Saturday, 30 June 2012

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Monday, 25 June 2012

Sunday, 24 June 2012

All You Can Eat (or bear)

I had the pleasure of being at the Bad Manners gig in Edinburgh on Friday. Being a purveyor of ska music, for me Buster Bloodvessel and the band were a must see and they didn't disappoint. A hugely enjoyable end to a difficult week.

Before the gig, I went for something to eat with The Girl From Granton to Jimmy Chungs. I love Chinese food and this seemed the perfect way to begin the evening. The food was good, as is usually the case at Jimmy Chungs. However, it is yet another sign of my advancing years that the experience summed up the lack of etiquette and dropping of standards of society today.

As is customary with Chinese buffet establishments, we were greeted not with a 'Good evening, sir and madam, would you care to be seated?' but with a grunt and 'table for two is it?' After being served with our drinks, we were left - as is customary nowadays with the 'help yourself to all you can eat culture' to, erm, help ourselves. Now there are plus points to this. For one, you don't have to wait for what can seem an eternity for your meal - I've been in some restaurants where it's been 45 minutes from having my order taken to actually having my meal served. However, there's something rather disconcerting to the Auld Reekie Ranter about the dogfight to helping yourself to the food on offer at buffet establishments. Everyone seems to be in so much of a rush these days. In restaurants, there's something atmospheric about sitting down, choosing what you want to eat and then conversing with your accomplice about anything that takes your fancy. The art of conversation can be uplifting and invigorating (depending on the company) However, at establishments like Jimmy Chungs, no sooner are you shown to your seat and take your jacket off, you're off to join the dogfight for food.

The 'all you can eat for a fixed price' philosophy, also sums up society today. People pile food on to their plates before scuttling back to their table and shuffling it down their throats. It seems like no time at all has passed before they are up again, piling more food on to their plate before darting back to their table. At Jimmy Chungs, it seemed to me there were more than one pair of Chinese eyes watching my every move, for as soon as my plate was empty there was a hand on my my plate with a curt 'are you finished?' before snatching it away. I suspect there may have been a shortage of crockery...

As if the rapid eating practice wasn't alarming enough, I was dismayed to see two giant television screens at the restaurant. This enabled people to watch whatever was on BBC1 at the time. My heart sank a little at this discovery. It's bad enough that many people can't spend an hour without their mobile phones whilst eating - the amount of people texting etc. with their mobile devices while in the company of others was bad enough - but now Jimmy Chungs seem to believe we also need television to stare at while simultaneously texting and scoffing Chinese food down our throats.

Yes, I know I'm old fashioned. I just prefer to sit down to a meal that has been served specifically with me in mind and not have to leave my table every five minutes. Or be distracted by mobile phones, whether mine or someone else's (mobiles have off buttons, for goodness sake) Or have a man in a suit delivering more bad news on a big screen.

The art of eating out, it seems, is much like the rest of life these days - not what it used to be. And, like so many other aspects of living in the modern, instant communication, must have everything quickly world of today, that is really quite sad.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Enjoy Every Precious Minute of Father's Day

           Listen, son, you'll never get away with wearing that tank top...

Today, as most Dads will tell you, is Father’s Day and across Scotland, thousands of grateful offspring will be celebrating their beloved Dads. There will be dinners cooked and served, wine poured and toasts made while smiling (and sometimes embarrassed) pops feel the love and bask in the attention (yes, I'm dropping heavy hints here, Laura and Michaela...)

For some people, of course, Father’s Day is not a particularly happy occasion. Their fathers have either passed away, are absent through choice, having one way or the other managed to avoid their paternal responsibilities altogether, or are absent through no wish of their own, having seriously fallen out with their children to the point that contact is no longer made. For their children, the great question marks hang precariously mid-air and the pain of not knowing a father’s love throbs palpably.

As I've written before on these pages, I am among those who no longer has someone to treat on Father’s Day, having lost my Dad in 1997 when he passed away at the age of 58.

I remember my father as if we are both in a dream. I still have his diary from the year he died and look at it occasionally, usually on days like these. Of course I miss him terribly, 15 years on. He died very suddenly and I didn't get the chance to tell him so many things. What pains me more, however, is the fact he never got to see his grandchildren Laura and Michaela grow up into the fine adults they have become - he would have been so proud of them. And the fact he didn't live to see what are his adorable great-grandchildren. How my father would have doted on Jack, Hannah and Ava - and I'm pretty sure they would be running circles around their Great Papa just as they do me (and I have the bruises to prove it!)

To those who are fortunate to still have a father in their life - I hope you and your Dad enjoy every precious minute you have together.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Monday, 4 June 2012

Texting For The Over 55s

We live in an age of instant communication. Internet, computers, mobile phones, IPhones etc, etc has evolved through satellite technology and it seems a whole new language has evolved through it. The kids of today (I know, I'm sounding ancient here) have their own short codes for text messaging and for Twittering and Facebook. Codes like WTF, LOL and LMFAO are used increasingly widely and it can get a wee bit confusing for the older generation. There was a story the other week of an elderly lady who sent a text to her grand daughter telling her the family cat had died. She added LOL at the end of her message, thinking it stood for Lots of Love...

So, to avoid people of my generation getting embarrassed, here are some text codes for the more mature...

ATD - at the doctor's

BFF - Best Friend's Funeral

BTW - Bring the Wheelchair

FWIW - Forgot Where I Was

GGPBL - Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery Low

GHA - Got Heartburn Again

HGBM - Had Good Bowel Movement

IMHO - Is My Hearing-aid On?

WAITT - Who Am I Talking To?

And finally - GGLKI - Gotta Go, Laxative Kicking In.

It's time to get down with the kids. Although I may not get up again...

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Sister Act

Grand-daughters Hannah and Ava. Sometimes the world doesn't seem such a bad place.