Sunday, 29 November 2009

Happy St. Andrew's Day...


...on Monday. To Scots everywhere.

An Obsession with Independence


Opposition parties have urged Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond to shelve his planned independence referendum. The call came on the eve of the publication the Scottish National Party's white paper on Scotland's constitutional future, to be followed by a Referendum Bill. The minority Scottish government currently does not have enough support to pass the referendum in parliament. Labour's Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy accused the SNP of a "peculiar obsession" with independence.

From the BBC News Website.

Now, admittedly, I've had a trying and tiring week. However, dear reader, can you advise if I'm missing something here? Jim Murphy - a fella, incidentally, who looks more than a bit creepy - says the Scottish National Party has a peculiar obsession with independence. What's that? The SNP are obsessed with independence for Scotland? Well, knock me sideways with a saltire.

In other news - Pope believed to have Catholic leanings; Osama Bin Laden doesn't care much for Americans; bears believed to defecate in the woods...

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Thoughts for the Day

I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

That sinking feeling during an argument when you realise you're wrong...

I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

There is great need for a sarcasm font.

How are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

Bad decisions make good stories.

You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day (if my boss reads this I'm only kidding...)

Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection.. .again.

I'm always slightly concerned when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page article that I swear I did not make any changes to.

"Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this - ever.

I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damn it!). But when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

I hate leaving my house confident and looking good, then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

'Tis the Season...


...Edinburgh's Christmas lights were switched on tonight - and we're still in November.

Wake me up when it's Boxing Day...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Political Spin


Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Tory leader David Cameron have apologised after claims they used an Armistice Day service as a photo opportunity. Officials at Westminster Abbey raised concerns that the leaders had failed to notify senior staff they were to be pictured in its Field of Remembrance.

Mr Cameron's photographer pictured him inspecting tributes on crosses. Mr Brown was also filmed there. Mr Cameron said: "It shouldn't have happened... I want to make that clear."

From the BBC News Website

Doesn't this just sum up our politicians today? Spin, spin and more spin. It wasn't enough for Messrs. Brown and Cameron to pay their respects in a dignified, unobtrusive manner. They just had to ensure someone was there to record them doing so.

'New' Labour has been spinning like a Catherine Wheel for more than fifteen years now. When Tony Blair was Prime Minister he was the perfect front for Labour lies and conning the British public into thinking the country was great again. Nice Tony, smiling Tony, caring Tony - how could anyone disagree with him? Until the weapons of mass destruction fiasco and losing soldiers lives unnecessarily in Iraq and Afghanistan showed his true colours...

The Tory Party are no better. David Cameron comes across as a smug, know-it-all politician who is desperate to show he's the new, improved Tony Blair. The prospect of the Conservatives getting back into power again is a truly frightening one, particularly for Scotland. Few Scots will ever forget how Margaret Thatcher - who was shaking the hand of Gordon Brown outside Number Ten Downing Street the other day - tried and damn near succeeded in destroying our country. Something Cameron should think about next time he thinks it's a smart move to head for Glasgow to campaign for his party in a by-election (will he be in Glasgow for the general election a few months from now? Probably not...)

What a pity Jim Hacker isn't still around. The fictional MP and Prime Minister from the BBC comedy Yes Prime Minister, along with his civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby, probably knew more about politics than Brown and Cameron put together...

Sunday, 22 November 2009

It Will Never Stand Up...

The present swine flu pandemic is a concern for many. My pregnant daughter Laura recently contracted it but seems to have recovered. I suspected I caught it as well although it was never confirmed - but I'm over the worst now. However, here's my real concern.

Three years ago, it was the Chinese calendar year of the cow - and there was an outbreak of Mad Cow disease.

Two years ago, it was the Chinese calendar year of the bird - and Avian flu was rife.

This year, it was the Chinese calendar year of the pig . . . and from being little heard of six months ago there is now a Swine flu pandemic.

Next year is the Chinese calendar year of the cock . . . anybody else worried?

Thursday, 19 November 2009

I'm Off to the Pub


Drinking alcohol every day cuts the risk of heart disease in men by more than a third, a major study suggests. Research involving more than 15,500 men and 26,000 women found large quantities of alcohol could be even more beneficial for men. Female drinkers did not benefit to the same extent, the study in 'Heart' found.

Experts are critical, warning heavy drinking can increase the risk of other diseases, with alcohol responsible for 1.8 million deaths globally per year. The study was conducted in Spain, a country with relatively high rates of alcohol consumption and low rates of coronary heart disease.

From the BBC News Website.

A couple of pints of Belhaven Best, please barman. Purely for medicinal reasons, mind...

Monday, 16 November 2009

At a Golf Club in Scotland...

Here is an actual sign posted at a golf club in Scotland...

1. BACK STRAIGHT, KNEES BENT, FEET SHOULDER WIDTH APART.

2. FORM A LOOSE GRIP.

3. KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN!

4. AVOID A QUICK BACK SWING.

5. STAY OUT OF THE WATER.

6. TRY NOT TO HIT ANYONE.

7. IF YOU ARE TAKING TOO LONG, LET OTHERS GO AHEAD OF YOU.

8. DON'T STAND DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF OTHERS.

9. QUIET PLEASE...WHILE OTHERS ARE PREPARING.

10. DON'T TAKE EXTRA STROKES.

WELL DONE... NOW, FLUSH THE URINAL, WASH YOUR HANDS AND GO OUTSIDE, AND TEE OFF.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

The Skababs


It's been a Ska weekend for the Auld Reekie Ranter. After watching the legends that are The Specials at the Corn Exchange on Thursday night, I headed for the somewhat less salubrious surroundings of the Black Bull in Dalkeith to see Edinburgh's very own The Skababs.

It was an excellent gig and 'Skaliwag' and the boys created a hugely enjoyable night for fans of ska as they belted out cover versions of many old ska classics. Adding on The Undertones Teenage Kicks was a master stroke!

If you get the chance to see the band grab it with both hands. Click on the title of this post for a link to the band's website. They are not to be missed!

Friday, 13 November 2009

The Specials in Edinburgh



I had the pleasure of seeing The Specials in Edinburgh on Thursday night as part of their 30th Anniversary Tour. I can scarcely believe three decades have passed since Terry Hall, Neville Staples et al first started with their two-tone style making them the stuff of legend.

The sell-out crowd at Edinburgh's Corn Exchange were ecstatic to see their heroes and the band were as brilliant as ever. They performed all the old favourites - Gangsters, Rat Race, Saturday Night Sunday Morning and topped off a sublime performance with the iconic Ghost Town.

I was also highly impressed with the support band Pama International, a reggae/ska band who performed brilliantly before the main event.

It's not often I get the opportunity to see legends in action. Last night I was privileged to do so.
May I thank Susan, who reads my inane ramblings, for advising me of the additional tickets which went on sale. In fact, I can't thank you enough.

Monday, 9 November 2009

His and Hers Diaries

HER DIARY

Tonight, I thought my husband was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a bar to have a drink. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment on it. Conversation wasn't flowing, so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk. He agreed, but he didn't say much.

I asked him what was wrong. He said, 'Nothing.' I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said he wasn't upset, that it had nothing to do with me, and not to worry about it. On the way home, I told him that I loved him. He smiled slightly, and kept driving.

I can't explain his behaviour. I don't know why he didn't say, 'I love you, too.' When we got home, I felt as if I had lost him completely, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He just sat there quietly, and watched TV. He continued to seem distant and absent. Finally, with silence all around us, I decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later, he came to bed. To my surprise, he responded to my caress, and we made love. But I still felt that he was distracted, and his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep -I cried. I don't know what to do. I'm almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else. My life is a disaster

HIS DIARY

The new car I bought yesterday wouldn't start today - but at least I got laid......

Sunday, 8 November 2009

A Time to Remember

Remembrance Sunday is a paradox of emotion. On the one hand, the loss of millions of lives in conflicts dating back nearly a century seems such a waste of human life; soldiers young and old having their lives taken from them on some far away place, leaving a trail of devastation for those loved ones left behind. On the other, today is a day we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country, who gave their lives in order that the rest of us can live the way we do today. Across the world millions of people will fall silent today as a mark of respect for those who died for their countries.

None of my family were killed in action. However, as I remember those heroic people who did, I also think about those in my family who are no longer with us. My grandmother, who passed away in 1986 aged 76 and just three months short of the birth of my first daughter Laura; my father who passed away so suddenly in 1997 aged 58 and who never saw his grandchildren grow up to be the fine young adults they are today; and my youngest daughter Michaela's fiance who was taken away from her so tragically earlier this year, aged just 21.

Today is a time for reflection across the world. For those affected by seemingly ceaseless conflict. And for those who aren't but have suffered loss nonetheless.

Lest we forget.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Letters of Complaint to the Council...

1.. It's the dogs' mess that I find hard to swallow

2.. I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.

3.. I wish to complain that my father broke his ankle very badly when he put his foot in the hole in his back passage..

4.. And their 18 year old son is continually banging his balls against my fence.

5.. I wish to report that tiles are missing from the outside toilet roof. I think it was bad wind the other day that blew them off.

6..My lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand?

7.. I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the wall.

8... Will you please send someone to mend the garden path. My wife tripped and fell on it yesterday and now she is pregnant.

9.. I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.

10.. 50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster, and 50% are plain filthy.

11.. I am still having problems with smoke in my new drawers.

12.. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is cleared.

13..Will you please send a man to look at my water, it is a funny colour and not fit to drink.

14..Our lavatory seat is broken in half and now is in three pieces.

15..I want to complain about the farmer across the road. Every morning at 6am his cock wakes me up and it's now getting too much for me.

16..The man next door has a large erection in the back garden, which is unsightly and dangerous.

17...Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two children and would like a third so please send someone round to do something about it.

18..I am a single woman living in a downstairs flat and would you please do something about the noise made by the man on top of me every night.

19..Please send a man with the right tool to finish the job and satisfy my wife.

20.. I have had the clerk of works down on the floor six times but I still have no satisfaction.

21.. This is to let you know that our lavatory seat is broke and we can't get BBC2.

22.. My bush is really overgrown round the front and my back passage has fungus growing in it.

23..He's got this huge tool that vibrates the whole house and I just can't take it anymore.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Misery - The Key to Happiness. It's Official!

Feeling grumpy 'is good for you'

An attack of the grumps can make you communicate better, it is suggested
In a bad mood? Don't worry - according to research, it's good for you. An Australian psychology expert who has been studying emotions has found being grumpy makes us think more clearly.
In contrast to those annoying happy types, miserable people are better at decision-making and less gullible, his experiments showed.

While cheerfulness fosters creativity, gloominess breeds attentiveness and careful thinking, Professor Joe Forgas told Australian Science Magazine. The University of New South Wales researcher says a grumpy person can cope with more demanding situations than a happy one because of the way the brain "promotes information processing strategies".

Negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world Professor Joe Forgas. He asked volunteers to watch different films and dwell on positive or negative events in their life, designed to put them in either a good or bad mood. Next he asked them to take part in a series of tasks, including judging the truth of urban myths and providing eyewitness accounts of events.

Those in a bad mood outperformed those who were jolly - they made fewer mistakes and were better communicators.

Professor Forgas said: "Whereas positive mood seems to promote creativity, flexibility, co-operation and reliance on mental shortcuts, negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world."

The study also found that sad people were better at stating their case through written arguments, which Forgas said showed that a "mildly negative mood may actually promote a more concrete, accommodative and ultimately more successful communication style".

His earlier work shows the weather has a similar impact on us - wet, dreary days sharpened memory, while bright sunny spells make people forgetful.

From the BBC News Website