Monday, 29 December 2008

Just a branch of science

Now we're on the countdown to the New Year. Wednesday night will be another hogmanay and another new year will dawn. We'll be spending ours in Glasgow at a nice Chinese restaurant and then a night at a hotel on Charing Cross. Makes a change from Paris I suppose.
Boxing night was good fun with the majority of the family gathering in Chapelton. The Reids, Sloans and Taylors came together with a few other friends and family to play, eat, drink and generally be merry. Playing involved a game called Partini which Ka and myself had bought Patricia and Tommy for Chrimbo. Patricia and Tommy immediately got the game open on receival and ran through the rules, sussing it out the best they could. The whole room was then put through an introductory game which was only getting warmed up when the winners were announced an hour or so later after reshaping play-doe, humming pop tunes to team mates, throwing balls at cups and listening to complicated sounding riddles. We then had a less complicated general knowledge quiz comprising of six rounds organised by my good self but only read directly from a giant quiz book. This was the best I could manage at short notice. I should know by now to turn up at these parties with a quiz set aside, just in case. The Boxing night quiz was mostly always my job when I was younger, from about the age of ten (or earlier maybe - I'm not sure). Half the assembled then made their way home leaving the stragglers to to gather around the stone table in the centre of the living room as Lynsey Ann fell asleep on the couch and James talked to his friends on Facebook via my Mum and Dad's PC for a couple of games of cards, Chaz acting as the main dealer. After someone else won (I wasn't paying enough attention) we made our way home in a hackney cab, my Dad, unsurprisingly, realising he knew the cab driver just as we were about to set off. My Dad must know approximately a quarter of East Kilbride's taxi driving population. He seem's to have played football with a good number of them. Some of them recognising myself and other members of the family on other occasions, knowing a Reid when they see one. I'm not sure whether it's the high foreheads, the silver/grey hair, the nose, the chin or a combination of them all. The Reid gene. Unfortunately I never really inherited the football side of the gene. The taxi drivers seem to nod knowingly when you jump into a taxi and introduce themselves as a football field position and a story about my Dad, an Uncle or my Granpa and are usually disappointed when I can barely hold a conversation on football together.
Woke up the next morning and was surprised to discover I had the Setanta channel until the 29th. Quite handy considering it was the Old Firm game. Sat and watched the second half of the match, seeing McDonald score for the celts. I doubted Rangers would be eating fast food that night. Afterwards we headed to the gym to run off some of the beer comsumed the night before. Ka and myself then relaxed for the rest of the day, taking a short break from Christmas get togethers by catching up on some chrimbo tv before heading back over to Uddingston on Sunday afternoon for another family meal, this time to meet Colin's new girlfriend, Gillian and two of the family friends, Roy and Tom. Roy, a jolly little fellow whom Dougie worked with up until he retired a few months back and Tom, a retired plumber with an exquisitely combed head of hair. Too exquisite, if you get my meaning. It was the first time Ka and myself met Colin's new girlfriend and she turned out to be very nice, friendly and, Ka was relieved to say, good enough to go out with oor Colin. I know what it's like to be the outsider in the McGarva household so I sympathised with the girl. Kidding aside, I had no need to, of course, as Dougie and Grace are always the most welcoming and generous of people, always going out of their way to make you feel at home. Except when it comes to scooshy cream. Dougie does not like you using his scooshy cream. On one of my first visits to the McGarva household for dinner, my cards were marked when I overstepped the mark with the scooshy cream when it came to dessert time. Ever since that day, at the third course, I've had the strange feeling of being watched, like a hawk, eyes boring into me, as I've made a move for the whipped cream.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Tabs, shelves and loop-de-loops

Christmas Day is over once again. Boxing Day now and I'm back in the flamin' office putting a Paisley newspaper together. Hopefully won't be hanging around for too long though.
Another enjoyable Christmas Day yesterday, even though I stayed sober for driving duties. Not that I was desperate for a drink or anything. Sometimes you just feel slightly left out when everyone's enjoying a glass of wine with their dinner and you're on the Shloer or the Irn-Bru. Enjoyed breakfast in Chapelton with Mum, Dad, Lynsey-Ann and Kenny. Mum and Dad serving smoked salmon and scrambled eggs accompanied by a celebratory glass of buck's fizz. Afterwards the usual exchange of presents with christmas carols ringing out from the tinny radio in the kitchen in between music on the living room stereo from Duffy and The Killers. Mum and Dad spoiled us again. Amongst other things they bought me a rather impressive amp and speakers for my Mac. At least I think it's an amp of some sort. Will need to check it out when I get home. Not bad at all. Uncle Jim and James, my cousin from London, arrived a little later, each greeted with a bottle of beer, just in time for photos, much to Jim's displeasure. Leaving everyone around two, Ka and myself then headed over to Uddingston for dinner with Dougie, Grace and Colin. After a quick game of guess who - involving sticking notes to each others foreheads and waiting for obvious clues - we sat down to dinner. After dinner the McGarva's went outside for a quick chat with the neighbours which ended in Grace getting Dougie's shoes covered in dog sh*t. Needless to say Dougie was not too chuffed and the first Chrimbo arguements ensued. Colin claimed it had been the neighbour's dog, Megan, as she was now old and finding it difficult to control herself, leaving her deposits in their front garden more often. Must have been one hell of a poo as Dougie was shouting about it being all over his laces. We were all laughing about it later, of course. Once that was concluded we then headed up to Bellshill for Supper at Ka's sisters. Angela, Morgan and Steven were waiting patiantly at the window when I taxi'd the first lot of McGarva's up to their drive. Steven cooked us a splendid buffet while Morgan entertained us with her new guitar, yelled at us for a few hours, ordered Colin and myself to build her new game, the classic Mouse Trap, and then eventually got grumpy with tiredness. The Mouse Trap was a lot more complicated to build than I remember what with all the tabs and elastic bands. Lynsey Ann owned it when we were young and I couldn't remember it being as difficult to set up as it was last night, and I was sober. Eventually got it built and ready to go just in time for Morgan to head for bed. Determined to get some use out of it I ended up playing the game with Grace. The loop-de-loop never worked. Something must have went wrong in the construction process. The ball bearing was not gathering enough speed to go right round the loop track. Grace ended up winning the game by a whole four peices of cheese. Damn that loop-de-loop. It wasn't as good as it used to be. The game's design had changed and was, as a result, flawed. Gone are the bathtub and rickety staircase. Now there are wonky shelving, a toy box and the loop-de-loop. They don't make 'em like they used to. We finished the night on the Wii, on the Mario Kart, laughing at Ka fail to navigate the mushrooms with the Wii's excellent cordless steering wheel and Grace's difficulty in performing a U-turn without burning her tyres against a fence. Ka and myself then headed off home, collapsing in a heap as we got in through the flat's front door.
This morning I left Ka snuggled up in bed whilst I forced myself out again to get into the office for ten, managing only ten past ten. Work will then be followed by the Boxing Night gathering tonight where I will have a wee beer, finally.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

It's Chriiiiiiiissstmas!

Happy Christmas, one and all!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas and the walking dead

Christmas Eve and I am sitting in the office flicking through editorial pictures as there does not seem to be much else to do. Band Aid has just started ringing out from the small radio behind me tuned into Real radio. Gary is flying his remote control helicopter around the office, Linda is watching Will Ferrell's Elf on the email monitor, Paul is shouting about something and Anna is quietly reading whilst waiting on Barry sending through more pages in their journey to the printers. Everyone just seems to be looking forward to the moment we all leave for the day, some for the weekend.
It was a foggy start this morning. A grey layer of cloud hanging low over the fields and trees at the rear of Calderwood, shrouding the back entrance to Calderglen Park. It may well be a very grey Christmas if not a white one. All presents are wrapped though and preparations made for the few days ahead. A time of sharing and giving, putting up with relatives you wouldn't normally have to see during the week, another Two Ronnies repeat, eating giant amounts of turkey and the kids of the family jumping around like lunatics and making insane amounts of noise. Gargantuan turkeys. I remember my Mum used to make massive turkeys for Christmas dinner. Birds that could barely fit in the oven, and that was after the loss of a head and feet. I used to wonder on which far off Lost World they produced such turkeys. The amount of stuff the kids get now is crazy. Ka has one niece and we've, partly inadvertantly, got her a whole bag of stuff! We were all spoiled as kids but the kids these days just seem to get so much more. It kind of stretches the credibility of there being a real Santa to the absolute limits. Do kids still actually believe Santa brings everything to their house by magic sleigh? What Ka's niece got last year would have filled two sleighs and he would have needed more than eight reindeer to pull that lot. Santa on an articulated lorry does not quite have the same Christmassy romanticism about it, no matter how much the Coca Cola adverts try. I remember going through a phase of trying to stay awake and catch Santa at it, at the bottom of my bed. When I say at it, I mean filling my sock with toys of course. My head propped up by my pillow, a torch at my side waiting for the bedroom door to open so I could quickly blast his face full of light when he crept into the room. Of course, it would never work. You'd always be asleep by about half four in the morning. Then, when you woke up at six, he would have been and gone and the house would spring into action. Or some of the house sprung anyway. I would always wonder why my parents were like the walking dead the next day, watching us open our presents with their eyes slowing closing, heads lolling and then snapping them open again and forcefully sitting themselves up straight. Collapsing later in the day immediately after consuming the dinner which my Mum had just managed to stay awake over the hobs to produce. We'd usually be left playing with our new pressies as the old yins slept infront of the telly. One Christmas you could barely hear the telly due to my then Uncle's snoring. He was asleep on the dining table at the back of the living room, hoovering up the tail ends of the back curtains with his nose, a yellow paper hat tilted over his eyes. That was before he'd even had any kids of his own. He had no excuse except from that massive turkey breast perhaps. I'd always wonder why the parents would last till five or six in the morning at the traditional Reid's Boxing Night party but barely last till five in the evening on Christmas Day.
It will be good to see the family over Chrimbo though, do some catching up. Dinner at the in laws tomorrow and then on to Ka's sister's place. Unfortunately I'll be driving but maybe that's a good thing as on Boxing Day I'll be back in the office for a while. After work I'll then be heading off to the Reid Boxing Night party. Where there will be quizzes, drinking and more eating. Better get back in that gym on Saturday.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Shadow Laureate

When man first flew beyond the sky
He looked back into the world's blue eye.
Man said: What makes your eye so blue?
Earth said: The tears in the ocean do.
Why are the seas so full of tears?
Because I've wept so many thousand years.
Why do you weep as you dance through space?
Because I am the mother of the human race.

Adrian Mitchell
24.10.32 - 20.12.08

Monday, 22 December 2008

The magic touch

Christmas is fast approaching, more so now after our weekend of excess involving much drink and food. Ka and myself hosted our now traditional Christmas Party on Saturday night and it was a enjoyable success. The first few hours were split with the blokes in the kitchen and the women in the living room. As the night went on, however, things relaxed as they always do, especially with a little help from my own Chrimbo quiz and Ka's Pass the parcel. Yep, pass the parcel. I controlled the music while the four oddly shaped parcels spun around the room behind me. Eileen seemed slightly disappointed after she excitedly unwrapped her big rude looking long present to find a large Scotland pen bought from the local pound shop. Claire won the musical Christmas mug, which had stopped being musical at the time of wrapping but somehow came back to life with Claire's magic touch. The jagermeister also made a long awaited return. Approximately five years ago I bought a bottle in America and have been trying to finish it ever since. It is now kept in a low kitchen cupboard among some other vials and potions. Iain was quite impressed when I produced the large green bottle from the low kitchen cupboard, blowing the dust from it's glass shell. Together with Martin and Steven we immediately drank to each others health. Apparently it's good for medicinial purposes - the digestive system and throat infections. It also has a tendency to get you drunk - fast. The Four Fandangoes team won the Quiz, storming ahead easily by at least ten points. Everyone did fail to answer the last question correctly. What christmas symbolic item is currently being investigated as a possible cure for cancer? Three imaginative answers came from each of the three teams for this one. Frankinsense, Myrrh and Tinsel. The three teams kidding on they were the three wise men. Well, two of them anyway... but then maybe the third wise man had taken gold tinsel to the stable, all those years ago, with the intention of decorating the manger or the stable? Trecking all that way from the Eastern lands with a pile of gold would have surely been pretty tiring. The three trekkers were also, obviously, astronomers as they followed the mysterious star. Either that or they were following a UFO. The same UFO on which the baby arrived. Perhaps from Krypton. Anyway, the correct answer was, of course, Mistletoe which, it turns out, is actually prescribed in Europe. Drunken quizzes are usually quite fun with all the weird and wonderful answers you get, but marking them whilst slightly inebriated yourself is pretty difficult, especially trying the read the drunken hieroglyphics scrawled down on paper. How Les Dawson managed all those years on Blankety Blank I'll never know. I doubt he'd been drinking jagermeister though.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Road rageous

After an early morning call from a Virgin Television man yesterday (we have more than 5 channels again) we drove out to the Silverburn shopping Centre in Pollockshaws. Our mission, which we chose to accept, was to complete the Christmas shopping. On arriving at Silverburn I was surprised to find it quite posh. I had been expecting yet another run-of-the-mill shopping centre but ended up quite impressed by it's enormous high ceilings, nicely designed walking areas, seating and designer shop fronts. There certainly was not going to be any Bargain Books or Poundlands in here. There was, however, the usual discorteous shoppers, elbowing, shoving, and marching without any form of consideration or the ability of moving slightly to the side to evade a collision. That job seemed solely down to me. It was like a game of chicken, except instead of sitting in the front of a car, or tractor if you've had the pleasure of seeing Footloose, you were on foot and up against either a woman with a pram, a yuppy dressed for the catwalk or just one of the many ignorant people that flock these department stores. Later in the day, after leaving the joys of Silverburn for the local EK centre, I had a near miss with an old women in one of those mobility scooters. Honestly, they have been the worst thing introduced to the pensioner race in a long time. Sure, great for the less able to get about in but when it comes to the older woman i think the power goes to some of their heads. They get completely road rageous (a new term, in case you had not guessed). They seem to have it in for those of us that still walk on two feet. Some of these older folk belt up through the shops, with little use of the brakes like a speeding Davros, assuming everyone will simply move out of their way. Which, of course, people do, but not before annoying some other pedestrian behind them or accidentally nudging into someone at their side. After my encounter this particular old woman sped by and nearly ran over two little girls who were between two parents. The old woman fought the urge to press her brake but in the end just had to surrender. The two girls frozen on the spot and merely inches from her front wheels once the scooter had ceased skidding. The old woman sat for those few moments glaring at the girls testily, as the parents were forced to split their unit and rejoin on the other side of the scooter.
Anyway, after fighting the Chrimbo crowds we managed to finish the present buying and returned to base and that should be that. We are now organised for Christmas... In a week's time it will all be over again. Looking forward to seeing slightly distant members of the clan again and doing some catching up with friends.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Pantos, pakora and peanuts

Our tree is up and the Christmas stench flows freely in the flat. Yes, on friday night we carried out the strange tradition of installing a cold, wet, smelly fir tree into the middle of our living room and decorating it with beads and baubles. Our wee flat now feels officially 'christmasy'. We helped welcome it with a wee bottle of wine. Maybe it was the wine that helped with the 'christmasiness'.
The next morning I was driving up to Chapelton on Saturday morning when I witnessed one of the most stupid examples of driving I've ever seen in my life. Driving up St Leonards Road, towards the roundabout at the Bonnie Prince Charlie pub, there was a row of traffic coming off the roundabout up ahead and heading down towards me on the other side of the road (nothing surprising there). As I approached the junction for Morrishall Road on my right, a car speeds up to the junction and decides to refrain from braking. Not only does he go straight out on to the road infront of the oncoming traffic, driving down from the roundabout, but he decides to drive into their side of the road, belting straight into the unfortunate car, at the front of the line of vehicles, head on. Both cars thudded to a halt as I drove past. It was a moment of sheer disbelief, almost incomprehension, for me as I'd never actually seen a car accident happen, never mind such blatant stupidity on the road. As the drivers of each car moved to leave their vehicles I drove on safe in the knowledge they would sort their little bang out between them (perhaps with more little bangs involving fists and faces). Sure enough, on my way back down from Chapelton, a police van was parked on the kerb where the cars had been, with its side door slid open and two busy policemen leaning in, obviously talking away to someone, hopefully breathalising them.
Afterwards it was a slightly less eventful drive into Glasgow's West End to see Colin, Ka's brother, in his latest Panto extravaganza. Colin works for a travelling theatre group and on Saturday morning he was performing with the group in the Kelvin Stevenson Memorial Church, just off Great Western Road, with their take on Jack and the Beanstalk. After having built up a bit of a thirst on the drive in, I tried to take a carton of juice and a packet of crisps from the entrance table at the front door as we bought our tickets. Unfortunately the stubborn old ticket woman stopped me saying the free juice and crisps were for the kids only. As I tried to persuade her with money Ka ushered me away hurriedly. We sat down in a large empty hall with the stage set out infront of us, surrounded by empty chairs. It did not look good and I was beginning to think I would be shouting at Widow Twanky on my own, without any crisps or juice. However, with only five minutes before the start, families and kids started flocking in and within moments, every seat around us was taken, most of the kids gathering on the dusty, wooden floor at the front in eager expectation, munching their crisps and drinking their juice. As I suddenly noticed a few parents with juice of their own the production began and Colin and his band jumped out on to stage, shouting, yelling and singing. For me, Colin's best performance was as Daisy, Jack's man sized, two legged cow, but he also played the Giant, that lived in the Castle at the top of the Beanstalk, a role that best suited his stature and loud voice. Afterwards he approached us and after a few words with his sister he looked at me accusingly and shouted 'You weren't doing any of the actions!'. A little taken aback, I stammered something defensively about how I had been singing and clapping enthusiastically. If I'd had a juice and a packet of crisps I might have been more eager to participate in the song actions. On the way out the church hall the old lady at the door gave us a cheery goodbye. I humpfed in response.
Saturday night arrived and Ka dolled herself up and ventured into Hamilton for her work night out with the girls, so Chaz and myself decided to head out for a carry out, to the Atrium, where the owner talked us into taking a table. The place was packed with Christmas nights out of all shapes and sizes. After waiting a few moments he sat us upstairs beside three large tables of drunken workers scoffing pakora, unwrapping secret santas and spitting lager into each others meals as they talked. The dreaded Karaoke soon started up on the temporary dance floor downstairs and before we knew it the drunken workers were all singing the same old songs that karaoke singers usually sing - you know, Sinatra, Neil Diamond etc. Nothing vaguely original like, say, Orbison. So Chaz and myself headed into Glasgow for a drink witnessing a massive brawl, on the way, in the middle of Argyle Street with a large bunch of Glasgow neds. Unbelievable. Makes you wonder why you stay in Scotland. Neds, alcohol and violence. All in a good night out. Anyway, Bunker was, as always, busy and Chaz and myself mused over women and how they think(that old chestnut!), Bill Paxton movies, Apparitions(the BBC series that's on at the moment), Christmas, New Year and hotels to take y'er woman. Afterwards we headed back to fetch Ka, Gillian and Louisa from Hamilton, the latter two hitching a lift to Ek's Centre Point. For some insane reason they continue to spend money going into that place.
Morven, Sean and Leo visited us yesterday for dinner, travelling up from Hawick. Ka and myself arrived home from the gym with only half an hour to get ready for them coming only to find them sitting on the doorstep waiting on us. We welcomed them in, still in our sweaty gym gear, quickly kicking away any newspapers lying about the living room and throwing the drying clothes hanging from doors into the bedroom. Unfortunately Leo spent the first hour moaning until I presented him with two bowls of peanuts. One Bombay mix and one salted. This helped cheer him up considerably and he took up position at the side of the coffee table, munching away. I was not sure about the way he was eyeing me suspiciously if I reached out to take any myself. Considering they were my nuts I thought this quite rude really. I'll let him off this once though, as it's almost Christmas and he was just recovering from a flu. There's also the fact he's only three... Shouldn't be an excuse though. Flamin' youngsters. Coming into this world and getting all our crisps, nuts and juice. Without so much as a by-your-leave. Do they have the right? Ageism that's what it is!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Don't look back in anger

Enjoyed Chris Moyles' show on Radio 1 this morning. On Friday morning he talks less and plays more, playing great tunes from years gone by, chosen by him and his team. Whilst driving to work I was pleasantly surprised when he played Sleeper?! The small, britpop band from the early to mid nineties fronted by the superbly beautiful Louise Wener (slightly unfortunate name there). My first ever proper gig back on the 26th May 1996. At least, I think that's when it was. The first of many, and the first visit to the Glasgow Barrowlands too. Chaz, Colin and myself being successfully crushed, battered and bruised in the rocking Glasgow crowd. It was absolutely mental and I'm pretty sure we were lucky to survive. The sheer pain involved I don't think has ever been surpassed at any gig since. U2 at Murrayfield in 1997 came close though. At the beginning of the Popmart gigs the band would march down an avenue cutting through the crowd, fencing off the fans at either side with waist high, metal barricades. My stomach was pressed up against one of these barricades by the 50,000 people behind me. Not pleasant. I'm surprised I did not crack a rib in that crowd as I managed to stay up against the front of that barricade for the majority of the concert, up ahead of the others who suffered behind. Great gig though considering it was a fairly middling point in U2's excellent career. It's about time we had some new material from them. Going back to Britpop, we heard yesterday Blur are getting back together again for some special gigs next year. Always liked Blur but for some reason opted for Oasis in my younger, foolish, days when the whole Blur v Oasis Britpop war was going on. When Blur grew more experimental with their tunes I definately started liked them more and more, their sound moving away from traditional Britpop and maneuvering into more electronic, atmospheric art rock with the '13' album and 'Think Tank'. Something Oasis have never done. They've stuck firmly to the good old strumming and whining routine most of the time. However, I have to admit to almost liking Oasis' new tunes that are getting the airplay at the moment. After 'What's the Story Morning Glory' I mostly lost interest with them, revisiting them briefly with the 'Heathen Chemistry' album a few years back but again, not paying much attention following that. A band that have had definite flashes of brilliance in their music over the years but have suffered terribly with ego problems. That was always a Manchester thing though wasn't it? The Stone Roses were the same. Egos the size of Manchester itself. Liking the new tunes from Snow Patrol and the excellent Killers. Not sure what the new Killers' Song lyrics are all about ('Are we human or are we dancers'?) but who cares, U2 and Oasis have got away with shoddier than that (not that the two of them are in any way alike). You'd have a field day in a shoddy lyrics competition with Oasis.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Fighting the humbug

Gran is in the Christmas mood. Whether she likes it or not. Early afternoon, after posting the last of our Christmas cards, I visited my Gran. Poor Gran is not in the best of shape at the moment but I did manage to talk her into helping her put her Christmas decorations up around the wee house. After a bit of a huff and a puff she grudgingly agreed and before I knew it I was up a shoogily ladder pulling the small, artificial electric tree down from the cold darkness of the loft. She had also bought a funky plastic Christmas star recently which eerily glows different colours as it hangs. It looked more like something that had fallen from Krypton and would be more likely to guide Superman home rather than three kings. I want one. After Christmasising (okay, there's no such word!) the place I left happy in the knowledge that my Gran would no longer be sitting in a humbug state as she had been before. Saying all this, of course, Ka and myself do not even have a tree to speak of yet. Tomorrow I'll no doubt be dropping round the old B & Q for a nice fresh Norwegian Fir as soon as I get out of work. Nothing beats a nice real tree sitting in your living room stinking the place up with it's nice pine odour. Gives you that Christmas high... I'm just getting carried away now.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Mind bloggling

It is always surprising to read messages from folk that say they enjoy reading your blog or in my case, diary, or even, to give it it's official, perhaps slightly ostentatious title, 'journal'. This is my 100th post and I never once thought I would get this far. The whole experience of writing life's thoughts, happenings, meetings and conversations has actually turned out to be more fun than I thought, even though I'm certainly not documenting anything particularly spectacular. Then again, that depends how you define 'spectacular' I suppose... Everyone's ideas of 'spectacular' are very different. The fact I've kept this up is spectacular in itself perhaps. Looking back, I reckon it was hitting the grand old age of thirty that did it. On the event of the birthday I think I panicked as I could not remember where the last thirty years had gone and what the hell I had done with them. There was school, school, uni then work. But what happened inbetween, and during, come to mention it? Where does it all go? Where did it all whizz off to? They say life is fleeting but this is ridiculous. In the beginning I reckon this was all an effort to try and document something... anything?! Together with the odd rant, review and other extraneous thoughts thrown in for good measure, of course, I discovered what this blogging thing is all about.
When I first activated my own website ( I had the intention of using it as an online portfolio, which I still use it for, but also as a place for family folk and mates to hang out. I engineered a messageboard for it, with much difficulty at the time, which only a few folk ended up using, usually arguing. This made it considerably pointless. That's where I went wrong. It was not a messageboard I wanted but a proper writing blog. A much better, easier way of saying something online. Okay, Bebo, Myspace and all these other online communities are great at that but more often than not you get a whole bunch of emails from complete weirdos, who you don't know from adam, asking you to be their friends. People sitting at home, on their computers, jumping with glee when they hit the fifty friend mark (or whatever friend amount would make you jump with glee). I'm not particularly interested in what celebrity I may or may not look like, adopting a computer generated duck or what kind of alcoholic drink I would be. Well, okay, the alcoholic drink I'm curious about, but usually I'm quite happy to just sit and type. This blog has been great in talking to folk on other blogs, some on other countries, reading other peoples' writing, getting inspiration, ideas, motivation and generally gaining a better way of exploring the web. In short, I'm having fun writing on this journal, whether people read it or not.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Liver damage

Semi successful little trip into Glasgow yesterday for the S&UN Christmas Dinner, hosted by Óran Mór. Started off well with a few pints along Great Western Road with Gareth and his mate Gav, meeting a hairdresser named Joe along the way, another of Gareth's best mates who it turns out is cousin to Claire, of Claire and Martin fame. This fact I realised when faced with Joe the hairdresser's receptionist - Claire's Auntie Maureen. All very confusing but another one of these weird 'it's a small world' instances which we encounter so often in our fleeting little lives. Anyway after that, window shopping at the book shops and considering the purchase of a rather skinny looking Santa outfit in the local Shelter shop we met up with the rest of the S&UN crew and enjoyed our dinner. For starter I tried the pigeon. Something I've never eaten before, and probably something I'll never eat again but an interesting (only as it was 'different') menu choice all the same. Some diners perhaps inspired by the final of the dreadful 'I'm a Celebrity' tv programme the night before. Pointing out that pigeons are not quite the same as camel testicles I quickly shut up in case I put someone off their dinner. Creamy Chicken John spent some time wondering where they got their pigeons. Maybe the restaurant hired a tall, thin cackling man with twirling black moustache and a complaining mutt to snatch them in stupidly small aeroplanes from in and around George Square. Matters did not improve when people started comparing it to eating liver. Never eaten liver. Quite frankly, liver has always been as appealing to me as camel testicles. However, I have had a nice chianti before... ssssisisisissssss.
Talking of eating flesh, for main I had a lovely sirloin steak, cooked to perfection. No chianti with it though. As always with these company outings/meals some of us ended up paying more than what was originally planned. This was partly due to some pregnant women complaining about how they never drank anything, wanting special treatment when it came to tally up time discounting the fact some of us were paying over the odds for the two course option. Flamin' pregnant women. It was their own choice to get pregnant and stay sober not the rest of us. Why should we have to overcomplicate the bill payment just because they've got one in the oven? In the end they got a fiver back each. Whoopee! Don't spend it all at once girls! How long will that feed y'er screaming wean for eh?
Afterwards we retired to the general bar area and had too much to drink over various conversations including baby name calling, David Bowie's pianist (not penis Anna), how George Lucas should not be allowed to make movies himself, kilts, tartans, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Latvian Wonder women amongst other things which I probably have absolutely no hope in remembering until Wednesday, at the earliest. Even now, late on Sunday evening, after having regained my full senses after the damage and trauma from the alcohol abuse the night before, I cannot fully remember what the hell I was jabbering to folk about all night. I do, quite definately remember the bus journey home though, as the No.20 took the longest time ever to crawl up to Calderwood. Moving slower than walking pace at times and at others playing whacky races with the taxis. Gawd, how I wish I could afford the taxis! Maybe I should have went to George Square to see if any of those small aeroplanes were buzzing about.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Wall street

The Street Art Awards Party 2008 was held last night in London. An awards exhibition of artwork produced solely on the dirty brick walls, grimy, dark underpasses or the sides of tall buildings of the streets throughout the country. Banksy is of course the most 'commercial' and recognisable of these rebellious, vigilante type artists but these awards showcase so much other really impressive artwork and show that it, as a true artform, is getting more and more exposure and appreciation. The works of Adam Neate, Conor Harrington, Replete and Guy Denning are particular favourites of mine. The colour, vibrancy and sheer dynamism in their images is really amazing. Guy Denning is another who is featured in the online exhibition having become involved in Bristol. He is largely more famous for his portrait work and paintings but obviously still has a major following in the urban art scene there. His work combines collage and painting fusing colours, characters and messages together with powerful emotions, his subjects often screaming or twisting in movement. Adam Neate is another who is slightly more conceptual in his approach who, after finding canvas too pricey, started painting on cardboard, material and bascially any old shit left lying about the streets. He is now an internationally recognised artist after being approached by the National Gallery and having his work sold at Sothebys in London. Moving away from the portrait like images by looking at the likes of Replete's work, you can quickly tell the inspiration and styles he has picked up through his computer graphic animation. Though this style is perhaps a little more 'conventional' for street art it's impact and sheer volume cannot be lost on the viewer taking you into another world as you stroll down the street for a pint of milk. Fantastic stuff. If only i lived in London. There seems to be so much more of it down there. Unfortunately Glasgow does not have much in the way of Street Art except from the occasional cartoon willy. The most urban art in Glasgow I've seen has usually been around the Kelvinbridge area but even then it was pretty minimal and certainly no Denning or Banksy. Maybe there's a career opening for someone there..?

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

With scarf and spade

Winter is most definately here with ice covering the roads and the outside temperature near dangerous without a pair of gloves. My hands felt red raw with cold after scraping the frost from my windscreen this morning. It was a struggle to even get out the street both today, and yesterday, as we live on a uphill climb and the gritter lorries don't seem to ever pass down our way. People sat in their cars yesterday morning, halfway up our street, uselessly spinning their tyres on the spot to try and get up the road. I had a plan though. Armed with scarf and spade I strode out yesterday morning and made good use of the salt bin across the road, spreading the grit over the majority of the street managing to avoid an embarrassing fall on the ice. It's always more embarrassing when you fall on the ice rather than a regular trip on pavement. Regular trips or falls you can usually deal with. But ice falls are far worse. Before you actually hit the ground your body will assuredly twist, swivel, spin, strain in an uncomfortable upright position and then, with one final skid for effect, collapse to the cold, solid street. To make matters worse someone will undoubtedly always see or be watching you and may even be working perfectly normally on the other side of the street. After spreading the salt I set off for the car, parked further down the street, managed to turn it and started up the hill, only to get stuck further down the hillside. After a few moments i turned into one of the neighbours I had been tutting at not half an hour before, spinning the tyres uselessly in sheer desperation of movement. Yet more gritting was called for. For some reason with these conditions the Council has neglected their usual winter road attacks and left us all to suffer with the ice. Last week I passed a salt spreader lorry when they wasn't a single snowflake to be seen so where have they all gone this week in our moment of need? If I was grumpier I would phone the council up and complain... but instead I'll just complain on this journal. I've found this journal quite good for venting some spleen or as fellow blogger Miriam calls it, ranting. Nothing wrong with a bit of ranting as long as it's the truth.
It was Lost Ian's last day in the office today and we all bid him 'fare thee well'. Till Saturday anyway as it's the work's Christmas lunch. It's okay to mention Christmas now as it is officially December. Christmas should only be in December, not October or even November. It still seems very early to be having a Christmas night out but I suppose it's only 3 weeks away now. Another year almost over. Better get those baubles out again.