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.