Friday, 24 December 2010

Let's get the party started

Mum has just text me saying Santa has just been and she's now getting very excited. I replied by asking if she was drunk and she accused me of having no christmas spirit!
As it happens I've got more Christmas spirit in me now than I thought I would have had a week or so back. The weather outside is still beyond freezing and the streets are still paved with ice and snow, all the presents are organised, wrapped and underneath the tree, I feel like I've been watching Christmas movies all week, I've ate a mince pie a night, I had the yearly encounter with Mrs Santa in the office the other day, we've even been to a panto and at midnight tonight Ka and myself are off to Church with the Reids for a carol service followed by a nice big mug of hot chocolate. How much more Christmas spirit can you get?
Over a week ago now, just before tucking into a big meal at our local Chinese, I was told over the phone that I was one of the lucky ones to keep a job. So from April 2011 I'll be working in a new role within the Prepress department. Great news for me but news that will always come with a tinge of sadness considering so many others are losing their jobs.
There's also the imminent arrival in early January to look forward to. Baby Reid is most definately making his presence felt as Ka grows more uncomfortable by the day. Let's hope she can keep the Christmas spirit as Baby Reid kicks at her ribs from the inside.
At the panto last week there were actual tears in Ka's eyes as John Barrowman belted out another song before us. Unfortunately it wasn't tears of pure joy, pleasure or appreciation, but tears of pain as Baby bounced about inside her, whilst in the tight, less than spacious, seats of the Clyde Auditorium. The strange thing is I had similar tears of pain as John sang his heart out but I don't have a Baby growing inside me. Maybe Baby was complaining about the sheer volume of the Barrowman, who knows.
Ricki Fulton starred in the last big panto I went along to which shows how long it's been. I hadn't been looking forward to Aladdin. Barrowman wasn't bad in it though and proved himself a great family entertainer as always using the panto as a platform for some of the songs he'd sung on his tour which Ka and Jillian had dragged Colin and myself along to a few months back.
Even the Krankies, the usually gawd awful Scottish 'comedy' duo, were quite funny in their supporting roles. I never liked the Krankies when I was younger. The idea of a small woman dressing up as a wee boy with a school uniform and dirty jokes to annoy her/his older, male friend, who in real life is her husband, I always found a bit too weird.
Certainly far weirder than John Barrowman's ridiculously white teeth and accent switching skills.
Talking of accent switching, Ka and myself have just sat through the latest Harry Potter movie in which Bill Nighy puts on some kind of Welsh, Scottish, Can't quite make my mind up, accent as the Minister of Magic. Another fabulously crazy twisted accent to rival the Scottish slurs of Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. The movie itself was entertaining enough but largely for the Potter fans proving that the film was certainly not for the casual cinema goer that may not be familiar with the previous films and the whole back story shindig.
Going to the flicks has always been a tradition for Ka and myself on Christmas Eve. Afterwards we usually have a walk around Glasgow and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. Breathing in the festive spirit, watching the panicking Christmas eve shoppers run from shop to shop, the whiff of German sausages floating up through the air from St. Enochs Square at the bottom of Buchanan Street and seeing George Square in lights as the skaters circle the ice rink. Usually we'll have a festive tipple or two as well but not this year, of course. No mulled wine or Christmas cocktails this year. With the imminent arrival I'm now on standby. I'll quite happily leave those kinds of festive spirits to the rest of the family!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The three boxes

The date draws near - and I ain't talking about Christmas.
Ka is growing by the minute and as if that wasn't scarey enough, I'm now filling out forms at work entitled 'Becoming a parent'.
Becoming a parent? When did all this happen? What happened to the last thirty weeks. A short while back I was lounging about at home gassing on the phone about how Ka was preggers and how exciting it all was. Exciting ain't the word I would choose now. Now the word terrifying springs to mind!
All three boxes on this rather official looking form must be ticked by myself in order to qualify for Paterntiy pay.
The first box states that I am the baby's biological father or that I am married to the mother or that I'm living with the mother in an enduring relationship. The word 'enduring' seems quite apt. So, that's a yes to all. I am indeed the baby's father as far as I know. Hopefully there's not going to be any soap like revelations, perhaps as a tram crashes through my living room ceiling whilst I'm reaching for the bon bons.
The second box, 'I will have responsibility for the child's upbringing'. Now that just strikes you with absolute fear. Responsibility? Of a child? Wait a minute here. I struggle to look after myself at the best of times! I went to work the other day wearing odd socks and Ka has already told me that if I ever did that to Baby Reid I'd be for the high jump.
The high jump just for getting some socks mixed up?!
What's going to happen to me if I dress the child in mismatching top and bottoms? The shot putt?
The third box states that the time off work will be to 'support the mother or care for the child'. So even though your getting two weeks out the office, they still expect you to work for a living, and for less pay. Here was me thinking I'd be taking it easy, taking a breather after the hassles of rushing to hospitals, getting my eardrums battered and my hands crushed by a mad, screaming woman.
Anyway, I've been supporting Ka all the way through her pregnancy so that's no big deal. The loyal, helpful husband. When housework duties have been called for, I've been a good helping hand. I've been going into the cupboard and getting the hoover out for her instead of making her get it herself. I've been patiently handing boxes up to her in the kitchen when she's been packing things away, balancing on one of the two legged breakfast stools. I've even helped her off the couch a few times when she's been going to the fridge to get me a beer. Now you can't ask for any better support than that! Surely I deserve paternity pay, just for all that?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Axl Rose, the zebra and the Chip

Guns and Roses at 90 decibels. That's what Dave and myself found ourselves listening to, sitting half asleep, nursing a couple of Buds after Barry had invited us into his abode at the closing stages of a day of eating, drinking and generally being merry, on Saturday.
It was the S&UN Christmas day out and thirteen of us met for lunch in Glasgow's Ashton Lane in the Ubiquitous Chip at half two in the afternoon. Anna, Linda, Paul, Gaz, Alison, Stuart, Kathleen, Julie, John, Barry, Dave, Davey and myself all seated ourselves and got ready to eat!
Perthshire Pheasant served up with a ham hough terrine, Venison Haggis with turnip cream, Turkey with all the trimmings, steaks with stovies and bearnaise sauce, dumpling, caramel shortcake trifle and the good old crackers and cheese were all just part of the menu as we chatted, posed for photos and drank. Wine, beer, Jack Daniels and various other forms of alcohol were consumed alongside the gorgeous food, including a rather dubious looking Cider which Barry insisted on ordering from the bar, even though half of us were sure it originated from the loos.
Typical Christmas over indulgence but also a well needed breather from the pretty morose atmosphere in the office these days what with all the redundancies. It was good to take a break from thinking about interviews and oncoming joblosses with a work day out, although by the time half two in the morning came around, Dave and myself were looking for an escape.
Barry had talked us into going back to his for more beer and a bit of music and we trooped into his kitchen only to meet his partner Lynsey, who immediately handed us a beer. What service! She'd just had a few bottles herself, watching The Karate Kid before we bounced in, interupting her nice quiet night of martial art kicks.
After almost falling asleep watching half a Guns and Roses gig, I got up on to my feet to explore the rest of Barry's DVD collection. Lynsey took it upon herself to show me round the house, giving me a guided tour, making me wonder if she was trying to sell the place to me. She even showed me the Zebra Paul had brought them back from Africa. A prime position on their magnificent fridge. Another one of those magnificent fridges that makes ice simultaneously. Amazing. My Auntie Tricia's got one of those too. I would have a field day with that. Ice party at mine! Come on round everybody! I've not got a Zebra though... thanks Paul (that's the last time I walk the expressway with him!)
Anyway, I came back down the stairs from admiring Barry's photographic masterpieces adorning his hallway, only to find Dave, eyes faltering before a large Freddie Mercury, diving about Wembley Stadium back in 1986. Barry, hadn't moved, watching on, waiting on an answer from Dave on the couch after his latest question or comment that he'd shouted over the room at him.
Following the onslaught of Axl Rose and the thought of being made to sit and watch a whole Queen gig, not to mention the distinct possibility of Dave and myself falling asleep together on Barry's couch, I hurriedly dived into the kitchen to order the taxi and so was the end of the 2010 work day out.
The last S&UN day out for the group of employees that are to be so cruelly torn apart in the next few months. Who will make it into the elite group of 12? Who knows. I'm not optimistic. But, as Andy Noble says, if yer numbers up, y'er numbers up. It's their loss.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Hiking and jackknifing

The snow is finally melting. We are now driving on actual tarmac rather than spinning around on half a foot of compressed snow and ice. I've never been so happy to drive unhindered in my life. No more digging my car out of a giant layers of snow or walking home to East Kilbride on the expressway. Well, not for the moment anyway.
On Monday night, after the biggest snowfall in decades, the expressway, the main dual carriageway into and out of the East Kilbride, had become near inpassable due to the weather.
Barry, Paul and myself walked home to East Kilbride, abandoning the cars in the work car park, hiking up the dual carriageway under a ghostly mist which hung down threateningly over the faded lights standing tall overhead in the darkness over the thick snow covered road, among the abandoned cars and the fellow walkers.
The road going into East Kilbride had been clogged up not only by the weather but by a Morrisons lorry jackknifing and the remaining traffic piling up behind, slowing to a near complete standstill. Not sure what was slowing all the outgoing traffic on the other side of the road up.
It may have been another jackknifed lorry. A Sainsburys one maybe. The two drivers having it out in the middle of the road. The abandoned cars all over the expressway only parked up to watch the big fight. Harry Hill shouting from behind a temporary desk in a nearby field.
Usually this dual carriageway would be buzzing with life. Traffic of all shapes and sizes blasting up and down it on either side. Hiking home on it all seemed very surreal. It reminded me of 'The Day After Tomorrow', the rather drab, silly movie with Dennis Quaid, in which he plays a climatologist who goes out in search of his son after a giant storm which throws the world into another ice age. Or something. Storms, snow, people collapsing in the snow. The collapsed people puffing and gasping, accidentally brushing some snow aside underneath them only to discover that their lying on the glass roof of central station. At which point it starts cracking...
Either that or a snowy version of 'The Day of the Dead'. Zombie like figures stumbling about the snow covered expressway wondering what to do.
It all puzzled me a little. We're on the expressway. That town over there, which you must of been driving towards with the high rise flats, is East Kilbride. These are legs. Those things at the end are feet. Why not try that walking thing?
Okay, there may have been the slight issue of abandoning your beloved motor, but it was either that or sitting in the beloved motor for an extremely long time which, in the end, would make it extremely unbeloved.
For instance, Ka hates Gillian's poor little car now as a result of sitting on a roundabout at Hamilton's Asda car park for at least three hours on the same night. Sitting anywhere near Hamilton's Asda is horrifying at the best of times what with all the Zombies that usually shop there.
Unfortunately I often find myself parking in Hamilton Asda, thanks to Ka who works in the town, and unfortunately I think my parked car has been hit by a 'fellow' shopper at least 50% of the time. Not because of my parking, you understand, but because most drivers in Hamilton, cannot drive nevermind park. They simply put their pedal down, turn the steering wheel and hope for the best. A seven year old in a dodgem would cause less damage to another vehicle than a Hamilton Asda shopper.
Anyway, thanks to the weather and the congested traffic the threat of having to spend the night at work became all too horrible to bear and Ka and Gillian sat it out, eventually getting home four and a half hours later than planned. It's amazing what folk will do in order to not spend the night at work.
It's also amazing what folk will do when not at work. Apparently there's folk going round in Kent somewhere nicking snowmen!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Weddings, weans and waiting

Well, once again in the streets of Britain, people are panicking. Driving at 3mph, schools closing, trains cancelling, people leaving the supermarkets with supplies to stock in their garages, weather reports going on for too long. In the office people drift up to the windows every ten minutes to mumble about the scenes outside and folk squawk and complain about how long it took them to drive to work, their colleagues all more than aware the person is half an hour late just by looking at the clock. Yes, it is snowing again and people are losing all sense of reason once more.
Ka and myself woke up on Saturday morning to an unnaturally white light beaming in through the bedroom curtains and before I'd had the chance to fall to my knees and scream for pity at the visiting alien lifeforms, Ka had swept the curtains aside to reveal the snow that had fallen overnight.
"Fantastic", I said clambering up to the window. "Better get the Jack Daniels poured!".
I was not celebrating the arrival of snow though, I was filling the hip flask I was taking along to Wendy and Rob's Wedding on Saturday afternoon at the Bothwell Bridge Hotel. Whilst Ka dried her pants with a hair dryer and I sneaked Belgian Chocolate Cake from the bread bin (we've got a spectacular bread bin!), I filled up the hip flask expecting the worst of the hotel's bar pricing. Another Wedding. Like the Number 20 buses that all come along at once. We had Gillian and Craigs' four weeks ago and now another, but more family affair, this time around.
Wendy is one of the three daughters of Lorna, an adopted 'Auntie' to the McGarvas, and thusly a cousin whom Ka grew up and sang with each other into stereos with. Wendy, Pamela and Susan, who are all lovely girls and, until recently, I constantly got mixed up with, accidentally calling each by their various sisters' names at various times and places. Fortunately I'm over all that now and can successfully recognise each (something which, I'm disappointed to say, I've never been commended for). Even after the Jack Daniels, and with two of each wearing the same dress, I was successfully able to nod to and greet in full confidence without making a fool of myself. Something which I can do in many other imaginative and wonderful ways.
Doing the Time Warp, for instance. The third weekend in the space of a month that I've sang and danced to the Time Warp in public (not that I ever dance it in private, I should point out...).
Anyway, Wendy was beautiful in her elegant white dress and Ellis, her son, the star of the show, with a great speech with which he gave his mother away (but stipulated that he wanted her back).
The next day, it was back through the snow to Bothwell once more and to Joshua's first birthday party at which our wee nephew got his hands on more cake, a new course to his slowly expanding dietary menu. A cake so full of sugary goodness that even Willy Wonka would need to go into rehab after eating a slice.
Cake or no cake, Joshua is growing up fast. He zooms around Angela and Steven's floorboards now at a rapid rate and loves investigating all floor based items such as wires and radiator pipes. A reason why we bought him a wee car to pull along the floor. Not only does it have string but it has wheels, music and shaped blocks to slot into it's boot (sounds almost like my old Clio). Joshua seemed to like it anyway and after a quick trip abroad with Morgan, a snowball fight in the front garden and a tasty M&S buffet created by Steven, Joshua waved us goodbye. He's getting much better at the waving goodbyes for some reason. Some people would maybe even be fooled into believing he 's happy to see the back of us.
Something I'll be glad to see the back of are the dreaded work interviews. My various work colleagues, of all shapes and sizes, and I, have all to apply for the 12 positions going in the newly streamlined S&UN which will be formed in March of next year. So we've got the horrible job of competing against one another for a job, whilst doing our jobs. The first is tomorrow. Thankfully, I've got some of that Jack Daniels left.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The call of fatherly duty

"Phew, Ka's got her work cut out for her", I sighed, talking to Grace on the phone on Wednesday night after our first trip to the Hunter Health Centre.
We went along to our first antenatal class, or 'parent crafting' class as it's now called, for some reason, on Wednesday night, and Ka found herself kneeling against a chair, sitting facing the back of a chair, bent over a bed, balancing on gym balls and cuddling whilst standing. All different positions to be in when handling the pains of contractions. It's all very different to how I'd imagined it. Apparently there shouldn't be any tensing of the muscles, struggling for breathe, shouting, swearing, cursing or breaking of the fingers. I'm not convinced but I'm sure I'll find out when January comes around.
Breathe. Breathe. Ka and myself were in a large wooden panelled office, littered with desks with computers and treatment beds. We were shown in with around ten other pregnant couples and all sat in a semi circle of chairs before the nurse started teaching us how to breathe, stretch and exercise our pelvic floor which is to help make your pelvic muscles stronger and thusly help lessen the chance of requiring a colostomy bag in later life.
We learnt that labour should, apparently, all be stress free with no rushing to the hospital at the first sign of labour contractions. All midwives should be perfectly helpful and the whole process should be naturally timed. It should be clearly and easily defined by a timetable of events involving various mucus' and liquids being dispersed from the pregnant woman's nether regions.
The midwife stressed the point of insisting you stay at home for as long as possible so as not to waste the time of our hospital staff and beds. That's what they must have told my Auntie Maria who very nearly ended up delivering Lauren on the hall staircase before making it to the bathroom to pop her out. Ka is considering a pool birth at the moment. I'm pretty sure a bathroom birth is not on the cards.
It's now seven weeks away till the due date and some of the hints, tips and information we were getting on wednesday night may have been more useful twenty weeks ago. How to cope with a growing lifeform in your body, how to exercise your body whilst pregnant, how to stop him or her punching your ribcage etc. It would have certainly made Ka's life a little easier if we'd have been told how to deal with these things more than a few weeks ago. The midwife even stressed the fact that the mothers may get a little tetchy in the next few weeks. The next few weeks? That started ages ago! And 'a little tetchy' doesn't quite cover it. I'm glad we've got midwives to point these things out, I would have never of realised.
The midwife also made it clear that besides driving the mother to the hospital there was nothing a partner/husband could do to help and may as well relax, look after themselves and go home and have their dinner. One of the future Dad's, a heavily tattooed bloke with thick black glasses, mumbled at this from under his woollen hat saying that he would go home and play Xbox. His partner snorted at this, insisting she was taking the Xbox to the hospital with her. Nevermind the nighties, the nappies and the sleep suits, this couple have a case packed with games console and Call of Duty. I wonder what their house will be like when their baby pops into the world if they already spend their time fighting over who gets the Xbox on a night?
Another future Dad asked if it was just like the movies and you have the right to bomb down the A721 at great speeds using the excuse of their wife being pregnant. Is this the reason he got his wife up the duff? So he could drive through Wishaw at a stupid speed?
Then again, once the baby is here these small moments of unadulterated pleasure for a Dad, will be few and far between so I suppose all fathers should take them while they've got the chance.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

This is our life

A week ago there was an announcement in work. There was an announcement that there would be an announcement on Wednesday. Organised announcements in our week can only mean one thing - bad news.
Wednesday came and at one o'clock the Big Boss, GD, arrived with the Human Resources Manager, adorned in black, and wasted no time in gathering everyone at the back of the office. The axe was going to fall, but by how much?
Basically, 33 were to become 12. Liverpool were taking the Ad Creation side of the business away from Scottish & Universal, leaving only the planning, outputting and studio departments, in a vast, sweeping move to streamline the business, and, of course, make it cheaper to run. Scottish & Universal Newspapers, top of the charts for accuracy and skills in Trinity Mirror for so long, has become yet another victim of the all consuming recession and it's aftershocks and obliterated by it's english relatives. It happened to the Welsh in Cardiff and now it's happening to us, up in Scotland.
At the end of March we are all to be made redundant with the exception of 12. These twelve will work on, in the Hamilton office, in the newly formed, shrunken version of the prepress department.
In the next few weeks those in the office interested in applying have to hand their forms into the Boss' office, placing their application into the big red folder, waiting on his desk. This red folder, sitting patiently, like a new twisted version of 'This is Your Life'.
The interviews are to proceed shortly and the lucky 12 will know by Christmas who they are. Which, I'm sure, will make the Christmas Day lunch and outing very enjoyable assuming some of the successful candidates go to the dinner. Who'll be the first to bitch? Who'll be the first to walk out? Who'll be the first to wear their drink?
Then there's the three months following Christmas. What will the atmosphere be like in the office then? Half the employees not giving a rat's ass how they do their job whilst the other 12 sweat over their stations trying to meet the usual deadlines...
Yes, the next few months are going to be great fun in the office. March will be the end of an era and a sad month for all of us concerned. I have enjoyed working at S&UN. I've had a great time and will be sad to see it go. The job has paid for my life for the past five and a half years (well, some of it anyway) and the cheesecake has been great.
There's the usual resigned sighs going round the office now. "We knew something was going to happen", being the main comment, and the rather odd, "maybe this is the kick up the arse we need".
Sorry, but I wasn't aware I needed anything up the arse. I've got a baby and, hopefully, a new pad on the way. If this is a kick up the arse, I'd hate to get a kick in the balls!
Then again, that may be yet to come after I apply for any of these jobs - whether I'm lucky or not!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Sleep suits and snow suits

Excuse my ignorance here but, how do you know you're leaving hospital with the right baby? This has been troubling me for around four days now. How do you know your baby hasn't been mixed up with somebody else's after it has popped out? There is no way of telling! All babies look the same for around three months after their birth. How do you know your going home with the right one? It'll be three months till you know for sure! This is concerning me.
Also, what's with the buying of snow suits? Apparently we need to buy the expected Baby Reid snow suits. Snow suits? I wasn't aware we were eskimos? Will we be travelling home from Wishaw General in a sledge pulled by huskies? Me, standing at the back of the sledge cracking the whip, whilst Ka and baby cower from the cold in furry suits at my feet, our huskies racing forward, pulling us, their breath puffing out in swirling clouds before their frozen maws as they pant their way through the white, frozen wastelands of Wishaw and Craigneuk.
Sleep suits too. Sleep suits, sleep suits, we don't have enough sleep suits, and apparently we never will. This baby is going to have more suits than Hugo Boss.
Hats, bibs, boots and scratch mittens. Scratch mittens? Apparently babies have a habit of trying to scratch their face off? First I'd heard. Surely they can't be that fully aware to look in the mirror and hate their god given mug at that age? I thought that all didn't kick off till the teens and forever after? (Certainly didn't with me anyway). Then again maybe that's a good way of knowing it is indeed my child - if it sees itself in the mirror and immediately goes for it's own face screaming horribly.
Nesting. The suit buying is all part of the nesting process apparently. A word for what an expectant mother does in and around the home to prepare. Moving things around. Throwing things out. Making way for piles of sleep suits. Buying baby lotions, talcum powder and cotton wool.
Spending money when it's not yet quite needed to be spent, that's what I call it. I've had to empty two of my bookshelves already and the poor wee tyke is not even here yet. All in the name of sleep suits. Who would have thought such tiny garments could take up so much space?
We need a house and quick. Anything bigger than a one bedroom anyway.
I'm sure some of those eskimos must have more room in those igloos than we've got. They always have loads of kids running about. You never seen eskimos on the Michael Palin programmes shouting about how little room they've got in their igloos because of all the sleep suits. Bet the huskies have even got their own room!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Scary but true

Happy Halloween everybody! Thankfully there's been no pesky kids in rubbish costumes, chapping on our front door, annoying us for sweets, enabling Ka and myself to slouch before the tv, recovering after Gillian and Craig's Wedding yesterday.
It's been a busy week off with plenty to keep us occupied. Stage shows, cinema, hotels, dinners out and plenty of catching up with friends has taken up the majority of the past week. It all started with a Wedding and ended with a Wedding.
Last Saturday Colin McG, Jillian, Ka and myself went to the capital for the day to see Spamalot in the Playhouse, Monty Python's musical stage production, 'lovingly ripped off' from The Holy Grail. Marcus Brigstocke, comedian and tv presenter, played Arthur, King of the Britons, aided by his humble servant Patsy, Mark Fowler from Eastenders. Sexy dancers, fish slapping Finnish peasants, killer rabbits, black Knights, French soldiers and, of course, the cow. The show had all the killer ingredients for a great Pythonesque tale with some very funny moments, brilliant songs and enjoyable performances from all involved, all being what looked like around twelve people or so, many of the supporting cast doubling, tripling or quadrupling up roles. After finally retrieving the Holy Grail from under seat D2 in the stalls (unfortunately neither of us were sitting on D2 so missed our chance to get up on stage, some wee embarrassed woman in a cardy being dragged up on stage instead) the show ended differently from the unorthodox way the Holy Grail movie ended.
Disgruntled at her lack of a part in the second half, the Lady of the Lake had elbowed her way into the story again by coming up with the excuse of marrying King Arthur which is how the stage play wrapped up, the Lady in question played by Amy Nuttall, and not the scary Jodie Prenger as we'd all thought was going to be the case.
However, we hadn't got off lightly. Jodie Prenger popped up later in the week, when Colin McG, Jillian, Ka and myself went along to the Clyde Auditorium to see John Barrowman. Yes, it had been a while coming but the night was finally here, when Ka and Jillian got to drag Colin and myself along to the SECC to see the tooth sparkling american, scottish born, singer himself. Beforehand, of course, we met in the pub and all had a couple of pints in The Goose, Ka drinking ginger beer as her alcohol substitute while Jillian shrieked in excitement with anticipation for the coming show. Colin and myself drank down some pints, needing some kind of dutch courage for the night which, I hesitantly admit, actually turned out to be good fun and surprisingly entertaining. Yes, the guy is cheesy and crazily camp but it was just simple fun, light entertainment. Scary but true. As was Jodie Prenger who strutted on stage half way through the set, just to make matters a little worse, to help celebrate Barrowman's 20 years in showbiz.
The second Wedding of the week did not involve Jodie Prenger, thankfully. Gillian and Craig tied the knot in Glenskirlie, Stirlingshire yesterday and we all had a great day at the ceremony, the reception and the following party, highlights including the usual speeches, the brilliant food, Craig kicking his boxers off from underneath his kilt in the middle of the dancefloor and them ending up wrapped around Cheryl's head and my rather drunken but fantastic rendition of the Time Warp back in the hotel room, Roslyn, Claire, Martin, Iain and Ka my entertained audience.
After all the scary incidents this week, however, there's nothing more scary, unsettling or uncomfortable as that of the thought of going back to work tomorrow morning...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Waterstones and the wishlist

On Sunday I pulled up in the rain, parking the car under the drooping trees in one corner of Blythswood Square. Before you think it, no, I was not kerb crawling, Blythswood Square being one of Glasgow's old hooker haunts(I don't think they hang around there anymore). Ka had been out shopping all day with her Mum, so I was heading into the city centre to meet her for the cinema. Escaping the rain in the streets, I dived into Sauchiehall Street's Waterstones and headed for the design books. The best way to escape the bad weather - Waterstones. Not only is there shelf upon shelf of wonderful, colourful, story and picture filled books aplenty to browse, but there are even comfy chairs, toilets and, if it's a big branch and you've done your homework, a coffee shop. Not sure if the one in Sauchiehall Street has a coffee shop though, I wasn't there quite as long as I'd usually hang about bookshops what with having to meet the wife with her shopping bags.
You are also sometimes lucky enough to meet famous people in these quiet, calm surroundings, usually after waiting in horrendous queues, undoubtedly behind a smelly person. Being a geek, (but an unsmelly geek I should point out), I've waited in more than one queue in the past decade or so. Michael Palin, Tom Baker and Terry Pratchett are among the luminaries I've queued to meet, hanging around bookshops.
There's also been a few failed attempts. A year or so ago I almost met The Mighty Boosh, but had to escape, running out into the rain soaked street, grimacing in pain. After fifteen minutes of waiting in their queue my eardrums exploded from the noise of the screaming girls surrounding me. Screaming girls surrounding me is not something I'm entirely used to (violins please!).
More than a few years ago my Mum sent me into John Menzies to get Paul Young's autograph. Unfortunately she was most disappointed when I cam back informing her that it wasn't the young, quiffed eighties singer, signing autographs, but the Scottish fisherman with the cap and tash who usually sat on a boat, in a Loch somewhere, talking to a camera.
Simon Pegg's going to be in Sauchiehall Street tomorrow. Unfortunately I'm working. I would have hung around Waterstones to meet him, though I suspect there'd be more ear drum risk.
These large bookshops are great for hanging about in. Loads of people do it. Picking up large books they'd love to read, but have absolutely no intention of buying, probably because it's way too big and expensive to actually take home. Too big even for their coffee table. I'm sure some of the books people look at in these stores come in the form of coffee tables. Anyway, the 'customers' will then settle down on a large comfy, leather chair and enjoy a good, quiet read, probably a far quieter read than they'd get sitting at home. After a while, the time depending on the person and their objectives for the day, they'll set the giant book back on it's perch and then move on their way, back out into the rain and miserable shop strewn streets.
While I was browsing the tomes of the design section I searched for anything that was on my amazon wish list. My new tool that I'd just discovered a few weeks ago. Your amazon wish list, a tool I'm probably ridiculously late in using and one that's actually fairly fun to use, for a while at least. You can click away at products online to your hearts content, pretending your spending money, when in fact your not. Your account is just taking a note of all the products you'd like to buy but for one reason or another, you can't.
It's quite cruel really, doing that to yourself. Like the end of Bullseye when Jim Bowen shows you what you could have won. Even if it was a speedboat, it was still horrendously cruel. I wonder how many people actually wanted to punch him when they rolled out that speedboat? Even if they had lived in a one bedroom flat in the middle of EK, they hadn't realised how much they'd wanted that speedboat until that moment. Jim Bowen, you sick b****rd!
Anyway, torturing yourself for not being able to afford things is the big minus of the wish list. Spending hours wistfully staring at it's contents with that Scottish Power bill waving at you from the hall. "Yoohoo! Over here!"
Whilst browsing, in the actual shop, I came across a new hardcover by the name of 'Just My type', a book by author, Simon Garfield, about fonts.
Ahh, fonts. Those were the days. The days when I spent hours looking over books about fonts and actually caring about what fonts I used. Working on newspaper adverts you spend as little time as possible doing that kind of thing.
Helvetica? That'll do.
Something bold? Helvetica Black. It even sounds bold.
Something fancy? Times.
Something fancier? Time New Roman.
Something even fancier. Bloody hell. Palatino then.
No, let's really roll out the barrel.
Roll out the font barrel, are you nuts? Okay then, Zapf Chancery.
Nah, that's just too fancy. How about this one? I like this one?
But that's Courier..?
Corbusier Stencil. Apparently if I were a font I'd be Corbusier Stencil. According to Pantagram's website anyway... Balanced, geometrical, imposing but with good reason and impeccable judgement... hmmm. Not sure about the 'impeccable'. Looks a bit boring to me... I'd better go and pay that Scottish Power bill.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Facebook and flip flops

Just back from seeing The Social Network, David Fincher's latest flick about the founding of facebook by Mark Zuckerberg, among others. You always come out of these biographical movies wondering how much of what you've just watched is actually true and what is fiction. That aside, The Social Network is a pretty good movie with great performances from the main players, especially Jesse Eisenberg who steals the show with his weird, obtuse, ignorantly arrogant portrayal of Zuckerberg. A fairly unlikable character but one you find yourself strangely sympathetic towards. Probably because he couldn't afford a decent pair of shoes. He spends the whole movie in flip flops. Whether wandering into parties, walking about the office or running through the snow, he is always in flip flop sandles. Let's hope he's grown out of all that now that he is worth billions of dollars.
Footwear aside, the movie is also a perfect lesson in how you should trust no one. Not even your supposed best friend.
Alongside Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin helped build the original facebook, coming up with the funding for what was needed to kick start the whole project. However he was swiftly elbowed out, his name taken off the facebook founder credits, as soon as Zuckerberg became ensnared in the whole identity, corporation building. Saverin takes Zuckerberg to court over this, which, along with the second court case involving the hard done by the Winklevoss twins keeps Zuckerberg busy, defending his rights over the facebook franchise.
The script and acting successfully keep the movie interesting, humorous and engrossing masterfully overcoming any potential problems the movie could have had with plodding political scenes interwined with scenes involving computer geeks staring at screens, jumping about excitedly whenever they solve another programming problem.
The scene with the chicken is also pretty funny.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Mysterious parcels and murdering

Whilst the Chile miners are being rescued from the depths of the Earth people in the work think I'm buying porn. Parcels have been arriving for me for the past week, various different bodies of the office, collecting it in the mail from the front desk and bringing it up to my desk with a suspicious, high eyebrow, look about their face.
The boss strode up to me halfway through the morning, as I sat working on Slater Hogg, with another parcel and announced, slightly too loudly;
"Michael, here's your porn!"
Julie almost made the wrong move in her latest game of PC solitaire and Margaret nearly choked on her banana loaf. Laughing uncomfortably, I couldn't argue as the real answer was equally embarrassing. An answer I can't go into at the moment as it's all part of some early Chrimbo shopping (yeah, the 'c' word?!).
Barry eventually got the answer out of me, walking away humming to himself about naked pictures. Barry, who, along with Craig, informed me the evening before that I was driving about with a screw embedded in one of my rear tyres. The bu**ers probably planted it in there themselves, perhaps in an effort to interfere with my next murder.
Yeah, you read right. For some inexplicable reason, both Barry and Craig are under the impression I go out at nights, stalking helpless young girls, murdering them and burying them in the nearby forest of Calderglen. They've obviously got nothing better to imaginate.
So I've got one part of the room that calls me 'Doc Brown' and another that think I'm East Kilbride's answer to Dexter. Then there's Gareth, who thinks I lead a very pathetic life.
'Pathetic lives' and 'egocentric', three words included in Gareth's rant during the Tuesday shift about blog and facebook users. Once again he started on yet another 'oh so subtle' tirade against me and that large portion of the population that find some solace and some fun in an online existence. A tirade that was, as he quickly pointed out, in no way aimed at myself, sitting at the luncheon table next to him. Yeah, sure, I thought. In the same way that spinning envelope wasn't aimed at the back of Jeremy Kyle's head.
Jeremy Kyle. Now there's someone that is egocentric and pathetic, hiding behind his bouncers. He's also someone that many people would probably love to murder and bury in a forest.
Not that I'd ever condone murdering anyone, or indeed burying anyone in a forest.
Anyway, I'm off to watch The Apprentice. A programme about egocentric folk that bitch and moan about their work and their colleagues behind their back. Pathetic. You'd never find me doing that.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Back to the Future and the bow and arrows

Back to the Future. Still a brilliant movie, even 25 years after it's original release. We went along to see the 25th anniversary release in a packed cinema on friday night and, although a movie I've seen more than a few times on DVD, TV and the good old VHS, it was still just as entertaining on the big screen. From the opening sequence with the guitar amplifier blasting Marty back into that book shelf, him lifting his big, mirror sunglasses from his nose to the parents first kiss and the Doc's climatic struggle at the top of the clock tower it has all aged pretty well. Unlike Lucas and other fantasy movie makers, Zemeckis has refrained from any jazzy new effects and shoddily pieced together 'extra special' sequences, which says it all really. There's not much you can do to a classic.
My mate Chaz introduced me to this movie back in, what was probably, 1986 one day after school. He was always the car maniac and kept harping on about this movie with the DeLorean.
Before dinner, after getting back to his house from school, we had been firing arrows inadvertantly on to his roof and over into his neighbours garden with my new bow, the same bow Kenny, my brother, later 'borrowed' for a halloween party. Kenny was going as Robin Hood. A feather cap and green tights, and all he needed to complete the outfit was my much loved bow and arrow set. I had told him no, he wasn't borrowing it, as he would break it. But no. Mum said 'just lend your wee brother it for the day and he'll bring it back'.
Did he bring it back? No. Or maybe he did but it was in pieces, I can't remember the exact details of the remains. So I lost most of my arrows to Chaz's neighbours, and his roof in Tasman Drive, and my bow to a shoddy Robin Hood in green tights and glasses. I was gutted about that.
Anyway, on the same visit to Tasman Drive, I was also introduced to Chaz's German Sheperd, Max. Chaz swears to this day that I spent the visit cowering from his dog. Chaz will occasionally bring it up to this day, how I was so terrified of his beast of a dog. How I yelped with fear when I seen it lumbering towards me. The truth of the matter was that I perhaps was cowering to some extent, but only because, upon meeting Max, I discovered his liking for the crotch and it spent most of the first hour of Back to the Future trying to eat my groin. Very off-putting.
It never put me off the Back to the Future movies though as I became hooked as a kid and beyond. Rather disconcertingly, some of the guys in the work call me 'Doc Brown' and have been for some time, for some, strange reason. Not sure why. Gareth and DVD Andy asked if, after watching the movie on friday night, I stood outside and signed autographs? Ka frowned on hearing this and, remembering Marty's Dads dancing at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, said that I had more similarities with George McFly rather than the Doc.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Briggait and Buried

It had been years since I was last in the Briggait. What was the old fish market in Glasgow's Merchant City on the banks of the Clyde, just up the street from where Paddy's Market used to be every Saturday morning, is now a bright, airy new space for visual artists, companies and organisations.
Ka and myself walked in through the new front doors, escaping the rain and were both immediately lit up by the large entrance hallway's high glass, iron vaulted ceiling.
A couple of girls hung from silks and ropes, circling and maneuvering under a large, rectangular frame at the opposite end of the hallway. The frame was surrounded by a large group of people, watching and learning, listening to a tutor going through the basics of aerial acrobatics, his voice echoing through the Briggait's giant central hallway as we were welcomed by a couple of receptionists.
The last time I'd been in the Briggait's central hallway was during my Art School years, for a lecture by the design group Tomato. Tomato was a design collective formed back in 1991 by Karl Hyde and Rick Smith, among others, who, when not producing weird and wonderful graphics for the entertainment and print industries, went under the title of 'Underworld'. These techno, electronic musicians hit it big when they were featured heavily on the soundtrack for 'Trainspotting' with that brain numbing, hand banging 'Born Slippy' track that everyone screamed to in clubs at one point or another. Unfortunately the track just reminds me of Ewan McGregor sliding down into a heavily used toilet bowl.
Anyway, Ka and myself had went along to the Briggait, on Saturday, for the WASPS open day, WASPS standing for Workshop and Artists Studio Provisions, Scotland's biggest Arts organisation for providing studio spaces for local artists. This organisation is mostly behind the building's recent redevelopment which has not only mended all the cracks in the old walls but created over 5,500 square meters of studio, office and public space, including the artists' studios which were the main reason for our visit last Saturday.
On our wonder throughout the building's innards we investigated most of the artists studios, which varied in size and space, colour and creation. From paintings to sculpture, and photography to embroidery, it was all there and the artists all seemed very welcoming, open to the questioning visitors. One of the artists, a guy called James Murphy, stood and talked about his work and his inspiration for a good fifteen minutes, talking about his fantastic, colourful, visuals.
After the Briggait, we headed up town to the cinema to see Ryan Reyonolds in 'Buried'. Only Ryan Reynolds, it turned out, as he is the sole actor seen in the movie, about a guy that wakes up in a coffin, somewhere underground in Iraq,after being ambushed by insurgents. He wakes with only a semi charged mobile phone, a small knife and a lighter for comfort. That's basically it. The claustrophobic film is entriely based in this coffin and around this character, Paul Conroy's, efforts to escape with the aid of his trusty mobile whilst piecing together his memories of how he got there, leaving lots of messages on answering machines. Which is always the case when you're in dire need of help. Answering machines. Although Paul Conroy, doesn't have the same problem of not knowing what to say on the answering machine as I always seem to.
Depressing, dark, intense and uncomfortable to watch, it ain't a movie I'd rush to see again, but worth the watch if you're interested... Interested in being depressed and uncomfortable in an intense, dark place with Van Wilder...

Friday, 1 October 2010

Manic meandering

On my day off yesterday, I relaxed. I was sitting around the house doing nothing in particular. Eating soup, listening to The Black Keys, surfing and watching tv was the majority of my daytime.
Among my tv highlights was David Cameron sitting on the couch, on 'This Morning', harping on about the economy, the coalition and what a great family man he is, standing by his decision to let his newborn baby sleep in a cardboard box. Tearing myself away from 'This Morning', I flicked the channel over to the BBC news where I ended up gawping at the half car, half jet, Jaguar C-X75 supercar, the surprise star of the Paris Motor Show, capable of reaching speeds of 205mph. So Jaguar claims anyway. Cars moving at 200mph is all well and good but personally I'd rather wait till 2015 when they'll be flying.
The news then went on to mourn the death of Tony Curtis, who died yesterday at the age of 85. This was to be expected really. After a life of alcohol, sex, drugs, and movie making you can't expect to live forever.
A noise from the hallway disturbed my televisual viewing as a small package dropped through the letterbox.
It turned out Ka had been browsing amazon on Monday and bought me a surprise present. Monday had been another one of those pesky bank holidays which everyone in the country seems to get, except from us in S&UN. There should be some kind of press holidays in the year for those unfortunate souls that work in the newspaper industry. Something to make up for the needless Bank Holidays that everyone else seems to get and end up giving everyone else that does work, more work for the rest of the week.
Anyway, the small package had dropped through the letterbox among a flutter of the usual promotional leaflets and bank statements.
"What's she been ordering now?", were my immediate thoughts, as I left the small package in the hall for Ka coming home. It turned out to be the Manic Street Preachers latest disc 'Postcards From a Young Man' especially for me. When I asked a reason for this surprise purchase, Ka simply said it was 'for being you'.
I'm not sure what that means. People don't usually give me presents for being me. In fact, this may be the first present I've ever received simply for being me, I usually need a better excuse like a birthday or the birth of Christ. It's certainly not often your wife buys you random, unexpected presents so you've got to lap those moments up when you can, no matter how bewildering they are.
My eyes narrowed after the inital surprise. I couldn't help wonder what she was up to? Why is she buttering me up? What's she after? Don't tell me she's wanting to go shopping, in search of a dress for Gillian's Wedding at the weekend? Does she want another foot massage? Better not tell her I'm referring to her as 'she' either...
The new Manics album is great. I missed out on last years 'Journal for Plague Lovers' so approached this album with some enthusiasm and was not disappointed. It's probably leaning towards the more rock/pop side of the Manic's repertoire rather than the downbeat melodic or screaming frustration sides. More 'This is My Truth...' than 'Holy Bible'. Saying that, it's by no means a sign of regression for them as a band and that's saying something considering this is their tenth studio album. Brilliant riffs, hummable tunes and some cracking lyrics, and I've only just started listening to it. Great for a drive in a supercar... or maybe just sitting in the house doing nothing in particular. As long as I'm not shopping for dresses, I'm happy.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

What lives are

Whilst Ka was up in Aberdeen, staying sober at her friend, Gillian's, hen doo, I had a pretty quiet, mellow weekend. It all got off to a significantly melancholic start with a funeral. My Unle Tommy's Dad passed away suddenly last week so I joined the rest of the family at Our Lady Of Lourdes Church for the funeral service, followed by tea in East Kilbride's old Village Torrance Hotel.
Having only met Tommy's Dad a few times at family parties,or gatherings, on the odd occasion, I can't pretend to have known the man well, but what I did make of him seems to be on the right track from the way people spoke of him on Saturday. Like all funerals it made me wish I'd had the chance to get to know the man a little better. Tommy Senior seemed a very pleasant, gentle, friendly man. From what I remember at the family gatherings, he would always be found sitting back, comfortable in a couch, taking in the jokes, conversations and banter with a placid ease, taking joy in relaxing in the family environment whilst not neccessarily contributing vocally. Certainly not something the Reids are known for.
So it was with great sorrow that Tommy and his family said goodbye to Tommy senior. Tommy said that although obvioulsy upset by his Dad's passing, he felt some ease in the fact that he was there, in the hospital, at his father's bedside when it happened. A quiet closure, being with the relative at the time, that some would be grateful of.
That's always the worst aspect of a relative passing, and of funerals. The great feeling of a missed opportunity in saying goodbye in the last moments.
Sitting in the church, on these occasions, always reminds you of people now gone. It made me think again of my grandparents, the Reids, who had passed in the last few years, and the Sloans, who I sadly barely registered the passing of due to my youth at the time. There are others too, of course. Aunties, uncles, friends and other relatives that you wish you could have had the chance to talk to once again.
It's only when these people are gone that you miss them, you come up with interesting questions to ask them, jaunts to take with them or good things to say. Interesting or meaningful things to say, not the trivial or unimportant matters that you used to talk about. Well, I know I did anyway. I write a blog for pete's sake. Talking about trivial things comes quite easily to me.
But then, I suppose it's the trivial things that all pile up to make, big, mad, staggering towers of important things, and they are what lives are and what life is all about.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Listening in

"Is it a train or a galloping horse then?" I asked, standing up from my chair at the other side of the room.
"Oh, I don't know, what do you think?", Ann-Marie, the fill in Midwife, tutted with a smile, as she moved the stethoscope like doppler machine around Ka's tummy bump. The weird, echoing like noises breathed out from the small machine the midwife held as she moved the doppler pad, interupted with the occasional crackle, like a radio station transmitting on a slightly off frequency.
I'm getting quite infuriated now with not knowing the gender of Baby Reid, although Ka is determined to keep it a surprise.
The whole speed of the heart beat is an old wives tale anyway. Surely you're not able to rush out and buy little blue sleep suits on the evidence of a heart beat sounding like a speeding locomotive. The wee Baby might just be having a wee swim around in there or something? Surely that would be enough to speed it up? Being nudged continually by a doppler must be pretty aggravating too. If you were floating about in a big bubble and had someone poking at you with a large rounded pad your heartbeat would surely increase, purely out of irritation?
These nurses never give anything away, no matter how you try and coax some information out of them. The coolest person in the hospital, the 'Ultrasound' woman was just the same. When we were getting the scans done, the ultrasound nurse was stubbornly remaining tight-lipped and non suggestive at my inquistive baiting.
Still, at least we heard the heart beat. Pumping away clear as day. It did actually sound like a train. A locomotive, steam pouring from it's chimney, the pistons and valves rotating over the steel wheels, only muffled, like you were listening from underwater, submergered in a swimming pool alongside the tracks.
Linda, from work, lent us a DIY Fetal Doppler a month or so ago which we tried. We followed the instructions, smothering Ka's belly in baby oil, putting on the earphones and rubbing the doppler over the bump. Most of the sounds we could hear resembled the gloops and squelches you'd usually hear from a swamp or from pushing an empty fruit juice carton into a basin fully of soapy water. We did manage to find a heart beat eventually but after a while realised it was Ka's so, in short, we didn't have much luck and were relying on the midwife visit on Thursday.
Thursday is midwife day in the local doctors surgery and it would seem all expectant mothers from all round the neighbourhood gather to see the baby doctor. Unfortunately it would seem Thursday is also the day that the receptionist with the loudest receptionist voice, ever, works. Admitting us with a:
"YOUR NAME?", and a "THAT'S FINE, JUST TAKE A SEAT". This receptionist smiles and her manner is pleasant enough but the volume of voice is a bit much for a visiting patient with reasonable hearing. After we sat down to wait, alongside the other pregnant couples, a few other 'normal' patients visited, some taking their seats in the waiting room, others picking up prescriptions. One lady patient phoned up about her prescription, us waiting patients surrounding the desk, hearing the whole 50% of the conversation. The receptionist's voice reverberated around the small room.
"MRS. WHITE.... YES. YES... HOW DO YOU SPELL THAT?". Ka and myself frowned at each other disapprovingly as we twiddled our thumbs. "NO, NOT THE WHITE, ESMAE? EZMEE? ESMAY".
For some reason I considered picking up one of the issues of 'Hello' sitting on the piled high on the magazine rack at the end of the long cushion seat that runs around the wall of the claustrophobic waiting room.
"I'M NEVER SURE HOW TO SPELL THAT!" the receptionist chortled, loudly from behind her desk.
"RIGHT, ESMAE, WHITE... RIGHT..." she nodded. "ADDRESS? ...23 SUCHANDSUCH AVENUE, RIGHT...". I sighed.
The receptionist went on nodding as she 'spoke' over the phone.
"YES, QUITE UNCOMFORTABLE, YES... SO YOU JUST WANT THE ITRACONAZOLE FOR YOUR THRUSH AGAIN THEN?".
My head spun round to look at Ka with incredulity, who replied with one of her "shut up" warning looks. She only just managed to disguise the slight smirk on her face, the same smirk which broke out over the face of the pregnant woman on the seat across from us.
Did we need to know that? Do medical surgeries not have some sort of privacy policies with regards to patient's information? I hope I don't get that receptionist the next time I'm on the phone giving any details. Poor Mrs. White... or Whyte, however she spells it.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Tasty Byte @ Night and a pub atmosphere

189 Tasty Byte @ Night was our destination on Saturday night, a very nice little bistro that serves as a cafe by day and turns into a rather cosey little restaurant at night, complete with resident chef and friendly waitress. Ka and myself had decided to treat ourselves to a meal and travelled into Glasgow, via the trusty Number 20, starving. Upon entering we were greeted by the pleasant lady/owner/waitress who informed us quickly, without delay and with a probably regularly rehearsed speech that they did not hold a license to sell booze.
I don't think I'd ever been to a BYOB restaurant before. In fact, when the waitress greeted us talking of a BYOB I paused, momentarily puzzled, believing it to be some sort of street language, Urban Dance acronym or some kind of new fangled text word.
As Ka prepared to sit down at our given table anyway, I froze, alarm bells ringing in my head. No wine? No beer? Not even a shandy? Is there still time to walk out without causing a fuss? Can we turn on our heels and escape before she sees our faces in any great detail? Damn. Yep, she's giving us plenty of eye contact. She's seen our faces and knows what we look like. There is no escape now. After a brief moment of panic, I wondered why I was suddenly thinking like an alcoholic and shouldered my jacket off. Of course I can go without booze. We don't feel the need to drink with meals at home so why should we sitting in this pleasant little restaurant?
The lady went on to say;
"For those diners who do turn up without and do wish a drink with their meal, we do have an arrangement with the Pot Still across the road. Most people nip over there and buy a bottle over the bar. You could always do that if you wish?"
Feeling a slight but sudden breeze as she finished, she looked down to see an empty shoogling, wooden chair, where I had been sitting.
Although Saturday was the first I'd heard of it, The Pot Still is one of Glasgow's most famous whiskey pubs. On entering the bar you immediately see the well stacked bar to your left, covered and surrounded by bottles of all shapes and sizes, each filled with their own particular shade of amber, ginger or wood coloured spirit. One of those old bars that looks just as how you'd imagine a medieval Potion Maker's Laboratory to be like. The wooden panelled furniture, together with the old decor, the racks of bottles and the instantly recognisable regulars shouting and guffawing at each other, milling around the bar immediately reminded me of the Auldhouse bar, where I used to work as a student, not to mention more than a few other whiskey bars I'd been in over the years. That great, undefinable quality some pubs have. The pub atmosphere. Full of character and charm.
As one of the locals belched in my face, I ordered a couple of Budvar beers and then ran back over the street to the Tasty Byte to be greeted by my lovely wife, patiently sitting at the table, where I'd abandoned her.
Salmon was the order of the day, both Ka and myself going for different options after starters of prawn cocktail and soup. The chef even cooked up a special tagliatelle especially for Ka since she had to refuse half the menu due to her pregnant, dietary needs. Afterwards, for some real over indulgence, we went for dessert. Cheese cake and Ka went for the chocolate fudge cake. Possibly the best cheese cake I'd tasted in years and certainly the best bill I've had for such a great meal in years.
We promised the waitress good reviews on 5pm.co.uk and left crossing the road once more to a considerably busier Pot Still where we spent the rest of the night relaxing upstairs, sitting back, enjoying it's surprisingly great music.
After taking our seats I realised one of the guys, sitting at another table nearby, closely resembled a worker from the Auldhouse. Unfortunately I wasn't 100% sure. Tempting as it was to go up to the guy, interupt his conversation with his mate, and ask if he was indeed, 'Stuart who used to work behind the bar in the Auldhouse, but had now put on the beef', I considered better of it. He obviously had not recognised me sitting at the next table and, knowing me, it could only end in disaster, or at least, embarrassment as the guy would look up blankly from his whiskey, ask who I was and why such a weirdo would interupt his conversation with his mate.
A pair of ridiculously drunk middle aged couples also stoted in at one point and plonked themselves at the next table. They sat arguing, joking and then arguing again whilst yelling at a pair of amorous young snoggers in the corner. Unfortunately this was not Ka and myself but a couple of a slightly, dare I say it, younger age. After they had successfully scared that younger couple away another soon came up and took their place, the girl with a considerably shorter skirt than the last. The guy nearest me passed me his 3D cinema glasses with a nudge.
"Use the glasses man, use the glasses!" he was yelling at me as he winked towards the girls' legs. Nodding and laughing politely, I wondered what would possess these guys' wives to fall out with them. Around ten minutes later, this guy nudged me again, winking towards the girls' legs.
"Use the glasses man, use the glasses" he mock whispered, grinning. He'd obviously forgotten he'd already performed that joke. Either that or he thought it was funnier than I did and worth a second shot.
Did he know how 3D worked? Where did he get the glasses anyway? I doubted that these two drunken couples had just stumbled out of 'Avatar the Special Edition'?
It was then that I realised there weren't even any lens in these black spectacle frames. I hope they hadn't been wearing them through their Avatar viewing. Though it would account for the fact the four of them were sitting there rocking from side to side, their eyes staring dazedly into the pub's atmosphere.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Security guards on the buses

My brother, Kenny contacted me yesterday via the wonderful correspondence relay that is facebook. Finding himself quite bored at work he decided to become The Reidnet Journal's first 'Guest Contributor'. He even chased me up when I hadn't managed to publish it straight away. Here goes:

Thursday 8th September 2010 and I'm sitting at home when the phone rings. Its the work agency getting in touch with, no doubt, another money spinning job offer for me. Upon answering and speaking to the recruitment consultant I'm told of a week long contract available to me working as a security guard for an office block. Taking a minute to imagine myself as a sixty year old man, I then realised that the guy on the other end of the phone was serious. I had to try extremly hard to stifle any laughter as I excepted the opportunity thinking to myself, "the boys are going to love this!" Upon calling my old(er) brother and telling him of this wondeful career change I was expecting him to find it as hilarious as I did. He didn't. Not even a hint of a laugh. I had to wait til Thursday for that reaction as I told the boys at 5's.
Anyway, Friday comes, my day of intensive training into how to sit at a desk all day looking at the TV. To be honest I could of skipped Fridays traing as I'm quite good at this task having had plenty of training in the past! I was getting paid though so I wasn't complaining. Having walked in on the Friday morning I was still laughing at the fact I was a security guard. The laughter soon stopped when I recognised a girl I went to school with working on the ground floor with an accounting firm and another guy who I couldn't place working on the third floor with an engineering firm. Anyway, my old school friend was enjoying a office day out so I only had to hide a few times until she left for the day which I accomplished successfully. That would of been an awkward conversation;
"hi, working for an accountants, you must be doing well,"
"yeah, i am and look at you, a security guard, you must be............."
The front door of the building wasn't working properly. It wasn't shutting behind the person when opened. A workman was called out and had a go at fixing it before disappearing. He had made it worse. It was now slamming shut behind anyone coming in. Slamming shut quite violently. To the extent of parts starting to fall off the door. Waiting for another engineer to sort it, we decided at 5 o'clock on a Friday afternoon, and only 30 mins til we finish, that he wasn't coming. We took it into our own hands, we put a sign on the door!
"Please ensure door is shut behind you". Problem solved!
The bus from the accountants day out pulled up and the door was slammed shut once too many times, screws flying everywhere, the door came off its hinges and fell forwards onto the stone walkway infront of the building. Lifing the door it quickly became obvious that it weighed a ton, and if anyone had been under it when it fell they would now look like Judge Doom at the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? After avoiding my old school mates gaze as she entered the building as soon as it hit half 5, I was offski, door or no door, it wasn't my problem til Monday.
Saturday night, and big Andrews 27th birthday night out. The hairy man himself, Graeme, Kev, Disco Dave, Weaver, Jamie and me all met in Buddha. After a few pints some dinner was suggetsed to which Jamie replied, "its Saturday, no one eats dinner on a Saturday!"
We left Buddha and went over to Nicos to get a round of J├Ągerbombs but decided against it, after walking in and smelling the aura of piss in the air, probably coming from the jakies who had been in all day enjoying the cheap drinks. So into O'couture we went. It was dead but they serve cold bottles of beer. A pub crawl ensued and we ended up in Vodka Wodka in Ashton Lane via a couple of pubs, most of which I can't remember their names and one which I do, The Ivy. Can't really remember much after Vodka Wodka, the first thing I remembered was waking up on a bus in the middle of, God knows where, at half 8 in the morning. Having spoke to my mates this seems to be what happened; only Andy and Kev were in a fit enough state to go dancing, don't know what happened to Weaver and Jamie but myself, Graeme and Dave walked back to Graemes via a chippy. I made it as far as the chippy before disappearing, presumably getting on a 66 and then falling asleep for 6 or 7 hours before being wakened by the driver in Mountblow. Didn't get up the road til half 9, Sunday morning. Then Michael text me to see if I fancied the gym. Not likely.
Oh, and I placed the face of the guy from the engineering firm. He was on my CIvil Engineering course at Glasgow Uni. If he keeps working hard he might, one day, make it as big as me.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

"It's in Bellahouston Park, you pagan!"

Woke up this morning after a rough dream involving grand parents passing away in the wrong order, family members being eaten by swamp monsters and houses being demolished, all seeming, in that mad, crazy, dream-like way, so tangible and real. The swamp monster was particularly horrible as part of it's murderous routine was spewing acid over it's prey before taking off large chunks from the head by pummeling it's catch with it's tremendous tentacles. A rather disturbing vision to have in your head as you wake from your slumber.
My liking for science fiction can sometimes have odd effects on my dreams...
At the moment I'm reading Adam Roberts' 'Salt'. A science fiction novel telling the story of a large human colony setting up camp on a new world which, due to it's white, arid landscape, and near uninhabitable and hostile atmosphere is christened, you guessed it, 'Salt'.
The various factions of the colony settle at different points throughout the land, each with their own philosophies, beliefs and religions. Of course, once each clan settles it all breaks into a bloody war. The two larger, main colonies, the Senaarians and the Als, are the main protagonists in the book's events which are told from the viewpoint of each of these clans' leaders . The Senaarians live with their militaristic, ordered dictatorship and the Als, with their unordered, unruly, free-living ways. Both eventually break from their strained toleration of each other and give in to battle and death.
Through it Roberts paints a pretty pessimistic vision. The basic bones of the tale being, of course, human nature. Roberts is basically saying that no matter how long the human race survives, in the end we'll always end up fighting internally with the inevitability of fear and hostility, the results of a lack of understanding and tolerance in differing cultures and beliefs.
Talking of beliefs, the Pope's in town today with his Popemobile.
After waking from my swamp monster filled dream this morning and getting ready for work, I text my Mum and told her to enjoy herself at Glasgow Green today.
Mum text back, rather abruptly, "It's in Bellahouston Park, you pagan!".
Police are swarming the city centre, motorways have been closed off and a large black stage has been erected in Bellahouston Park for Mass, taking place this afternoon led by the Pontiff himself.
Ka and myself were in the Gallowgate area of Glasgow on Saturday morning with Dougie and Grace, heading for the Pram Centre to investigate some baby mobiles for our own coming visitor. On our way we passed the Barrowlands and the Bairds bar where loud, angry anthems were belting out, echoing through the street. Stalls had been set up, framed with Celtic scarves, selling T-shirts, adorned with Benedict's mug. Slogans not unlike 'Glasgow Celtic welcomes the Pope' and such like plastered over the 'quality' prints. Unfortunately I was walking down the street with my dark blue sweater on and was certain I was getting more than a few hostile looks from the grumpy old Glaswegian men milling around the stalls. One passed me by who, I swear, was almost ready to spit on me, the look on his face. Maybe he was just upset by the fact I wasn't buying a T-shirt.
Anyway, I'm sure there'll be a few T-shirts on today. It's an unbelievably sunny afternoon after the terrential rain of earlier in the week... almost as if there has been some kind of divine intervention throughout the skies of Scotland.
Great weather for his Holiness' £20 a ticket gig.
Surely the Pope could have put on a free mass for all his followers when they number so many and when his visits number so few? This is the richest global organisation in the world after all. With Susan Boyle and Michelle McManus singing on stage surely they should be paying us to attend?

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

All part of the service

Last night the phone rang, echoing through the hall.
"Production, Michael speaking" I automatically rhymed off after picking up the receiver. Ka's Mum hesitated, assuming she'd dialled the wrong number, before I realised what I had said, frowned and blustered an apology. Maybe I'm taking this role as a member of S&UN's Customer Service Promise team a little too seriously. The Customer Service Promise is a new initiative to improve on our Customer Care, nation wide, if it needs improving that is, and it's up to our small, specially selected, elite squad to work out how. How do we deal with angry customers, disgruntled advertisers and such like and how do we improve upon it all? How does the company deal with the problems we all face on a day to day basis and how can we make our customers' experience a guaranteed happy one? Unfortunately I missed the meeting today, couldn't be bothered... Only joking, of course, I was covering for my Line Manager, Felix (the cat). Not sure why or who calls him that and I'm not sure anyone does these days - I heard it somewhere in the past five years. I think it may have been one of Mickey Mouse's predecessor... not sure though.
Anyway, today I was given a bunch of managerial training books and a DVD to watch. The main folder is entitled WHAM! with the subtitle "Getting them to do what you want them to do". Sounds like a great title for a wife handling course. Then again, maybe not with the main heading of 'Wham!'. That kind of performance management would probably land you in court.
Good title for an eighties boy band though. No, wait, yes, you'd probably would end up in court that way too.
This is all a result of my annual appraisal, however many months ago, at which I requested to move on up, learn more and advance my skills within the company. As I was learning some new web applications at the time, and still am, I requested a course in Adobe Flash for the possibility of helping out with the online advertising. David, the boss, contacted the relevant hierarchy. The relevant authority came back with the rather unsurprising, 'Computer says no' and offered me a course in Xcel instead. Hmmm, from exciting web applications to spreadsheet and database building... not quite the same. Politely agreeing to look at advancing my database building skills I placed the books in the bottom of a drawer, where they've been since I accepted them.
WHAM!, with its dull, green plastic folder does come with a 'DVD drama'. Looking forward to watching that one. Teaching you all about overcoming the obstacles faced in the office. Losing a stapler, the constant crashing of photoshop, crazy dancing, losing the stationery cupboard key etc. All very dramatic and all ways to improve our customers' satisfaction. Bet you nobody gets killed though. Not even a parrot. Or a pigeon in our case.
A pigeon flew into the office a few months back and everyone, for some reason, lost all sense and reason. Everyone started running, screaming and flailing about the office. I looked up from my desk to see if a Terminator had just stoted in with a Uzi nine millimeter. As most people flailed or cowered in one side of the room I realised, once again, it was down to the mug to sort things out.
After opening the window at my side with a heavy sigh, I simply picked up my coat, raised it up, opened it wide and started leading the pigeon towards the window's opening like some kind of avian matador. After some head bobbing action (the bird, not me) the pigeon eventually got the hint and I gently steered it towards the window. It must have had a small moment of clarity as it seen the light and decided to fly straight towards it at full pelt, where, typically, it smashed into the glass head first. The bird's head bent into some kind of obscene angle giving a heavy crack as it hit and the pigeon dropped like a stone, through the window's opening and into the fresh air. After that crack I suspected it wouldn't be doing much head bobbing for much longer.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Could this be any weirder?

Ka text me today to announce that she felt movement. Baby Reid moved. Halfway through a cereal bar Ka flinched as she felt a strange flutter throughout the lower belly area. She assured me it was in no way due to any cereal bar digestion. Baby Reid is finally making his, or her, presence felt. About time too, at 22 weeks we were getting a little impatient.
It must be the weirdest thing, feeling something moving about inside you that is not the gathering of wind. Never mind 'something' what about someONE. Another human shuffling around inside, trying to make himself, or herself, comfortable.
Of course, this news fired up some more baby talk in the work. Prams, cot buying etc. Then Dave, who sits in the office alongside me, asked whether Ka was going to consider breast feeding. At first a little taken aback by the fact a fellow worker was mentioning my wife's breasts, I then remembered about how Dave must spend quite a lot of time talking of breasts. His wife has not only already produced three children but is also a nurse in the maternity ward of Wishaw General who specialises in the old feeding with the boob. Dave must be an inadvertent breast feeding expert. As is Andrea, who sits opposite him, who immediately started talking of how much of a pain in the neck it all is... not to mention the nipple.
That must be weird too, having another human being feeding from your nipple. A nipple that squirts milk? Weird. As if the thought of a human growing inside your belly wasn't weird enough. Then there's the actual birth... I was reading something the other day that suggested it is the modern father's job to cut the umbilical cord. That'll be right, I thought. I'll be lucky if I'm still conscious behind the video camera.
Only joking, of course. I'm certainly not taking the video camera into the birth. That's just weird too. Does anyone still do that? Did anyone ever do that? Or was it just a 'Friends' myth? Perhaps merely a plot device cooked up to aid the comedy of Chandler and Monica's baby preperation in it's fiftieth episode of Season 72..?
A family video of your mother giving birth to you would surely never be classed as a family favourite. Saying that, I bet some crazy person out there has uploaded the birth of their beloved offspring on to youtube. I'm not even going to investigate that one.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Mental missions and marathon running

At around 11.15pm last night Ka and myself found ourselves singing Happy Birthday at my Mac. Not becuase it is my beloved Mac's birthday though. We were making a recording for Jillian, Colin McG's other half, whose birthday was yesterday. At the moment she's limbering up, readying herself for the Glasgow Half Marathon on Sunday and, as if one was not enough, the Great North Run next weekend. A great way to run off the birthday cake.
After rediscovering the small, funky application 'Garageband' on my Mac yesterday evening, Ka and myself thought we'd put together a rather original birthday greeting for her. We'd then send it over by email which she could then listen to, in her own time, with great delight, in awe at our wonderful singing voices and originality. That was the idea anyway.
We sat at the computer desk singing, rather reminiscent of the family gathering round the piano at parties in old movies, smiling up at the ceiling and at each other as they sang their merry hearts out. As it turned out Ka had to stop the recording at least three times, claiming I was out of tune.
Out of tune? Me? Ridiculous. More like she was threatened by my superior singing voice In the final recording that was eventually sent, my voice had went from the towering falsetto that John Barrowman would have been proud of in the first recording, to a dull mumbling that Dustin Hoffman would have been produced as he was being questioned by Warren Beatty.
The singing Postman upstairs was probably lying in bed listening to us through the floorboards, swearing under his breath, wondering what the hell we were up to.
With the exception of a small lunch break yesterday and a visitor from Your Move, I was on the computer all day yesterday messing around with some animation and website designs. Actionscript, the scripting language for interactive websites, animation and related software, is proving to be a bit of a nemesis for me and one that's fairly difficult to master. It's turning into a bit of an ongoing mission in order to upgrade my webskills. I've managed a few minor projects so far but it's proving to be more of a frustration than anything. Perhaps I'm better off in Garageband, rehearsing the old singing voice.
Moments ago I just received a text from Jillian thanking us for the message and accusing us of being mental. Hmmm, it's not us competing in two half marathons in the space of two weeks.
Good luck Jillian!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Kafka, Regan and Edinburgh for a change

Why is it, whenever you find yourself requiring the speedy use of a public toilet it is always in the places you end up having to rush about looking for change?
Ka and myself were on our way to Edinburgh on Saturday to have a Fringe day, on a mission to see a couple of shows and take in some of that overcrowded Edinburgh Fringe like atmosphere.
We arrived at Buchanan Bus Station around mid morning to find enormous queues circling the station, originating from, you guessed it, the Edinburgh Bus stance. Thankfully, presumably because of the fringe, there seemed to be more buses laid on and the the many Festival goers did not have much of a wait. With a heavy shrug we joined the back of the ticket queue before realising we were both in need of a toilet. As I bought the bus tickets Ka went off to the toilets and discovered the additional need of a 20p and joined the back of the bus queue as I bought the tickets. On reaching the back of the queue I delivered a 20p to Ka, after having to buy a Daily Record, and watched her disappear back into the bus station. After Ka's return I then sped off, begrudgingly paying my 20p to the steel box before banging my thighs off the, rather hesitant to rotate, entry bars.
Our loo visits over we were soon on the coach and on our way along the M8 to the capital for some Fringe action.
Edinburgh's High Street was it's usual chaotic self during Fringe time. Crowds everywhere, tourists everywhere, actors, dancers, singers, balloon salesmen, students, musicians and leaflet distributors everywhere. Ka and myself followed the crowds towards the Fringe Box Office and booked a ticket to a dramatic production we had been sold by one of the leaflet distributors on the street.
'Kafka and Son' is a production centering around the author, Franz Kafka, and the writing of a letter intended for his father but never sent. The letter details the relationship between the father and son, the constant struggles, the fears, the frustrations and the feuds. Very deep, surreal, odd and dark, the production was lifted with a fantastic performance by the one actor on stage. Alon Nashman, helped illustrate Kafka's mentally trapped, frustrated self very well.
Ka and myself left the Bedlam Theatre feeling the need for comedy and headed up towards the large purple cow shaped tent of the Underbelly where we were stopped by a tall irishman in a red checkered, lumberjack like shirt who invited us to a show. After a few more minutes of talking, he revealed it to be a personal invitation and admitted that it was in fact his own show. Jarlath Regan, his name was. Upon meeting him in the street I vaguely recognised him from a Mock the Week or two, and since he'd asked us so nicely we decided to go along. A good move, it turned out, as he managed to cheer us up after the Kafka episode. His material included a number of funny, descriptive stories with some obvious fare too which he improved upon with his own original attitudes and perspectives. Some of the more tried and tested stuff came from marital centered situations but because it all strikes a cord with more or less everyone, nobody left the room feeling cheated out of their time.
Once again, on the way home, Ka and myself found ourselves needing the loo. The rain was pouring down as we got to St. Andrews Bus Station and we ran for the public toilets only to be stopped by some familiar looking rotational barriers. There barriers were worse though. They were Capital barriers. They wanted 30p!
We delved into our pockets once again and breathed a collective sigh of relief as we pulled out the required coinage. Ka disappeared off to her loo and I stepped up to mine, sliding three ten pences down the coin slot and walked into the barrier. Bang. My thighs slammed into the unmoving steel pole. I tried again as two other blokes walked up behind me. Bang. It wasn't moving. A primitive, digital font blinked up from a small, green screen on the steel box before me. 20p paid.
"I put 30p into that b*star* thing!" my voice echoed around the tiled walls as I backed out of the entry.
"Just jump it, mn!" the second bloke in the short queue behind me, a fellow Glaswegian, shrugged, backed up and jumped the barrier box. "Just jump it" he shrugged again as he straightened himself up on the other side.
"If you've put your money in..." the first, older guy, another Glaswegian, shrugged from under his cap behind me.
Just as I limbered and readied myself up to climb over the barrier, a small toilet attendant in a luminous yellow coat, shouted a warning from behind, rushing out from a door somewhere.
"Hold on a minute!" he shouted, plugging a key into the barrier's control box as the first bloke disappeared into the toilet.
"I put my 30p in!" I pointed out as he looked up at me sternly through thick framed glasses.
"You're on camera!"
"I put my money in!" I protested, as the toilet attendant allowed the bar to rotate as I moved through.
"You're on camera!" the attendant sighed with a shrug.
As I huffily stepped up to a urinal inside, the jumping Glaswegian turned from his urinal further round the wall.
"What's it like eh?" he laughed. "Just as well he missed me, I didnae huv any change!"

Friday, 20 August 2010

Chock-a-Block man!

Ka and myself were back in the hospital again yesterday for Baby Reid's 20 week scan. 20 weeks already?!
Once again he/she was proving a little restless and not giving the ultrasound specialist much of a view at times, jumping from side to side inside Ka's bump. At one point his, or her, arms and hands were flicking around from side to side as if he was performing a prenatal version of the Blockbuster hand dance.
Ka's is still not feeling any of the internal movements and her bump is still fairly small but only now showing signs of increasing in size as the days go on. Marching, steadily, on towards the New Year. We didn't ask for the gender and we don't want to know. It's a surprise - like a birthday present, only a very costly and life changing one. In fact, I can't think of a more costly and life changing birthday present. Ka's engagement ring comes close but this small growing child could perhaps take the biscuit (as long as it's not the chocolate rocky - they're my favourite - they're chocablock man!)
Colin and Heather were round for dinner last Saturday night and we were discussing the life changing issues that come with children after showing them the ultrasound pics from the scan in week 13. As we spoke the ever important question of 'should you hit your child' sprang up? It dawned on me. The question of if we were going to hit our child or not during disciplinary measures had not even occured to me?! It's quite disconcerting how many of these questions that spring up out of nowhere have not actually occured to me.
As we enjoyed our dinner, including lots of fudge and lemon drizzle cake for pudding, Ka and myself ran some names by our guests for Baby Reid. Colin giving very definite, agreeable nods to some of the names and frowned with moans at others. Unfortunately going through names for babies is hard for the likes of Ka and Colin as both work with youngsters, the majority of which irritate them, to put it politely. One of Ka's favourite phrases is something along the lines of, "oh no, we'll can't call them that. They'll just remind me of 'name' at work and they're a little ***t!".
Not matter what we call Baby Reid, I'm going to try my best in raising him NOT to be a 'little s***!'. Nobody thinks they're own child is a 'little s***' anyway, it's only other people's kids that are.
Baby Reid will be perfect.
Except from the fact he can't sit at peace in his Mummy's tummy, sitting performing the hand jive in the womb. Hey, if it's a boy, we could call him Bob?!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Staring into space in Burger King

Once again, on Friday evening, I found myself surrounded by yelling, screaming weans. Ka and myself were sitting at a table in a busy Burger King, munching on cold fries waiting on Morgan.
The EK Burger King has a soft play area in one corner, where kids can climb and slide about the padded scaffolding. This, together with the idea of a tasty burger, became the perfect place to take our niece, Morgan, for dinner on the way back to ours on Friday night for a sleepover.
While I was sliding around the fries on the floor, trying to describe the various meals we had decided upon to the staff, I remembered why I hate fast food restaurants. Kids yelled from the soft play area in the corner of the burger joint, at each other and to their parents sitting in the surrounding tables. Most of these parents seemed to be Dads sitting alone which made me wonder. Were they Dads simply wanting to take their kid out for a treat, maybe get them out of the Mum's way for a bit on a Friday night? Dads that had been left with their kid while the Mum hit the town? Or maybe they were rarely seen Dads that had their child for the night, or the weekend, and had to find a quick, easy and entertaining way of feeding them. Either way, it was quite a sad sight. Another one of those "is this what I have to look forward to?!" moments.
They patiently waited, staring into space as their child yelled for them. As I waited in the Burger King queue, I'm sure one of the Dads didn't even notice a 'Cats and Dogs' kids meal toy bounce off his head as he sat in mid trance.
After opening our meals to find two out of three were wrong, I successfully made enemies with some of the members of staff by sending them back and asking for what I had actually asked for in the first place, Morgan nearly disowning me after getting something called 'chicken popcorn' instead of her usual small chicken burger type meal.
Immediately after finishing our niece sped off, leaving Ka and myself sitting mopping up what was left of the vast amounts of tomato sauce with fries that were growing colder and colder by the minute. Morgan disappeared into the padded climbing frames that was the soft-play area almost instantly introducing herself to various little kids.
After around five minutes of cold chip eating, Morgan ran back up and informed me of a bad boy somewhere in the depths of the foam padded construction who was saying naughty words and pushing folk about. Ka told Morgan to simply stay away from the boy in question. Not particularly satisfied with this answer Morgan looked at me questioningly, obviously disappointed in the lukewarm response she had got from us with her breaking newsflash. I simply nodded, agreeing with Ka's advice. Morgan huffed with a slight frown, realising at that moment who was in charge and that she was fighting a hopeless cause, and ran away and back into the belly of the softplay beast, through the mirrors and netting.
What had she expected me to do exactly? Square up to some four year old wee guy? Even if I had I would have probably ended up getting hooked by him or by some angry Dad sitting somewhere in the surrounding chaos of the restaurant, stirred out of his stupor by the promise of a fight with a scrawny Uncle in glasses. He would have been glad of the excitement. Me? I was just glad when we got out of there.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Band of horses

I've just discovered Band of Horses, an American quintet from South Carolina whom Zane Lowe advised me to listen to.
"When did ye meet him then?" Kenny, my bro, asked when I told him the same line.
Needless to say, I didn't meet Zane Lowe, although he is one of the few Radio 1 DJs I still pay attention to. A few months ago I just happened to be listening to his show whilst driving home one Tuesday night and I sat up and took notice to a great track he played. Coincidentally this track was by the afore mentioned 'Horses'. I've only just got round to buying two of their albums and am really enjoying their rock. When I say 'rock' it's certainly not rock in the traditional sense - you wouldn't put it on at a pal's head banging party or anything (haven't been to one of them in ages - I think I was subtly elbowed away from that company once my hair started falling out). It's more soothing, melancholic rock, American Indie at it's best. Perhaps they are a bit like The Killer's without the 'pop' element, the bravado or the smarties. Certainly the shaving blades. A strange mix of Arcade Fire and Kings of Leon with a dash of - dare I say it - country. I don't know, I'm still listening and I quite like what I hear, so I'll keep listening!