Saturday, 31 January 2009

Hotel Mexico is an excellent website dedicated to providing travel information for Mexico Vacation Destinations. They offer helpful information about different places of interest in just about all of the best tourist, and non-tourist towns throughout all of Mexico.

For all the information you need about going to Mexico, visit

Being a Friend

Thank you for being a friend
Travelled down a road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant
I'm not ashamed to say
I hope it always will stay this way
My hat is off, won't you stand up and take a bow

Andrew Gold had a hit with that song many moons ago and, yes, it's one of the more cheesy ditties around. He also had a hit with Lonely Boy so I suspect he was trying to tell us something...

But in an increasingly busy and, it has to be said as the world's economy collapses like a deck of cards, despondent life, the importance of friendship can not be underestimated. The definition of friendship would appear to be changing in this technological age. In years gone by people would grow up together as schoolfriends, neighbours, colleagues and be physically there to provide support during times of trouble and to share happiness when joyful times came. Now the world is a much smaller place and friendship doesn't have to mean actually being there in person - the age of the internet, e-mail and mobile phone can bring someone hundreds, even thousands of miles away close to you. And that person can share your inner thoughts and feelings and give support even from afar.

I'm no different from anyone else in that I've got to know many people over the years. A good many of them have came into my life and enhanced it but have drifted away again. True friends, however, keep in touch, keep in regular contact. They ask how you are, they ask how your family is, they take a genuine interest in what you're up to. They do so because they care - and I care about them. These are the people who mean most to me, the ones who if they disappeared from my life for whatever reason would leave an empty space that may never be filled.

And to those people, my pals, my confidants, I'm aware I don't say it as often as I should. But - thank you for being a friend.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Back in God's Hands

I looked at your face I saw that all the love had died
I saw that we had forgotten to take the time
I saw that you couldn't care less about what you do
Couldn't care less about the lies

You couldn't find the time to cry
We forgot about love
We forgot about faith
We forgot about trust
We forgot about us

Now our love's floating out the window
Our love's floating out the back door
Our love's floating up in the sky in heaven
Where it began back in God's hands

You said that you had said all that you had to say
You said baby it's the end of the day
And we gave a lot but it wasn't enough
We got so tired that we just gave up

We didn't respect it
We went and neglected it
We didn't deserve it
But I never expected this
Our love floated out the window
Our love floated out the back door
Our love floated up in the sky to heaven

It's part of a plan
It's back in God's hands

Tuesday, 27 January 2009


Doner kebabs sold in the UK contain "shocking" levels of salt, fat and calories, a survey has concluded. Officers from 76 councils sampled 494 kebabs to test their nutritional value, during the Local Authority Coordinators of Regulatory Services (Lacors) study. The average doner they tested contained almost 1,000 calories - half a woman's recommended daily intake.

Geoffrey Theobald, of Lacors, said: "The level of saturated fat and salt in some is a serious cause for concern."

From the BBC News Website

I'm assuming that, like almost everything else, kebabs in moderation can't do you much harm. Who hasn't devoured one on the way home after a few beers and when the world seems a better place? But, shock, horror, too many kebabs are apparently bad for you as they contain too much fat and salt. Well, knock me down with a nan bread.

In other news....bears believed to defecate the woods, Pope understood to have a balcony, tramworks in Edinburgh may cause slight annoyance to locals...

Saturday, 24 January 2009


Today, my father would have celebrated (or rather he would have tried to hide the fact) his 70th birthday. He would have - had he not been taken away suddenly nearly twelve years ago from those who loved him.

Everyone goes through the trauma of losing someone they love at some point in their life. When that person dies suddenly - in my father's case it was a heart attack - the shock of what has happened can numb those left behind. I went into automatic pilot when my father's body was discovered in the flat he lived in Paisley in March 1997. So much to do, so many people to tell, the funeral to organise, personal matters to see to. My father ran his own small business so that also had to be attended to. Clearing his answerphone at his office damn near broke me in two.

But while you never 'get over' such tragedy you do learn, in time, to cope with it. When I look at my two grandchildren Jack and Hannah climbing all over me and causing general chaos as young children do, I know that my father would have been as proud as punch of them. He doted on my two daughters, Laura and Michaela (the above photograph shows him and Laura when she was three years old) and it is one of my life's regrets that he died several years before his great-grandchildren came along.

So today I shall raise a glass to my old man and say 'cheers' to his memory. I'll have a wee natter with him in private when no one else is around. He always was a good listener...

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

The Skiver's Charter?

Employees are entitled to accrue holiday pay while on sick leave and can carry that leave over into another year if they are too ill to take it, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled. Individuals may also be able to claim for annual leave payments dating back more than 10 years, to when the Working Time Directive was first introduced, if their sickness absence had meant they were unable to take holiday, and hadn't already claimed benefits from their employer.

The case will now return to the House of Lords in the UK for a final hearing, expected to take place later this year.

From Personnel Today

As someone who works in the veritable minefield that is Human Resources, the above news is as welcome as George W. Bush returning to the White House.

Sickness absence already costs businesses in the UK millions of pounds every year. Now there are some genuine sickness cases where people are really ill and need the support of their employer. I have been involved in numerous such cases over the years both in the private and public sector and it can be an important part of someones recovery to know not only will they have a job to return to but that their employer has support mechanisms in place which makes that employee feel valued.

On the other side of the coin are those people who - to use a Scottish HR term - are 'at it'. I used to work for a local authority and believe me sickness absence was rife - and some of it was genuine. Some people believe sickness absence is an 'entitlement' and have no qualms about 'throwing a sickie'. Had a few too many pints on a Sunday night? Ach, just take Monday off. Got two jobs and too knackered to go in tomorrow morning? Just go back under the duvet. Fancy a week in the sun but not allowed to take annual leave at short notice? Self certify for seven days - that should do it.

In my part of the world it is extraordinarily easy to get a medical certificate from a General Practitioner. Feeling a bit down? Sounds like depression - here's a line for a fortnight. Bit of a twinge in your back? Take plenty of rest - here's a line for ten days. Unable to get off your fat arse? Aye, it's a viral thing - here's a line for three weeks. If you need another just come back and see me.

So the good old European Court of Justice has now given those 'at it' even more reasons to throw a multitude of sickies. Aye, off you go - you'll get your annual leave whenever you decide to bother going back to work. Which in many long term cases is when they move on to half pay.

Times are tough for industry. Thanks to the European Court of Justice's proposed Skiver's Charter, things may get even tougher...

Monday, 19 January 2009

The Mating Game

Easytoplease Computing Dating Agency



Date of Birth………………………………..........................


Introductory Section

1) Would you prefer your partner to be:

a) the opposite sex
b) the same sex
c) both
d) any sort of mammal
e) not fussy really

2) Would you prefer your partner to be:

a) alive
b) dead
c) dead but still warm
d) doesn’t matter

3) How many legs should your ideal partner have:

a) two as a bare minimum
b) one
c) none
d) doesn’t matter

4) In the event of Easytoplease Computing Dating Agency being unable to match you with your ideal partner, which of the following would you be prepared to make do with:

a) a milk bottle
b) a bar of soap and a radiator
c) not fussy really - anything will do

Now, more detailed information:

Before sex do you:

Crack your knuckles?
Roll up your sleeves?
Crouch down on starting blocks?
Give your little brother a Cadbury’s Cream Egg?
Smother your body in ‘Vick’?

During Sex Do You:

Blow your nose?
Play a harmonica?
Smoke a pipe?
Think about camels?
Wear Ear Muffs?
Talk about the drought in Somalia?

After Sex Do You:

Get up and go home?
Put a notch on the headboard?
Turn up the sound on the television?
Break wind?
Notice a difference between your two big toes?
Finish your toast?

Men: If you answered yes to each of those questions, I’m afraid you are a lousy lover and the Easytoplease Computing Dating Agency is unable to help you.

Women: If you answered yes to each of those questions, I’m afraid you are a lousy lover and the Easytoplease Computing Dating Agency is unable to help you.

However,if you two ever get together would you mind if Easytoplease Computing Dating Agency came along to watch?

Friday, 16 January 2009

Do You Really Wanna Hurt Me?

Singer Boy George has been jailed for 15 months for falsely imprisoning a male escort in his flat in east London. The singer, whose real name is George O'Dowd, denied the charge and claimed the victim, Norwegian Audun Carlsen, 29, had stolen photos from his laptop. O'Dowd, 47, admitted handcuffing him to a wall in April 2007 but said he did so in order to trace the missing property. Judge David Radford told the former Culture Club singer he was guilty of "gratuitous violence"

From the BBC News Website

Coming soon from Arrow Suit Records - Boy George's Cover Versions. Classic songs reworked by the former Culture Club star including:

Please Release Me

I Want to Break Free

Rescue Me

Back on the Chain Gang

We Have All the Time in the World

Real Gone Kid

All By Myself

Should Have Known Better

and many more. Perfect for a man without conviction, a man who doesn't know and where every day is like survival.

Out now! (well, in a year or so...)

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Ye Cannae Make it Up Part 94

Milk in Chocolates Warning

Britain's most famous milk chocolate maker has decided to warn milk chocolate lovers that Britain's most famous milk chocolate contains - milk.

The latest Cadbury Dairy Milk wrappers feature a logo showing a glass and a half of milk being poured into a chocolate chunk, put milk first in a list of ingredients and explains that there is "The equivalent of three quarters of a pint of milk of fresh liquid milk in every half pound of milk chocolate".

But Cadbury says it is also necessary to print warnings in capital letters in yellow boxes saying "CONTAINS: MILK" in case people who are allergic to milk do not realise that there is milk in Cadbury Dairy Milk bars.

Taken from MSN News website

The Prisoner Passes Away

Emmy-winning actor Patrick McGoohan, best known for starring in cult 1960s TV show The Prisoner, has died at the age of 80. He died in Los Angeles after a short illness, his film producer son-in-law Cleve Landsberg told Associated Press. McGoohan played the character Six in the surreal 1960s show, filmed in the north Wales village of Portmeirion. His character spent the entire time attempting to escape from The Village and finding out the identity of his captor, the elusive Number One.

He repeatedly declared: "I am not a number - I am a free man!"

From the BBC News website
As a huge fan of The Prisoner, this is really sad news. I was only five years old when the iconic series first hit our small screens but I watched the re-runs decades later avidly. Every week I used to urge Number Six to escape and there were some weeks when I thought he had done so. In one episode he devised what seems an elaborate plan to escape involving a helicopter and ship to take him back to what he believes is London. But it was all a hoax and he had never left the village!

McGoohan was quite superb as Number Six. He was also in another 1960s series, Danger Man, and also played a memorable role - somewhat ironically given the tv programme that made his name - as the prison governer in the film Escape from Alcatraz which also starred Clint Eastwood.

I believe that ITV are in the process of remaking a new series of The Prisoner to be shown on our screens next year. I don't think I'll be watching it - for the simple reason there will never be another Patrick McGoohan.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

What is Happening Here?

This is young Hearts player Gary Glen having an afternoon stroll in Leith. What are the consequences of him stroking the ball into an empty Hibernian net?
a) It secures a 2-0 win for Heart of Midlothian
b) Dumps Hibernian out of the Scottish Cup for the 107th year in a row
c) Illustrates - if it needed illustrating - there is really only one football team in Edinburgh
d) Causes mass depression among those unfortunates who chose to follow Hibernian
e) All of the above
Answers on a postcard to Mixu Paatelainen, c/o Glory Glory to the Hibees, Easter Road, Darkest Leith.

Questions for the New Year Quiz

Thanks to Lilly and Adullamite for having a go at the questions. The actual questions are below. Given today's result from Easter Road I should have added Question 11 - what last happened 107 years ago? (and is unlikely to happen for another 107 years...)

1) Who hit the barn door more - Kris Boy or Christian Nade? (okay, this was posed before today's game!)

2) A Virgin Cross Country Express service from Birmingham to Edinburgh took how long?

3) When did Adullamite last buy a drink?

4) Three men leave Manchester for Edinburgh at the same time, one by bicycle, one by car and one by plane. Who will arrive first?

5) My mate is getting married in the kilt. What’s the tartan?

6) How often did the 7.40 First Bus service from Mayfield to Edinburgh depart at 7.40 in 2008?

7) What did Noah‘s close friends call him?

8) Which young Dutch player have Hamilton Accies taken on loan
until the end of the season?

9) Shall I put the crocodile in a bag for you, sir?

10) Would you like to watch Jimmy Carr Live on dvd?

Friday, 9 January 2009

Answers to the New Year Quiz

Okay, so the more perceptive among you will be asking 'what New Year quiz?' Fair point. But I like to do things differently so below are the answers. I'll post the questions towards the end of the weekend - but feel free to hazard a guess at what they may be...

1) Kris Boyd - Christian Nade couldn’t even see the barn door

2) 3 days, 8 hours and 22 minutes

3) He last did it in 1973

4) The man on the bicycle will arrive first. The man in the car will arrive shortly after. The man on the aeroplane has still to arrive as he flew with EasyJet.

5) She’ll be wearing a white dress

6) Once in February, twice in June and twice more in September

7) No

8) Joorgen Doonagin

9) Yes, if you’ve got one big enough

10) I’d rather have my eyes gouged out with a red hot poker

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Stick on Another Record

One of the signs of modern living was brought home to me at Christmas. My daughter Laura kindly bought me an ITunes music voucher with which I can download music off the internet. Grateful though I was, I couldn't help but think that Laura and her younger sister Michaela may have missed out on something that stirred excitement in their father in the days when I was half the age they are now - buying records. Not cds and their featureless format - but vinyl in all its glory.

This year the seven-inch single is 60 years old. Yes, indeed, the single is now pensionable age. I was just three years old in 1965 when my father bought me my first record - Get Off My Cloud by The Rolling Stones. I was transfixed when he put it on the Dansette record player and music blared out from the small speakers - much to the annoyance of my mother. It was the beginning of a habit which lasted for at least another two decades.

There was a thrill about poring over the latest releases in music shops such as Bruce Millar's in Aberdeen. The seven-inch record itself was something of an art form with record labels such as Decca, Atlantic, Fontana. The Beatles had their own Apple label although the only Beatles single I ever bought was Hey Jude in the late 1960s when I lived just outside Glasgow. The anticipation of putting the stylus (get granddad here!) on the vinyl and hearing the initial scratching noise before the music began was palpable for a youngster in the late 1960s/early 1970s. And putting ten records on the shiny silver pole with the plastic arm in place to ensure only one record dropped to the turntable at a time was something of an achievement - especially if no more than one record dropped at once and they still played okay on top of each other. Some records had different centres which meant this didn't always happen.

The added bonus about the seven-inch single was the 'B' side although I rarely met anyone who played 'B' sides more than once.

Music may be digitally recorded these days and the ability to download without even leaving your home reflects the technological age we now live in. But many of my generation will never let go of their lovely old vinyl discs. True, they're up in the loft in a psychedelic record carrying case gathering dust. Alongside the old record player. But they're still there, a comforting sign of a more innocent by-gone age.

Now, I wonder if my mother still has her old radiogram....

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Being Scottish

According to someone called Rab Fairbairn who 'writes' for that esteemed publication the Sunday Mail, my prose in the programme for last Saturday's Hearts-Hibs game was 'childish guff'. Well, Rab, in an attempt to maintain standards here are some tell-tale signs of being Scottish:

Scattered showers with outbreaks of sunshine and a northerly wind is good weather.

The only sausage you like is square.

You have been forced to do Scottish country dancing every year at high school.

Aye = yes.

Aye right = not likely.

Auld yin = someone over 40.

Baltic =freezing.

You have an irrational need to eat anything fried with your supper from the chippy e.g. haggis, pizza, white pudding, sausage, fish, chicken.

You used to love destroying your teeth when you were young: Buchanan's toffees, tablet, Irn-Bru bars, Cola cubes, etc.

You have an enormous feeling of dread whenever Scotland play a diddy team.

You happily engage in a conversation about the weather.

Even if you normally hate The Proclaimers, Runrig, Caledonia, Deacon Blue, Big Country, etc. you still love it when you're in a club abroad and they play something Scottish (you'll probably even ask the DJ to play it).

You take a perverse pride in the fact Scotland has the highest number of alcohol and smoking-related deaths in Europe. At least we know how to party.

You used to watch Glen Michael's Cartoon Cavalcade on a Sunday afternoon with his sidekick oil lamp called Paladin.

You got Oor Wullie or The Broons annuals at Christmas. Or both.

You have come in from the pub pissed with flatmates and watched Weir's Way at two in the morning, engrossed by a little guy with a bobbly hat walking around Scotland.

You can tell where another Scot is from by their accent e.g. Glaswegian: 'Awright pal, gonnae gies a wee swatch oa yur paper, cheers, magic pal'. Or Aberdeen - 'Fit like the day loon?'

You see a police car and hear someone shout 'Errrapolis'.

You have participated in or witnessed people having a 'square go'.

You know that when someone asks you which school you went to, they want to know if you're a Protestant or a Catholic.

You have eaten lots and lots of random Scottish food like mince & tatties, haggis, cullen skink, stovies, Tunnock's Teacakes/Snowballs,Scott's Porridge Oats, Macaroon bars, Baxters soup, Scotch pies, Scotch eggs, oatcakes, shortbread and Arbroath smokies.

You think nothing of waiting expectantly for your 1p change from the shopkeeper.

You know that whenever you see sawdust it reminds you of pools of vomit because that's what the 'jannies' used to chuck it on it. 'Gie it five minutes'

You lose all respect for a groom who doesn't wear a kilt.

You don't do shopping, you do the 'messages'.

You're sitting on the train/bus and a drunk man sits besides you, telling you a 'joke' and saying 'I'm no annoying ye am a hen/pal?'
You: 'Not at all, yer fine. Ah think this is my stop!'

A Scottish male can have a phone conversation using only 'awright', 'aye' and 'naw'.

You have experienced peer pressure to have an alcoholic drink after you've ordered something non-alcoholic. 'Mon, have a drink, whit's wrang, ye driving? Naw. You no well? Naw. Get yersel a drink.'

You know that going to a party at a friend's house means bring your own drinks.

Your holiday abroad is ruined if you hear there is a heatwave in Scotland while you're away.

Your national team goes 2-0 up against the Czechs in a football match in Prague, and your mate says, 'We'll end up losing 3-2 here!' and you think, 'Probably'.

You can properly pronounce McConnochie, Ecclefechan, Milngavie and Auchtermuchty.

You ask for deep fried battered pizza from the chippie - oh, and a bottle of diet Coke...

You're used to four seasons in one day.

You can't pass a chip/kebab shop without drooling when you're drunk.

You can fall about drunk without spilling your drink.

You measure distance in minutes.

You can make a whole sentence just with swear words.

You know what haggis is made with - and still eat it.

Somebody you know used a football schedule to plan their wedding day date.

You've been at a wedding and football scores are announced in the church.

You aren't surprised to find curries, pizzas, kebabs, Irn Bru, fags and nappies in one shop.

Your seaside holiday home has Calor gas under it.

Welcome to another year, folks!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

New Year, Same Old...

Deciding to turn over a new leaf in the new year could do more harm than good, a mental health charity has warned. 'Mind' has urged people not to feel they must start 2009 armed with resolutions for self-improvement.

The charity said resolutions which focus on issues such as the need to lose weight or job worries create a negative self-image. And if the plans fail to materialise, that could trigger feelings of failure and inadequacy, the charity said.

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said focussing on problems or insecurities can lead to feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem and even mild depression. "We chastise ourselves for our perceived shortcomings and set unrealistic goals to change our behaviour, so it's not surprising that when we fail to keep resolutions, we end up feeling worse than when we started," he said.

From the BBC News Website

Who said the UK was becoming a nanny state? Like so many other people, I made the usual list of things aimed at improving my life in 2009. Lose some weight, Smith, I told myself. I declare this every year at this time but ultimately do nothing about it, blaming the stresses and strains of life for 'comfort eating'. Cut back on the alcohol intake. This I did do in 2008 although I'm far from tea-total. Try cold turkey on the gambling front - apparently there isn't a law that says I can't pass Ladbrokes fine establishments without going in. Take more exercise. Well I do use public transport and walk a bit extra to work in the morning. Although that just has the effect of making me even more tired when I get to the office...

But with 2009 now upon us there's no better time to start my new regime. And, as my daughters point out, there's no point in blaming others for my shortcomings. So here I go. Except.... being January 1st, much of Scotland is closed. There is a limited public transport service in Edinburgh but as my abode comes under the Disneyworld sponsored Midlothian Council there are no buses at all in Dalkeith today. While City of Edinburgh, East Lothian and West Lothian Councils have all provided a level of subsidy to the bus companies in the name of public service, Midlothian Council have decided not to bother. And with many people having had a bevvy last night, the streets of Dalkeith are deserted. I could walk a mile to the nearest local shop but it will be closed. And anyway, it's too damned cold to walk today...

So I'm stuck on me Jack Jones. Watching the horse racing on Channel Four. And my first two horses have come nowhere (Ladbrokes website is too damn accessible!) I'm picking the leftovers from last night's Chinese takeaway. And my cup of coffee (real coffee, none of this decaffinated nonsense) tastes all the better with a wee drop of Jack Daniels in it...

Can I start again on January 2nd?