Sunday, 27 March 2011

Census Day

A snapshot of British life is being taken, with Sunday the official day for people to complete the 2011 census. Every household in the country has been sent a form that asks who is living there as well as seeking details on jobs, education and ethnic background. The aim is to get an idea of who is living in the UK on a specific day, and how they live their lives. Filling the forms in is compulsory. This year for the first time households will be able to complete them online. The census has taken place every 10 years since 1801, apart from during World War II.

From the BBC News website

I received my census form two weeks ago, an official from Midlothian Council knocking on my door at 7.30pm on a Sunday evening to deliver the form in person. I'm assuming she was being paid double time for this - an excellent use of the Council's already stretched resources...

I have duly completed my form and shall post it back tomorrow. It will be interesting to see the results published in due course. Judging by the amount of times I hear OH MY GOD! being screamed, particularly by younger people, I'm wondering if the numbers of those pertaining to have a religion will have increased.

Most of the questions were straightforward about your own personal details and those living with you. I included details for my youngest daughter Michaela but I would have preferred more relevant questions such as:

How often does she borrow money from you?
How often does she pay you back?
How many times does she hog the bathroom for hours on end?
How many times does she leave said bathroom looking like a Turkish sauna?
Is the number of times she makes you a cup of tea related to question 1?
How many times do you have to tell her to slow down when you're in her car?
How much Valium do you take before entering said vehicle?

The answers to the above would provide a much more valuable snapshot of my life.  As for accuracy, it's interesting to note that National Census Day was the same day Scotland played Brazil in a football game in London - and the game was shown live on television. Methinks there may be a chance that, once the information is published, officials will discover the population of Scotland has reduced by several thousand...

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Day That Margaret Thatcher Dies

The brilliant Pete Wylie. Beware though - this is a controversial song and the video contains swear words flashing across the screen (just in case my mother looks at this!)

King & Queen of Va Va Voom

Monday, 21 March 2011

Good Local Amenities...21 Years Ago

                                Photo: London Hearts website

The Righteous Brothers used to warble that time goes by so slowly. Fine singers as they were, I have to disagree with that assertion. It seems scarcely believable that 21 years have now passed since I secured a job in Edinburgh after spending three months unemployed and living with my father in Paisley. I started at Lothian Health Board on 26 March 1990. By the following Thursday, I was looking at a flat to rent. City Centre flat for rent with good local amenities said the advert. I contacted the estate agent who told me the flat was in the Gorgie area of Edinburgh - did I know it? Did I know it? I had spent many a Saturday afternoon there watching the mighty Heart of Midlothian!

When he took me to view the flat, I could scarcely believe my eyes. He warned me it was a top floor flat - in an eight-floor tenement. Fair enough, I said. Then he told me it was in Wheatfield Street. Even better, I thought. Wheatfield Street was right next to Tynecastle Park. Then he opened the door and showed me in. I was immediately drawn to the living room and the view. The flat looked directly on to Tynecastle Park - which in 1990 was part open terracing. I could watch my beloved Hearts play without the need to leave the house! The agent asked ‘Do you want time to…?’

‘I’ll take it!’ I replied, metaphorically biting the offer from his hand. I was in heaven!

I moved in the following week. My father very kindly drove me and what belongings I had to Edinburgh. Mrs Smith and I had moved our furniture into storage in Aberdeen so there wasn’t much. The flat was furnished in any case. As my father turned to leave to return to an empty flat for the first time in nearly three months, I did something I seldom did. I hugged him. My father was a tower of strength to me in that three months in 1990 and for that, I shall always be enormously grateful. I had achieved my dream. I was now working and living in Edinburgh - the huge gamble had paid off. I went up to Aberdeen the following weekend - and returned with Mrs Smith and the girls on the Saturday afternoon. My happiness was complete although Mrs Smith was highly suspicious about the location of our new abode.

Looking back now I think to myself - thank goodness Hearts were still four years away from building the Wheatfield Stand…

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Morning Has Broken

As dawn breaks earlier and earlier every morning with the approach of spring, this photograph may induce feelings of optimism and feeling glad to be alive. As the sun broke in Edinburgh this morning, I slowly pulled back the bedroom curtains, gazed out the window and thought...


I'm going back to bed now. Have a good weekend, folks.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Please Don't Wake Me...

Teenage pupils in Scotland are to be taught how to get a good night's rest in an attempt to improve performances at school. Instruction packs that include lesson plans on how to help grumpy teenagers to sleep better will be distributed to Scottish teachers later this month. The packs, which were formulated by charity Sleep Scotland in conjunction with Lothians further education centre Jewel & Esk College, aim to teach pupils tips such as the importance of avoiding watching television, playing computer games or surfing the internet late into the night, as well as the importance of a bedtime routine.

From The Scotsman

A friend of mine suggested to me to look at Tuesday's edition of The Scotsman newspaper as there was a story ideal for a rant. Having seen the above story on-line, I knew immediately to what he was referring.

Back in the early 1970s, I didn't need lessons on how to sleep. Usually, I slept during lessons at school as my maths teacher Mrs Lennie would point out by hurling a wooden blackboard duster at me. When my own two children were teenagers they needed no lessons at all in the art of sleeping. Both Laura and Michaela would lie limp and unresponsive until I was forced to shove a mirror under their noses to check for breathing.

When they would eventually make grunting noises, they would burrow beneath the covers, struggling to stretch 'five more minutes' as far as they possibly could. 'Five minutes' would turn into ten, then twenty then half an hour before all hell let loose and their raging father - never at his best in the mornings anyway - would launch a tirade at them to rise from their slumber. Michaela would fall out of bed, bleary-eyed, and eventually make her way to school. Laura just didn't bother - but that's another story.

Now, the behaviour of my generation - when we threatened our offspring with the toe of our tackety boots if they didn't get up out of bed - is frowned upon. Now, the little darlings have to be taught how to sleep, therefore getting out of bed in the morning will no longer be a problem. Personally, I don't see the need for 'instruction packs'. Just take away their computers, IPods, mobile phones, televisions, games consoles and all the other contraptions that I didn't have when I was a lad and get them to bed at a decent time such as 10.30pm - and not 2.30am after having commented 'like' on their ten millions friends status on Facebook.

Someone please tell me it isn't just me who thinks the world is going mad....

Google Science Fair

Google is looking for the brightest, best young scientists from around the world to submit interesting, creative projects that are relevant to the world today. The link below is a quite wonderful video which is invention with a capital i.

There will be 3 finalist winners, one in each age category 13-14, 15-16, 17-18. One of of the 3 finalist winners will be selected as the Grand Prize winner.

Students interested in science usually find the the first question to ask is  - how do I become one? As long as the passion for science is there then anything is possible - particularly in this day and age. The Google Science Fair is one step to make your science dream a reality.

Details of how to enter are here:

Good luck!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

It's Snow Fair...

The return of heavy snow to many parts of Scotland  has meant some people are pleading for help. Take care out there...

Friday, 11 March 2011

Raising a Glass

Regular visitors to this blog may realise that today marks the anniversary of the untimely passing of my father. 14 years on and he's still very much in my thoughts. I like to think he's looking down with his heart swelling with pride at his great-grandchildren, Jack, Hannah and Ava. My auld fella doted on my two daughters Laura and Michaela and he would have been immensely proud of the way Laura is bringing up her children.

So, tonight, I raise my glass to the original Papa. Here's to you, auld man.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

International Womens Day

Most of the women I know have a great sense of humour so I know they'll be laughing at this...

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Life is Precious

'So we create safe rooms and we dance our patterns and we talk to our monsters'. This is a quote from the excellent blog of my very good friend Peggy from 'down under' (visit her blog, it really is an excellent read)

I thought of these words this morning as I surveyed my bruised and battered body having spent Saturday evening in the company of my three brats grandchildren, Jack, Hannah and Ava.Their mother, Laura, was busy making tea in the kitchen while her offspring set about their Papa with gusto. I've grown accustomed to Jack and Hannah treating me like a human climbing frame but now baby Ava - two months away from her first birthday - has learnt quickly from her brother and sister. As I lay on the floor of the children's bedroom being subjected to tanks, jeeps and police cars being driven over me, I was suddenly aware of heavy breathing and someone drooling over me. Baby Ava had made her way from the living room and decided to crawl over her beleaguered Papa in order to grab a toy in the corner of the room. She can crawl at a fair pace of knots and I'm certain she will be walking before her birthday in a few weeks.

With less than a year until I hit the half century, it occurred to me that time passes more quickly the older you get. I've started work on a football article marking the 25th anniversary of Hearts infamous loss to Dundee, a result that cost them a rare league championship in 1986 and I commented on how my wife was expecting our first child at that time. It seems like it was only yesterday I was changing Laura's nappies and having her crawl over me but now her own children are doing so and I wonder just how so many years have gone by so quickly.

The traumatic events of Dundee in May 1986 have never left me but neither has the ecstasy of the events of just two weeks later when Laura was born. Seeing the birth of a child is one of the most wondrous life events there is. Seeing them grow up is part of every day life but something one should never take for granted. Now Laura might read this and think 'Dad's gone off on one again' but she and her sister Michaela remain as precious to me as the day they were born and as precious as my grandchildren are to me now. We Scots can find such things difficult to say but, recalling the events of a quarter of a century ago, my sentiments are sincere. Some things are worth saying.

Such as if only Dundee hadn't brought on Albert Kidd as a substitute that day in 1986...