Saturday, 30 May 2009

Summer Breeze...

...makes me feel fine, blowin' through the jasmine in my mind...

So went the song by Seals and Crofts in the mid 1970s. And, this fine Saturday morning, the sun shines strongly in Edinburgh. While there is a little breeze, the weather is fine, it is warm and it seems summer has finally arrived.

Then again.....

We're three weeks away from the longest day when it will still be daylight until after 10.00pm. Then, the process towards darker nights will begin...soon it will be dark by 9.00pm.....shadows will be cast earlier....the incessant cackle that are the shopping channels on Freeview television will begin to advertise 'Countdown to Christmas' (just a few weeks away from this, I reckon)...the leaves will begin to fall from the trees....early morning frost will appear...the Last Night of the Proms will be upon us...the clocks will be turned back...we'll be back to wearing a thick coat and gloves...fireworks will appear in the shops and will be lit by inconsiderate louts as early as mid October...Guy Fawkes night...St. Andrew's Day...the dreaded office Christmas party...the dreaded Christmas Day itself....Bloody Happy New Year....the inevitable outbreak of Manflu at that time of the year...

Enjoy summer, good people. It will probably be as good as over by Tuesday...

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The Mark of Champions

Barcelona - probably the greatest club side in the world.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Ye Cannae Make This Up - Part Two

It hasn't been the best of days -returning to work after a week off, I feel like I need another break! On returning home, cream-crackered, ready to collapse into a chair and looking for my old consoling mate Jack Daniels, I had to check the date while opening my mail. For, among the plethora of junk and election leaflets (do the Tories and the bloody BNP seriously think I'm going to vote for either of them?) was a catalogue. With a huge picture of Santa Claus beaming out from the cover with a snow-covered background.

Yes, some company called 24studio clearly believe we should be thinking about Christmas when we haven't even reached the end of May yet. The Christmas Book 2009 screamed from the cover that 'everything was half-price'.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you what it is that's half-price as I've thrown it in the bin. And for the tree-huggers out there, that's the recycling box before you accuse me of destroying the planet.

Is it me????

Monday, 25 May 2009

Creative Journalism

Hearts had the best chance. A Calum Elliott effort in the first half was cleared off the line by Gary Caldwell. The only other moments of danger to Celtic were when Christian Nade, on as a substitute, raced through on goal in the second half and fell over. Christos Karipidis also had a shot in the first half that Artur Boruc countered in the way my mum used to pay for a new settee. He saved in instalments.

From The Herald

Now Hugh Macdonald is a fine journalist. But I'm wondering if he compiled his report on the goalless affair between Celtic and Hearts yesterday during the game or did he wait until he opened a bottle of wine or two in the evening? Either way, my congratulations to him on being the first writer to use the words Christian Nade and raced in the same sentence...and the five hundreth to use the words Christian Nade and fell over in the same sentence...

Move Over, Darling (and the rest)

Alistair Darling is among nine cabinet members who used £11,000 of taxpayers' money to pay for personal accountancy advice, the Daily Telegraph has said. It says he, Jacqui Smith, Hazel Blears, David Miliband, James Purnell, Douglas Alexander, Geoff Hoon and Hilary Benn claimed for tax return processing.

From the BBC News Website

I received my P60 the other week and shuddered when I read how much income tax I have paid in the last year. When I think of how I could have put this money - taken from my salary before I even get it - to other noble purposes (drink, gambling, unhealthy food, following Hearts away from home - okay, the last bit may be stretching the imagination when described as noble) I sigh and wish the world was a fairer place. But now I read that part of my hard-earned cash is contributing towards the Chancellor of the Exchequer no less, hiring the services of an accountant to fill in his tax return! I stand to be corrected here but I always thought it was the Chancellor who decided the rate of income tax in the first place...

The whole sorry saga of MP's expenses and some of the ridiculous items they have claimed at the cost of the taxpayer is an embarrassment to the United Kingdom. I say the UK rather than Scotland as our devolved Parliament has a different, more transparent expenses system and is open to scrutiny by all. Prime Minister Gordon Brown is holding office as an unelected leader of the UK. It's time he, Alister Darling and all the others, moved over and held a General Election. Of course, most political parties appear to have been taking liberties with the expenses system, not just the Labour Party (sorry - 'New Labour') But the public should have the right to voice their opinions on this shambolic state of affairs.

Brown should go to the country now - if he dares. I would like to think the people of Scotland would wash their hands of their Westminster paymasters and vote for independence.

And be an honourable nation again...

Friday, 22 May 2009

Abbott & Costello and Buying a Computer

You have to be old enough to remember Abbott and Costello, and too old to REALLY understand computers, to fully appreciate this. For those of us who sometimes get flustered by our computers, please read on...

If Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were alive today, their famous sketch, 'Who's on First?' might have turned out something like this:


ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer.


COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.


COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou

ABBOTT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOTT: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?


COSTELLO: For my office?


COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows

COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?


COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue 'W'.

COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue 'w' if you don't start with some straight answers. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT: One copy.

COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?


(A few days later)ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT: Click on 'START'............

So I Went to Greggs the Bakers...

...on the way home from the pub this afternoon as I realised I had no bread in the house. Behind the counter, looking none too pleased at having to serve me, was a young girl who was obviously delighted at having to work on a gloriously sunny Edinburgh afternoon. I saw trays of bread in the background so, relieved there was still bread available, I asked said young girl if I could have a loaf.

'No' came the forthright reply.


'You can't'

At the risk of appearing foolish I asked 'Why ever not?'
'We don't sell bread in this shop' she replied without a trace of humour.

'Okay, let me get this straight' I said with a fair degree of incredulity, 'this is a baker's shop but you don't sell bread'
'That's right'

'Hmm. So why are there several loaves stacked up over there? I asked, fearing another ridiculous answer.
'That's for the sandwiches' was her retort.

This was too good an opportunity to miss so I began the comedy routine.

'I suppose you're only here because you knead the dough?
Blank look.

'Have you stopped making donuts as well? Have you got tired of the hole thing?'
Blank look.

'Are you flexible? Do you have many rolls in this shop'
'We don't sell bread'
'Is that a donut or a meringue? Or was I right the first time?'
Blank look.
Well, you could try and rise to the occasion - it's the yeast you could do...'
She now had a stern look and a supervisor appeared from the back of the shop. 'Is there a problem?' an even sterner looking woman asked.

'Can I have a loaf of bread?'
'No sir, we don't sell bread...'

So, I returned to the pub which, thankfully, continued to serve beer. And the very pleasant girl behind the bar saw me looking at the food menu and apologised. 'I'm sorry - bar lunches are finished for the day. But I could do you a toastie...'

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Ye Cannae Make This Up...

Regular readers to this blog may know my opinions of local authorities. So this story, from the BBC News website, needs no more comment from me.

A council has admitted workers painted a warning sign outside a nursery school despite it closing 10 years ago. The yellow zig-zag "school keep clear" sign has been painted in Aberdeen at St Peter's Nursery in The Spital.

The work - costing about £200 - was carried out despite the building being boarded up.

An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said: "Staff have been instructed to check orders for all outstanding works to ensure they are still required."

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Auld Reekie Ranter 1 Scottish Power 0 (after extra time)

Regular visitors to this blog may have read about my daughter Michaela and the tragic loss of her fiance barely three weeks ago. Her life has been turned upside down and everyone who loves her is rallying round at her time of need. So what she didn't need was a snippy letter from those bastions of tact and diplomacy, Scottish Power.

Just days after Billy's passing, Michaela received a final demand from Scottish Power for over £260 as payment due for when she and Billy shared a rented flat in the centre of Edinburgh. In obvious distress, Michaela told me she couldn't understand this as she had made sure all her bills - rent, council tax, phone and electric - were settled when she left and moved back home. As if she hadn't enough to do with funeral arrangements and coming to terms with her grief, she was at her wits end. 'Don't worry about this, dear' I said, 'Give the bill to me'

I e-mailed the customer services section of Scottish Power and explained there must be some mistake and that my daughter really didn't need this right now. A Customer Services Advisor replied yesterday that, while they were sorry to hear of Michaela's loss, the outstanding amount was for the period September 2006 until February 2008 - AND IT NEEDED PAYING. Just one not so minor flaw in their argument - Michaela left said property in March 2007...

Cue another e-mail from me late last night threatening legal action if this matter was not resolved. Lo and behold, at 7.00pm tonight Michaela received an e-mail from a Customer Services Representative - I'm assuming this is a supervisor - advising that, indeed, Scottish Power had made an error (although they are trying to blame the letting agent) and all money due for electricity during her time in the flat had, in fact, been paid.

As John Cleese says 'you've got to complain until you're blue in the face to get anything done in this country'. The bureaucrats at Scottish Power have cocked up and thought, 'she's only a teenager, she'll cough up the money. And we don't really care if she's suffered a personal tragedy very recently'.

But Michaela and I refused to be beaten by the bureaucrats. We've taken on Scottish Power, despite the difficult month we've had - and won. It may be a small victory for a small consumer.

But it's a victory nonetheless...

Monday, 18 May 2009

Swine Flu Warning

With the swine flu virus threatening to become pandemic, it's a sad reflection on society that there are unscrupulous people out there who are scaremongering. I should warn readers of this blog that should you receive an email from the Department of Health telling you not to eat tinned pork because of swine flu - ignore it.

It's just spam.

Top Rated on the Ranter's IPod

Groanin' Jock's excellent blog often has musical lists which are quite interesting. I thought I would share with you, in no particular order, the current top-rated tunes on the Auld Reekie Ranter's IPod...

Rum N' Coca-Cola - Wild Billy Childish and the Blackhands

Who'd Have Known - Lily Allen

News of the World - The Jam

Something Better Change - The Stranglers

All I Want to do is Be With You - Paul Weller

All Day and All of the Night - The Kinks

Come See About Me - The Supremes

The Dark Island - The Red Hot Chilli Pipers

David Watts - The Kinks

Diamond Girl - Pete Wylie

Do Anything You Wanna Do - Eddie and The Hotrods

The Eton Rifles - The Jam

Gangsters - The Specials

Geraldine - Glasvegas

I Should Have Known Better - The Skatallites

Hate to Say I Told You So - The Hives

Heatwave - Martha Reeves and The Vandellas

I Could Say - Lily Allen

In God's Hands - Nelly Furtado

Into the Valley - The Skids

It's the Same Old Song - The Four Tops

The King of Rock n' Roll - Prefab Sprout

Lip Up Fatty - Bad Manners

Can't Get Used to Losing You - The Beat

Tears of a Clown - The Beat

Killing me Softly - June 'The Voice of Seattle' Nixon

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Happy Birthday Laura Smith

My elder, darling daughter is 23 years old today. She has given me so much pleasure in life - well, until she was about 15 when she turned into the devil incarnate...(only kidding, dear)

I can remember the day she was born as if it were yesterday. Her mother spent 15 hours in labour - starting at bloody midnight...Of course, she had the easy bit, it was me, like most expectant fathers, who suffered the most (as I'm sure Lilly, Strawberry Girl, Claire and Lady Muck will agree...)

Now Laura has two children of her own, the adorable Jack and Hannah. Although I'm not so sure wee Hannah isn't the child of the devil...

Have a good day, dear. I'll be round to see you later. Once the football has finished...

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Blatant Money-Making

For any Hearts supporters reading this tonight - as well as looking out your passports for next season you can assist me with the cost of seeing the mighty JTs in Europe by clicking on the 'Share This' video to the right of this post.

I thank you!

16 May 1998

Celtic Park, Glasgow. A day in history. A day no Hearts fan who was there will ever forget. The day Heart of Midlothian ended 36 years of hurt by lifting the Scottish Cup after defeating Rangers 2-1 in the final. Goals by Colin Cameron and Stephane Adam meant Hearts lifted their first piece of major silverware since 1962. After three and a half decades of abject failure, relegation and near bankruptcy, Hearts were winners again.

Grown men and women in maroon wept that day as a tide of emotion washed over them. The dream had come true. Edinburgh - most of it - partied all weekend as the Hearts players paraded the cup through the streets of the old city and on to Tynecastle Stadium for a truly emotional homecoming. It was the culmination of a season when Hearts had consistently produced a sparkling brand of fluent, attacking football which delighted the purists.

So many jokes, so many sneers. And all those oh so nears. But we never stopped dreaming. And on 16 May 1998 Hearts Scottish Cup winning team finally made the dream come true...

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Tree Hugging Hippies

'Don't you care about saving the planet?' someone asked me the other day.

'To be frank' I snarled, 'at this moment in time I have more important issues to consider'

'Oh?' came the condascending retort, 'What could be more important than saving the world for your grandchildren?'

'Well, let me think. My daughter's fiance has just died, she's about to be made redundant from a job she loves, my other daughter is unwell, my granddaughter fell down the stairs today and had to be taken to hospital (a little concussion apart she appears fine thankfully) and my mother thinks she's suffering from depression (she supports Aberdeen FC so she may well be right). So please excuse me if I don't walk half a mile in the pouring rain to put the last issue of Private Eye in the recycling bin...

A colleague of mine describes environmentalists as 'tree-hugging hippies' And, to be fair, I think he has a point. If they want to recycle every inordinate bloody object in order to save the world then good luck to them. But what irritates me is the fact they ram their principles down everybody's throat. To them if you don't try to save the planet at every opportunity you're the devil in disguise. From recycling newspapers, rubbish, teabags (compost caddies anyone?) plastic, glass and dog excrement (okay, I made that one up) to switching off computer monitors, printers, televisions, mobile phones at night, it seems if you don't do any of these then you'll be condemned and sent straight to the depths of hell when you shuffle off this mortal coil.

Those tree-hugging hippies ruin everything. What are they fighting for anyway? Why would should I care if there are baby seals or drowning polar bears? Stuff the ice shelves. I don't use them. And what about litter? Why should I care if the streets I walk down or live on are lined with rubbish? I mean, it is someone else's, not mine. I put all of my rubbish in one wheelie bin. I don't recycle either. Why waste my energy on sorting things out? Getting back to those bloody trees, why do I need them? They just block the view I have of the concrete heaven that people call a jungle. I say give me more pavement and miles of it. Asphalt is quite good to look at, really.

I hate when those people who think they are so much smarter than me tell me that air can get polluted by me having a barbecue or that having my television on standby overnight will cause an ice cap to melt. They think they know more than I do. I went to school. Okay, I didn't pay attention much but I went....

Rather than having a go at me for not switching my monitor off why not tackle the likes of China's environmental record? Or the good old US of A?

As for saving the planet for my grandchildren, I've got to ask, given the state of society these days, will the planet be worth saving for Jack and Hannah twenty years from now? Greed, ill-discipline and a lack of moral fibre are prevalent now - one can only shudder at the prospect two decades hence. Rather like the polar ice caps, everyday values such as respect, decency and looking out for each other are being eroded.

But it seems to me there are precious few who want to save them...

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Communication Let Me Down

'Let me assure you' I said with some irritation to the young girl on the telephone, 'I'm really not interested in the slightest'

'Okay' she replied far too cheerily for my liking, 'No worries'.

No worries? Why not try a simple 'that's okay, sorry to have troubled you', or 'that's no problem at all, sir, thank you for your time'? It's one of the admittedly worrying increasing number of examples of day to day life that irks me no end. The English language used to be something that commanded respect, something that set the standard for knowledge and making something out of life. Now, like so many other aspects of life in this country, the English language has been hijacked with an annoying habit of turning nouns into verbs, such as prioritise and incentivise. There are many other examples. Such as adding 'I guess' at the end of a sentence.

'It looks like rain. You'll need your brolly, I guess...' Damn it!

Then there's the text language which has spread like some grammatical plague in the last fifteen years or so. The abbreviated method of texting is bad enough but now it's spreading into every day language. LOL, M8 - which I always thought was the motorway linking Edinburgh and Glasgow but now, apparently, means 'friend' - 2nite, b4, George it's almost a new language.

I remember not so long ago when people would actually make the effort to write letters. Yes, write, with a pen. Starting the letter Dear Mr or Dear Mrs (until political correctness demanded not Mrs but Ms) or using a first name. And ending the letter with either Yours faithfully or Yours sincerely. The anticipation of receiving a letter was half the excitement. Of course Royal Mail could take several days to deliver said letter which was always a drawback. Now, the informality of e-mails and text messages sees correspondence begin with 'Hi' or 'Hey' and messages are instant. No more waiting anxiously to see if the cigarette puffing, bedraggled postie can be bothered to deliver your expectant item of mail. E-mails and texts are immediate.

I'm well aware of the irony of me blogging about modern communication. Perhaps I'm not alone in hankering after a more simple time when people made a considerable effort to communicate rather than just press a button or two. Or perhaps I am.

Instant communication and the 'modernisation' of the English language is the way of the world in the 21st century - I guess....

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Another Working Week Beckons...

Euro Vision...

Like thousands of other people, the other day I received my Official Poll Card for the forthcoming European Parliamentary Election. Now call me cynical (okay, I am cynical) but the word apathy may well have been created with the European Election in mind.

It's fair to say the election, on 4 June, wasn't exactly highlighted on the Auld Reekie Ranter's calendar. In fact, I didn't even realise there was an election. I suspect I may not be alone in this. Yet, the European Parliament has a powerful influence on our daily lives. No, really it has. According to political experts, if the centre-right wins we can expect more market liberalisation, fewer environmental regulations, and more restrictive immigration policies, while if the centre-left wins, we can expect stricter environmental standards, more labour market rules and liberal immigration policies. More labour market rules? As someone working in the Human Resources profession that makes me quiver...

But, despite such legislative power, it seems this year's European Election may attract a record low turn-out. Do you know who your MEP is? I haven't a clue who mine is although I suspect given they or their party will be looking for my vote next month I may well see him or her rampaging the streets of Edinburgh in the days ahead.

I always vote in the UK, Scottish and local council elections. I'm proud to say I vote for the Scottish National Party as I yearn for the day this magnificent country of ours stands on its own two feet and becomes a true nation again. But I just can't muster any enthusiam for the European polls. I can't see any real benefit from being in the European Parliament although doubtless there will be funding of some sort from Brussels which contributes towards something or other in the Scottish capital - I just don't know what. My view is that the bureaucrats in Brussels merely contribute to making my life more miserable than it ought to be.

So on 4 June it's likely I won't be casting my vote. It only encourages them...

Friday, 8 May 2009

And I Mean That Most Sincerely...

My very good friend from the Hie'lans of Scotland, the lovely Lizzy remarked the other day about the legacy some of today's society are leaving our children...our indifference and pass-the-buck mindset, our consumerism and distorted sense of entitlement. It seems to both Lizzy and I that qualities like civility, accountability, nobility, class (as in elegance not social division) are no longer virtues worth striving for.

What bothers me now is the image more than substance way of the world - we're fed an almost continual diet of spin, spin, spin. Companies now have business plans and corporate strategies and people have to be seen to be doing the right thing - even when it's obvious they wouldn't know the right thing if it bit them on the nose. But in these days of rising unemployment and recession, those of us lucky to have jobs know we have to comply to projecting the right image or risk losing our livelihood. Imagery at least means civility is still part of 'the business plan' although there are times when this is stretched to the limit. Working in the field of Human Resources, I have to field unsolicited telephone calls on a daily basis from companies trying to sell us a service we don't want. These can illicit replies listed below - but how I yearn to say what I really mean...

Caller: Hello, let me introduce myself, I'm Joe Bloggs from Bloggs, Bloggs and Bloggs and I wondered if you could spare me a moment of your time...?
Me: Yes, no problem, how may I help
Jesus, how the hell did this clown get past the switchboard?

Caller: Good morning Mr Smith, how are you today?
Me: I'm very well thank you - and you?
Shit, she's asking me how I am. This means half an hour on the phone talking gibberish.

Caller: I see you have a job placed in today's Scotsman newspaper. We can offer you a special deal on our website as one of our advertisers has pulled out and for a specially discounted rate we can place your advert for hugely reduced rate.
Me: Well, that's very kind of you but we have already spent our advertising budget on this post.
Discounted rate my arse. If you think we're going to advertise in your greasy rag, think again pal.

Caller: I'm pleased to say your company's name has come out of the hat and you've won a big box of chocolates, free gratis and with no catch. Can a colleague and I come over to deliver the chocolates and have five minutes with you to discuss what we can offer?

Me: Oh, thanks very much but I don't have the time or the resources to chat with you at this moment in time. But perhaps in a few weeks -meantime, you can just leave the chocolates at reception.
Aye, right - name out the hat indeed. You're extracting the urine, pal - and it'll be a box of cheapo choccies from Poundstretcher...

Me: Thank you, dear reader, for reading my latest post. Your visit to this site is important to me.
You: Away and talk p**h, man - dinnae think I'm visiting this site again...

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Faith Restored

Today my daughter Michaela helped to bury the man she was due to marry two years from now. Billy was found dead ten days ago. He was just 21. At his funeral in Danderhall this afternoon, Michaela went through an ordeal today that no teenager should have to go through.

Today has been long and painful - but it has, strangely, restored my faith in society. I got back from the wake around 7.30pm. Michaela has been a brave soul all day. What is clear is she is a very popular young girl. Billy's family all spoke about her in glowing terms, about how she had made Billy's life so much better and how she had made a difference even to their lives. Billy's devastated mum told me how much Michaela means to her - and how much she meant to her son. I can only try to imagine the pain she is feeling - there can surely be nothing worse than to lose a child. My heart goes out to her, Billy's two sisters and the rest of his family.

Michaela's friends - and she has many - were there to support her and many of them took the time to come and speak to me. They told me not to worry, they would help her through this difficult period. One of them told me Michaela told her she was really a Daddy's girl - but not to breath a word to me! Yes, alcohol was playing its part but the sentiments were clear. As I left, Michaela came over and gave me a huge hug and told me she loved me. I returned her love with a trembling voice.

I've never been so proud of my little girl as I am tonight. I was fighting back the tears as I left but now I'm at home and Jack Daniels has joined me I may shed a tear or two. My daughter, her friends and Billy's family have restored my faith in society. Decency is still among us, despite what we may read and hear in the media. That such a traumatic event can have such a positive impact makes me very humble.

As the events in my daughter's life these last ten days have proved, life is too short to be bitter.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Family Matters

It's been a difficult week for the Auld Reekie Ranter. A sudden, totally unexpected death is shocking at any time; when it happens to someone who recently celebrated his 21st birthday and whose passing has left my daughter Michaela heart-broken it sends shock waves through the body, numbing it with disbelief and leaving one feeling almost completely helpless. Nothing I can say or do to try and help my daughter will bring back the person she loved with all her heart. The funeral is this Wednesday and I would not wish to be anywhere else than by my daughter's side that day; but at the same time I would rather be somewhere else rather than witness the pain and anguish she will go through.

With such dark clouds overhead, there is a wee glimpse of sunshine today with my grandson Jack's fourth birthday. It's hard to believe four years have gone by since he came into my life. The wee scamp has given me so much joy, so much love, so much fun. Today I will head to his party, armed with a multitude of loud and irritating presents which my daughter Laura will likely greet with horror, and give the wee man a huge hug.

Happy birthday Jack the Lad. Save some cake for your emotionally brittle Papa.

Saturday, 2 May 2009