Monday, 30 March 2009

A Crime Against Humanity

Black Lace hit Agadoo, named the worst song of all time by a panel of music writers, is being re-released 25 years after it hit number two. The song, kept off the top by George Michael's Careless Whisper in 1984, won the title in a 2003 Q magazine poll. The video for Agadoo (Mambo 2009 remix) was directed by Bruce Jones, who played Coronation Street's Les Battersby.

Black Lace singer Dene Michael said: "With all the doom and gloom in the world, this is just what we need."

From the BBC News Website

Directed by Les Battersby, eh? Sadly, I suspect Dene Michael is being serious. Even sadder, such is the way this country is, the re-release will probably achieve - if that is the right word - the status it didn't manage last time.

God help us all...

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Butch Cassidy Meets Gregory's Girl

There aren't many films I choose to watch more than once. But tonight there are two on television which are among my favourite flicks. Firstly, the excellent Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the Oscar-winning western comedy drama from 1969. Paul Newman and Robert Redford are just wonderful as the outlaws whose penchant for robbing banks has them on the run constantly. This film brings back memories for me of returning to Cumbernauld in 1970 for the first time since my parents divorced. I spent a week with my father and he took me to the pictures to see this film. The film score composed by the genius that is Burt Bacharach is sublime, particularly Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head - whenever I hear this song, even today, it reminds me of being back in Cumbernauld.

And speaking of the new town, the second film on the small screen tonight is Gregory's Girl, Bill Forsyth's brilliant coming of age film. With John Gordon Sinclair, Dee Hepburn and the gorgeous Clare Grogan, the film is set in Cumbernauld and so has a special place in my heart. And it also has a wonderful script, a superb performance from Sinclair and quaint wee cameo from the legend that is Chic Murray (off you go you small boy!) And I have I mentioned Clare Grogan??!

So tonight,from just before six o'clock, it's feet up, crack open a few bottles of cider and indulge in four hours of nostalgia. Perfect Sunday night viewing ahead of another gruesome week at work.

Have I mentioned Clare Grogan.....?

Friday, 27 March 2009

Antiques Roadshow

THE crowds at the Antiques Roadshow filming at Edinburgh's Hopetoun House reminds a reader of The Herald newspaper of when the BBC show appeared in Glasgow, and a local went along with a large metal box and told the expert:

"It's been in the loft for over 60 years, we reckon, so we thought it must be some kind of family heirloom."

"Is your house insured?" asked the expert.

"Why? Do you think we should?" the Glaswegian asked.

"Probably. Because that's your hot water boiler,"

From The Herald

Thursday, 26 March 2009

It's Not Fair Part Two (and nothing to do with Lily Allen)

The Edinburgh home of former Royal Bank of Scotland boss Sir Fred Goodwin has been attacked by vandals. Windows were smashed and a Mercedes S600 car parked in the driveway was vandalised. A group angry at bank executives' pay contacted a newspaper claiming to be behind the early morning attack. Police said they were investigating these claims as part of their inquiry, adding that they took planned attacks "very seriously".

From the BBC News website

Well, that's good to hear that Lothian and Borders finest men and women in blue are taking such wanton destruction seriously. Ten days ago I had a large stone chucked through my living room window in a similar act of vandalism. Thankfully, as I have double-glazing, it was only the outer pane that was smashed but as I was sitting near the window at the time, this attack - and that's what it was - was very distressing and had me on edge for some time. There was broken glass everywhere - again, thankfully, I was alone at the time but I can only imagine the fear it would have caused my grandchildren Jack and Hannah had they been in the house when it happened.

I've still no idea who did it although suspicion lies with some local yobs with nothing better to do. But, unlike Sir Fred, I was given short shrift by the local bobbies. I phoned the local police station as soon as it happened and was told someone would phone me back. They did and asked if I wanted an officer to come round. Still quite shaken I thought that would be a good idea and the officer could take a look at the damage. No one came. I phoned the following day and was told someone would phone me later that week. No one did. I did get a phone call five days later asking if I could go to the station to formally report the incident - which I thought I had done over the phone. I didn't go and another five days days passed before an admittedly helpful WPC phoned me and took the exact details of the incident over the phone.

My window has been fixed and while I'm insured I still had to fork out £75 for the excess charge. Meanwhile the lout who caused the damage is away Scot free. No police guard for me - not even a visit from the local bobby.

No matter what Sir Fred Goodwin has done - or not done - he doesn't deserve his property attacked and damaged. No one does. But at least he can rest assured that taxpayers money is going towards the police guarding his house in case of further attacks.

Meanwhile, in darkest Dalkeith, I appear to be an afterthought...

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Are You?

A fella goes to the supermarket and notices an attractive woman waving at him.

She says hello.

He's rather taken back because he can't place where he knows her from.

'Do I know you?'

'I think you're the father of one of my kids.' she replies.

Now his mind travels back to the only time he has ever been unfaithful to his wife.

Trembling somewhat he asks 'Are you the stripper from the bachelor party that I made love to on the pool table with all my mates watching while your partner whipped my backside with wet celery???'

She looks into his eyes and says calmly.........

'No, I'm your son's teacher.

Thanks to June in Seattle!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

A Mother's Love

To some love is just a word
To me it's a feeling
A feeling I get every time I look into your eyes
A feeling I get when I realise you're my mum
A mum who loves, shares,
A mum who inspires
What's that?
That's love
A mothers love, but only you would know
And me
You returned that love time and time again
Possibly too much, nevertheless you did
Thank you
Thank you for being there when I needed you most
For being my rock when I should have been yours
Thank you for believing in me, even when I doubted myself
For being the one person I could trust
No matter what, no matter where
But most of all thank you for being you my mum...

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Capital Gains?

A resolution has been reached in the Edinburgh tram dispute, which has seen track laying on the capital's main thoroughfare halted for four weeks. Following crunch talks, the work will begin on Princes Street next week. Project bosses Tie and their contractors Bilfinger Berger have been locked in a deadlock over disputed costs since 21 February. Edinburgh City Council leader Jenny Dawe said she was "delighted" with the outcome after "a frustrating period".
From the BBC News website
Nothing in our beloved capital city is ever straightforward. The much criticised trams project has been inevitably shunted into a siding for the past month while Edinburgh City Council and the project contractors argue over the financial cost of having what seems like half the city turned into a building site for what seems like an eternity. It's not the first time the consortium contracted to deliver the tram system by 2011 - and I'll believe this when I see it - has been involved in such a dispute. Some months ago it locked horns with Transport for London and the Tramtrack Croydon Ltd. TfL eventually lost patience. Edinburgh's city fathers were either unaware of the problems with the consortium or chose to ignore it.
However, it seems now that work can continue on the building site that used to be Princes Street. As if the destruction of Scotland's finest thoroughfare wasn't bad enough, those of us who enjoy ambling through its famous gardens are greeted with something akin to a ploughed field. The east end of Princes Street Gardens has suffered from the Christmas and New Year festivities - big wheel, ice rink, German Christmas Markets - and has had to be dug up. Like Princes Street itself right now, this part of the gardens is an eyesore. But the good old Cooncil says it will be restored to its former glory - by May...
As I write this, it's a gloriously sunny day in Scotland's capital city. The good people of Edinburgh will be heading out in droves to enjoy the long-awaited fine weather. But with Princes Street a building site, the gardens a muddy field, endless traffic diversions and queues of traffic - you can't go very far in the city without gas pipes being replaced or road resurfacing taking place - many of us will wonder if it's really worth it.
A bit like the Edinburgh Trams Project...

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Guts or Balls?

Guts or balls? There is a medical distinction. We've all heard about people having guts or balls, but do you really know the difference between them?

Well, the definitions are listed below:

GUTS - Is arriving home late after a night out with the guys, being met by your wife with a broom, and having the guts to ask 'Are you still cleaning, or are you flying somewhere?'

BALLS - Is coming home late after a night out with the guys, smelling of perfume and beer, lipstick on your collar, slapping your wife on the butt and having the balls to say: 'You're next, Chubby.'

I hope this helps clear up any confusion on the definitions. Medically speaking there is no difference in the outcome.

Both result in death.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Excuse for an Old Gag Part 94

The happiest days of my working life were spent with Lothian Regional Council's Social Work Department from 1990 for an all too short period until 1992. I worked in client finance and was involved in issuing accounts to social work clients who were in residential care and those who received the home care service.

I worked at Shrubhill House in Edinburgh's Leith Walk. Not the most attractive building ever erected in the capital but it was home to a great working environment in a different era.

I first met my good friend Rob Muir there. A couple of years ago Rob began a new life in Norway where he has become a father again. I have fond memories of old Shrubbers - that's why when I passed the building today to see it's been reduced to a shell I felt more than a pang of sadness. As the accompanying photo illustrates is this really progress?

It reminded me of the story of a mate I knew who was invited to a fancy dress party. Struggling for ideas he decided to go to the party dressed as normal but carrying his latest girlfriend on his back.

'Here' he was greeted on his arrival, 'did you not know this was a fancy dress do?'

'Aye' he replied.

'So what have you come as?'

'A tortoise' he replied.

'Eh? Who's that on your back?'

'Ah' he retorted, 'that's Michelle....'

Sunday, 15 March 2009

It's Not Fair

My children, bless 'em, are never slow to point out what they call my advancing years - well to use their words 'auld yin'. So I added to their amusement when I headed to Glasgow last night for the Lily Allen gig (yes, children - gig) Lily was superb as she belted out songs from her latest album 'It's Not Me - It's You' as well as a couple of earlier hits that made her famous. But given the demographics of the audience at the O2 Academy last night - another sign of the political correctness of society these days in that it's no longer the Carling Academy - Laura and Michaela may well snigger at the near certainty I was the only grandfather there.

My feeling out of place started when I arrived to join the queue to get in to the venue. As the line of fans snaked round the corner of the adjacent street there were a handful of people handing out leaflets advertising forthcoming gigs in Glasgow.
For some reason they didn't feel any requirement give one to me. As the queue of fans entered the venue we were met by a line of brusque and burly venue officials. Now I didn't expect to be asked to show proof that I was over 18 years of age - that would be stretching things too far - but I appeared to be the only person who wasn't searched as we made our way through the entrance. I clearly don't look to be a threat to anyone.
The gig was brilliant. Lily Allen is a wonderful talent and I like her attitude to life. One misguided chap had the temerity to heckle her and she duly chewed him up and spat him out - much to the delight of the thronging masses.
My daughter Michaela very kindly offered to drive through to Glasgow and pick me up after the gig had ended. I showed my considerable gratitude by printing out a map of the venue with full postal address details including post code in order that she could utilise her satellite navigation system. Unfortunately she didn't bother with the map or the post code - and ended up sitting in a deserted car park at Glasgow's SECC...Mobile phones can be useful things sometimes so I phoned her to advise I would walk back into the centre of Glasgow and meet her outside Central Station. While waiting for her I was approached by a woman of the night who wondered if I was interested in 'doing some business'. After feeling my age somewhat at the O2 Academy I wasn't entirely ungrateful but I declined her offer...
Eventually Michaela picked me up. At least I think it was Michaela as it may well have been Lewis Hamilton given the fact that forty minutes later we were back in Dalkeith. Darling daughter seemed to think the M8 was, in fact, Brands Hatch...
But it was a good night. I like to think I can still show my daughters that, despite heading towards 50, I'm not totally out of touch with today's music.
I'm off now for a couple of paracetamol. After three hours standing last night, my back is killing me...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

A Father's Plea

Apparently today is National Non-Smoking Day. I know for sure that today is 11 March. Twelve years ago this very day my father was taken from me suddenly and quite unexpectedly. Our family has a history of heart disease. My father's father died from a heart attack in his mid forties. My father fell to a similar fate on this day in 1997 alone in his flat in Paisley. He was found slumped in his armchair with a newspaper on his lap. His death, at just 58 years, stunned me. That he didn't suffer was merciful. However the shock of hearing he had died will live with me forever.

A couple of years earlier, I remember him telling me he had been to the doctor. He hadn't been feeling well, had a painful shoulder and was feeling breathless quite easily. He told me the doc scribbled something down on a prescription pad and pushed across the desk to him. It wasn't a prescription for medication. It read simply 'Stop Smoking'

Both my daughters smoke. despite my protestations. Laura, my eldest, remembers her Papa well and his funeral was the first such occasion she had been to. She was just eleven then. Michaela, my younger daughter, was just seven when my father died and we thought she was just a bit too young to be exposed to such emotional trauma. But they both remember their Papa and, of course, they will never forget him.

I have nothing against people who choose to smoke tobacco and, indeed, I feel they have been persecuted somewhat in today's politically correct, nanny state. I tried the odd cigarette many years ago but didn't enjoy it. My daughters know I'm immensely proud of them. But I wish they would seriously consider the damage smoking can cause to their health. There's every chance that my father may still be alive today if he hadn't smoked. And he would have lived to see his grand-daughters grow up to be two fine young women - and he would have doted on Jack and Hannah, my grandchildren.

The above photograph was the last one taken of my father and my girls. A few weeks later he was dead. If Laura and Michaela want to do something in honour of the memory of their Papa they can do one thing.

Give up smoking, girls. Please.

Monday, 9 March 2009

The Tartan Ball

A night of Scottish entertainment, music and prizes all for a worthy local cause.

A charity fundraising event in support of Horizons, a Project of Places for People Scotland Care and Support.

Music by The Beag Agus Mor plus The Edinburgh Post Office Pipe Band and Minus 1

Wednesday 18 March 2009

The Edinburgh Masonic Club, Shrubhill Lane, Leith Walk, Edinburgh

Doors: 7.00pm Dinner: 8.15pm

Admission £9, Concession £7

Dress code: Wear something tartan.

For tickets please call 07951 514416 or 07973 594805.

Part of Homecoming Scotland 2009

Sunday, 8 March 2009

A Misunderstanding

My dear friend from Seattle, the lovely June, creased me up when I read her latest e-mail. Part of it read:

Right now I am watching a few interesting shows on Hitler on the history channel, I was thinking of you while I was watching it..........not that you remind me of Hitler, just that I know how much you are interested in this time period.

Now I've been called and compared to many things, but Hitler is a first! I wonder if the fact I was out to the pub last night wearing knee length black leather boots and a brown shirt and am growing a small moustache may have had anything to to with it...? I know what June really meant and she alluded to it in her e-mail but I have to say it brightened my normally miserable Sunday.

My dear old mum is the person who I associate most with misunderstandings. A few years ago there was a spate of threatened anthrax attacks and she was telling me how concerned she was about opening any suspect looking parcel that may be delivered to her (although quite how she thought she would be a target for any terrorist activity is rather beyond me) As she put it, she was quite concerned about the threat of Andrex...Rather fittingly, the following day I took her to the Hearts-Aberdeen game at Tynecastle (she's an Aberdeen fan) and the kick-off was held up for a couple of minutes after the Aberdeen fans threw a multitude of toilet rolls on to the pitch. So, perhaps she had a point all along...

Her piece de resistance, however, was when she thought about getting one of those new 'George Formby Grills'.

At least her eggs would turn out nice again...

Saturday, 7 March 2009

St. Jade the Goody

There was in that time a poor peasant girl, ill-mannered and ill-favoured in every way. Jade's life was changed for ever when she was picked out from her humble hovel to join a celebrated enclosed order of the time known as the Big Brothers.

Made up of men and women, the Brothers forsook all worldly goods and took a vow of celebrity, living communally in the 'House' and dedicating their lives to ignorance and mutual abuse.

In a short while, Jade attracted a huge personal following but also she fell from grace when she unwisely addressed a comely young novice from the Indies as a 'f*****g P**i'

Poor Jade was expelled from the Big Brotherhood and was scorned and derided by the multitude.

Yet, in her misery and humiliation, Jade found grace. She earnestly repented and sought forgiveness from the Blessed Media. Before long they relented, particularly when they discovered she was dying.

Jade was now hailed throughout the land as a martyr and living saint. There was even a miracle, which astonished all those who witnessed it. Jade had become betrothed to a young criminal of the time, by the name of Jack Tweed. But he was languishing in a prison cell. Then lo, the gates of the prison were suddenly thrown open, thanks to the intercession of a well-known holy man of the time, St. Jack of Straw.

The tags dropped from Tweed's leg and he walked free. And so it was that the couple were wed before the eyes of the nation and Jade received a million gold coins from Halo! magazine...

A Private Eye classic

Fred Goodwin Latest

Thursday, 5 March 2009

You Never Stop Worrying

My youngest daughter Michaela is heading off to London on Friday for a 'girls weekend'. She's staying with a friend tonight so I caught her before she left for work this morning.

'Now, darling - you look after yourself down there. Take extra care - there are a lot of dodgy people in the world today'

Her reply was typical for someone who has already achieved a lot in life for being aged just 19. 'For God's sake, Dad - I'm not a kid any more'

And don't I know it...

But that's the responsibility of being a parent, as Michaela herself may know a few years from now. You never stop worrying about your children.

My mother is 72, God bless her, and she still frets about me making a 20 minute bus journey from her house - 40 minutes when hapless Midlothian Council spring up hundreds of temporary traffic lights in Dalkeith for no apparent reason. I tell her that, now I've reached the age of 47, have two grown-up children and two toddling grandchildren, that I'm reasonably capable of crossing the road unaided. Although, admittedly, this can be dependant on whether I head for a pint on the way home...

My other daughter, Laura, also causes me no end of concern. Are you coping with the brats - sorry, loveable kiddies - are you managing to pay the bills, are you eating properly, are you sleeping okay...?? Questions which are usually treated with contempt by my tempestuous 22 year old.

As parents we are supposed to prepare our children for life. As parents it is also hard to accept that our way is not the only way.We just have to love our children and grandchildren, warts and all. You love them and are always concerned about them -but it's part of caring.

So while I hope Michaela has a wonderful weekend in the old smoke - and I'm sure she will - there's a little part of me that will be delighted to see her back in Auld Reekie safe and sound on Sunday night. Okay - a big part of me.

Families, eh? Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em....

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Yes Minister...

Harriet Harman has said reports that she and other senior colleagues are positioning themselves for a future leadership battle are unfounded. The deputy Labour leader said she was "loyal" to Gordon Brown and there was not a "shred of truth" in reports she was already planning for the future.
She told the BBC's Andrew Marr show that there was "not a shred nor iota of truth" about such claims. "I am very proud to be Gordon Brown's loyal deputy and that is what I am," she said.

From the BBC News Website

For those who remember that excellent political satire Yes Minister and its sequel Yes Prime Minister from a few years ago, Harriet Harman's comments could well have been penned by Sir Humphrey Appleby.
Ludovic Kennedy: "Given the timing of your speech are you interested in challenging for the PM's job?"

Jim Hacker: I have no ambitions to become Prime Minister.
Kennedy: So you are interested!
I have learned over the years never to trust what politicians say, particularly since 'New Labour' came to power. After years of Thatcherism and Conservative policies intent on destroying communities throughout Scotland, we've had more than a decade of spin, spin and more spin from what used to be the party of the working class. If Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Harriet Harman or any other politician says today is Sunday I'll immediately check to see what day it really is.

I don't really care who leads the Labour Party or who will or will not be Prime Minister. I yearn for independence for Scotland and a chance for our nation to prosper, free from the shackles of Westminster and the political machine in London. As another quote from the wonderful Yes Minister illustrates...
Jim Hacker: "This government believes in reducing bureaucracy."
Ludovic Kennedy: "Well, figures that I have here say that your department's staff has risen by 10%."

Jim Hacker: "Certainly not."
Ludovic Kennedy: "Well, what figure do you have?"
Jim Hacker: "I believe the figure is much more like 9.97."
Ludovic Kennedy: "How are you going to meet the challenge in reforming local government?"
Jim Hacker: "It is far to early to give detailed proposals, after all I have just come here direct from Number 10."
Ludovic Kennedy: "From Number 9.97, perhaps?"