Thursday, 28 July 2011

Coming out in the Wash

No wee angels were harmed in the taking of this photo. And neither was grand-daughter Ava...

Sunday, 24 July 2011


This girl's voice just blows me away.

Monday, 18 July 2011

The Other Side of the World From Edinburgh... Glasgow. If you go the wrong way.

I had a day away from the coalface that is Human Resources in order that I could travel through to The Mitchell Library in Glasgow. This is an impressive building and the staff there were very helpful in assisting me with research I needed to do in relation to the book I am writing - Hearts Greatest Games (yes, there will be many plugs for this between now and next summer...)

After sampling the delights of a full Scottish breakfast in Auld Reekie, I boarded the 9.45am train to Glasgow. I wasn't sure where The Mitchell Library was so I checked their excellent website and the informative 'how to get there' section advised me that several First Buses - including a number 9 -  pass by. That was my first note of concern - my reader is well aware of my feelings on First Group.

Standing near Glasgow Central station, a First Bus number 9 approached so I asked the driver if he went past The Mitchell Library.

'Whit?' he asked incredulously, 'Ah'm no going past there. That's at Charing Cross. You need another bus, pal'

'Really?' I asked, somewhat puzzled as to why TML website said a number 9 bus passed by. 'So, my good man, what bus should I get?'

'Ye need a 44 - next street alang and up the road'

I heeded his less than helpful directions and ran to catch said First Bus number 44 in the next street.

'Do you go past The Mitchell Library?' I asked, somewhat short of breath.

'Aye!' replied the driver before adding 'Naw! Well, sort of!'

'Well,' I asked somewhat irritably, 'which of these three answers is it to be?'

'Ah dinnae go past it', the driver continued. 'Ah ging roon it, doon the street opposite'

'Okay, my good man, that will do'

An hour or so later I left The Mitchell Library armed with the material I had came for. As I did, a First Bus number 9 whizzed past. Initially I thought this contradicted the first bus driver I had encountered but soon realised what he meant when he said he didn't go past TML was that he was going the opposite direction - having already come from there. Good to see Worst Group are employing the same standards of service in Glasgow as they do in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

I end this tale on a curious note. Before heading for the train home I went into a pub called The Counting House in Glasgow's Buchanan Street for a swift pint. This pub has free wi-fi access so I duly registered and surfed the net on my ITouch, posting on Twitter (@Mike1874 if anyone cares) that I was in said pub. Half an hour later I received an email notification from Twitter saying Princes Square Restaurants in Glasgow is now following me on Twitter. Princes Square are based in Glasgow's Buchanan street - a short walk from the pub I was in.

The power of the internet? Or just a coincidence?

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Green Thing

In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologised to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.
But we didn't have the green thing back in our day....
We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery shops and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But we didn't have the green thing in our day....

Back then, we washed the baby's nappies because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day....

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of Wales.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But we didn't have the green thing back then....

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their parents into a 24-hour taxi service.

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we older people were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Monday, 11 July 2011

Hacked Off

The thing is, 'Dave', the British people didn't realise he was listening in...

Saturday, 2 July 2011


I did something on Friday that I haven't done for several weeks. No, it wasn't buy a drink in the pub before you smart arses out there comment (although my good friend Gary the Hibby will testify I did purchase at least one pint of foaming ale last night) No, the unusual event in question was that I posted a letter.

The letter in question was my publishing contract for next year's blockbusting best selling book Hearts Greatest Games (cough, splutter, cough again...) I'll be blatantly plugging this tome all too frequently over the next 12 months so beware...However, the reason I feel the urge to blog about posting a letter is that it seems letter writing is fast becoming a dying art. It's bad enough that many people no longer make the effort or feel they have the time to put pen to paper - but even worse is the abbreviations that have crept into today's communication world.

I received an email at the office the other day and at the end the sender had put the letters KR before her name. Next year I will reach my half century (health permitting and that's not looking particularly clever right now with a hospital admission due next month - but I won't bore you with the details...) so my brain does, on occasion, take a wee but longer to digest certain things. And KR had me stumped. So I used an old fashioned way of communicating - I walked across the office and asked her what it meant. She smiled and said it was 'kind regards'.

Similarly, another colleague sent me an email with the initials BW at the end. Taking my cue from 'kind regards' I eventually worked this one out for myself. 'Best wishes'.

Courtesy is even more of a dying art than letter writing these days so I don't want anyone to get the impression I didn't appreciate both these sentiments. But it's a sad reflection on life today that some people can't be bothered to write their intended sentiments in full - as if writing the words 'kind regards' was too much of an effort. If so, why bother in the first place?

I blame the explosion of text speak in the last 20 years. My two daughters already bamboozle me with some of their text messages and postings on the dreaded Facebook. Although I did gather, quite some time ago, what they meant when they texted me with WTF - what the f**k?

Sadly, it's the way of the world these days.