Another Set of Temporary Traffic Lights - That's What You Get for Travelling Through Midlothian

You Are Ten Minutes Late for Your Meeting With Your Boss - Think Up Your Excuses Now!

You Forgot to Turn Off the Oven - Follow That Fire Engine That Has Just Passed in the Opposite Direction

This is One Part of Edinburgh That Won't be Affected by the Tram Works - But We'll be Digging it Up Anyway

Saturday, 1 November 2008

It's Just a Spell I'm Going Through

Another sign of advancing years part 94...

I can't remember much of a fuss being made about Halloween when I was younger. But these days it seems to be a big deal, perhaps another sign of the ever-increasing Americanisation of this country.

On Friday night the rain was absolutely persisting down in Edinburgh. As Bryan Ferry once memorably sang 'A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall' - and it did last night. But this didn't stop hordes of kids rampaging the streets dressed as witches, ghouls and skeletons. How original. After the seven hundredth rap on the door - and to make sure I heard it was akin to Lothian and Borders Drug Squad making an enforced entrance - I gave up answering.

Not only because I was totally fed up answering the door to snotty faced kids shouting 'trick or treat'. But because, by that stage, I had ran out of chocolate laxatives to hand out....

Just a month until Christmas party time. Haud me back...