Thursday, 31 December 2009


Do you make resolutions? Do you stick to them? Do ya? Do ya? Do ya? Bet you don't.

As the t-shirt says (and BTW, just so you know, I didn't model for this picture) I don't. My thinking is that if you make your resolutions at the start of the year, you have 365 days to fuck it all up. However, if you choose a more arbitrary date as the kicking off point for a fresh start, and you mess up, you can just pick yourself up and start all over again - without waiting for January 1st to come round again. Make sense, no?

It's like going on a diet on a Monday morning. By elevenses that day you've munched your way through a mars bar, empire biscuit and a packet of crisps so you think, the hell with it and the rest of the week descends into an orgy of calories. Next Monday you start again only to eat a mars bar, empire getting my drift here people?

So I started to think about the aims I have for the next stretch of my life, the week before Xmas and started to modify my behaviour then - allowing for the fact that I would eat slightly more, exercise slightly less and do less writing during the holiday season.

It seems to me that an ongoing assessment of my stuff and an ongoing willingness to work towards my goals is much more effective than the trumpet blast and build up of a new calender year. Because then I will be more relaxed and forgiving of myself when (and it is inevitable) I slip up - and consequently in a better position to get right back on the horse. So to speak.

Here's to getting back on the horse and more success for each and every one of you than you can shake your tail at.


Monday, 28 December 2009

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Holidays

To all my regular, or indeed irregular readers I hope you have fantasticulous holiday.

By way of a gift allow me to offer you this Xmas poem wot I wrote many years ago...when rhythm and scanning meant nothing to me. Or indeed an original idea.

One fine Xmas Eve
One hundred years ago
A fairy had an extra tree
What to do with it she didn't know.

Now Santa had just run out of toys.
He shouted, "What a farce!"
So when the fairy asked about the tree,
He screamed, "Shove it up your arse."

...and THAT is the reason why we sit the fairy all the way up there.  Don't let anyone tell you different.


Santa Mick

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Days of Christmas Part 1



Subject: pear cider

Right, Mandela McConnachie, what do you think you’re playing at? I got home from a day’s hanging about outside Iceland down at the shopping centre to find a bottle of pear cider and a stuffed bird on the doorstep. Whassat all about?

FYI - I necked the bottle with my ma and the dead bird is in the re-cycling bin. Well, somebody might have a use for it.

FYI again – my ma loved the cider. Didn’t know pears could be used for that as well. She says you’ve taught her something worthwhile and gone up in her estimation. My dad shouted that you’re still a wee wanker, as if, like you can hear him down the email. Guess who I agree with? 




Subject: Pigeons

Right, first you don’t reply to my email. Then you send me something else daft in the post. A box with two pigeons. What was with the stupid wee cardboard shells on their backs and the black masks? Ninja turtle pigeons? You’ve pure lost it, ya numpty. My ma didn’t have a hangover after the pear cider and still likes you. My dad has his hands covered in pigeon shit and wants to chib you. He’s been in the kitchen sharpening the handle of a spoon in case you come round tonight. My advice? Fuck off and die.

P 



Subject: Pens

I was pure munchin’ on my Big Mac and saying to Shelley and Grunter (they’re back together – Shel forgave him for selling her rings down at Cash Converters. Says his heart’s in the right place. Saddo. If he did that to me he’d be getting his jaw re-wired right about now.) and sayin’ that if I get home and there’s any wee presents I’m going to go all Hulk on your arse. AND guess what. Three pens from my favourite stalker. What’re you trying to say? Think I need help writing or something? And why do they have a French flag on them. Is a French pen some weird trick you learned about in prison?

I repeat - F.O.A.D.




Subject: 4 calling birds

Right. I get it. You’ve gone fucking postal. Gonnae stop sending me stuff. And yes, I also get the shitty attempt to copy that old crimbo song. My name might be Pocahontas McGlumpher but that doesn’t make me stupid.

Mind you, how you managed to stick those wee mobile phones on to each of the birds’ wings...I got it straight away. CALLING birds. With wee mobile phones. Cool. One of the phones even had some diamonte bling painted on it.

Enough. Awright. There’s a point when stalking becomes creepy. I know we had that first date at Pizza Hut an’ it was special, but it’s not like you bought me a stuffed crust or nothing.

Dad says if he sees you he’s gonnae strangle you with your Lacoste hoodie. Ma says to wait until you send round more of that cider. (Where did you get it, BTW? I'm looking for a christmas present for mum and that would be perfick)



Subject: McDonalds

Man are you persistent. My Ma likes a man that keeps at it. She gave dad a weird look when she said that. He went all red and choked on his Pot Noodle. I’ll never understand grown ups.

Today’s parcel? Five onion rings. Gave me a wee chuckle. But see, you need to get over it, dude. I told you, I don’t know if you’re Burberry’s da. We only did it that once and you only put it in a wee bit before you did all that jerky stuff. There’s no way that was pure enough to get me up the duff.

At least you made me laugh the day.

No more, eh?


TO BE CONTINUED (if I can be arsed and there's nothing worth watching on the 999 channels on sky)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Killing the X-factor

Two upsets this weekend: Chris Whatsisname won Strictly Come Dancing – proving once again that the great British public wouldn’t know talent if it came up and goosed them – and Rage Against the Machine and their festive ditty “Killing in the name of...” became number one in the music charts, leaving poor wee Joe Whatsisname from the X-Factor in number 2 position.

Can I just go on record to say that I am underwhelmed by both events. I’m much too busy worrying how to get this fake tattoo off my neck before I go back to work. It’s a lollipop, in case you’re curious and it seemed a good idea at the time. Eeesh, the silly things we do at parties. At least I didn’t join in the congo. WTF is that all about? Gripping the hips of the person in front of you and kicking as you move forward in a human chain? As much fun as counting the hairs on my knuckles. Nor did I join the line seated on the floor, pretending to row a boat to Oops Upside Your Head. Again, WTF? It has all the amusement factor of extracting nasal hair with a fork ‘n knife. (See what I did there?) But the stick-on tattoo? All the fun of the fair. How could I say no?

Rage Against the Machine was used as a rage against the Cowell Machine. We’re sick; it seems of sugary ballads at Christmas and how a TV programme has dictated the song that we all rush to download like a giant flock of sheep to use as background music to our festivities. Instead, we allow a facebook campaign to dictate the song that we all rush to download, like a giant flock of sheep to use as background...ah, you get my point. Anybody else spotting the irony here?

Someone at work tried to persuade me of the merits of the Rage campaign. The X-Factor has ruined the Xmas charts, he said. Firstly, I answered, I couldn’t give a fuck. Number 1 in the charts I couldn’t give a loose fart for, at ANY time of the year. Secondly, I continued (somewhat pompously) let’s look at the evidence. Number 1’s prior to Cowell’s grip tightened include the Spice Girls (singing sugary ballads) Westlife (singing sugary ballads) and Cliff Richard (singing Xmas themed sugary ballads). We’ve also had Mr Blobby, Bob the Builder and Renee and Renato.

So tell me again; what’s been ruined?

I'm all for breaking the X-Factor monopoly monotony, but could we pick something Christmassy the next time?

For those of you who care, 2009’s expression of the Christmas spirit contains 17 fucks and was reportedly played at maximum volume during the interrogation of detainees in the "War on Terror".

Rage's guitarist Tom Morello decried American soldiers "playing music for 72 hours in a row at volumes just below that to shatter the eardrums". He added. “The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me.”

Merry Christmas, right enough.

Friday, 18 December 2009

A True Scot...

As it approaches Christmas I have half a mind (no surprise there then) to tell you about past experiences of this season. You’ve had The Tree and The Xmas Eve dinner, but they were placing my twin-sister firmly as the butt of the joke. It’s only fair that I relate a memory where I’m the one you can laugh at.

Some of you may already know that as a lad I was a dervish in a kilt, a demon at the sword dance, yes people, I was a Highland Dancer.

I can’t remember the age I was when I started (4, 5 or 6) but I stopped as soon as I grew out of my tartan underpants. Twenty one. No, I’m joking, I was around 12.

Blame the nuns. They thought it was character forming. There was one issue that the nuns didn’t foresee when they took steps to mould the future me. The wee fella Malone had the knack. He was doing well with the highland dancing and being asked to perform at Burns Suppers, St Andrew’s Nights and Christmas parties for geriatrics around the country (well, Kilmarnock).

The problem? Tradition was a big thing in all of this. I danced with real swords, to a real bagpipe player while wearing a real kilt. How far could the nuns allow me to take tradition? Many non-Scots reading this will surely be fascinated to know that “a real Scotsman” wearing a kilt does so without underwear. Yes, we were going commando long before anyone else. (Apparently this was a military thing and men in Scottish regiments were banned from wearing anything under their kilts. To ensure this rule was not broken Sergeant Majors were known to fix a mirror to the end of a golf club and walk along the line scanning for visible danglies )

Could the nuns afford to make this ten year old lad a true Scotsman? If there was a mishap, male specific body parts (MSBP) would be on show. What if the lad slipped? Group shudder. What if when he slipped his kilt ended up over his head, Holy Mary, Mudder of Jaysus?

This was a major concern. The sight of, the thought of, the mention of MSBP was enough to bring on group hysteria, much gripping of rosary beads and rapid and repeated signs of the cross. They could not, would not allow male “private parts” (is that phrase still used) to be on display. The world could not, would not face such an evil and depraved display, Jaysus, Mary and Joseph.

A compromise was found. I was to be made a pair of underpants from the same tartan as my kilt. This meant that if I kicked too high the MSBP would not be displayed. They would in fact be invisible. All the audience would be faced with was a pair of disembodied legs.

Said knickers were made. Not only were they the same tartan – they were of the same rough, heavy woollen material. However, before you all wince, they were lined. So not only would tradition be maintained (sort of) and dignity preserved (praise be to God), there would be efforts made to keep chafing to a minimum (aww bless).

From a distance of time I can smile, rub the scars (yes, there was chafing. I remember tucking my shirt into the pants around my thighs) and wonder if the “seamstress” was told that these knickers were for a boy. There were tight, flat and there was absolutely no room for MSBP. Thankfully these parts were pre-pubescent and yet to reach their...ehm... full potential (TMI?)

I’m betting the maker of the tartan kegs went on to bigger and better things. Didn’t you ever wonder where Drag Queens stick their man-stuff? Under the sequin and lace panties, I’ll bet they’re wearing a pair of tartan underpants.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Sunday Brief

Here’s my Sunday in brief. (As you read this you should imagine Gordon Ramsay is doing the voiceover)

Get up. The wee fella is downstairs watching cartoons. I make breakfast. Crack four eggs. Whip em up. Good strong wrist action. Add salt. Heat oil in a pan. Pour in eggs. Grill bacon. Once cooked, chop and add to the eggs. Serve immediately. Savour.

Read newspaper. Online. Can’t be arsed running down to shop. Watch WWE. Bored. My son says I have no taste. As well as being a rubbish cook.

Apart from this he’s being very affectionate. I love you, dad – he says – so get used to it. But don’t cook for me. Takeaway everytime.

Drop him off at his mum’s. Barely stop the car. That’ll teach him.

Go to the gym. Strip. Change. Cardio. Run for first time since hurting ankle. Breathe don’t wheeze, I tell myself. Swelling in ankle. Move to weights. Chest and arms. Don’t look at belly in the mirrors. Too many mirrors. Back in changing room. Strip and shower. Sauna. Shower. Steam room. Wheeze. Feel phlegm being loosened. Cough. Nowhere to spit, so I swallow. (Sound familiar ladies?)

...I did say it was a Gordon Ramsay voiceover ...admittedly with Billy Connolly’s sense of humour. (If I have offended your sensibilities please go to for a half-arsed apology)

Shower. Jacuzzi. Shower. So clean I squeak as I walk back into the changing room. Dry. Friend comes over to talk. He’s naked. I’m seated. And freshly nauseous. I think of somewhere I could spit phlegm. Dress. In the cafe, I order coffee. And cake. Sit and watch second-half of football match. Sip coffee. Push fork into cake. Place moist sponge in mouth. Savour.

Go to movies. New Moon. How can a film about vampires and werewolves be so wet? Feels like I’m back in Jacuzzi. What a bag of shite. Save your money. Or throw it away. Better still, take a tenner from your wallet. Pick box of matches from kitchen cupboard. Scratch. Spark. Flame. Burn.


Saturday, 12 December 2009


Punctuation is a dying art, n’est ce pas?

I was in a bank the other day. They had a rather large tree (almost as big as mine) in the lobby. There was a sign under the tree that read...

Don’t Touch Children

For the want of a comma, a request to the kids turned out to be a warning for the local paedos.

Seeing as we were talking about kids, (Yes we were. Kinda) let me share this with you…


You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.

-- Derrick, age 8 (mmm, wonder if anyone phoned social services for this kid?)


Both don't want any more kids.

-- Lori, age 8 (There's a family that talks.)


Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough...

-- Lynnette, age 8 (isn't she a love?)

On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.

-- Martin, age 10  (eyes wide open that one)


I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns.

-- Craig, age 9 (this boy should run courses on the art of Perspective)


When they're rich.

-- Pam, age 7 (exactly)

The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them... It's the right thing to do.

-- Howard, age 8 ( I keep telling the wee fella this. Think he believes me?)


It's better for girls to be single but not for boys.. Boys need someone to clean up after them.

-- Anita, age 9 (EXACTLY!)


Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck.

-- Ricky, age 10    (He'll be married forever)

Thursday, 10 December 2009

The World According to...

My thoughts on the world at large this week...

...let he/ she who is without sin cast the first golf ball.

And lo, on the 19th day he made a sport of hitting small balls with skinny sticks and decided that people who flourish in this arena should be viewed as paragons of virtue and excluded from the human foible that afflicts the rest of us – Making Mistakes. But when they fail they shall be judged most harshly.

Don’t remember reading that in the bible.

Lest we forget, there are children and a wife involved here. Let’s leave them to try and re-build their lives, eh?

...we have a politician called Darling. ‘Nuff said.

...I bet the politicians (Munchkin, Sweetness and Darling among them) were hoping that by focussing all of their ire on the bankers and their bonuses it would distract from the fuckwit MPs who “stole” money from the public purse. Then – oh dearest darling – news gets released today about expenses being claimed for “a bell tower, garden trellis and dog walking”. Foken eejits.

The good news, Honey, Sweetlips and Poppet? The court of public opinion might be unforgiving and judgemental but it has all the attention span of goldfish in a tumble dryer. The investment bankers will find a way to give a great big fuck you to the taxman and we’ll be back on their hate machine.

...Copenhagen and the so-called debate on Climate Change. This issue has become so heavily politicised that we will never reach any form of consensus. So who’s right and who’s wrong? I’m not bright enough to understand the data, but I have a question. Can we not just decide to minimise pollution? Surely that’s in everyone’s interest.

...according to The Telegraph, monocles are coming back into fashion. I’ve decided I’m going to grow old disgracefully and this could be my prop. See me peering through one of them with my face twisted in my favourite whogivesafuck expression and asking...what, what, WHAT?

Do you think it will work for me? I think the ladeez will be queuing up.


Monday, 7 December 2009

The Queen of Chaos and the Tree

I put my Xmas tree up last night. Then I lay down for an hour to rest. Said tree is HUGE.I should have phoned in some people to help me wrestle it from the loft. Took me three trips up and down the stairs to get it through the doors and into the living room.

It’s not so much the height, it’s the girth...this is me with my index finger resting on my bottom lip and wondering where I’ve heard that before.

As I placed the tree in the middle of the floor and cleared the eagle’s nest from its branches I remembered the day it came into my possession. Just two short years ago...

......cue swirly music (violins and shit like that)....

....the phone rang. It was my sister. The Queen of Chaos (QC). For any newbies reading this, she’s a lovely lady. She’s four feet eleven inches, a size six, thinks tact is something you stick your posters on the wall with and enjoys a lifelong blonde moment.

I had earlier been at the swimming pool with my son where he invented a new sport, Dad Surfing. (In case you don’t value your lungs and you’d like to try it, all you need is a swimming pool with a current and a child who is happy to stand on your back while you – and this is where it gets tricky - float) It was great fun...and this explains my uncharacteristic willingness to step in and help. I was in a good mood.

Long story even longer, QC had been offered a free second-hand Xmas tree. It was seven feet tall, cost £190 new just 2 years ago and it was a cracker. Only thing is QC doesn’t have a car and is a master of the passive aggressive. I don’t have car, she says - like I forgot this – and how am I going to get the tree home to my flat? In Troon? Like I’ve also forgotten her address.

I load the car with self and son and drive to meet her. She has a piece of paper in her hand with directions to the then currrent home of the tree. The directions to the then current home of said tree were lousy. We got lost in a council estate with one road in and one road out. Several phone calls later, with shouted instructions from my backseat sister, me snapping at her and the wee fella giving me a row for being bossy with my twin, we made it.

A nice lady is standing by the door of her flat on the third floor wearing a look of relief. The look of someone who has just been told; yes it piles but if you use this cream.... She directed us to a cupboard in the communal hall. And opened a door. The only thing I saw was a huge white box. You know those containers you see on the back of ships? Roughly the size of one of those.

-that’s your tree, says nice lady and showing a surprising turn of speed for someone in her condition (I'm now convinced she has piles) runs back in doors before we can say anything else.

I couldn’t lift the box off the ground, never mind lift it out to the car, but with the wee fella pushing and me dragging and QC carrying a free box of 20,000 lights the tree owner no longer needed, we made it outside.

By which time my shirt was sticking to my back, my jacket was torn in three places and I was wishing I only had brothers.

I looked at the box. I looked at the boot. Not going to happen. I open up the boot (or as the wee fella calls it; the trunk) in the vain hope that Doctor Who has been working nearby. Na. Not a chance. The tree box wouldn’t fit in the boot. There was a large green skip by the side of the road and I checked. It had some space. But I wasn't about to give in after all this work.

While all the pushing was going on QC was standing to the side wearing an expression of mild panic. It’s going to be too big, she says. I don’t have big enough corners in my house, she says. You have it and I’ll take yours. It’ll be lovely for you and the wee man to have a nice big tree, she says trying to sell me the idea.

- Can we get it in the feckin’ car first, says I.

- Dad! says the wee fella.

Eventually I worked out that if I moved the front seats forward that there might be room in the back. With a lot more sweat, more pushing and some muttered curses, we made it. And bonus, we even managed to close the car doors!

Of course we now had no room for three passengers – a driver, two passengers and one unencumbered seat. So the wee fella (who’s nearly as tall as his aunt) sits on QC’s lap and I drive to my house, which is nearer– but I have to go the long way as the short way goes past the police station. We all hold our breath and look straight ahead for the ten minutes it takes to get to my house – this is known to make you invisible to the police.

We get home safely – no blue flashing lights. I couldn’t possibly drive to QC’s like this. I can’t leave the wee man at home on his own while I take the tree to hers. Besides, I can’t face the thought of lifting this humongous box up the three flights of stairs to QC’s flat. I face the realisation that I’m going to have to accept this bloody tree.

The next trick is to get the box out of my car. We all adopt the same activities as before – the wee fella pushes, I pull and QC stands wearing an expression of alarm. Eventually – presumably in the same time it takes a crane to lift a container from the ship on to the wharf, something gives – the car door handle- and the box is out the car and with more pushing, pulling and sweat, is in my front room.

While my son and I catch our breath QC tears the industrial tape from the box – you know the silver duct tape kind that serial killers use in all the movies – just to see how big this tree is.

Think Norway’s annual gift to the British nation.

-it’ll be lovely with lights on it, says QC prompted by the fact that the room is so dark because the tree is blocking out the light and who is by now desperate for me to take it off her hands. She paused, where are the lights? Did you leave the lights behind, she asks me?

-I was kinda busy with a big feckin’ box, sis, says I.

- Dad! says the wee man.

QC’s last memory of the lights was while standing watching me wrestle the tree container into the car. She must have put them down somewhere, she surmises. So we all jump back in the car and go back to the tree lady’s building …and there in a dark corner of the car park was our box of lights. Hurrah. Nobody had stolen them. No doubt any prospective thief had been put off by the thought of the increase to their electricity bill once they were switched on.

A wee man was walking his wee dog past the scene as we screeched to a halt. QC jumped out of the car before I could pull on the handbrake.

-forgot my lights, she explained to the man as if it made perfect sense, while she swooped for the box. I caught a glimpse of him over my shoulder as I circled out of the car park – his chin was resting on the back of his dachshund.

By this time we had all worked up an appetite so we decided to go to Pizza Hut. My stomach was saying, do not go home, do not pass “Go”, go straight to food. The unhealthier the better. The stomach was to be obeyed. QC generously offered to go halfers for any food.

Relieved the worst of it was over, we had a wee laugh about our adventures on the way to the restaurant – but it was to be an illusory moment of calm for when we parked and climbed out of the car QC realised she didn’t have her handbag. I reasoned that it must be in my house and besides I was not driving another inch without throwing something down my throat. And it didn’t matter it if wasn’t a meal acceptable to polite society.

By the time we got a seat in Pizza Hut and ordered our food, QC had worked herself into a frenzy of worry. Her house keys. Her mobile phone. Her purse.

Oh my fucking god, she screeched. Maybe the handbag wasn’t in my house. It was on the backseat of the car while I was pushing the tree-box in. Maybe it got pushed out the other end. Maybe she left it in the same car park as the box of lights. Maybe it was in the tree lady’s house. Maybe the tree lady had emptied her purse, had been shopping on-line with her credit cards and was now happily phoning a porn phone line in Chile using her mobile phone.

While QC borrowed my mobile and phoned all of her friends to try and find out the tree lady’s number, the wee fella gave me another row.

– you’re different with your sister, he says, much more bossy.

Nobody had tree lady’s number. Cue more worry and more doomsday scenarios – her house keys were in her handbag, I would have to kick in her front door. No, I couldn’t do that as she has mental neighbours and while she was sleeping they would ransack her flat. She thought about it some more. NO, she couldn’t do that ‘cos she’d have to stay awake all night and she was a monster if she didn’t get her sleep. Could she even get a locksmith on a Saturday night? Shame she fell out with another neighbour – the witch- ‘cos she used to keep a spare key for her.

The food arrived and was eaten in Guinness Book of Records time. The wee man didn’t even have time to get that tomato smear on his wee cheeks.

There was a collective holding of breath all the way from Pizza Hut to my house. The wee fella worried that QC was going to have a rubbish Xmas. I worried that I was going to have a mad woman on my couch for the rest of the weekend and QC just worried.

We pulled up in front of my house and all of us took a deep breath and paused in prayer before we get out of the car.

I unlocked the front door to my house and QC almost knocked me into next door’s garden in her rush to get past. My son and I looked at each other and waited at the door, afraid to look.

We heard a squeal. She’d found it. Care to guess where?

Under the tree.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Catching the tiger by the tail

This is lazy blogging 101. But you'll enjoy it nonetheless.

Have a good weekend, folks...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Gone Shopping...

The problem started when I went in to Waterstones. They were doing a 3 for 2 on EVERY BOOK IN THE FREAKIN’ STORE. I was in Glasgow for a wee spot of shopping. Look at me. 2009 is going to be an organised holiday. (Now if I could only get someone to write out my frickin’ cards, I would be in crimbo heaven. BTW, I don’t get the whole Xmas card thing. Can people not just visit/ phone/ email the people they care about and wish them a Happy Christmas? And how come the Climate Change brigade hasn’t jumped all over this habit? How many trees do you think are cut down for this annual postal jamboree? It’s a disgrace.)

Anywayyyy, I ended up not buying any presents...but I bought lots of stuff for me. It’s ALL about me. Me, me, me. Does anyone else do that or am I just a selfish bastard?

And in Waterstones I was like a dog with two tails, Larry (as in happy as, dumbass) and the pig in shit all rolled into one. Regular readers will know that I am the Imelda Marcos of book buying. Except I’m not from the Phillipines and my other half isn’t the country’s leader. But hey, imagine if she was....the possibilities...the bookcases... I’m hoarding for the day (cos I can’t possibly read all of these at the moment) when the publishing world implodes and the only places left selling books are supermarkets and the only books on offer are from John Grisham, Dan Brown, the latest celebrity halfwit and a row of Woe-Is-Me Memoirs. And when everyone else is bored out of their tits with this tat I’ll have piles upon piles of fantastic books to read. So there.

I may start up a library service, if you speak nicely to me. Cash or sexual favours may also be traded.

Anywho, there was I like a midge in a nudist colony...not sure where to bite first... Long story short I went for a thriller (Nelson Demille), a fantasy novel (JV Jones) and a poetry anthology called Being Alive from Bloodaxe Books. As you can see, I like to mix it up.

Being Alive (which includes one from an old poetry pal, Kona MacPhee) is a thumper of a book with hundreds of poems from modern-day poets. I spend a lot of my reading time reading crime/ thriller novels for so I like to have a wee change now and again...and I don’t read enough poetry. So I decided I would set myself a target of reading a poem every day. For ease of access, Being Alive will therefore stay by the toilet. As good a place as any, no?

A quick glance and I am loving it.

For those of you who don’t GET poetry, let me borrow words from a few poetic geniuses who might persuade you to have a look.

“Poems show us that we are both more and less than human. That we are part of the cosmos and part of the chaos, and that everything is part of everything else.” Julia Casterton.

“Poetry speaks to something in us that so wants to be filled. It speaks to the great hunger in the soul.” – Lucille Clipton.

“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically that the top of my head has been taken off, I know that is poetry.” – Emily Dickinson.

Poets can be pretentious wankers, can’t they?

It was George Bernard Shaw (I think) who said that the ability to hold two conflicting opinions at the same time was a sign of intelligence. If that’s the case I’m a frickin’ genius. I have to keep reminding myself that there’s a thin line between appreciating an art form and being full of shit. Take yourself too seriously and you’re in danger of disappearing up your own arse. (Wonder if I can throw in any more references to bowel movements?) There’s a lot of the Emperor’s New Clothes in poetry, given that there’s no adequate definition. If I write three lines and call it a poem then it’s a friggin’ poem, people. And that’s part of its charm. Anybody can do it. But (whisper it) some should keep it to themselves.

Lemme give you an example of someone who should share. You know you want one.

From Fleur Adcock’s Weathering as contained in Being Alive. (Apologies BTW if I’m breaking any copyright rules – good luck suing me, Bloodaxe people. I own next to fuck all.)

“there’s little enough lost, a fair bargain

for a year among lakes and fells, when simply

to look out of my window at the high pass

makes me indifferent to mirrors and to what

my soul may wear over its new complexion.”

Love it, love it, LOVE IT. Ordinary language used to extra-ordinary effect. There’s so much in those lines, eh, eh, eh? makes me indifferent to mirrors. That’s the phrase that makes the whole poem.

Seamus Heaney said something to the effect that often the best poems are “about something else”. Often there is something between the lines that as a reader we have to tease out. It just takes a little effort.

When somebody does poetry well...well, it blows the top of your head off! This book is full of people doing it well. It’s full of work that feeds the hunger in my soul.

When humans are being creative they shine, providing a counterpoint to all the hate and isms that display us at our darkest. This is why I get pissed off when people moan about public money that’s spent on Art – without art, we are bound to a life that’s a spiritless desert - but that’s a whole other blog.

Poetry can amplify our joys, share our pain, turn the mundane into a welcome insight – it gives me moments where I feel I am in the presence of something that is as close as we human’s will get to perfection. So there.

And if you think I sound like a tosser when I’m talking about it, you can bite me.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Edinburgh Ghost Tours

I don't have your contact details, Thea - so this post is specially for you. Public service blogging, eh?

For anyone else who is curious, Thea who lives in the US of A has a son who has coming over to Bonnie Scotland during his honeymoon (yes?). Part of his visit will be in Edinburgh or as some of us like to call it "Auld Reekie".

Edinburgh does a lot of things very particular its ghost tours. For details cut and paste the following...

another site with details is...

I hope he has a fab time. And dinnae blame me if it's all crap. I'm just the messenger.

With thanks to She Who Must Not be Named for providing the details.

And with apologies to Marley after her excellent blogging tutorial which I totally forgot about while I was typing this and now I can't be arsed going back to find out what the proper way of doing it is.

I suck. But don't care.

Oh - and if any Edinburgh locals are reading this, can they add a comment with suggestions as to some places that Thea's son and new wifey can go stuff their faces?

Friday, 27 November 2009

May Contain News

This first item was taken from an online version of an English newspaper...

An image captured in a baby scan has been claimed to be the 'double' of Michael Jackson.

Parents-to-be Dawn Kelley and William Hickman were looking at the ultrasound scan of their unborn baby when they “realised” it looked like the late pop singer.

Mr Hickman, 29,(why are journalists so fascinated with everyone’s age?) a window cleaner, (and their occupation?) said: “I showed my daughter Ami, who’s six, and she saw it straight away, so I thought 'well if she can see it too it’s not just me seeing things’.”

Mother-of-six Miss Kelley, 34, (see what I mean? Presumably given that she has so many weans she doesn’t have the time to work. Therefore no occupation to be mentioned. Wonder if the journo felt robbed?) went for her 20-week scan at Sunderland Royal as normal last month, but doctors could not see the foetus’s stomach or diaphragm. (Which is important because...)

A few weeks later she was sent to Grindon Lane Walk in Centre for a closer look. Which was when Jacko appeared.

A comment on the bottom of this online news summed up my reaction to this piece of “news”

It read: shutthefuckup.


From the ridiculous to the downright sick and nasty....Russian police have arrested three homeless people (somewhere in Russia I expect) suspected of eating a 25-year-old man they had butchered and of selling (you’ve got to draw the line somewhere) other bits of the corpse to a local kebab house.

Suspicions were raised when dismembered parts of a human body were found near a bus stop (where else would you dump the unwanted parts?) in the outskirts of the Russian city of Perm (I wonder if they all have Kevin Keegan hairstyles circa 1975), 1,150 km (720 miles) east of Moscow.

Three homeless men (no ages were supplied, sadly – jobs, go without saying) with previous criminal records have been arrested on suspicion of setting upon a foe with knives and a hammer before chopping up his corpse to eat, local investigators said in a statement on their Web site.

"After carrying out the crime, the corpse was divided up: part was eaten and part was also sold to a kiosk selling kebabs and pies," the Prosecutor-General's main investigative unit for the Perm region said in a statement issued Friday.

It was not immediately clear from the statement if any of the corpse filled delicacies had been sold to customers. Mmmm. Yumm anyone?


A woman in the US has found out the hard way that not all policemen are corruptible. This lady was pulled over for drink-driving, and tried to dance with the police officer in her attempt to get away without a caution. The dancing raised barely a flicker, so thinking that perhaps she needed to be a wee bit more obvious she started to rub her buttocks on his leg.

The woman's problems began when she pulled up close to where the wonderfully -named Sheriff's patrol deputy Randy Grob was doing some admin, in a church car park in Bayou George, Florida. The woman, whose eyes were red and weeping, rolled down her window and offered to survey Grob's home, and any other property he owned. (What else would you offer a policeman when you’re pissed?)

She then reversed into the road, forcing the traffic to stop, and drove off. Grob gave chase and pulled her over. At this point, the woman told Grob that she 'knew what he needed', and handed him a menu from a steak house. (I wonder if they were selling Russian meat?)

Grob then noticed a pint bottle of vodka on the passenger seat, and a wine glass on the floor. (This is clearly a lady with class.)

As other policemen arrived on the scene, the woman - identified as Verleen Anglin (what no age?) of Panama City – now in full flush, got out of the car and 'skipped' towards them.

Asked to stand on one leg as part of a sobriety test, Ms Anglin instead tried to dance with the officer. Grob wrote in his report that she 'began to 'dance with the stars,' grabbed me and twirled herself several times and attempted to rub on my legs using her butt.'

Sadly, she worked up a sweat for nothing. She was arrested and charged.


This isn’t news but it made me smile...

10 Of the World's Worst Pick-Up Lines

Your eyes meet across a crowded bar... the atmosphere is charged with lust... you approach, composed and electric with determination... and entice this vision into your life with a line like...

1. Can I buy you a drink, or do you just want the money?

2. I'm new in town, could I have directions to your house?

3. You have to tell me your name, because last night in my dreams, I could only call you 'baby'...

4. I may not be Fred Flintstone, but I bet I can make your Bed Rock...

5. Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk by again?

6. At the office copy machine "Reproducing eh? Can I help?"

7. Hi I'm conducting a feel test of how many women have pierced nipples...

8. Hi, the voices in my head told me to come and talk to you...

9. I may not be the best looking guy here, but I'm the only one talking to you...

10. Have you ever played naked leap frog?


During a trial in a small Southern town in the US, the prosecuting attorney called his first witness. She was an elderly lady. The P.A. approached her at the stand.

- Do you know me, Mrs Jones

- Why yes I do, she answered. I’ve known you since you were a boy, and frankly you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife and you manipulate people and talk behind their backs. You think you’re a big shot when you haven’t the brains to realise you’ll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher.

The lawyer was open-mouthed. At a loss as to what to do next he pointed across the room and asked.

- Do you know the defence attorney?

- Why yes, I do, she answered. I’ve known Mr Smith since he was a youngster too. He’s lazy, bigoted and he has a drink problem. He can’t build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practise is the worst in the state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with 3 different women. One of them was your wife.

The judge asked both lawyers to approach the bench. In a quiet voice he said...

- If either of you idiots asks this woman if she knows me, I’m sending you both to the electric chair.



Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Untethering the Goat

Ok. I’m up for a rant. That’s unlike me, huh? I’m usually the height of calm and reason. What’s got my goat? (Anybody know where that phrase comes from?) As usual, the British medya and in particular she with the unfeasibly large breasts (AKA Jordan) and her walkout from I’m a Celebrity Feed Me Some Kangaroo Testicles and Centipedes and Then Get Me Out of Here Once You’ve Got Enough Photos. Also untethering the goat is the reaction to the dismissal from the X-factor of the toneless twins, John and Edward. Or Jedward, as they are known.

Both of these subjects have gotten so much ink and air time that it has me itchy with irritation. Are we really so bereft of intelligence that these people are deemed to be “entertainment”. I’m not saying the airwaves and our newspapers should be full of discussions like Dostoyevsky Does Dickens; I’m all for a wee bit of fluff, but can we have entertainment from people that are good at what they do? Pretty please?

Comments about the twins I heard on the radio include the view that they were fun. No they weren’t. They were shit-on-my-scone awful. They danced as if one of them was born with two left feet and the other got the right ones. And they sang as if each time was the first time they’d heard real music. At best they were mediocre and if that’s where people find their “fun” then I suggest the twins were being laughed at rather than appreciated. Which is not nice, people.

One halfwit radio commentator on my local station opined that they were too clever; giving wildly sarcastic answers to any questions they were asked. Example. On their first audition when asked where they thought they might be in 15 years one of the twins answered, “eh ...older”. Unconscious humour, yes. Sarcasm, no. That was an honest answer from someone stuck in his own wee Jedworld who hadn’t given much thought beyond remembering the lyrics to whatever boy bland song they were singing and whether they had enough gel in their hair.

As for Jordan it seems she has dumped her boyfriend (Alex, the cage-fighter, if you can stop yawning long enough to be interested) after her time in the jungle reminded her of the time she spent in the there with Pete. Awww, bless. She walked out of the jungle because the public kept voting for her to do the gruesome tasks. And she was missing her kids. She was chosen for 5, or was it 6 (I’m reporting this second hand on account of the fact that I can’t be arsed watching this shite) of the challenges.

Comeuppance, anyone?

Actually, I’m starting to feel sorry for her. The web is full of vile comments about her. It’s starting to feel like bullying and it’s making me feel uncomfortable. Nobody died, people.

In truth it’s not Jordan/ Katie/ Whatever that bothers me. It’s the acres of space we have that allows people like her to build a career and a fortune based on nothing more than the (paid for) ability to fill a bra the size of a hammock and a skill for attracting attention. Again with the mediocrity.

Still, it’s a free world and I can chose not to watch her antics or read about her in the newspapers. I just wish more people were of the same mind. There is an OFF button. You can chose not to buy the magazine or newspaper with her on the cover.

Back to The Jungle and some other once-beens desperate to extend their 15 minutes.... what about the poor insects and the other critters used in this excuse for entertainment? Don’t they have rights? Just because they are not limited to a maximum of four legs (or have legs at all) and don’t come with a beguiling pair of eyes doesn’t mean they deserve to be dropped down the cleavage/ forced to crawl over the damp parts of an attention hungry (god I hate the word) celebrity. Just how many of them die in the making of this programme? I demand equality for the invertebrates!

Rant over. Goat tethered. For now.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

It's Raining Elephants

The precipitation was somewhat persistent today. In fact, it has been persistently pissing down for a number of days now, so I did what every red-blooded male does on a day like this...I went Xmas shopping.

Yay me.

I was passing raintime watching a movie about a naive ju-jitsu instructor – yes people, there is such a creature if David Mamet is to be believed – and as it drew to a close I remembered that Debenhams were having a sale. And that the shop would be open late. And if I went at this point it would be quiet. And being a department store I could buy ALL of my gifts. And I remembered last Xmas Eve which should be re-named panictime. And...I can’t think of any more ands.

Anyhoo, I went, the deed was done and bar a few wee extras most of my gifts are bought.

Let me repeat: yay me. The only obstacle to a worry-free time is that now I’ve got to wrap up the fuckers.

As a treat for my evening’s achievement I went to a Chinese takeaway establishment for my dinner.

While sat in said Chinese takeaway establishment waiting for my meal to be cooked I watched Come Dine With Me on the telly...and I recognised one of the faces. Then another one. It appeared that the contestants/ diners were from my local patch.

If you don’t know what Come Dine With Me is, it’s where a group of five strangers go round each other’s houses for a dinner party, with each of them taking a turn to host. And while the host gets panicked and plastered in the kitchen the other dinners go through their rooms and cupboards and laugh at their clothes, books and sextoys (only joking about the last).

The host I recognised first was one of the coolest guys I knew when I was a teenager. He was a DJ – during a period when discos were the place to be (the seventies anyone?) - and he had a gorgeous girlfriend. Colour me jealous. He knew his music and the ladies (shallow creatures) flocked around him.

While this chap was cooking we got a look around his house. Mmmmm, it was interesting. And this is me trying not to be bitchy because god knows I don’t live in a palace – but it looked like his furniture was chosen by Michael Jackson and his soft furnishings came from an old folk’s home.

The diners give each other points out of ten and the person who scores the highest wins £1000. It always provides a wee chuckle when the winner is revealed and the other contestants wear their I Just Lost an Oscar expression.

The fella I knew served up Pig’s Trotters as a main course. Needless to say he lost. WTF, dude? Pigs Trotters? It looked like something they would serve up in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

What was nice to see in this programme were some local landmarks like Ayr beach and the Brig O’ Doon, framed by a clear sky. A reminder that whatever it feels like right now, the rain will stop. Eventually.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Football as you have never seen it before...

I've been looking for this video for ages. One of the funniest things I've ever seen.

With thanks (cos I am crap at these things) to Marley for the tutorial.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Dear Me...

There’s a charity book out just now called “Dear Me” which is full of famous people writing notes of advice to their sixteen year-old self. Which got me thinking...what would I write to my younger self?

Dear Me,

Some advice for you. Ignore it at your peril because as sure as eggs are covered in a thin shell you have become very wise in your young-middle age.

First off, don’t be so freakin’ sensible. Have fun. Chill.

Next, a warning: you won’t always be this skinny. The cakes will catch up with you.

The things that come easy? Work harder at them, then you get a career you enjoy.

Read a lot; write a lot. (I stole this from Stephen King)

Buy black socks only. Saves a lifetime of pairing them up after a wash.

No matter how much you love her, don’t let her talk you into getting your back waxed. (Yeah, you get a hairy back. And there’s more bad news coming about the hair situation)

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Don’t be afraid to watch other people making mistakes. Just don’t laugh in their face. If you do and you get caught, say that you were laughing WITH them.

Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.

Going bald (told you) is no biggie. You’ll get used to it very quickly.

It’s nice to be nice. Any number of small acts of kindness are much better than one grand-stage act of generosity. The latter tends to be for show.

When in company and struggling for something to say ask the other person a question about them. If you are interested you become interesting.

When in company and someone talks about nothing else but themselves, develop a pressing need to go to the loo, pretend to faint, choke on a anything just get the feck away from them.

Don’t listen to your father. He’s an eejit. Except about that one thing...oh, and that other thing.

He was also right about the dishes. Let them pile up on the draining board. What’s the point in putting them away in a cupboard when you’re just going to use them again?

Never use a screw-driver. A hammer will do the job much quicker. If anything REALLY needs to be taken apart again, you can always move.

Your father was also wrong about the black tape. It doesn’t fix everything. Least of all a broken desk. That’s where the hammer comes in.

99.9% of the problems that grow in your mind until they block everything else out give you ulcers. Then they melt away and never happen. Wasted time, yes?

In general, people are nice. If you treat them the way you would like to be treated, things will go well.

People are bastards. They bash your car door with their car door and drive away without as much as a scribbled apology.

Go to THAT school re-union. You’ll learn perspective. And loads of other stuff.

The boys at school who laughed at you because you had lots of female friends were actually very, very, very envious.

The cool kids at school turned out to be addicts and alkies or they got shit jobs. The nerds, a l’autre main, took over the world.

Lose that frickin’ habit of speaking half in English, half in French. SO annoying.

You WILL lose your virginity. Eventually.

Don’t be so freakin’ shy and don’t wait to be asked.

Don’t pretend that you’re in training to be a priest to get rid of an unwanted advance. It’s not smart, it’s not clever and you look like shit in a dog collar.

Always take your socks off before your trousers. If you happen to be with a woman you’ll look less like a dork.

Women say one thing and mean another. Then once you get used to that approach they go back to meaning exactly what they say. Then they switch back again in the time it takes you to say, ‘What the...?’ It will confuse you. Don’t fight it. That’s. Just. The. Way. It. Is.

The priests were wrong; it IS good for you, you won’t go blind and the only hairs you grow on your hands will be over your knuckles.

Learn to recognise that wee voice that says, ‘that’ll do” and ignore it, ‘cos it never does.

Eat more and exercise less. Oh...wait, it’s the other way round. And don’t worry, this is one thing you’ll never get right.

Don’t eat anything that comes in bright packaging. It’s full of all kinds of chemical shit that will give you a chronic disease and may eventually kill you.

Enjoy a balanced lifestyle. Get your skinny/fat/skinny/fat arse down to the gym 3 or 4 times a week. Then celebrate with some cake.

Embrace your love of cinnamon. Add it to everything. Especially porridge.

Cake. You’ll never get enough cake. With cinnamon.

Get yourself a nice golden (cinnamon) coloured fleece. Women will love it. They will want to touch it.

When someone says “yes, but...” they actually agree with you but they don’t want to listen. They’re so locked in to their own point of view they’ll carry on regardless. They are stuck. While you should give them the “loser” sign and move on.

Keep your opinions to yourself. No one is really that interested. They’re just pretending, dumbass.

There’s no point in being self-conscious. People look at you for like a second, dismiss you and then go back to inhabiting a world with their ego at its centre. Mostly, you don’t mean shit to them.

Walk away from the cheap brandy. It will give you one fucker of a headache.

Don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong. And apologise.

Never go to bed on an argument. Grow a pair, stay up all night and shout yourself hoarse.

You will discover a talent to grow a single, six inch long hair from your earlobe. It will appear overnight. Pluck it, learn to live with it, and be on watch for the next one which will appear just as surely as the world will become obsessed with a pair of tits called Jordan. And keep a pair of tweezers by your shaving mirror.

Never add garlic to an omelette. Sucks big time. Add it to EVERYTHING else.

Brussel Sprouts. The curse of your childhood. You’ll never get over it. Not even garlic will make them palatable. You will continue to barf at the sight of them for the rest of your life.

Be kind to your sister. She knows not what she does. Approach her with fondness and always be prepared to make allowances. It will save you a shit-storm of stomach acid.

Earn enough so you can pay someone to do the jobs you hate; the garden, housework, ironing. This list will increase as you grow older. Your sister will help and it will only take the going rate.

Ignore the adverts; toilet paper that is too soft makes for an ultimately uncomfortable toilet experience. Or if you learn the art of multi-tasking and keep a pair of nail clippers by the paper you could clip while you are, ehm...unloading. A wee hint - leave your toenails for later.

There’s a reason why we love chocolate. It’s because it melts at body temperature. Don’t let anybody, I mean ANYBODY keep it in the fridge.

You will develop a healthy disregard for the celebrity obsessed culture that is coming your way. Try to spread this particular view to as many people as possible. In fact make it your life’s work.

Never. I repeat, never get a credit card. They are the work of Satan.

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story/ poem/ blog. You will always write with a touch too much honesty, but it will be heightened, exaggerated, disguised and people will never be quite sure what to believe. This is A Good Thing.

And finally, if your young self is going to pay attention to any of this crap it should be this: ignore everything you’ve just read - the most effective lessons are the ones you learn for yourself.



Friday, 13 November 2009

Of empty shops and a touch-worthy fleece

Walking down my local High Street last weekend I looked in the windows of one of the shops that were forced to close at the height of the credit crunch last year. This was a shoe shop formerly known as Barratts.

The unit has large empty windows and bare walls, with the odd seat and plastic stand littering the carpet down the length of the shop. The sign on the far wall has lost some of its lettering and must have echoed the thoughts of the (more polite) members of staff when they were told they were losing their job.

It reads R.A.T.T.S (with the missing letters suggesting where the newly redundant staff might have headed).

Change of topic now. Can't be arsed trying to make a neat seque. I was at my local writers’ club meeting the other night. It was an excellent, thought-full talk on writing humourous articles. (I believe that the minute you stop trying to learn is when you should stop – and like, I need all the help I can get) given by the talented and glamourous, Ms Eileen West.

Aside from Eileen’s worthwhile hints and tips, a talking point of the evening was the fleece top I was wearing.

It’s a Craghopper fleece - forgive a wee spot of product placement. (Let’s talk, Craghopper people. Or your people can call my people) It’s – eesh, I’m rubbish at colours – golden retriever colour and it’s as soft as the fur on a puppy’s ear. So far, so nice.

And what I’ve discovered is that women can’t help but touch it.

Every women I spoke to held a hand out and stroked my shoulder/ arm/ chest as if hypnotised. I’m not some kind of play-thing-sex-toy to be objectified! Honestly, I’m considering litigation.


I might just pick up some scissors....and indulge in some tailoring. I could cut up the fleece and make it into other items of clothing.

I’m thinking speedos.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Nutty News

Relatives of Brazilian Ademir Jorge Goncalves, I.D.’d him as the victim of a Sunday night car crash. The funeral was organised for the very next day. Hot country. Need to bury body fast, is my guess.

What family members did not know was that Mr Goncalves had spent the night at a lorry park talking to friends over drinks of a sugarcane liquor known as cachaca – and was nowhere near the accident. He was quick to sober up the next morning when he got word about his own funeral. The bricklayer rushed to the ceremony to let his loved ones know that the reports of his death were somewhat premature. He had his sleeves rolled up in case anyone wanted to check his pulse (ok, I made that bit up).

"The corpse was badly disfigured, but dressed in similar clothing," said the police spokesman.

‘Holy fuck,’ said his father when Ademir walked/ ran/ skidded into the church.

Wouldn’t you have loved to have been a fly on that wall? I’m guessing a few tooth cavities and tonsils were in clear view that day.


An American couple are looking into other methods of having children after they discovered that she was allergic to his sperm. This potential relationship-breaking discovery was made... on their wedding night.

Mike and Julie Boyde of Ambridge, Pennsylvania, went out for two years after meeting at university. Before their wedding, the couple say they always used protection, (because of course everybody wanted to know how this had not become apparent) but once they got hitched and subsequently ditched the condoms, things started to go badly wrong.

We’re not talking just a slight itch here. We’re talking blisters and burning in her most tender of parts.

Bet that put a dampener on the honeymoon.

A 70-year-old shoplifter in Germany tried to evade capture by biting his arresting officer. Knives, guns and any amount of weaponry must have been discounted by pensioner Gustav Ernegger when he went werewolf, after he was caught stealing a shirt.

However, his cunning plan went somewhat awry when instead of sinking his teeth into the officer's arm, he was only able to leave a wet mark from his gums.

He’d left his falsies at home.


Want to talk about your toilet experiences? Fancy downloading your thoughts about what happens when you go for a do I put this delicately...not even gonna try...a dump? Well soon you will have your shot for it seems that Proctor and Gamble are going to have a special toilet installed in Times Square, NY during the holiday season, as a promo for Charmin tissue. There will also be 5 bloggers on hand to help thousands of the newly empty-bowelled share their experience across the web. Because that – clearly - is what the world is desperate to know. This will include photos. Of the “family friendly” variety, apparently. (There’s a relief).

Regulars will know how shy I am of sharing my own life experiences, but I feel like flying over to add my comments. Cos here’s the problem: the fecking paper is TOO soft. You’re sat there doing your thing, after you’ve done your thing and...the paper gives way. Last time this happened made me realise I needed to cut my fingernails. Not nice.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Happy People

In the beginning was the word and the word was “moustache”. I saw the beginnings of an awesome moustache tonight at the gym. The shape was there for a handlebar (circa 1890). In case you missed it, during the month of November while writers all over the world are indulging in the writing marathon that is Nanowrimo, a bunch of young/ not so young men will be growing and shaping the hairy stuff on their top lip to raise money for Prostate cancer. It’s called Movember, dontcha know.

As I already have the face fuzz, I sponsored one of the guys at the gym and bought a wrist band. You know how the Lance Armstrong (testicular cancer) one was yellow, to represent the yellow jumper? Guess what colour the prostate wrist band is? It wouldn’t be impolite to suggest it was shitty-brown. Someone clearly has a sense of humour.

The idea of all these young guys walking around with retro shaped moustaches tickles me. It’s all been about stubble or the goatee recently, with the poor moustache being relegated to a 70’s porn movie. This is me stroking mine (my moustache, rude girl) and wondering what shape I should make it.

It’s quite soothing. Stroking it. And I am all about the reduction of stress, am I not.

When faced with the western hunger for Things one might be tempted to try and reduce stress in your seek a more simple life. One way of reducing stress might be to emigrate. The place to go if you want a simple existence? Bhutan, my friend. This is a country where they measure the Gross National Happiness to define the quality of life of their inhabitants.

(According to Wikipedia) the term was coined in 1972 by Bhutan's former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, (you’ve got to love a guy with that name) who has opened up Bhutan to the age of modernization, soon after the demise of his father, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. It signaled his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan's unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values.

While conventional (for conventional read every other freakin’ county in the world) development models stress economic growth as the ultimate objective, the concept of GNH claims to be based on the premise that true development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other.

How cool would that be? Taking time to meditate would be just as important as putting in your 37.5 hours. Your boss would be pulling you in to his office, measuring your performance and saying – I’m telling you, like dude, turn off the machine every hour for 5 and do some like, navel gazing. OR, he gives you THAT tone and says – ok you hit that target, that target and that target but I didn’t see you smelling no roses, fella!

Methinks the good folks of Bhutan are on to something. Many of us are linking our happiness to the FT-SE100 or the Dow Jones. Does it work? Apparently purchasing power in the US has grown by 16% over the last thirty years. This is a shitload of consumption people, yet the number of folks calling themselves “very happy” has fallen over the same period from 36% to 29%. And that’s a shitload of prozac, people.

Some fella called Daniel Kahneman is quoted as saying “people have ready-made answer to many questions about themselves; they know their names, their address and their party affiliation. But they do not generally know how happy they are, and they must construct an answer to that question whenever it is raised.”

How happy are you? Do you know what happiness looks like? And if you’re saying it has a car shape or comes in a box with the name Manola Blahnik on it then you’re wilfully missing the feckin’ point.

Let me ask you happy are you? Do you know how to increase the gross happiness index in your life? If you don’t I want a report from you on my desk, first thing on Monday morning. Well, second thing... first thing is your half hour of Tai Chi.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Stunt Doubles and Velcro

After the wee fella’s swimming lesson tonight he started talking about The Legend of The Seeker, which has just finished here on the sci-fi channel. For anybody who’s interested its based on the Terry Goodkind books. Anywho, my son was questioning the adult content of this programme...

- They killed some kids, he said.

- Yeah, but it’s only a programme. Nobody actually died, I replied.

- Yeah, but the kids died. They didn’t have to kill the kids.

- Yes, but...

- And then they chopped people up with swords.

- Yes, but...

- And the sex stuff. The kissing. They were getting a bit heavy. Richard and that woman.

- They didn’t actually have sex, son. They just kissed.

- Are they in love then?

- Who?

- The actors playing Richard and Kahlan. Do you think you love each other?

- They’re playing a part, son. They’re acting.

- Well, if they don’t, I hope they used stunt doubles who really are in love...Imagine kissing someone you don’t love. Yeeuch.

Watching a wee bit of a programme on BBC the other night. “Wonderland: The British in Bed.” An excuse for some titillation, while we watch a number of couples sat up in bed talking about relationships, love, sex, blah. We learned amazing little nuggets of gold like...having children changes your life. Wow. Who knew? Public service broadcasting at its best. (You can just taste the irony can’t you?)
James May is a lucky bastard. Discuss. He pitches these ideas to the BBC like...I’ll go about playing with all the toys I loved as a boy and you get someone to follow me about with a camera? Why don’t you get me and a wine expert to go on a tour of vinyards? I'll act like a duffus and the British public will love it.
The BBC fall over themselves. He gets to do things he loves in front of a camera for money. How easy is his professional life? The downside of being James May? All that hair. Who could be arsed?
What am I reading this week? Just finished Pat Controy’s latest – South of Broad. I’ve been a fan of his since I read Prince of Tides in the nineties. I’ve read everything he has produced. I LOVE his stuff. This book has all the elements I’ve come to treasure from the man; lyrical descriptions, characters as quirky as a hat on a frog, dialogue with all the punch of a Tyson right hook and a plot with all the grip of a strip of Velcro. (Do you think I overdid the similes? Do ya? When did they start to irritate? It was the Velcro wasn’t it? Damn that Velcro strip!)

My only gripe with Pat is that he only comes out with a book every 5 or so years. WTF, Pat. How difficult can it be? (You can smell the irony, right?) To see how firmly my tongue is pressed against my cheek go to this next site and read how a man I have huge admiration for talks about the writer’s journey.


Sunday, 1 November 2009

There's So Much Brown Stuff...

It appears that Stephen Fry has had enough of Twitter. A follower described some of his tweets as “boring” and Stephen decided he’d had enough.

“Think I may have to give up on Twitter. Too much aggression and unkindness around. Pity. Well, it’s been fun.” He wrote.

Although the comment was fairly innocuous (there are worse things to be called than boring – just ask Danyl Johnson) I have a certain sympathy for the man. His ongoing battle with mental illness is well documented and when you are in a temporary weakened state of mind, over-reaction of some sort is to be expected. He has since stated that he might reconsider and has commented on the fellow who left this message with ... “Feeling terrible for that poor guy. He had every right to call me boring. Not his fault it caught me at a vulnerable time. Pls be nice to him.”

The reason for this latest response is that the man who called him boring has been inundated with hateful tweets himself. Cyber bullying anyone? In fact it has rapidly become clear that a social network site like Twitter has the ability to take bullying to a higher level. If you were ever bullied at school you might have had to face down a handful of fuckwits, but on twitter this can be magnified a thousand fold.

When you “follow” people like Fry, who have more than a modicum of wit and a few brain cells to spare, the world of twitter can be fun and frivolous (and we all need a dose of F&F from time to time), but in the hands of a man/woman-child with all the feeling of a tree stump it can be quite dangerous.

Which takes me back to Danyl Johnson. For those of who you break out in the hives at the thought of watching X-factor, (I am an unapologetic fan of the show and you can blame Hughie Green) he was the contestant on the very first show of this series whose audition earned him over 6 million hits on Youtube. His most recent performances on the show have apparently earned him comments on twitter such as, “most hated contestant ever”, and “more hated than Hitler”.

Oh, puhleeeze. (See me? I am so down with the kids)

You’ve got to think that anyone who posts comments like that has just turned 21, grown their first pubic hair and has gained just enough social graces to know that you should take the dishes out of the sink before you piss in it.

In the real world we can take time to realise this, but in the rarified atmosphere of one of the nation’s favourite TV shows it’s not so easy to make such a judgement. And judging by Danyl’s performance on X-factor last night, these comments are getting to him. He was, it’s safe to say a glimpse of his former self and as someone who enjoys watching talented people and who thoroughly enjoyed his first performance it was incredibly sad to see. Danyl, you’re better than that, dude.

It seems that people are determined to dislike the man. Tweets were posted last night that questioned whether or not the below-par performance was an act to gain sympathy. And some of the gutter-press noted that no, he’s not bi-sexual, he’s gay. (This rumour has been posted to damage DJ’s rep because it seems that the great unwashed in this country can only take to a gay male singer who comes out after he is successful) Can the man sing? Yes. Do we really give a shit who he consents to play hide the sausage with? No. This is me sending a big GROW UP to the twats who thought it was important to write this nonsense.

What has gone wrong for Danyl? After that first show he was a shoe-in for the title. In fact, they should have just given him the cash and the contract there and then. Since then, of course he has earned the sobriquet of “most hated”. WTF is going on?

My view is that you can blame that uniquely British mindset that has us build people up and then once we feel they are too big for their boots, shoot them back down. There is a certain habit of thought that has many of us thrill at someone else’s professional and personal demise. It’s not smart, it’s not clever and is quite frankly a mindset that holds the nation back from truly being successful on the international stage. Gordon Brown should ignore his fiscal policy for a few months and invest in a nationwide hypnotherapy course that gifts us with the ability to fully celebrate individual success. It’s too easy to blame the media, they can’t work their vileness without a strong degree of collusion from the public, but I wouldn’t be too far off base if I suggested this programme began with certain elements there.

How did we get so stupid? And who gets to decide the Stupid Agenda? C’mon people it’s time to grow a (few thousand) brain-cells. Or at least attempt to work with those we have.

Sheesh, I’m getting too serious. Back to the X-factor. The attention Danyl received initially meant that many of the knuckle-dragging, window lickers out there felt he had to be pegged back down. How dare he be so good? That’s so not the British way. Just ask Susan Boyle. Although, to be fair, we have gone back to loving Susan.  (Or has that changed again. I so can't keep up)

Also affected by all of this are the twins, John and Edward. They have received the opprobrium and praise of the British public in equal measure. Jedward, as they are known appear to be great kids. However, to be brutally honest, they cannae sing and they cannae dance. During last night’s performance they forgot the words, got in each other’s way and looked like the very definition of amateur hour. Take any two boys from any playground in the country and I’m sure they would be every bit as talented as these guys. What they did do, however was give it everything they had. They poured their joint heart and soul into their performance, they enjoyed every second of it and for that they have my admiration.

Week after week on the X-factor, Jedward receive cheers and jeers in equal proportions. It appears we like a tryer (no matter how – with apologies - talentless they are) just as much as we like to knock down the successful. Remember Eddie the Eagle? In any other country he would have been derided at worst; ignored at best. In the UK he became a national hero. Which is kinda nice and sad at the same time. See me. Seeing both sides of an argument is a curse I tell you.

Anyone want to write a thesis entitled How TV Reflects the National Psyche? With a sub-theme of Do the Media Reflect or Direct? Oh, shit let’s not go there. Who’s got the time? I’ve the X-factor result show to watch.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Kentucky Freakin' Fried

After a swim, the wee fella is usually starving and I’m usually in full-on lazy, let’s get take-out mode. Not a good combo. On you go, son, I say, have a swim, get some exercise and then we’ll fill your gut full of cheap carbohydrates. I am a bad parent. Nonetheless, I remain undeterred and full of post-swimming sloth.

The problem is that I LOVE KFC. Did you get that? I heart KFC. The problem part of this comes from the fact that I hate poor service... and that’s consistently what I get every time I visit my local store. I can cheerfully claim that the Ayr store has the worst service I have experienced since I first had some hard-earned to spare. My last experience was so bad, dear reader that after this week’s post-swim laziness got to work on my brain, I took the wee fella to McDonalds. Aye, I know. Shock horror. No need to throw the plates out with the dishwater, I hear you say. But there you have it. I've sold out.

The last time I visited KFC, Ayr there was a queue of about eight people and only 1 of the three tills had someone in attendance. The whole thing about convenience food is the convenience, right? It ain’t very convenient if in the time you wait you could have visited the supermarket, driven home, prepared the ingredients and served up a wholesome meal. And of course every five minutes you are stood standing in said queue you debate with yourself – I should just go, I’ll give it another five minutes. And of course five minutes pass with all the fury of a feather floating in a weak draft. Then you say to yourself, I’ve waited all this time, I may as well stay. Meanwhile, the wee fella is moaning in a theatrical bellow – dad, what’s taking so long? As if it’s my freakin’ fault. The other adults around us are wearing expressions that are the very definition of “Stoic” and I’m thinking, why don’t you dumb fucks go somewhere else? But of course they are on the same internal journey that I am.

Now I can see the till. The ...let’s give him a name...the Operative at the till could give a flying fried chicken wing (see what I did there) that every eye in the room is on him and they are all now being switched from “Stoic” to “Glare”. The reason for this lack of concern, I assume, is because he has a horrific case of acne and its so bad the whole world can go fuck itself. Try and imagine someone took a straw, filled it with a tomato sauce and then sprayed it with care over his t-zone. Then they left him out in the sun to dry. Then they painted a wee yellow dot at the centre of each “spot”.

By now the chicken cooking crew are running out of chicken so the Operative takes a person’s order, passes their receipt to the side and then takes the next person’s order. A wee girl swaps her chicken cooking apron for an Operative’s badge complete with the appellation “Trainee” and walks out front to help.

Chaos ensues.

The trainee takes on an appearance of concern and stands in the one place and looks from the Operative to the chicken to the crew in the back cooking the chicken and from there to the queue who to a man are silently willing her to Freakin’ Move. She’s giving gormless a whole new flavour. Eventually, she rouses herself to action and places some orders on some trays and some people get to carry their food over to a table, relief making them appear about ten years younger.

The queue is now stretched to the door and every time I glance over my shoulder to see someone else has joined I want to scream at them - Get out. Go. Go now before the Crap Service/ Chicken Hunger trap gets you. I however, am caught as if my feet are glued to the floor.

A woman from the middle of the queue loses patience and walks up to the counter. She ignores the people who are next in line to be served and demands that more people are brought out to help man the counter. The operative looks at her and shrugs. He purses his lips. Well, he sticks his bottom lip out and then he goes back to take the order from the next person in the queue. The woman learns her lesson –that basically she has as much importance as a bluebottle drowning in batter – and chastened she returns to her place in the queue like she has been sent there by the headmaster rather than a spotted youth who has yet to master the art of making facial expressions.

My beard has grown a centimetre, the wee fella’s belly has shrunk by the same measurement and eventually we reach the counter. I lean against it to make sure it is solid and not a mirage brought about by chicken and batter deprivation. The operative looks in my direction. Chews the inside of his lip in what I assume passes for “May I take your order”. So pleased that I have actually reached the stage where a meal is actually achievable, I pass on the opportunity to tell him what I think of the appalling service and I give him my order. He reads the cost of my food from the till and I realise that this is the first time I have heard him speak. Feeling that I should offer some form of congratulation I hand over the cash. He gives me a receipt and looks at the person behind me. A look that I assume is meant to mean “next please”. He is yet to look me in the eye.

I need to relax my jaw. It’s clamped shut with the effort of not shouting at someone. I turn to the wee fella and time I suggest we come here will you slam my hand in the car door? My son looks at me with that expression... and I experience a moment of recognition – a moment of pure horror. I look from him to the Operative and a voice screams in my mind. Noooooo.

Some folks behind me have their order taken in the same desultory manner. But the trainee has risen to the challenge and more and more people actually get their food within an almost reasonable time.

Then I realise that people who’d had their order taken after me are getting their meals before me. Hunger has made my mind like a steel trap, has it not. Hey, I say, where’s mine? The Trainee blushes. The Operative maintains the same expression he has worn since I walked in the door. In Scotland we have a great word for it; glaikit. (Pronounced glay-kit, it means stupid beyond measure) They look at the receipts and ignore the chicken free zone in front of me. They confer. And agree that I am right and the Operative fills a tray with my order. He has a slight and temporary squint in one eye that I optimistically read as an apology.

Before I pick up the tray, I assess my order.

- There’s only TWO pieces of chicken here, I say and wonder who the crazy person is that has taken over my voice and added a strong dose of Ayrshire to it along with a thick lacing of crabbit. - I ordered a three piece meal. Three. Piece. Meal. (I can only speak in a staccato manner because I’m hyperventilating). There’s only ...two... pieces.

Bawheid, (pronounced baw – to rhyme with raw – heed; meaning your head is a ball and you are stupid beyond measure) formally known as the Operative looks at my tray and then looks at my receipt. With alacrity – oh, okay – with a movement that suggests he might have the ability to act with alacrity if say, the building was on fire and the person in front of him was stealing his mobile phone and his ipod, he dumps a chicken thigh on my tray.

I turn and join the wee fella at a table. The first piece of chicken makes it down the back of my throat without being chewed. In fact not one part of the chicken touches one part of the inside of my mouth. My son looks at me in a way that Bart might have looked at Homer and asks,

- Dad, when do I get to shut your hand in the car door?