Friday, 30 January 2009

Admirers, abs and apes

Popped round to the town centre yesterday to visit the local Registry office and enquire about a marriage license. I had no idea you had to obtain a license to be married up until a few months ago. Obviously there is the marriage certificate or statement which you sign at the end of the ceremony but I did not know there was an actual license and and application from each person needed to get it. After paying £26 per person (usually two when it comes to marriage) filling out a large form and handing them in to the local Registry office your name, alongside your fiance's, goes up on a list outside the office which entitles anyone, who happens to have a problem with the situation, to protest. Yes, it would seem people can object if they are unhappy with the idea of the two of us getting married. How this would happen and what would follow, I have no idea. It's quite a nice idea though is it not? That someone would contact the authorities to try and stop Michael Reid marrying? Maybe a secret admirer or some other female who has harboured a secret, yearning for me. Just walking by on her way to the local shops, beauty parlour or model agency and stopping suddenly when something catches her eye. Upon reading the notice placed outside the registry office she would cry out in outrage, shock and horror, her scream echoing around the dull concrete surroundings of the Civic Centre. Tearing the A4 note from the wall she would read again and again, just to make sure her eyes were not deceiving her and then run into the Registry office, flustered and panicking. I'm writing hoping that it would be a female, of course. The same goes for the other half. Ka probably has a few secret admirers out there. The guy she went on her first ever date with goes to our gym. They went to see Waynes World together all those years ago. Occasionally I get suspicious when I see him on the treadmill next to her. Sometimes losing my footing and ending up a tangled mess among the barbells and dumbells.
Talking of the gym, I woke up this morning feeling like that gorilla had been sitting on my stomach the whole night. You know the one? He comes into your bedroom at night while your fast asleep, throws you about a bit, messes up your hair, maybe slaps you across the face a bit to get you to slobber slightly on to your pillow? Yeah, him. Ka and myself put ourselves through the abs class last night, moving, jumping and flailing about on exercise mats for half an hour. Some of the exercises making you look like beetles that had accidentally rolled over on to their back. As a result I struggled to get out of bed this morning and my lower abdomen can barely move without a twinge of pain. Serves me right as I had not done the abs class for months. A good lesson to vary your routine. You can go to the gym three times a week but still stress some muscles by jumping into something different too quickly. Muscles which you had completely forgotten about.
A headache was also the first thing to greet me this morning on waking up, which is always a lousy start to the day. I had been dreaming one of those troubling, tormented dreams. I was abroad, on a beach somewhere, trying to meet someone, or be somewhere... not sure. I opened my eyes to the world with a dull pounding head. Feeling the pain in my abs and my thudding headache I groaned. That Gorilla must have been playing Phil Collins' drums again. Except this time in my head! Damn that gorilla... damn them all to hell! As I got up and out of bed I looked up to see my New York Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt hanging on the door drying... the Statue of Liberty's face and torch facing me...

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Boyle hits the jackpot?

Seen the film 'Slumdog Millionaire' last night. A great, uplifting love story about a guy who grows up in the Indian slums of Dharavi, desperately poor and uneducated who goes on to win the TV quiz show 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?'. The film begins with the young guy, Jamal, being interviewed by the police, under suspicion of cheating as he is now one question away from the winning the tv jackpot. As he sits in the detective's office after some particularly cruel interrogation techniques, Jamal explains his answers from the gameshow, resulting in him telling his own life story through flashbacks, from childhood to present day. Another great film from Danny Boyle, with his great visual flair and expert eye bringing the slums of India to life, even more successfully than 1996's grimey Glasgow streets in 'Trainspotting'. The sights, sounds, music and colour with which Boyle is gaining such a reputation all add to the beauty of the film. The colour of the sh*t is almost luminous! (you'll see what I mean if you see the movie - a great scene involving a horrendous leap of faith). The performances are great too, especially the kids that play the main characters' younger selves, one minute having fun playing cricket on an airport runway, the next, forced into an independent life, fending for themselves. A film definately worthy of the awards it has been receiving and one that will hopefully bag Mr Boyle an Oscar.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

No man is an island

Kenny is in charge of my stag night. I'm worried. My brother, being the best man, is now taking email addresses to try and get some suggestions off folk for my stag night, weekend, or week. A while back Chaz suggested Las Vegas. Other suggestions have been Estonia (Uncle Jim) and Magalluf (Kenny himself). I think most of these have been ruled out due to budget constraints. On mentioning a stag night at teabreak, DVD Andy came up with a cheaper suggestion. A pub at the end of his road. It does a good pint apparently. Not wishing to cause offence I nodded politely and said I'd suggest it to my brother. Gareth came up with a rather novel idea. He'd heard of a friends friend doing this. Basically you hire a dwarf for £800 and handcuff him to the groom. The dwarf will then, inevitably, have to follow the groom around everywhere he goes on that night. It's difficult to believe such a hiring service exists but he assures me it's true.
Degrading, strange and surely uncomfortable for the parties involved. But then so is the horribly traditional hiring of a stripper. I've just googled it and apparently, in some cases, the dwarf is painted blue and dressed as a smurf. I've heard of being handcuffed to a lamp post, but a dwarf..? Very odd.
Talking of odd, Lost is back on our tv screens! At last. I've missed it. A lot of people got fed up after half a season but I honestly reckon it's the best thing on tv. It's definately veering into science fiction territory now though which I suspect a lot of the more 'normal' or casual viewers may get a little inpatient and disappointed about. I was quite surprised when there was a bit of a backlash a few seasons ago when it dawned on the viewing public this may not be a normal tale of a bunch of survivors on a desert island. In what way had the viewers not suspected as much after watching the first few episodes. Polar bears in the jungle, dead people getting out their coffins, smoke monsters chasing survivors. Not exactly straight laced drama was it? Always veering on the crazy with some of these incidents, the show has always kept its feet on the ground with the performances of the brilliant cast members. Interesting, troubled,
tortured, human characters brought to life by the likes of Matthew Fox, Terry O'Quinn, Dominic Monaghan, Naveen Andrews and Michael Emerson to mention only a few. All great actors who, along with the great writers, have created and shaped these characters, fleshing them out with very different yet sometimes interweaving stories, constantly haunted by aspects of their past, present, and future, as they struggle to get free of the island and it's strange powers.
Not entirely unlike the old sixties show 'The Prisoner' which was another favourite of mine in the nineties when I watched it all on DVD around 27 years after its original transmission. Starring Patrick McGoohan, who sadly died two weeks ago week, the show was about a man who had resigned in his position as spy or agent of some kind in london and was almost immediately kidnapped and held captive in a strange and mysterious location known enigmatically as the Village. Many of the themes are very similar to Lost. The psychological drama that the characters go through together with the science fiction elements of each of the shows' which are different, but still deal with strange, seemingly other worldly forces, mysterious leaders and scrutinized, controlled locations. It will be interesting to see how the new, modern, version of The Prisoner, in production at the moment, will work. The Prisoner awakens in a strange place, wearing odd clothes,
being asked countless questions by a unsympathetic authority figure, all the time looking for some kind of an escape. Not unlike the day following a stag night, I suspect.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Ridiculous language

I let myself down over the weekend. I swore at a Royal Bank of Scotland telephone operator. On the Saturday morning we got a statement through our door informing us the bank were billing us for a grand total of £58. We had inadvertantly fallen beyond our overdraft at the turn of the year. Our first time, and they are billing us now for this ridiculous amount of cash. Our money was one day late in going into the bill bank account. So, angry and frustrated, I told a Bank call centre lady that it was a 'bloody ridiculous' amount to charge. She responded in a haughty "I advise you to stop swearing at me". The best I could come up with in response was "bloody is not a swear word!" before hanging up. It's not good to blame these innocent call centre types for their employing company's corrupt methods but sometimes you just cannot help but lose the rag, and sometimes even the will to live. "I think you just need to control your finances a little better" the woman had said to me in the most patronising tone she could possibly muster. I would say the lady got off lightly with a mere 'bloody', wouldn't you? Banks are not to be trusted anyway. Especially the Royal Bank as it's certainly not the first time they've swiped money from my account through no fault of my own. These problems occur because of dates falling on bank holidays, weekends and such like, messing your financial schedule right up. Previous problems have also occured due to salaries being paid with rubber cheques, but that's another story. As it happens I have since discovered that for the same financial accident which befell us in January, Clydesdale Bank would have charged us £8 less and, best of all, Barclays bank would have only billed us £22. A good reason to leave the Royal Bank. Should we go through the hassle of changing the whole account though? It would involve at least ten different phonecalls to ten other different call centres to sort out the changes which could involve getting creative again with my insolent grammar. These call centre employees must be used to it though. It must be the worst job for putting up with disgruntled customers. Some, like the Royal Bank lady, are just asking for trouble though.
Around Christmas i phoned the Vigin tv line as our Digi box had suddenly decided to refrain from operating for longer than one minute at a time. After restarting the box, with the classic switch it off and back on again routine, I decided that we needed a technician so I picked up the phone. By the sound of her accent the lady on the other end of the line, with the distorted volume in conversation, sounded like she was also at the other end of the world. The background noises giving the impression she was up in one of Richard Branson's own hot air balloons. As she fired her gaseous flame up into her balloon and her basket struggled in the wind, the virgin lady warned me she was going to go through some steps with me. Rolling my eyes i informed her I had already restarted the box in an effort to remedy the problem but she insisted on taking me through these steps. After following her instructions running back and forth from the phone to the tv for around ten minutes I realised that she was basically taking me through the exact same steps I had put myself through. I was switching the box off and back on again. The only difference this time was that is was in an overly long, over complicated fashion whilst at the same time trying to understand each others words, through our different accents over the distorted phone line. Afterwards the call centre operative came to the same conclusion I had done fifteen minutes previously. We needed a technician. I kept my cool though and after the call had finished, rather shakily, placed the phone receiver back down on it's perch with only a loud sigh. Which is the calm, collected self that was missing on Saturday morning with the Bank.
Telling my family about the whole bank episode over dinner last night, my Gran nodded and agreed that my language had been getting worse. She noticed last week when I'd been in her house spouting about something that I'd "no idea where the hell it had come from?!" Again, I'm not sure if 'hell' is a swear word, but it was obviously enough to earn disapproval from my Gran. Something no one in the family enjoys.
Around ten minutes after the phonecall on Saturday morning I was racked with guilt and felt like phoning the lady up again and apologising for my 'bloody' language. Needless to say, I decided against it. I'll live with the guilt. That is until the next statement slides through the postbox, billing me for offensive phonecalls.

Friday, 23 January 2009

To a Mac

This weekend celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mr Robert Burns, Scottish poet, bard and lyricist. Burns was the closest thing to a Scottish rock star of medieval times. Scotland's biggest celebrity, touring the isles with his songs. The 25th of January is traditionally Burns night were all Scottish folk, or folk that pretend to be Scottish, gather for dinner, raise a dram in honour to the famed poet and eat haggis for dinner after addressing it in an odd, sacrificial like custom. In an official Burns night the haggis is always brought in to the room in a large dish following a piper. Burns' 'Address To a Haggis' is read out by the feast's delegate and at some point in the poem the speaker plunges a big knife into the bag of sheeps' meat, hearts, liver,lungs and any other odd end that had been lying about the butchers. When we were at school the idea of the Haggis being a bag of sheeps' brains was always popular. As long as I don't think about it too much I love the stuff though, even though reading the dishes ingredients is probably enough to turn you into a vegetarian for life.
No doubt we'll have some haggis over the weekend at some point after the other half comes back from her planned trip to the capital. Ka is off to Edinburgh to see Cinderella on Ice with her Sister, Mum and neice allowing me some glorious peace and quiet. Perhaps I'll do some painting, listen to some music, watch a few movies, finish my book or maybe just go out for a few drinks with whoever else is about.
Talking of birthdays the Apple Macintosh computer also celebrates it's 25th birthday on Saturday. Another cultural icon if ever there was one. Maybe I should have a ceremonial dinner for my iMac. Recite the manual and plunge a knife into a particularly big twin burger meal to the tune of something off my ipod? It should have been Scottish though with a name like that though. Disappointingly the Macintosh name came from an apple and not a Scottish designer famous for his Art School or even a Scottish designed raincoat (not sure if iMacs are waterproof anyway...). In Secondary school we had a computer room with around ten of the Macintosh Classics lining the walls and they could not do anything. I certainly cannot remember doing anything useful on them anyway. The only thing we did learn in that class was how to perform a decent golf swing, thanks to the computer teacher, Mr Morris. My home computers back then had been the ZX Spectrum followed, in the early nineties, by the Atari ST. The ZX Spectrum 128K was a classic. After plugging your cassette into it's deck and pressing play, you'd go away and have your dinner, or go out for a game of footie, allowing the screeching, grinding, noise of the Spectrum to howl out from the tv, moving with psychotic, garish lines and pixels, as it loaded your game. After an hour or so, on your return, the game would be loaded, and ready for action. With it's primary coloured pixel graphics you'd happily play away for approximately fifteen minutes only for it to crash or stall. At this point you'd hit the restart button and start the process all over again. Kenny and myself used to play a game involving an egg with a face, feet and hands, running about a fantasy land, dodging dragons, drowning in rivers, travelling by cloud and collecting stars, all to a tune that sounded like it had been composed by Kraftwerk on Ecstasy. In fact, looking back, I think the makers of the game had probably been on ecstasy.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Photo update

At last. I've just finished another photo album update on REIDNET. I've been meaning to get some new photos up for ages but as always with these things, you lose track of time. Like calling the friend or auntie that your always meaning to call and never quite getting round to it for particularly rubbish reasons, which you always know will never wash.
Ring ring!
You pick up the phone.
"Oh, I was just about to phone you!" you say. Thinking: "Sh*t, you've bet me to it. I was getting round to it!"
"Oh, were you?" comes the reply. Thinking: "Sure you were"
My poor website often gets neglected. Keeping it up to date was a New Years resolution though, so it's a good start for 2009. Anyway, included are some shots taken in Autumn of last year (yes, Autumn, I know...), Roisin Murphy's gig in the Glasgow ABC and a small selection from the Christmas period. Most of the Roisin Murphy shots are a little shakey, of course, but some of the colours are brilliant. Feel free to check them out!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

A new hope

Barack Obama is now officially the new President of the United States of America, opening up a whole new chapter in American, and the world's history. A great moment to watch. When I eventually did get to watch it, after work, sitting infront of the tv with Ka. We were not permitted to watch, as Tuesday is our busiest day in the office, but I listened in to Radio 4 to hear it live. You couldn't help but feel optimistic listening to Obama's speech following the inauguration. Obama wisely warned of the coming hardship and difficulties he, his Government, America and the world face but expressed confidence, defiance and determination. Obama is exactly what the United States needs right now to improve their damaged reputation, relations and standing. It certainly will not happen overnight but I'm pretty confident Obama will make it happen. He has already swept into action this morning by halting all trials in Guantanamo Bay, perhaps the first move in shutting the camp altogether. He is a leader with vision and authority with a voice that will be listened to. One that will not be 'misunderestimated'.
Beforehand, on Sunday, other voices reverberated around the National Mall. Bruce Springsteen, U2, Stevie Wonder and Beyonce, to mention but a few, performed for the President elect. From the few moments I seen on youtube, it looked great with each of the artists performing at the feet of Abraham Lincoln. Sringsteen started things off with a message of unity in singing 'The Rising', together with a full gospel choir. Afterwards U2 sang Pride (In the Name of Love) written for, and about, the great Martin Luther King, back in 1984, who himself had stood on the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 addressing the crowds with his 'I Have a Dream' speech. A dream that Barack Obama has successfully proven to be a complete reality.

Monday, 19 January 2009

A work of Hart

Over the weekend I was saddened to hear of the death of the great Tony Hart. One of the first guys to inspire me as a kid to get into art. Before even looking at Picasso, Dali, Pollock or Warhol, alongside the great Rolf Harris, Tony Hart was the grandfather of art programs and the best of the bunch. Art Attack on ITV was the only replacement after Hart Beat ended, and a pale imitation at that. I'll always remember watching his techniques with chalks and paint believing them to be the most amazing things I'd ever seen. I remember being inspired by the works sent in for 'The Gallery', recognising most of it as largely rubbish, and knowing I could produce better (I must have had a bigger ego then?!). As I got a little older I also wondered how he managed to pull three gorgeous female assistants in that studio of his. Margot Wilson was the best. And Morph! Who could forget Morph, and his annoying pal with the mouth. What was his name? Oh yeah, Chaz!

Friday, 16 January 2009

An expert 'stuff' gatherer

Scone day once again and the weekend is here at last. Although the weather is pretty awful outside, the usual rain falling from the usual grey sky, I'm feeling optimistic for a good weekend. Will be busy tomorrow aiding my Dad in emptying a garage full of stuff. All sorts of 'stuff'. 'Stuff' that had gathered over the past year or so since the last time we emptied it of stuff. It's wonderful how 'stuff' gathers. Ka would say I'm an expert 'stuff' gatherer. All the garage stuff includes shelving, old furniture, washing machines, dish washers, kitchens and basically pretty much anything else which is preventing him for using his garage the way he would want to ie to park his car. He could always have a garage sale but I don't think he'd find a lot of people in Chapelton wanting to part cash for half an Ikea futon frame and other such treasures.
Before this my first, and probably only, sales on ebay will be ending tonight. Two seperate tickets for supposed comedian Russell Brand. One of Ka's friends asked me to sell them for her as she does not have an ebay account and presumably had no intention of opening one. It was all very new to me as I'd never sold anything before and it took more than one attempt to get right. For some reason my first attempts failed - something to do with busy servers or some such. On the last look in they each had a grand total of one bid. Well, at least I'll sell them for something... just, not a lot. But then they are Russell Brand tickets, perhaps his recent 'crisis' has had more of an effect on his gig sales than I had previously thought it would. Or maybe it's just my sales technique... I may have had more luck selling them at a garage sale.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Tigers and trivial pursuits

Work is getting busy again. Finally. It was a bit too quiet over the last few months for my liking, especially after the redundancies, but now it seems to be picking up a bit. Tea breaks are once again a welcome break whereas the past few weeks they had been merely a diversion. Over the Chrimbo/New Year period tea breaks had been too much like hard work, having to get up off our seat, go through to the canteen, pour a cup of tea, make conversation, etc, when we could have been continuing our game of trivial pursuit or finishing off that book. Unfortunately I did not win either of the two games of trivial pursuit over the Christmas week shifts. Both games had four teams and in both games Creamy Chicken John took the trophy (or he would have done if there had been such a thing). Managing to complete my circle in the first game I went into the second game quite confidently but failed to complete my counter managing only three or four pieces of pie whilst Gareth and Barry laughed at my answers. One of the questions was: which fiery feline group covered Blondie's The Tide is High? The answer was, of course, 'Atomic Kitten' but sadly I could not think of a 'fiery feline' group for the life of me. After racking my brain I came up with an answer. It had to be a last ditch attempt anyway so I answered with, 'The Exploding Tigers'.
Many dubious questions and answers continued with the pies themselves becoming another case of contention. Are they pies? Our household had always went with pies but it was quite surprising the names other players in the office came out with. Growing up, Trivial Pursuit was a game I used to play quite a lot with the parents, aunts and uncles. Usually it would be on one of our many trips to Edinburgh to visit my Uncle John and Aunt Aileen. We would often go through on the Saturday morning and meet up with them usually with an exhibition trip or picnic planned. In the evening, after another slap up meal on that enormous dining table of theirs and a good few glasses of wine they would bring the infamous game out. Usually I would only stay awake for half the game and leave the adults to finish up which involved a few more drinks and staying up till 4 in the morning. Uncle John and Aunt Aileen always called it pie too.
In the office, Creamy Chicken John called it cheese and another term was cake (I think that one was Mary). We should have just combined the two and called it cheesecake. Strangely enough cheesecake is a delicacy of near mythological status in our tea break collective. DVD Andy yearns for the day when another cheesecake shall be delivered unto us as it is considered a rare and most treasured gift. On Wednesdays gone by, one of the admin women, Margaret, used to treat us to a cheesecake, specially delivered, all the way from Iceland. How she managed that on her bike whilst meeting her murder mystery deadlines I'll never know (that's another story). Nowadays, unfortunately, in these financially unstable times, it is a very rare occasion. The office milk is even getting nicked now every Monday morning leaving us all with black tea all week. I suspect one of those pesky printers... My chief suspect is a printer known enigmatically as 'Spiderman'. He's been known to linger around our canteen at times and walks around, rather oddly, with a farmfoods plastic bag over his right foot. We'll have to get Margaret on the case.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Always rock, never twist

Sunday night and it is still pi**ing it down. Yep, here in Glasgow it has been raining for over 48 hours. Wonderful stuff. The ducks must be having a great time. A pretty quiet weekend, probably due to the fact that we're skint after Christmas and New Year and now have to knuckle down and save for THE BIG DAY.
Talking of, THE BIG DAY, Ka and myself ventured into Glasgow yesterday to have a look at some wedding rings. Now I don't wear jewellery. I'm not a jewellery kind of guy so I found it all a bit awkward. Standing in the jewellers trying on rings is not something I'm used to. It will certainly be slightly odd wearing a ring on a finger from July onwards. It was strange enough trying on different rings in the jewellers in front of the scatty brained girl serving us. At one point the inevitable happened. I chose a nice silver, white gold with a single groove running through the middle. After sliding it on my ring finger I looked down at it deciding I quite liked it. After a short conversation with Ka and the jeweller and a few nods of approval I took hold of the ring with my right hand and gently pulled. I then pulled a little harder. Then I tugged. It was stuck. As the heat began to gather under my collar and I nudged, pulled and twisted at the ring things began to look a little desperate.
"Do you need a hand there?" the young jeweller asked. It was the fingers that were the problem though, not the hand.
"No, it's okay" I muttered through my teeth in a tight grimace. After another few moments of struggle I then started twisiting the ring round trying to make it work along the finger, as it spun round my finger skin, which the jeweller quickly admonished me for.
"Always rock the ring," she advised. "Never twist". So I slowly nudged the ring back and forth on my finger and, as if by magic, it eventually came free. Almost as if it had wanted to be free of me and find a more suitable bearer... Maybe that is why married men never bother taking their wedding ring off. It's actually nothing to do with loyalty or pride. It is simply because it's just too much like hard work.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Smith and moans

At the turn of the year there I finished Zadie Smith's 'On Beauty'. Smith's own version of E. M. Forster's 'Howards End' about two families seperated by class and beliefs, each with their own lives complicated by gender and personal morals. A good book but slightly underwhelming in the end. Too many main characters. There were nine members in the two families, causing the characterisation to be too thinly spread, in my measly opinion. In the end it felt like a relief to finish the book.
Since the new year the news and newspapers have been pretty depressing seeming to contain nothing but death, conflict and war, mostly to do with the Gaza conflict adding to the chaos in the Middle East. Peter Sissons only managed a smile on Saturday night with the news of the casting of the eleventh Doctor, taking over from David Tennant in Doctor Who. Some young guy called Matt Smith. The only role I've seen him in was in 'The Ruby and the Smoke' a dramatisation of Philip Pullman's book. Apparently fans all over the internet are outraged at such a young actor being cast. Why are fandoms like that? Why can't people just wait and see what happens? Give the guy a chance! Okay, he's no Jon Pertwee, but we've all got to move on. This is exactly what happened to Daniel Craig when he got the Bond role. Bond fans all over the web were screaming for blood because a blond guy had been cast in the role. Give us a break! Look what a great Bond Craig has turned into. Certainly not the worst (Roger Moore anyone?) What are these weird people like? Sitting at home, at their computers, typing away, moaning and ranting... believing themselves to be right about everything... in the hope that someone will read their thoughts and opinions......(cough)
Anyway, I did not have far to go in my hunt for a new book to get on with. In the end I went for a book I received as a present for Christmas. Jonathan Ross' own book, fittingly titled "Why do I say these things?". It was released before Christmas and as Ross said himself, was perfect for not only exploiting the Christmas market, but for "the relative that was difficult to buy for". Which I found slightly strange as I've always been told how I'm easy to buy for? Obviously Ka's Mum does not reckon so. I'm only three chapters into it (I started it late last night) but am quite enjoying it so far. It's not an autobiography but a collection of tales (perhaps verging into the tall department) from different times throughout Ross' own life. In fact, it's very much like reading a blog. I wonder if any of our blogs will ever make it on to bookshelves for the Christmas market? Or even the Barrowlands market? Okay, maybe Paddy's Market? If Ross can do it, so can we!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

The stationery key

Upon waking up this morning I thought of the latest Barclaycard advert - you know the one? A man stands up in the office as everyone finishes for the day and starts changing into his swimming gear as he makes his way to a stationery cupboard. He opens the cupboard door for us to see the opening of a water flume in the far wall, amongst the shelves and staplers. The man has his shorts on and proceeds to jump into the waterslide, sliding and spinning his way home by water in the flume, slowing down to pass through a supermarket en route, with it's own flume system, and to buy some bananas. He then continues on over and down the streets, all with this weird and wonderful flume passing through it, coming to the end of his journey with the flume disappearing into the side of a house where, after a short moment, you hear the man shout for a towel. The man obviously has a barclaycard which, presumably, makes everything easy, fast, efficient and effortless. Another wonderful way of a company trying to entice you to get a credit card and endanger your financial self.
However, I yearned for a similar waterslide this morning. Something to transport me the opposite way, straight to work, with minimal effort. A quick slide down a water shute and I'd be there, in the office, on time, which, of course, I was not this morning. A grand total of four minutes late, I reckon. Now that I think about it, even if I had arrived by water shute I would have also had the problem of having to shout for help as the two stationery cupboards in our office are always locked. The larger of the two is out in the corridor, between the kitchen/cafe and the office door, and the second, smaller office is in the Big boss' personal office. Having a secret waterslide entrance in that office would certainly prove problematic especially if the Big boss happened to be in the middle of an important meeting with the higher powers. It's ridiculous that these cupboards are locked anyway. It just shows how much trust the management have in their staff. The stationery cupboards are, for some reason, big no-go areas. It seems they are a place only few are allowed entry to unless in a terrible dire need. Would people really go out of their way to nick a bic pen..? Well, probably, actually. The amount of pens that have been nicked from my own desk could probably be combined to create a quarter scale model of Big Ben that Michael Schofield would be proud of. As a result of these bloody annoying thefts, and only after a futile attempt to locate your missing bic, you have to hesitantly ask for the Stationery key. It's a bit like a scene in Oliver Twist. Walking up the office towards the keyholder, the admin manager to say:
"Please madam, I have the s..stationery cupboard key?"
"WWWWhhhhhhhaaaaaattt?!!!", she yells.
Gasps and whispers circulate the open office:
"He wants the stationery cupboard key" "He wants the key to the cupboard?" "The staionery key?" "He wants a new pen?" "He's asked for the stationery key" "Why did he do that?" "THE Stationery key..?" "What possessed him?!"
Any minute now I half expect them all to break into some dark, oppressive song, singing in low horror laden voices as they slowly dance around me shaking their heads and wagging their forefingers. (gawd, have I been watching too many musicals?) Never lose your pen in our office. The barclaycard man would never have this problem. Sliding away down his flume to the Bellamy Brothers. I'm still not getting a barclaycard though.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Time flies

Happy New Year!
2009 already?!
Hogmanay and New Year flew by in a whirling blur of drink, parties, food, dancing, and the inevitable slight anti climax of a usual New Year. Waking up on New Years Day, I had a few moments of wondering where the hell I was before I slowly recognised the surroundings. Room 202 of the Premier Inn, Glasgow. A comfy bed, in one of the comfortable enough cloned rooms in the supposedly cheaper hotel chain (although they slap on a extra £20 for New Year). Not quite the exciting adventure Ka and myself had last year in Paris but it brought in 2009 with an enjoyable night and a brilliant meal at Mama San on Bath Street, an Asian themed restaurant and bar. Serving us with a cocktail on arrival we were then presented with some great food in the form of Asian tapas with spices, vegetables, chicken, salad, tofu and noodles. Way too much for our stomachs (and the space on our table) to contend with. After eleven the rear of the restaurant was then opened out to produce a dancefloor on which we brought in the bells, ten minutes late. By my watch it was at least ten past twelve before we got the familiar doomladen bell chimes of Big Ben played through the speakers. No countdown, no party poppers on the stroke of midnight, no hip hip hooray, no 'Auld Lang Syne' just a constant 'is it not time yet?' look of puzzlement running over the faces of everyone in the bar. We could do nothing but shrug and get on with enjoying ourselves. At around one I fell into a bit of a stupor suddenly feeling the effects of the cocktails and decided that to cure this I would turn to Vodka. Probably not the best of moves but on these nights out people rarely make good moves. Espeically the tall, bespectacled bald man on the dancefloor, alongside Ka and Chaz, who thought he was Michael Jackson and started working on an elaborate version of the moonwalk. On seeing this Chaz took it upon himself to try and out-moonwalk the guy. Not sure who won, but I'm sure I got some photos.
New Years Day was largely quite quiet as a result of the previous night's excesses and after luch at the Counting House Chaz drove Ka and myself back home to EK, feeling better after our food but still slightly stoned. Ka and myself relaxed the rest of the day, eyes dragging shut as we sat on the couch infront of Joanthan Creek in the evening.
The next day, the second, was brighter and busier as we were once again entertaining. The McGarva clan and the Reid clan were visiting at five so preperations had to be made. The meeting of two great families, coming together for the first time on the year of our Wedding. Another great night was had with more food, drink, and fun, involving pass-the-parcel, with Morgan's own portable stereo system, that had tormented the kitchen since she had arrived, and a three hour game of Cranium in which team members hummed at one another, drew for one another and generally shouted at one another. A board game that, I suspect, should be played with a few drinks in you in order for you to enjoy it (and perhaps understand it). The night drew to a successful close with music requests including The Stereophonics, The Kinks, Elvis, Take That, ELO, Roxy Music, REM and The Killers, to name but a few.
On Saturday was the inevitable. The dismantling of the Christmas tree and the taking down of decorations. Back to normality now... though I have a sneaking suspicion 2009 will be no 'normal' year.