Saturday, 28 February 2009

















Aw, come on, gie us a break!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Age of the Internet

Something strange happened at work today. No, it wasn't the fact I arrived on time and actually did some work. There was a cable problem with our computer server meaning we had no access to the company's mainframe. Outlook Express was kaput (a Scots computing term there) meaning no e-mails could be sent or received and we could no longer look at everyone's on-line calendar. Meetings couldn't be arranged 'electronically', letters couldn't be saved, even printing couldn't happen as the printers are connected to the server.
All of which meant a revolution in communication. People actually spoke to each other...
When I lived in Aberdeen in the 1980s there was consternation in the offices of what is now First Bus when it was decided in 1985 that we would no longer send our data to Headquarters for 'processing' - we would be getting a 'personal computer'. There was outrage, not least from me. 'I'm not a computer operator', I fumed. 'There's now way they'll get me to use one of them'.
Now, a quarter of a century later, I can't work without one. And, having a laptop at home, I'd be lost without the Internet and all its contraptions. Our office slowly ground to a halt this afternoon. I even had a telephone call from someone asking when I was going to respond to the e-mail they had sent earlier. Yes, that old ritual of using the telephone to actually talk to someone rather than text, surf the Internet or listen to music.
We're hoping that normal service is resumed tomorrow. Work has piled up and there is a mountain of correspondence to do. So the pressure will be on.
God forbid we actually have to talk to each other again...

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The Joy of Text (Part 94)

The news that Ryanair is leading the way in developing a system where passengers can use their mobile telephones while travelling at 35,000 feet fills me - and, I suspect many others - with despair. As someone who chooses to use public transport, I choose to plug in my headphones and escape to the sounds of my IPod whenever mobile phones inevitably go off on buses and trains. Now, the one place where you can escape the curse of modern technology will soon be ringing - literally - to the sound of irritating ring tones and loud and quite often gormless conversations that intrude on one's privacy. I can see it now, as soon as the flight to a week in the sun hits the required altitude after take-off and the flashing 'you can unfasten your seatbelt' sign beeps, not only will there be the usual rush to the loo of those who have consumed more alcohol than it necessary in the airport departure lounge but dozens of ringtones will burst into action.

'Hullo? Hi, it's me. Aye, I'm on the plane' I should really put these words in block capitals as, in text speak, this means shouting. As many people tend to do whilst using their mobiles.

How did we cope all these years ago without mobile phones and the internet? I thought about this the other night whilst texting a very good friend. Being a man, texting about two topics at the same time meant I became disorientated at one point and completely misinterpreted a couple of text messages. At one point I thought I had offended my friend to the point where she was never going talk to me again, a frightening prospect. Thankfully she soon put me right and then asked the bleeding obvious - 'Why didn't you just call me?' She was quite right, of course. That's what phones were invented for - the art of conversing, an art which - in this age of internet, text, social networks, messaging services - seems to be dying.

My daughters will probably not get the point of this rant. At times it seems like I communicate with Laura only via her Bebo page and Michaela through texting. Michaela even text me from the bathroom a wee while ago asking me to put the kettle on. In an age where many mobile phone companies offer unlimited texts it seems many people prefer to press a few buttons on a keypad rather than make the effort to engage in face to face conversation.
I realise, dear reader, the irony of me putting my feelings into a blog. But I was going to visit my elder daughter later today and phoned to confirm she would be in. But she has her voicemail switched on...

Friday, 20 February 2009

Sexes Sin in Different Ways

Women are prouder than men, but men are more lustful, according to a Vatican report which states that the two sexes sin differently. A Catholic survey found that the most common sin for women was pride, while for men, the urge for food was only surpassed by the urge for sex.

The report was based on a study of confessions carried out by Fr Roberto Busa, a 95-year-old Jesuit scholar. The Pope's personal theologian backed up the report in the Vatican newspaper.

"Men and women sin in different ways," Msgr Wojciech Giertych, theologian to the papal household, wrote in L'Osservatore Romano. "When you look at vices from the point of view of the difficulties they create you find that men experiment in a different way from women."

From the BBC News website

Now I find surveys like these intriguing. Hang on, I fancy some of that left over pasta from earlier....

Sorry, where was I? Yes, surveys like these where apparently men's urge for food is only surpassed by the need for sex. Jeezo, would you look at that woman on the television?! That's enough to make your eyes water...Anyway, I offered a friend of mine a few pounds today as I knew she was a bit strapped for cash until pay day. But would she take it? Nah, she'd rather struggle all weekend and not go out.

I say, there's another woman on the telly leaving nothing to the imagination. Good God! I didn't know you could do that...

Some surveys and research leave me dumbfounded. But they get publicity all the same and it leads me to think that perhaps I'm in the wrong job. I'm tempted to head for Edinburgh's Princes Street tomorrow armed with a clipboard and ask people if they feel slightly irritated by the never-ending roadworks in Edinburgh, all in the name of trams. That pasta was delicious, by the way - I wonder if there are any crisps left...

Fr Busa's next piece of research apparently indicates that the Pope has Catholic leanings and bears defecate in the woods...

The Reason he is Ireland's Worst Driver...

Details of how police in the Irish Republic finally caught up with the country's most reckless driver have emerged, the Irish Times reports. He had been wanted from counties Cork to Cavan after racking up scores of speeding tickets and parking fines. However, each time the serial offender was stopped he managed to evade justice by giving a different address.

But then his cover was blown.

It was discovered that the man every member of the Irish police's rank and file had been looking for - a Mr Prawo Jazdy - wasn't exactly the sort of prized villain whose apprehension leads to an officer winning an award. In fact he wasn't even human.

"Prawo Jazdy is actually the Polish for driving licence and not the first and surname on the licence," read a letter from June 2007 from an officer working within the Garda's traffic division.

"Having noticed this, I decided to check and see how many times officers have made this mistake. It is quite embarrassing to see that the system has created Prawo Jazdy as a person with over 50 identities."

The officer added that the "mistake" needed to be rectified immediately and asked that a memo be circulated throughout the force. In a bid to avoid similar mistakes being made in future relevant guidelines were also amended. And if nothing else is learnt from this driving-related debacle, Irish police officers should now know at least two words of Polish.

As for the seemingly elusive Mr Prawo Jazdy, he has presumably become a cult hero among Ireland's second largest immigrant population.

From the BBC News Website

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Trampolines Can be Dangerous...

Thanks to June in Seattle!

Monday, 16 February 2009

It's Not Me, It's You...

The new album by Lily Allen is simply wonderful. I'm going to see her in concert in Glasgow next month. She didn't disappoint last time and I know she won't this time around. The lyrics below are from Who'd Have Known. The chorus sounds like a Take That number (that's my only grip about the album) - but I know the words will strike a chord with a certain little lady I know...

Are you mine?
Are you mine?
Cause I stay here all the time
Watching tele, drinking wine
Who'd have known? Who'd have known?
When you'd flash up on my phone
I'd no longer feel alone
Let's just stay let's just stay
I wanna lie in bed all day
We'll be laughing all the way
You told your friends
They all know we exist
But we're taking it slow
Now let's just see how we go....

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Love Hurts

Apparently today is Valentine’s Day. I’ve been married for nearly twenty-seven years now (yes, more than three life sentences) so romantic gestures are simply no longer on my agenda. Although unlike blogger extraordinaire Adullamite I've not buried the bitch in the back garden...

How many Hearts fans will forgo their normal post-match pint after today's game at Tynecastle to take their beloved out for a meal? Certainly not I. Given who Hearts opponents are this afternoon there is every chance the woman who stood at the altar with a shotgun pressed against my back more than a quarter of a century ago will hark back to a certain Scottish Cup Final in 1986...

Season 1985-86 was a memorable one for all Hearts supporters, even given its traumatic finale. Unbeaten in league and cup since October, Hearts were just eight minutes away from winning the league championship. They needed just a single point from their final league game at Dundee on May 3rd to become champions of Scotland for the first time in over a quarter of a century. Sadly, Hearts lost two late goals which meant Celtic - 5-0 victors over St. Mirren the same day - snatched the title on goal difference. Whilst the infamous Albert Kidd was destroying thousands of Jambo dreams on Tayside, sixty miles north - we were living in Aberdeen at the time - my wife was experiencing trauma of a different kind. She was heavily pregnant with our first child and was due to give birth the following Saturday - the date of the Scottish Cup Final. Between Hearts and Aberdeen…

In the depths of despair I arrived home from my traumatic experience in Dundee to find Mrs Smith in a state of discomfort. Now, being the loving, caring, compassionate guy I am I would normally have rushed Mrs Smith down the road to Aberdeen Maternity Hospital. But when she said ‘it’s okay, I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about’ that was enough for me to agree and head to bed. Thanks to Albert Kidd I just couldn’t face the world that Saturday night.

Thankfully, Mrs Smith was okay although the ear-bashing I received from her mother the following day probably registered on the Richter Scale (every bit as much as the trauma in Dundee had twenty-four hours earlier) But if ma-in-law was displeased then it was nothing to the rage she felt a week later.
Saturday May 10th 1986 - the day our first child was due to be born. And also the day of the Hearts-Aberdeen Scottish Cup Final - 140 miles away at Hampden Park in Glasgow. Now, in my defence, I did ask Mrs Smith early that morning if she was okay to which she replied she felt fine and would likely be going into town to do some shopping. So when I asked if she would mind if I went to the Hearts-Aberdeen game she readily agreed, not wanting me to make a fuss over her. Not in my defence is the fact I did nothing to change the idea in her head that the game was at Pittodrie - I had inadvertently forgot to tell her the game was in Glasgow. Her suspicions were aroused when my mate came to pick me up at 8.00am - by the time Mrs Smith had wobbled to the door to protest we were in the car and heading south.

As things turned out it was to be a second Saturday in succession that I and thousands of other Hearts fans - and there were forty thousand of us at Hampden that day - were traumatised as Aberdeen put a shell-shocked Hearts team to the sword and won 3-0. Hearts captain Walter Kidd was sent off and, having not lost a game for seven months, two defeats in seven days sent Hearts world crashing around them. But the ovation the magnificent Hearts support gave their team after the final whistle at Hampden was tumultuous and something no one who was there to witness it will ever forget. The fans appreciation of a sensational season moved the likes of Gary Mackay and John Robertson to tears. Long after the Aberdeen team had collected the trophy, acclaimed their fans and were back in the dressing room with one half of Hampden empty, those decked in maroon were still singing their hearts out at the Mount Florida end - I recall the stadium announcer pleading with us to leave!

As for Mrs Smith, it was to be another seven days before she finally gave birth to our daughter Laura. With the football season over I had no excuse for not being there and I was. Three successive Saturdays in May 1986 which resulted in the three most emotional occasions in my life.

So don’t fret about making a romantic gesture tonight. Some things - as I'm sure Adullamite will readily agree - are more important!

Friday, 13 February 2009

The Eye of the Beholder...

Glasgow Valentine's Gift

A bottle of Buckfast, 20 Mayfair and a packet of skins - BUCKY GIFT PACK ONLY £9.08

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Gloves

A young man called Chris from London wanted to buy a Christmas present for his new girlfriend. They hadn't been seeing each other for very long and she lived in Scotland. Chris consulted with his sister and decided, after careful consideration, that a pair of good quality gloves would strike the right note... not too romantic and not too personal.

Off he went with his sister to Harrods and they selected a dainty pair of fur lined quality leather gloves. Whilst there, his sister bought a pair of sexy knickers for herself at the same time. Harrods had a free gift wrap offer but the assistant mixed up the two items, the sister got the gloves and Chris unknowingly got the knickers. Without checking, good old Chris sent off his gift-wrapped present in a parcel with the following letter.

Dear Maggie,

I chose these because I've noticed that you are not wearing any when we go out in the evenings. If it had not been for my sister I would have chosen the long ones with buttons, but she wears shorter ones (which are easier to remove). These are a very delicate shade, but the lady I bought them from showed me the pair she had been wearing for the past three weeks and I hardly noticed any marks. I had her try yours on for me and she looked really smart in them even though they were a little bit tight on her. She also said that they rub against her ring which helps keep it clean. In fact she hasn't needed to wash it since she began wearing them.

I wish I was there to put them on for you the first time, as no doubt many other hands will touch them before I have a chance to see you again. When you take them off remember to blow into them a little bit because they will naturally be a little damp from wearing.. Just imagine how many times my lips will kiss them during the coming year. I hope you will wear them for me on our next date...

All my love, Chris

P.S. My mum tells me that the latest style is to wear them folded down with a little bit of fur showing.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Films I Never Tire of Watching

Despite the multi-channel world we live in these days, there was nothing on the television last night that I considered worth watching. Watching Z list celebrities fall on their collective arses on ice was a non-starter; the cringe-inducing Jonathan Ross hosting the British Academy Film Awards was another. However, the latter did make me consider sticking on an old film and set me thinking on films I never tire of watching.
People tend to ask what your favourite film is. I don't have a particular favourite but there are a few that I have watched several times and will doubtless watch again. In no particular order these are:

Schindler's List: An epic and one of the most powerful depictions of the Holocaust. This film was in my mind last July when I visited Auschwitz in Poland, one of the most moving experiences in my life.

It's a Wonderful Life: James Stewart was never better than in this, a tear-jerker usually shown at Christmas. I know my good friend June in Seattle also loves this film.

Fever Pitch: It's not often a film version matches an outstanding book but author Nick Hornby - one of the best there is - must have been delighted that the big screen version captured his story perfectly. A film I can relate to in so many ways.

Comfort and Joy: Bill Paterson is quite superb in this humourous story of an ice-cream war in Glasgow. Memorable for the scene where Paterson - playing the part of a local DJ - is chased by a baton wielding thug shouting 'It's you, isn't it? It's Dickie Bird! Gonnae play us a request on yer show? Montovani, something like that?' Also memorable for me is the appearance of the gorgeous Clare Grogan. I wonder what's she doing now?

Gregory's Girl: Like Comfort and Joy, this is a charming film by Bill Forsyth. Set in the place I spent my early childhood, Cumbernauld, this film has a special place in my heart. And it also stars Clare Grogan. I wonder....

Monty Python's The Life of Brian: The Pythons at their best. 'All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health.........what have the Romans ever done for us?'

The Fly: Not the gruesome Jeff Goldblum remake but the original 1958 film with Vincent Price. Quite magnificent.

The Incredible Shrinking Man: From the same era, when Scott Carey is exposed to a combination of radiation and insecticide he begins to shrink - his encounter with a spider in the basement is the stuff of horror legend!

There are other films which take my fancy including most of the Carry-On films and many of the British black and white dramas from the 1960s such as A Taste of Honey, Saturday Night Sunday Morning and This Sporting Life.

It's Monday morning, it's snowing heavily and I have a day off work. I'm off to dust off another dvd...

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Vision On (or off)

That veritable British broadcasting institution the BBC has been making the news itself of late. Its decision not to broadcast the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for aid to Gaza the other week was taken because of fears such a broadcast may breach the Corporations strict rules on impartiality. The commercial stations all went ahead with the appeal for humanitarian assistance - with the notable exception of SKY (although I suspect their decision was more to do with Rupert Murdoch's business interests in the USA being affected if he was perceived to be siding with the Palestinians) But it's the BBC who have taken most of the flak although there have been a multitude of reports on BBC News, on television and on-line, about the row which seems to me to have defeated the purpose of not broadcasting the appeal in the first place.

In the wake of the Jonathan Ross fiasco, Auntie Beeb is falling over herself not to offend anyone. Yes, there is a clause in the BBC's charter, reviewed by the government every ten years or so, that requires the Corporation to be impartial or face possible legal consequences. But it seems to me the BBC breaches impartiality on other occasions and it doesn't appear to be an issue.

Take the aforementioned Jonathan Ross for example (please, somebody take him) Ross infamously insulted the grand-daughter of actor Andrew Sachs on a radio show last October and the ensuing furore resulted in Ross being suspended from the BBC for three months. His return last month was trumpeted as a major news story by the Corporation, with coverage given on BBC News programmes both on its terrestrial BBC 1 and digital BBC News24 as well as substantial coverage on the BBC News website. The BBC reported that people queued outside Television Centre for hours and that the audience welcomed the return of Ross (who returned to insulting people on his BBC Radio 2 show a couple of days later)

Now I don't doubt a lot of people were glad to see Ross return and he does have a huge fan base. But, equally, many people wanted Ross sacked from the BBC and despise his crude style and cringing self-importance. So where was the BBC's impartiality here? I didn't see much evidence of it - but, of course, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross is a huge ratings winner for the Corporation....

In my view, the Beeb typifies standards in this country these days. There's a general dumbing down in broadcasting and anything of quality the BBC does make tends to be shunted on to its digital station BBC Four. It might also wish to consider investing in its weather forecasting technology. Twice this week we were warned that severe snow falls would affect Edinburgh. On both Monday and Wednesday night we were told to expect several inches of the white stuff to fall overnight. Many schools in the borders didn't open on the basis of this forecast only to find there was little snow on Tuesday and Thursday morning - and it was raining. Saturday, we were told, would be dry, sunny but cold. As I write this blog early on Saturday morning it's snowing quite heavily in Dalkeith...

Another example of the BBC incapable of handling adverse conditions...

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

It's Not Difficult... make a woman happy. A man only needs to be:

1. A friend
2. A companion
3. A lover
4. A brother
5. A father
6. A master
7. A chef
8. An electrician
9. A carpenter
10. A plumber
11. A mechanic
12. A decorator
13. A stylist
14. A sexologist
15. A doctor
16. A psychologist
17. A pest exterminator
18. A psychiatrist
19. A healer
20. A good listener
21. An organizer
22. Sensitive
23. Very clean
24. Sympathetic
25. Athletic
26. Warm
27. Attentive
28. Gallant
29. Intelligent
30. Funny
31. Creative
32. Tender
33. Strong
34. Understanding
35. Tolerant
36. Prudent
37. Ambitious
38. Capable
39. Courageous
40. Determined
41. True
42. Dependable
43. Passionate
44. Compassionate


45. Give her compliments regularly
46. Love shopping
47. Be honest
48. Be very rich
49. Not stress her out
50. Not look at other girls


51. Give her lots of attention, but expect little yourself
52. Give her lots of time, especially time for herself
53. Give her lots of space, never worrying about where she goes


54. Never to forget:* birthdays* anniversaries* arrangements she makes


1. Agree to have sex on a regular basis

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Scottish Lonely Hearts...

Who said Scots romance is dead? These are some ads placed in lonely-hearts columns in Scotland....

Grossly overweight Buckie turf-cutter, 42 years old and 23 stone, Gemini, seeks nimble sexpot, preferably South American, for tango sessions, candlelit dinners and humid nights of screaming passion. Must have own car and be willing to travel. Box 09/08

Aberdeen man, 50, in desperate need of a ride. Anything considered. Box06/03

Heavy drinker, 35, Glasgow area, seeks gorgeous sex addict interested in pints, fags, Celtic football club and starting scraps on Sauchiehall Street at three in the morning. Box 73/82.

Bitter, disillusioned Dundonian lately rejected by longtime fiancée seeks decent, honest, reliable woman, if such a thing still exists in this cruel world of hatchet-faced bitches. Box /41

Ginger-haired Paisley troublemaker, gets slit-eyed and shirty after a few scoops, seeks attractive, wealthy lady for bail purposes, maybe more Box 84/87

Artistic Edinburgh woman, 53, petite, loves rainy walks on the beach, writing poetry, unusual sea-shells and interesting brown rice dishes, seeks mystic dreamer for companionship, back rubs and more as we bounce along like little tumbling clouds on life's beautiful crazy journey. Strong stomach essential Box 12/32

Chartered accountant, 42, seeks female for marriage. Duties will include cooking, light cleaning and accompanying me to office social functions. References required. No timewasters. Box 3/45

Bad-tempered, foul-mouthed old b*stard living in a damp cottage in the ar*e end of Orkney seeks attractive 21-year old blonde lady with big chest. Box 40/27

Attractive brunette, Maryhill area, winner of Miss Wrangler competition at Frampton's Nightclub, Maryhill, in September 1978, seeks nostalgic man who's not afraid to cry, for long nights spent comfort-drinking and listening to old Abba records. Please, Please! Box 30/41

Govan man, 27, medium build, brown hair, blue eyes, seeks alibi for the night of February 27 between 8pm and 11.30pm....Box 35/55

Thanks to Andrea!