Monday, 29 September 2008


Went down to Hawick on Saturday there to visit Sean, Morven and Leo who treated us to some popcorn and a couple of games on the Wii. The bowling was a close game every time with me only beating Sean by two pins in one game much to his annoyance. The baseball, however, was a very different matter as I obviously cannot play wii baseball to save myself. I was lucky if I was hitting the ball and even if I did the furthest it would get would be approximately thirty feet max. It is good fun though and if my mum forces us to have a wedding list then that will be going on it (only joking...). Quite a tiring drive going to Hawick though, lots of windy roads and sharp bends. It was mostly a great, sunny, day and we were treated to some good views on the way down the A7 and on the way home were treated to a spectacular red tinted sunset, if there had been any lay-bys I could have got some very nice shots but unfortunately the winding A7 lacks any such thing.
Last night Ka and myself were in Glasgow for a very nice meal in the Metropolitan in the Candleriggs area of the city. Overlooking the courtyard below we dined quite happily but just a little disconcerted by the stripping security guard dancing over our heads on two curtains. The waitress informed us on sitting that we were just in time for the show. We had no idea what she was talking about until a uniformed man in a hard hat started climbing a long purple curtain from the ground level below and piece by piece started freeing himself from his clothes. Using two curtains the acrobat swung, spun and flipped just beyond us and our table space on the Metropolitan balcony over the cobbles below. After five minutes my starter arrived and I became a little worried as the acrobat managed to get down to his pants. As good an acrobat as he was, I wasn't sure of watching a man swing about overhead in his tight pants whilst eating my bacon and black pudding salad. However, I breathed a sigh of relief as he slowed his performance to a stop and descended the curtain to the applause of the gathered crowd below. He was good, but not as good as the dinner.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Death of a Hollywood Great

Sad to hear about the passing of Paul Newman at the age of 83. I'll always remember him as Butch Cassidy or Cool Hand Luke. A loss of another great actor.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Missing something

Seen Tropic Thunder today and was quite disappointed. It was enjoyable, yes, and funny at times, of course, but overall not worth the hype and fantabulous reviews it has been getting from some. Great cast, with Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Junior, Steve Coogan, Nick Nolte and Tom Cruise and all very good but was hardly laugh out loud for me... Tom Cruise plays a belter and Robert Downey Junior’s Kirk Lazarus is certainly one of the best things about the movie, and one of the strangest, funniest things of any recent comedy but the rest is as patchy as most of Ben Stiller's supposed comedies. There were some great lines though and great scenes but patchy none the less. We did see a trailer for 'Quantum of Solace' before it though which looks pretty cool. Maybe I just didn't get Tropic Thunder. Maybe I just need to watch it again, I certainly missed some of what Downey Junior was saying in his strange voice.
Am I the only person in this world that dislikes Nickelback? I suspect I'm missing something there as well. I hate that Rockstar song so much that every time I hear it on that DFS sofa advert I have to walk out the room. I can't stand the sight of those old people miming to it whilst dancing and cavorting around DFS' supposedly fantastic sofa designs. Bring back Martin kemp for gawds sake! He was cheesy, yes, but safe. Nickelback are a horrendously formulaic 'rock' rip off with utter nonsense for lyrics. Purely, distinctly, average and always have been. Okay, I've not heard the latest album, All the Right Reasons, in it's entirety but the new album's singles never being off the radio and now on furniture adverts is driving me to dislike the album before I've even heard it.
Started watching Russell Brand's stand up comedy there on 4 but got bored and came through to my trusty Mac. Missing something again...

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Old and grimey

The best Steven Segal movie. That was the stimulating discussion in the work today. The best Steven Segal which them moved on to the best Van Damme movie, closely followed by the best Arnie movie. Personally, I've not really watched a lot of either Segal or Van Damme and have only seen more than a few of Arnie's efforts. Predator, Terminator, Terminator 2, Total Recall etc. Segal, I always thought was awful and Van Damme, well, I've only ever seen Timecop and that was not even half entertaining. As far as Arnie was concerned I always thought Total Recall was quite good. Davey opted for True Lies whereas Linda preferred Kindergarten Cop (I think she was joking with that one though) and when it came to Steven Segal, Craig said he preferred the guy's music?! The last time he was in Scotland was at Glasgow's Renfrew Ferry playing with his band, Thunderbox. What a great name, Thunderbox? It sounds a bit like a brand of underwear my mum used to buy me. The Renfrew Ferry now lies on the Anderston Quay across the water from where it used to be moored on the Windmillcroft Quay when I was last there. It was always good for a laugh and a jig as it hosted many ceilidh and band nights. Recently I'd heard it had undergone a major refurbishment so it may not be as old and grimey as it used to be. The best bars are always old and grimey though.. aren't they? Look at The Cathouse. You'd usually get a good night in there. The music was always great but for some reason we'd always insist in going in with our suit jackets and shirts and find ourselves surrounded by large, drunken, slobbering, horrendously smelly, hairy Glaswegian creatures. And that was only the women! There was no way you'd be caught chatting to any of them but then again, maybe that's why Steven Segal made a point of dropping by...

Monday, 22 September 2008

Radio ga ga

It is BBC Radio 2 week in the work this week. It's the really old stuff just now. We have a radio rota in place for the office which includes one week of Radio One, one week of Radio Clyde, one for Real radio and one for Radio 2. The two Scottish channels are, by far, the worst. When they are not playing adverts advertising tiles, they play the same songs over and over again with the most annoying Scottish people they could possibly find, as DJs. I used to dislike listening to Radio 2 in work but now I consider it heaven compared to these scottish channels. Although it does go a bit too old after seven o'clock. Up until then you have Steve Wright in the afternoon and the nutty, over enthusiastic, Chris Evans. Chris Evans is great to listen to. A lot of people do find him annoying but I would have to disagree. He's easily one of the most entertaining DJs on radio at the moment. I used to quite enjoy his tv shows and he was always a bit crazy like the moment the Big Breakfast cameras caught him snogging Kim Wilde when they came back from an ad break. It was half seven in the morning and he was on the pull already?! Russell Brand, Jonathan Ross, Mark Radcliffe and Dermot O'Leary are also on 2 regularly now after the BBC obviously decided to try and raise it's popularity alongside Radio 1. Most of these guys are usually a good laugh especially Russell Brand, whose insane babblingly is always entertaining. Another one that some folk find annoying but as you may have already realised from reading this, I'm no stranger to insane babbling myself! Chris Moyles babbles on Radio 1 as well, of course, but sometimes he goes a bit too far especially with some of the folk that phone him up to play his stupid quiz, Carpark Catchphrase. He ends up being plain verbally abusive to some of them. But then if your stupid enough to phone up for a quiz with no prizes whatsoever I suppose you probably deserve some abuse. It's often half the entertainment anyway. Real Radio has the worst case of idiotic phonecallers though. A football phone in that literally makes your ears bleed. Numbskulls phoning up, shouting down the phone about football teams which they could run far better in their own, often very loud, opinions. Thankfully, it's not Real Radio week.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Wild horses

Friday at last, once again. September is whizzing by, as is 2008. Scone day and Margaret is huffing and puffing because I forgot to buy jam on my way into work. It's not even my turn for the scone buying, how it is suddenly down to me to purchase the jam I don't know.
Spotted this photo on a news website which reminded me that it was approximately a year ago that Ka and myself went to check out the Falkirk Wheel,the modern boat lift connecting Glasgow and Edinburgh via the Union, Forth and Clyde Canals. Though the large barge lift was impressive what I really liked were the 3 metre high sculptures on the reservoir. Across from the Wheel, on the furthest side of the canal, outside the visitor centre, were two horse heads created by the Scottish sculptor Andy Scott. These Water Horses (or Kelpies) were to be part of a Lottery funded initiative built as sculptures for the Canal surrounding the Falkirk Wheel. The Falkirk Helix Project. In July of this year they got the go ahead and construction on the the site and it's 35m high inhabitants has begun. Former Glasgow School of Art student, Andy Scott's great steel and bronze scupltures are dotted at various points over the country now, the most famous for me being the Clydesdale horse on the M8 motorway. The Kelpies will not be finished until 2010 though as Scott has still to find a workshop big enough to make them.
Kind of like my family tree work at the moment. It just seems to get bigger and bigger. I spent yesterday scanning old photographs from the Pollock vaults. It's really interesting seeing all these faces from the past which in strange ways look vaguely familiar. Before my scanning though I plucked up the courage to get a haircut. This process gets scarier every time as I seem to look balder with every visit. The small talk with the female barbers does not really help disguise my internal screams and looks of horror as I glare into the mirror at the end of the ordeal. One thing's for sure these days, I'm certainly not the fairest of them all. Cheryl will be tomorrow, however, as she marries Stuart. Cheryl, a good friend of Ka's, was married in Gretna Green on Thursday and the reception/party is tomorrow night. Congratulations and best wishes to Cheryl and Stuart!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A Hirst for money

111 million pounds. No, not the amount the government made today on fuel tax but the amount Damian Hirst has made over two days selling his artwork, produced over the past two years, making him the King of Contemporary British Art. Cutting out the dealers and selling straight to the open market ensured Hirst of a serious amount of cash that he would not normally have seen. Some of his usual dealers were doing some of the bidding - White Cube being one who managed to purchase 'Here Today, gone Tomorrow'.
When Hirst first emerged in the early to mid nineties I remember not being that impressed by his work thinking it to be over hyped, ripped off and unimpressive... then I went to Art School and a visit to the Tate Modern in London, 1997 changed my mind. His piece, Pharmacy, a life size recreation of a Chemist shop had been installed at the time. It was then I realised how wrong I had been! His work, is intelligent, daring, emotive and largely quite dark in it's themes. Something I appreciate now in his work more than ever. The audacity of the things he does just scuppers everyone else. From cutting animals in half and preserving them in formaldehyde to covering a human skull in 8,601 diamonds. Each piece very different but each about life, death, it's riches and shortcomings.
Contrastingly, the winner of the Jerwood Drawing Prize was announced today as Warren Baldwin for his 'Study for Portrait' pencil and charcoal piece. A slightly more traditional piece than anything cut open and preserved in formaldehyde but just as worthy for any prize... obviously just not 111 million. Some would say it should be worth more than the mere six thousand pounds it did win.

Monday, 15 September 2008

A family thing

Went to a few exhibitions on Saturday. First off I went to the Glasgow Print studio to check out part of the 2 venue exhibition on Steven Campbell's work. The Rutherglen artist who was known as one of 'the New Glasgow Boys' died of a ruptured appendix in August there and this exhibition showcases the best of his work. Colourful, weird, crazy and brilliant. A Scottish talent that will be a big loss to the Art world.
Afterwards I headed up to the CCA and the 'Alt-w: New Directions in Scottish Digital Culture' an interactive exhibition about the digital media involving video, computer and photographs. A small, interesting exhibition with slightly complicated exhibits which involved spending some time over. Time, which, I did not have a lot of.
Ka and myself went to Stepps yesterday to meet the newborn Christopher Miller. He was just as a baby should be. Quiet. We were there for about two hours and he slept the whole time and only woke as we were leaving. I suspect he just didn't want to socialise with us. Sarah, Brian and Yvie are all well and treated us to a Blue Ribband and tea.
Started looking into the family tree last Thursday with my Gran Reid. Came into work this morning and it turns out JP has started on his over the weekend too. My Gran let me borrow a load of old family photographs to scan of her family, from her own childhood growing up with my Great Aunt Mina and her brothers. Turns out my Great Great Grandfather is called McGuire and came over from Ireland at the turn of the century, around 1900 time. Will have to find dates though. So I don't actually have Pollock blood, it's actually McGuire blood. It's amazing how you get hooked on it all.

Friday, 12 September 2008

The crunch and kilts

Well, the world has not imploded yet... but there are tough times ahead as we were told this morning that the North East of England offices of Trinity Mirror are being merged into one, in Newcastle. What does this spell for us in Scotland? Speculation is rife, as you can imagine, but we'll just have to take each day as it comes. If redundancy does loom this will be the second time I have been through it. The last time was with the Scottish Standard, a short lived newspaper project based in Paisley back in 2005. That project was run by a fairly unpleasant fellow with an ego the size of Scotland who, for some reason, refused to advertise his new newspaper, thus making it's sales figues horribly low. There probably was not the market for yet another newspaper anyway but still I am sure the promotion was to blame for the whole disaster. Is there any job out there that is safe nowadays though? There was news today of Seguro Holidays and XL Leisure Group going bust and leaving thousands of passengers stranded at holiday destinations. The economic crisis being blamed and the high cost of fuel. Another victim of the credit crunch. Still, at least they have got an excuse for the boss if they can't get home on time and have to spend another arduous day on the beach or by the pool.
As a result of all this I'm feeling slightly depressed about money at the moment. I'm supposed to be getting married next year?! Ka and myself may end up in Ayr for the honeymoon or taking the tent to Whithorn. I may end up having to get one of those towel kilts from Clinton cards and a 'Hey Jimmy' hat for my wedding outfit. Or maybe Lidl are still selling their kilts. The German supermarket chain were selling cheap kilts for Burns Night back in January for £25. Critics said they had a tendency to itch. I'm not a fan of wearing a kilt at the best of times. I remember wearing the whole kilt outfit to my Uncle Laurence's wedding and feeling uncomfortable the whole day. The whole thing felt lopsided sitting on me. What made matters worse was I had to do a flamin' reading as well. I hobbled up to the podium feeling like a scottish hunch back.
Why is it that your not a true Scotsman if you wear anything under the kilt? Who says?! It's tradition, they say. Tradition, my arse! It's a myth invented by the military. When you were younger you'd wear a kilt to these weddings and all you'd get was drunk people staggering up to you and asking in a slurred, leery voice, "Are you a true scotsman then?". Another question you get is "What have you got under there then?". I always wondered why people would ask this question with it's fairly obvious answer. If it's a bloke what you should reply, "Same as you, only bigger". If it's a woman you should say "My mum once told me a real lady wouldn't ask - and she was right". Women like kilts though. Chaz wore a kilt one New Year on the streets of Glasgow and barely survived the night. The women of Glasgow seemed to transform into crazy tazmanian devils! Needless to say he loved every minute and needless to say, there'll be none of that nonsense at my wedding (I mean the lifting of kilts not crazy Glaswegian women).

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Hell, it's good

Went to the East Kilbride Odeon for the first time in decades last night. For some reason I've been going to see movies in Hamilton and Glasgow for the past ten years. 'Star Wars -The Phantom Menace' was the last film I seen in East Kilbride and I think it left a horrible scar... Thankfully that has now just about healed, with time (lots of it). Anyway, we seen 'Hellboy 2 - The Golden Army' and it was fantastic. Surprisingly fantastic, in fact. Guillermo del Toro strikes gold once more. Brilliant effects, brilliant characters, brilliant scenes, just brilliance for pure imagination and creativity. Of course, some of the credit should go to the characters original comic creators, Mike Mignola, but Del Toro's graphic and visual style just completely bring it all to superb life, far exceeding anything done by Speilberg or Lucas. He is a great choice for bringing 'The Hobbit' to life after the vast success of 'The Lord of the Rings' movies and the great Peter Jackson. Indeed Hellboy 2 struck me as being immediately superior to not it's predecessor but also equal in sheer imaginative effects to Jackson's Rings trilogy. A brilliantly new horrible creature lurked around every corner and the script was riddled with some cracking one liners all the way through. My favourite fantasy/sci-fi film since, well, 'The Lord of the Rings'.
The mentioning of Star Wars reminded me of the programme on Channel 4, Sunday night. Another Justin Lee Collins reunited programme. Mr Collins, the big beardy one from the Friday Night Project, runs about trying to reunite actors from old tv shows or films and this time, yes, you guessed right, it's Star Wars. Got to see that. I wonder if he'll get mistaken for Chewbacca's brother? If anything, it'll be interesting to see how many times Harrison Ford tells Justin to F off!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Hold on to your hat

In a 27km tunnel underneath the border between France and Switzerland a giant ring of magnets and metal lies, ready to show us the wonders of the universe and the big bang - or so all of Earth's top scientists hope. Cern's LHC, or Large Hadron Collider, was switched on this morning at half past eight. I imagined a crazy looking guy in a white coat with wild white hair and slightly googly eyes pressing the big red button which immeditely sent lightening bolts over the equipment around him. In reality, it was not even half as exciting. A bunch of people standing about a circular office, walled with computers, mumbling to each other as the BBC breakfast reporters spoke over it all. Not a bolt of electricity anywhere. But then I suppose health and safety would have something to say about that. There must be some king of regulation about having lightening bolts running over the computers infront of you. It was the world's first big move to discover the secrets of the big bang whilst the rest of us were pulling our shirts on or diving out the front door to get to work. The idea is that a proton beam will be fired around the ring at a rate close to the speed of light later joined by another of the same kind which will be sent round in the opposite direction and forced to collide near the ring's detectors that will monitor the effect and results of the collision. Scientists thoerise that this collision will illustrate what happened at the Big Bang, the mother of all explosions (and the universe). It may also shed light on the theory of 'dark matter' and the Higgs boson, otherwise known as 'The God Particle'. The Higgs Boson is a particle not yet proven to exist but which is suspected to be the enabler by which all particles aquire their mass. Apparently the LHC proving it to exist would be just as useful as proving the opposite. Ordinary matter, such as planets, stars, us, only make up an estimated 4% of the Universe whereas the rest of matter is the 'dark matter', the 'stuff' inbetween all that we can see. Will it all work though? Many doom-mongerers have been prophecising disruptive reactions and even black holes opening in the centre of the ring and sucking the Earth down into them?! Scientists say this is all nonsense, of course. But what if it was something much more mundane? What if someone trips over a wire on the way back from the tea machine and pulls a plug from the wall? Would he ruin mankind's chances of finding the secrets of the universe?! He'd definately spill his tea. But then drinking tea may not be allowed in the LHC either, for health and safety reasons. God knows what would happen if tea was spilt onto one of those LHC controls. Mountain biking is fine though... as long as you've got your hard hat on.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Congratulations and well dones

Glasgow city centre was a hive of activity early Sunday morning as the Glasgow Half Marathon and 10K races took to the streets. My brother Kenny was running the half marathon after weeks of intensive training or so he should have been. He was claiming he'd done very little training whatsoever. Not that he needs training, he's still as skinny as a whippet. With or without training he managed a brilliant time of 1 hour and 48 minutes. Stunning. 13 miles non stop. He also raised a very healthy amount for The National Autistic Society so well done Kenny and congratulations!
Congrats should also go to Sarah, Brian and Yvie who gained a new family member at the weekend. Christopher Miller was born on Saturday. Welcome to the world, Christopher!

Friday, 5 September 2008

No paying, no gain

Sitting on the hammer press last night, in my gym, staring at Louise Redknapp's belly button, I began wondering, is it all worth it? All these people sweating and groaning in pain and hardship, some stressing themselves with dumbells or desperately trying to keep up with the moving tracks of the treadmill. Some on a quest for the perfect body and others, like myself, just after a bit of exercise and keeping in some sort of semi-toned shape? The advertisement poster of Louise Redknapp and her sports gear on the wall is obviously supposed to spur us all on to work as hard as we can, either that or just help sell her skimpy tops to anyone whose that easily led. But are all us gym members easily led? Is going to the gym the best way to keep fit? It's certainly a 'fashionable' thing to do these days, joining a gym though that's not the reason I did it. You do see some people who obviously did for that reason. I usually just trail into the gym with any old t-shirt and shorts on but you'd think, by a quick look around my gym, that some of the members think they're on some kind of machine strewn catwalk. Some of the girls come in with a face full of make-up, perfect hair styles and the most up-to-date in gymwear covered in logos of popular brands which all match meticulously, head to £200 trainer covered feet. Don't these girls realise they're going into the gym? A place where you supposed to tire and sweat? Don't they realise when they finish they'll all look like the melting wicked witch of the west? Their hair styles wirey and messed, the make up running down their faces and their top brand gear covered in body perspiration? That's if they do a proper work out of course. Some women go the gym to simply stand around and chat. They even have the cheek to tut at you if you excuse yourself as you pass them to get on to a machine which they are milling around as they talk about Debbie in the work. When they do get round to doing some exercise it usually doesn't stop them gassing. It always amazes me how two women can have an extrememly detailed conversation (probably about Debbie in the work) not taking their eyes off one another on adjacent treadmills rattling away at high speed. I need to concentrate on running in a straight line most of the time?! There's a wee woman in my gym who makes, let just say, "noises" on the treadmill or cross trainer. Now I know your supposed to feel good after a workout... but during? A treadmill has never made me make that kind of noise before. Another woman who attends my gym reminds me of Bet Gilroy from Coronation Street. She has a giant blonde, haircut and wears tiger skin leotards and always goes in with her giant bangles and necklaces on. I'm always surprised there is never a cigarette holder and am still listening to hear her call one of the gym attendants "cock". Some of the guys are just as bemusing with their growling demeanors and punching palm aggression. Some guys take it all way too seriously as they frown at themselves in the mirror whilst lifting the dumbells up and down, breathing loudly through their flaring nostrils. Some of them visually strain themselves with the weights they attempt eventually having to let them clatter to the ground, the noise echoing through the gym. It's only then the massive guys become sheepish edging away from the dropped weights in an effort to make it look like it was the small, puny guy working next to him (probably me). Honestly, some of the guys belong in the land of Mordor. Another thing, why do the gym attendants have to shout all the time? Talking to groups or taking classes is fair enough but when it comes to passing them in the corridor or in the gym sometimes they should take a sound check. Yes, the gym can be quite a loud place from time to time, but saying hello doesn't need to be heard by my Gran up the road. Still, at least they're friendly enough. They should be the amount you pay for being a member of these places nowadays. I can write and sit and complain about it but I still go three times a week, a glutton for punishment. It is a good place to keep fit and a good place to exercise. It wakens you up and invigorates you after a tiring day at work and hopefully does work in the fight against fat and heart disease. You could argue that a good run around the block would do the same but would you run around the block of your own accord everytime? Doubt it. For the moment I'm happy for my gym fee to force me fit. No pain, no gain, as they say (that pesky group called 'they' again, cuh!)

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Ben Arthur

The pictures from my Ben Arthur climb are now in the Reidnet photo album. Harry and myself are seen here poised on one of the rocks infront of the Cobbler's 'needle'. I was ineptly sliding down the slope of the rock as the photo was being taken and Harry stands relaxed over the 150ft drop behind him. Some of the shots are pretty good considering the weather conditions. Unfortunately the mist at the peak of the mountain completely obscured the supposedly wonderful views you usually get from the highest, middle peak at 'the needle'. However, the mist did help make some of the shots quite eerie and would not look out of place on some old, british horror movie. An American Werewolf in Arrochar perhaps. There's also a few nice shots of Loch Long. The Faslane Naval Base have a depot on the Loch, up at the village of Coulport, and use the Loch's depths to practice sailing their submarines. Faslane is the home of the UK's armed nuclear submarine force, or nuclear deterrent, as they'd probably prefer it to be known. In fact, I'm sure Sharon used to go the Peace rallies there to wave her boards about. Strange to think of a place of such tranquility and beauty housing nuclear warfare.
Anyway, Click here to go straight to the Ben Arthur photos.