Saturday, 26 February 2011

I Think to Myself...

As I begin my 49th year, I give thanks for all the good things in my life (it may surprise you to know there are some) I dedicate the above to those who mean so much to me. You know who you are.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Father Dear Father (part 94)

The old adage that you never stop worrying about your children was proved correct again this morning. My two daughters Laura and Michaela may be grown up now (although I use the term loosely) and have their own lives to lead but I still worry about them much the same way I did twenty years ago when they were toddlers. My anxiety increased this morning when I saw Michaela.

Being a Sunday I had a longish lie-in this morning before the customary shave and shower and breakfast. I knew the washing up from last night still had to be done so I trudged, bleary-eyed, to the kitchen - only to discover the basin that had been overflowing with dishes when I retired to bed several hours previously was empty. Said dishes had been washed and were piled up on the drying tray. My suspicions were immediately aroused. Had I been burgled during the night? If so, they surely wouldn't have washed up afterwards? Had my neighbour from across the street had one pint of foaming ale too many and wandered into the wrong house? Possibly but, again, he's not exactly the most domesticated of fellas and would be hard pressed to know how to use a Fairy Liquid bottle. I soon had an explanation - as unlikely as this sounds, Michaela had washed the dishes...

My immediate reaction was of concern for her health. As far as I can recall, she last washed the dishes when she was nine years old in 1998 and that was only because some of her pals were coming to the house for a 'sleep-over' (there's a misnomer if ever there was one but I won't bore you with the details now...) Michaela is now 21 years old and I have to say I was somewhat alarmed by this sudden outbreak of unusual, nay, exceptional behaviour by my younger daughter.

I sought the advice of NHS24 who advised they suspected it was a case of 'Financialitis Embarrassmentis', a condition known to affect young women when they discover payday is still a week away and they have no money. A very nice NHS consultant told me that, as a father of a twenty year old, he had come across this condition before and warned me the symptoms might also include Michaela making cups of coffee, using the vacuum cleaner and extensive use of furniture polish. He added her speech may sound a little different, particularly when she believed she had earned enough Brownie points to ask me for financial assistance. I was told to look out for the emphasis on the word Dad in particularly whining way.

I was relieved to hear this is a temporary condition, almost certain to disappear as quick as it arrived i.e. when financial assistance is given.

The thing is, I could do with a lift to the office tomorrow from said daughter. Now, about that pile of ironing that needs doing....

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Rights and Wrongs

Prison bosses were told to apologise to an inmate who was caught with drugs in his cell after an inquiry by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. The prisoner was found with methadone, a heroin substitute, at HMP Shotts. However, the prisoner, named as Mr C, complained that Scottish Prison Service (SPS) staff had "adapted" the policy on searching and testing for drugs. His complaint was taken up by the ombudsman who found in the prisoner's favour.

The ombudsman ruled that the SPS should put a policy in place for staff to follow when testing substances, take steps to make prisoners aware, remind staff to record search timings and "issue an apology" to the inmate.

From the BBC News Website

The above story follows hot on the heels of the story of an inmate in a Scots prison who complained his human rights were breached because he wasn't allowed chocolate. This was a man who is serving a prison sentence for the sexual abuse of a ten year old child. Meanwhile, at Westminster the Houses of Parliament continue to debate whether some prisoners should be given the right to vote at elections. Again, this follows human rights protocol from Brussels.

I don't think I need to make comment on the above, dear reader, as I suspect you will have already formed your own opinion. All I will say is surely the victims of crime should have their 'rights' considered above all. Or has the world gone mad....?

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Subtle Differences Between Men and Women

For Example as a man:

Your last name stays put.

The garage is all yours.

Wedding plans take care of themselves.

Chocolate is just another snack.

You can never be pregnant.

You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.

You can wear NO shirt to a water park..

Car mechanics tell you the truth.

The world is your urinal.

You never have to drive to another petrol station toilet because this one is just too icky.

You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.

Same work, more pay.

Wrinkles add character.

Wedding dress £2000. Morning-suit rental-£100.

People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them..

The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected.

New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.

One mood all the time.

Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat..

You know stuff about tanks.

A five-day holiday requires only one suitcase.

You can open all your own jars.

You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.

If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.

Your underwear is £4.95 for a three-pack.

Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.

You almost never have strap problems in public..

You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes..

Everything on your face stays its original colour.

The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.

You only have to shave your face and neck.

You can play with toys all your life.

One wallet and one pair of shoes one colour for all seasons.

You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.

You can 'do' your nails with a pocket knife..

You have freedom of choice concerning growing a moustache..

You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier.


If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah.

If Mike , Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla and Four-eyes.


When the bill arrives, Mike , Dave and John will each throw in £20, even though it's only for £32.50. ..........None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back.

When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.


A man will pay £2 for a £1 item he needs.

A woman will pay £1 for a £2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale.


A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from M&S.

The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337.

A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items.


A woman has the last word in any argument.

Anything a man says after that, is the beginning of a new argument.


Lots of women love cats.

Lots of men say they love cats, but when women aren't looking, men kick cats.


A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.

A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.


A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.

A successful woman is one who can find such a man.


A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.

A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.


A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the bins, answer the phone, read a book, and get the post.

A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.


Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.

Women somehow deteriorate during the night.


Ah, children.
A woman knows all about her children. .........She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favourite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams.

A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

An Atheist in the Woods

An atheist was walking through the woods one day.

'What majestic trees!

'What powerful rivers!

'What beautiful animals!

He said to himself.

As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing in on him.

He looked over his shoulder again and the bear was even closer. He tripped and fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw that the bear was right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him...

At that instant the Atheist cried out,

'Oh my God!'

Time Stopped.

The bear froze.

The forest was silent.

As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky.

'You deny my existence for all these years, teach others I don't exist and even credit creation to cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?'

The atheist looked directly into the light, 'It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps you could make the BEAR a Christian?'

'Very well,' said the voice.

The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. And the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed his head and spoke:

'For what I am about to receive, may the Lord make me truly thankful, Amen.'

Say it With Flowers...

The Auld Reekie Ranter received this unsolicited email from an organisation called yesterday:

Dear Mike,

Valentine's Day, which accounts for 40% of fresh flower sales annually, is fast approaching. If you're planning to order a bouquet from 1,800 Flowers the world's largest florist -- you should know where most of those flowers really come from.  At flower farms in Ecuador and Colombia -- the countries that export the most to the U.S. -- two-thirds of the workers are women. These women are routinely subjected to harassment and even rape from their male supervisors. They suffer eye infections and miscarriages from consistent contact with dangerous pesticides.

In the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, they're routinely forced to work 80-hour weeks with no overtime pay. Attempts to form a union are met with opposition by police and armed forces. Many retailers -- such as Whole Foods and Stop & Shop -- have taken the important first step of offering Fair Trade flowers to consumers who want no part of these abuses. Fair Trade certified farms must adhere to strict standards for workers' rights, which prevents the abuses described above. 

Now, any abusive work practice ought to be condemned. However, anyone who knows me would not hesitate to say that flowers and I just don't go. I have no need to buy flowers for anyone and in all the years spent married to the infamous Mrs Smith, I haven't bought her flowers once. Not at all. There was one occasion - many years ago I hasten to add - when we were out together (a rare event I grant you) and I nipped into the public convenience at the bus station in Edinburgh. Laura and Michaela were still children at the time and when I returned they were looking at their mother somewhat agog as she stood clutching a large bouquet. It transpired a passing fella had pressed the flowers into Mrs Smith's bosom with the words 'here, you have these'. The poor chap had apparently been stood up by his girlfriend and obviously thought Mrs Smith could do with cheering up....

Apparently Valentine's Day is next week and the card shops in Edinburgh, as in most other cities in Scotland, are chock-a-block with soppy cards with images of hearts and flowers and ridiculous prose. I could purchase one of these monstrosities along with a manky looking teddy bear for the love of of my life but I can think of far better things to spend a tenner on - such as a wee trip to see my accountant, or as Mr Hill likes to call me, his retirement pension. Or I could just spend the money on Mrs Smith.....(come on, keep up)

Where's the romance in you, I hear you cry (if you're still reading this tosh) Those who know me will tell you it left a long time ago, when Mrs Smith ran off with one of the neighbours. How I miss him so. However, here's a verse to show all isn't lost:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
so goes the age old rhyme

But I know that Violets are red
and Roses are blue
I've seen them hanging on the line

My court appearance is due next week......

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Struggle for Freedom

Egypt's most influential opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, says it will enter talks with officials on ending the country's political crisis. The group said Sunday's talks would assess how far the government was ready to "accept the demands of the people". The negotiations would be the first ever to be held between the government and the officially banned Brotherhood.
President Hosni Mubarak has rejected protesters' demands that he quit now, as he says it would cause chaos. But Mr Mubarak - who has been in office since 1981 and has tolerated little dissent - has said he will not stand in elections due in September. Huge crowds have been on the streets of Cairo and other cities in the past two weeks demanding his immediate resignation and calling for democratic reforms.

From the BBC News Website

The crisis in Egypt has been a major new story these last few days. It is clear many Egyptians want change for their country, having had thirty years of a president who appears not to listen to the wishes of many of his compatriots. It seems the capital city Cairo has finally succumbed to years of pent-up frustration. Previously, government forces were quick to quell any signs of an uprising but now, it seems, enough is enough for a country with a population of 85 million. President Mubarak has said he will stand down in the Egyptian elections in September but for many people this is too little - and far too late. They want action now and it is a situation developing each day.

Now you may think it a bit crass to compare Egypt and its oppressed people with Scotland, a tiny country in comparison with a population of barely 5 million. People in Scotland aren't oppressed, aren't living in a hostile environment and aren't taking to rioting in the streets of Edinburgh demanding change. However, I do sense a mood for change here. Scotland, as part of the United Kingdom, is ruled by a government in another country - from London, England. Yes, the Scots do have some devolved powers such as education and health which is administered by the Scottish Nationalist government which sits in Edinburgh. As with the UK, this is a coalition government with the Scottish National Party holding a slender advantage. But the UK is in such a mess and decisions are taken by a coalition government in London that aren't always in the best interests of Scotland. The UK Prime Minister David Cameron is a Conservative - a party with minimal support in Scotland and, consequently, nothing to lose by forcing many of the 'difficult decisions' on the Scots. As with the despised Tory Government under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, Scotland doesn't vote Tory so it doesn't really matter to those in power in London.

The elections to the Scottish Government are due this May. The election build up has already begun. Many Scots traditionally vote for the Labour Party but given they lost power at the UK election last year one would seriously have to ask what would be the point in voting for them at the Scots election? Do they really have Scotland's best interests at heart? Or are they merely setting their sights on getting back in at Westminster - which could be another four years away?

The Scottish people could show real courage and increase the power for the Scottish National Party at Holyrood in May. Isn't it time Scots finally spoke for themselves? Time Scots took matters into their own hands and governed their own country rather than continue to take orders from a London based government that really doesn't give two hoots (if you'll pardon the pun) about Scotland or its people?

The good people of Egypt have finally seen the light after thirty years of being dictated to. Scots don't need to riot for change. We have a democracy we should be proud of. If only we had the courage to make real change happen for our nation. I live in hope.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

The Slits

God rest Ari Up.