Monday, 30 March 2009

Riveting chili

A Monday away from the office. Lovely. Pretty productive too with a bacon sarny, a visit to the local DIY megastore, a trip to the local supermarket, a painted door, a game of hide 'n' seek with the niece, the cooking and eating of a fantastic chili con carne, a mini cupboard clearout, another episode of 'Heroes' (though that was once again disappointing), some internet camera shopping and now a quick write in the Journal. I wonder how the office is coping without me... pretty normally I would guess. though there won't be anyone to do the Slaters. That should pee one or two folk off a little but give Felix something enjoyable to do. Felix, the line manager, seems to enjoy handing out absent folks' work to others. I suspect he likes the look of annoyance on some peoples' faces when they get handed a five page advert to do because someone else is off either sunning themselves or being ill (or both with the second being used as an excuse for the first!).
Jeez, I'm off work for the week and what am I writing about in my Journal? Work! Then again, I suppose it is better that than writing about the now freshly coated kitchen door or the fantastic chili con carne I produced. Not exactly riveting stuff.
Remember that Irn-Bru ripp off? Rivets? It was just like Irn-Bru except even sweeter and even more disgusting to drink. I'm assuming it no longer exists, but I could be wrong. It may have disappeared off the supermarket shelves when I was working down south for those 3 and a half years... It was probably discontinued due to health and safety. The ridiculous amount of sugar warnings or something.
Anyway, where was I? Yes, the chili con carne is fast becoming a bit of a Michael Reid speciality. Today I used real chili peppers as well as chili powder. It gave it a good kick. A right good kicking actually - the kind you'd get after insulting someones mother except here it would be in good taste. Made even better with a sprinkling of grated cheese and some pitta breads picked up from the bargain bakery trolley which only cost me 20p for the six of them. 20p?! Can you believe it. The deals you find on those bargain bakery trolleys are great sometimes. Though sometimes you've got to wrestle your way into it. Elbowing the little old ladies out the way etc. Not today though! Made that visit to the supermarket worthwhile. In fact, it made the whole day worthwhile!

Future trips

Our honeymoon has now been booked. Woohoo! A week in Italy. Four days in the capital, Rome, followed by three days in the City of Water itself, Venice. Aeroplanes, taxis, water buses, speed boats and gondolas all included to ensure a pleasant, organised and safe journey. Okay, maybe not the gondolas (apparently they cost a fortune nowadays). Time to get the Lonely planet books out again! Brush up on the old Roman history before we head out. Of course, the trip wont be all museums and sightseeing but I'm sure we'll do some walking over there. Unlike Brussels, where I'm heading for the stag weekend. Kenny has organised the stag weekend with Dad and Jim and we'll be heading down to Belgium in mid June. Again, that should be fun though I very much doubt I'll end up remembering much of it! Kenny, Colin McG, Chaz, James, Colin Main (hopefully!), Dad and Jim will be heading out there with me. David, the boss in the work, was quite impressed with the idea of the stag, congratulating Kenny on his great choice. Apparently it has some brilliant pubs which he has experienced first hand on more than one football trip. Again, I cannot say I know a great deal about Brussels, and I'm certainly not sure I'll learn a great deal more. Kenny has warned me he will not be organising any Museum or Art gallery trips so I'll be on my own there.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Pierce Brosnan singing and Italian arse pinchers

Friday again and the week has sped by in time for another weekend. Forgot to mention my mother's birthday on the blog which was on Tuesday. Working late I was unable to get up to Chapelton to see her but we all had dinner together on the Sunday night with Gran, which also encompassed the commercial Mothers Day, so we hit two birds with the one stone there (the phrase - we were not literally throwing stones at the elder women around the dining table). Ka and myself bought her that dreadful looking Mamma Mia film on DVD and the new DVD/CD collection from the great Annie Lennox. I'm sure the Mamma Mia film is not that dreadful - it just looks it. When it was originally released last year I suspect ever woman in Britain trooped out to see it as it had to be in the cinema for months. There was even a sing-a-long version released a month after the original, enticing the same women to go back out and see it all over again, filling cinemas all over the land with screeching housewives. The Reid women themselves all went for my Aunt Linda's birthday which is when my mother first seen it. Ka was invited but opted to go with her Mum and neice instead. Not a fan of Abba or Pierce Brosnan, Ka had not been keen up until then. What's worse than Pierce Brosnan? Pierce Brosnan singing! To Abba?! No thank you very much. Maybe it was the whole Colin Firth thing too? Women seem to have a thing for Colin Firth? Still insisting on calling him Mr Darcy and talking suddenly like they're out of breath? The swedish actor, Stellan Skarsgard was the third possible Dad in the film. The third Dad? As far as I know the plot revolves around Meryl Streep's daughter getting married and three Dads being at the wedding. The Meryl Streep Mum was obviously a bit of a tart in her younger days and she does not know which one is her daughter's father and invited all three former lovers along to be safe (being safe obviously not something she was used to 20 years ago). Anyway, all this takes place on some wonderful looking greek island. The beautiful shots of the idyllic Greek town ruined only by the processions of women waving their washing around their heads.
Talking of foreign destinations Ka and myself still have to sort out our honeymoon. We've got some vague ideas about Italy but nothing wholly decided yet. We did quite fancy Venice with romantic notions of journeys on candle lit godolas passing under the many beautiful buildings and bridges, singing about ice cream. As long as we avoid any dwarves in red raincoats we should be alright. Rome is also a place we'd be keen to visit with it's spectacular architecture. Apparently there's more to do in Rome too so we may end up visiting the two of them. On the phone to my Aunt Ann, down in London, the other week she did warn us of the Italian men. Apparently they have a habit of arse pinching. She told us her bottom was red raw by the time she got home from Italy. Not sure what areas of Rome she was staying in or when she was over there but I'm sure the arse pinching is probably no longer accepted as etiquette. I suspect I would be safe from the arse pinchers anyway. Florence, in the Tuscany region, has also been recommended to us, again with it's rich assets in architecture, art and its history with the Renaissance. My other Aunt Anne (or Mad Auntie Anne, as she was known to my mates - not that the other Aunt Ann is not mad but for some reason this particular Aunt Anne has been labelled for life!) and Uncle Ian are continuously raving about Florence as they have spent more than one new year there. Both Ka and myself have never been to Italy at all so it should be great wherever we end up.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

A final burning place

Well, I think I've found the aforementioned wheelie bins. In a clearing further into the forest, around forty metres beyond the entrance to the allotment, the trees thin out and five or six burnt circles of ground lie at different spaces throughout. Lying between the high fences of one side of the allotment and the high fences of the back end of a sewage works lies this, the hoodies, secret night time getaway. Walking the path down to the area, it was immediately apparent this was our bins final journey. Ka's empty Morrisons' passata boxes from her most recent batch of meatballs lay at one side of the path, wet, soggy and adandoned. Collapsed trunks and tree roots lie over the leafy floor in and around their bonfire remains. Small piles of thick melted blue plastic, the blackened remains of old newspapers, magazines and plastic containers all dotted around the black cinders and ashes. One lone wheelie bin wheel protruding from one pile. The bone like remnants of the streets' waste disposal units. So my idealistic visions of jumping in to a major bin smuggling operation have disintegrated some what. Apparently some folk nick these bins to sell them on. Apparently the cost can be as much as £60?! Makes me even angrier that the bins are now mouldy, misshapen blobs of plastic. I could have nicked the bins myself and made some money out of it?!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The case of the blue wheelie bins

I've been dreaming of wheelie bins for the past two nights. Recently our neighbourhood has been terrorised by the return of the bin nickers. A while back, before Christmas, all the wheelie bins for our block of flats, disappeared overnight resulting in me having to phone the Council for replacements. Now, once again, it is happening again. A number of our blue, recycling, wheelie bins went missing over the weekend there and on returning home from work, late on Monday, I found an attempt had been made on our three remaining bins. Disturbed in some way in mid theft, the robbers had abandoned the bins half way down the street. After retrieving the bins I had no other option but to bring them inside to our close and store them there. It was then I decided to investigate. I walked down to the bottom of the street, in the general direction the robbers had been heading, and into the dark entrance to the Calderglen forest. On entering the forest you first meet the gate to the local allotment before the path veers down the hill to the right, through the trees. It was here, at the allotment entrance, that I found my first clues. An empty milk carton and an empty cardboard hankie box. Not much in the way of clues, you may think, but they were our milk carton and hankie box, along with other extraneous recyclable rubbish from our bin that had been nicked over the weekend, lying in a heap of debris at the allotment gate. Could it be that an allotment member was nicking our bins in order to create a new manure pot or compost heap?
On Monday night I dreamt of a Fastasia like extravaganza with wheelie bins marching in procession, shuffling along a giant arch, singing in a low, monotone voice, by opening and closing their lids. Streams of water flowing up and around them against a navy blue, cartoon like, background.
"Wheelie bins...dun dun dun, wheelie bins...dun, dun dun, wheelie bins...dun, dun, dun"
On Tuesday morning I took another stroll down to the allotment before work. Fortunately I was able to gain access as a keen gardener had already arrived and left the gate open. Making my way inside I started looking around for any signs of rogue recycling bins but was almost immediately disturbed by someone poking their head over an old fence, further up into the allotment, beadily eyeing me suspiciously. Realising this had to be the chap who left the gate open, I made my way up to him, greeting him a cheery good morning. Now, I don't know why I did this but instead of telling the true reasons as to why I was sneaking around an allotment I was suddenly telling the man how I was a keen gardener and was interested in obtaning one of the plots of land. He told me a Councillor named Jim Fowler was the person to talk to (not Arfur). So I asked my new found fellow horticulturist if I could I have a quick walk around the allotment, to which he hesitantly agreed and I had a good look about only finding one clean, blue bin. No sign of all the other numbered bins that had been nicked from us out in the street. As I walked back down towards the gate to leave, the same gardener stepped out infront of me and offered to walk me out. His suspicions must have been raised somehow and my own suspicions settled. The bin thieving was not an allotment operation.
Once again, the robbers struck last night. Being at work I managed to get the low down from Ka on my return. A couple of guys in hoods had managed to get one of our bins from inside our close and another from one of the other blocks. The hoods then disappeared into the trees at the same dead end of the street that leads into the entrance to the allotment and the depths of Calderglen Park. Approximately five minutes later a fire engine roared down the street and, sure enough, skidded to a halt at the dead end, it's incumbents jumping out and getting to work. Ka and Chris (who was visiting for a coffee at the time) questioned one of the firemen to see if there was any sign of the wheelie bins but the fireman only gave a short, irritable response and got on with his work. Unfortunately it must be the same old story. Neds. The hoodies are nicking our recycling and burning them along with the wheelie bins. Why? What kind of deprived, boring lives must these guys lead to find this kind of behaviour entertaining? Even at a young age what do these guys find appealing about nicking peoples wheelie bins. Perhaps we should be grateful it is only the wheelie bins and nothing more... but then maybe that is just a matter of time.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Weird Watchmen

Seen the movie Watchmen on Wednesday night. A very odd but interesting movie which was generally good but with the usual silly moments that inhabit these kind of 'superhero' movies. There was even a love scene that went on for too long, exposing too much shiny, moonlit, bottom. One of the main 'superhero' characters even went everywhere naked. A tall, blue superpowered being named Doctor Manhatten who had been transformed accidentally from a normal, everyday nuclear scientist in the late fifties. Becoming a higher form of life with devastatingly god like powers this character considered it acceptable to walk around butt naked... except when he goes to funerals. The best character of the piece was the brilliant Rorschach, a street vigilante who wore a cloth mask with a moving ink pattern over the face. Weird and brilliant and by far the most interesting and psychotic of the characters. Sticking to the original graphic novel (or comic) rigidly, the director Zack Snyder brings the pictures and characters to life in fabulous, full blown fashion, illustrating the alternate New York and the world that goes with it in a bleak, dystopian, nuclear fuelled detail rarely seen in any other 'superhero' movie. Watchmen is not really a 'superhero' movie though. The 'superheroes' themselves possess no super powers, falling more in line with the Batman like character of rich weirdos who dress up to enact justice on the streets. Through these characters Watchmen shows the people that would do this as psychotic, naive, corny and troubled, all battling their own troubled characters in their own way and breaking some bones along the way. Completely unlike any movie I've probably ever seen, it was a bit of a puzzler but with the good outweighing the bad. More weird than anything else.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The corners of my mind

Happy Birthday to my brother Kenny who is... erm... something today. I can't remember. What age is he? I've completely lost track. Wait a minute, there's two years between each of us which would presumably mean he is 27. I think. I hit the grand old age of 31 this year so he must be 27, Lynsey in the middle being 29... ah, but he was born in 1983 so he must be 26. This is worrying. Not only are my siblings getting scarily old around me but I am suffering early memory decline and dementia. It's not the first time I've had this moment of realisation. A few weeks ago I was prompted to remember something that happened way back in primary school and I realised I could barely remember anything that happened in Art School, never mind High School and Primary. Is this normal? If not, I'm in trouble. Friends from school and college have often started a conversation with 'Remember when...?' and I embarrassingly have to pretend I remember, hoping they're not making some crazy, ridiculous occurence up in order to catch me out. Worryingly I've found myself in, and quite often caused, quite a lot of crazy, ridiculous situations so it's a pretty safe bet nodding my head and agreeing with some fake laughter. Kenny probably has more than a few of his own embarrassing memories of me kept instore for his best man's speech. Memories which will no doubt be used to laugh at me rather than with me. Primary school has to be the hardest of all the memory centres to dip into. The occasional funny moment springs to mind such as the Tambourini paper towel eating incident and other such wonders like the eating of sock elastic and pulling it back out through the nostril (something, I hasten to add, I did not take part in). Chaz's leap to sickening freedom, Colin's mass saying, playing Blinds Man Buff with a blind person, acting out Star Wars scenes in the schoolgrounds and the footie game in which I got belted in the balls with a Mitre Delta. Okay, I'm now remembering more of the stupid stuff rather than the stuff that actually matters such as my best grades, my timestables and my brother's age (though being hit in the groinal region should probably matter to some extent to any bloke - no matter the age). Perhaps I'm also exaggerating about the timestables. I do remember most of them and even sing them sometimes in my head, in the strange, ritualistic way we were taught (sometimes it takes ages to work something out when your standing in the middle of a supermarket). Primary school was torture a great deal of the time so this would perhaps account for the lack of memories. Perhaps I've deliberately shoved all the bad memories to the back of my head, under a psychological rug. A particularly heavy psychological rug which is rarely moved to hoover under for fear of the memories being set free and running wild in the brain. Perhaps some other memories have been mistakenly swept under the rug and in order to find the one you need you have to trawl your way through all the bad memories. In order to solve the Kenny's age problem I'll just use the most obvious solution and ask him. He won't mind. He barely remembers anyone's birthday and he's only... what... 27?

Monday, 16 March 2009

The naked neighbour

Friday night was Comic Relief night and Ka and myself were once more in the McGarva household for dinner with Colin, Ka's bro, and Morgan, our neice. We burst into the McGarva household, Ka sporting a rather fetching curly red wig and all her clothes inside out. My dressing up involved merely wearing a red nose. The red noses this year were the best designs yet, though you still had slight difficulty in actually breathing, but as Morgan discovered, they also bounced, an added bonus. The whole red nose thing was obviously new to Morgan, however, as she kept insisting on shouting 'Happy Halloween'. The charity managed to raise over £57 million, the best year yet, considering the deadly credit crunch hanging over us all.
As if things were not expensive enough, at the moment, the Government is now talking about upping the price of alcohol to a minimum of 50p per unit in order to tackle the country's alcohol abuse. What about those of us that do not abuse it and merely enjoy the odd pint now and again, an occasional bottle of wine at the weekend and the odd occasional night out? Why should we pay more for our booze just because the town centres are full of neds and buckie drinkers?
Talking of neds and buckie drinkers, our downstairs neighbour had a few friends round to watch the football yesterday. Following Celtic's victory over Rangers, a small commotion in the downstairs porch area of our block echoed up the stairs. Ka and myself were awaiting the arrival of my Mum and Dad for dinner and I was on the look out for them arriving. At the bedroom window I looked down to see if there was any sign of the loud commotion at the front porch as Mum and Dad arrived, pulling up in the Citroen. Just as I raised my hand to wave a welcome hello to my Mum our neighbour from the downstairs flat strode out on to the pavement, completely naked, except from a sock, (which unfortunately was in the usual foot area). Striding out into the street our neighbour did not realise the car directly before him had just pulled up, giving my parents the best possible view of the goings on. On noticing the two gawping people sitting in the Citroen the guy turned and immediately scrambled back for the door retreating back into his flat with his jolly crowd. My parents politely gave them some time to escape before eventually appearing at our door, a little taken aback by their welcoming committee. We came to the conclusion that it must have all been some kind of bet resulting from the football score. Why he couldn't just eat his hat like any other normal person I don't know. Dad mumbled something about Calderwood riff raff. Still, at least it makes a change from the usual beatings and riots that go on following these football games, though i can't see it catching on. Byres Road full of naked football fans, wandering around following an old firm game. Maybe we're better off with the riots and beatings? In both cases it boils down to one thing, alcohol intake. Maybe there is logic behind the hike in the price of alcohol after all.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

When they were up, they were up

The nice people at Fasthosts sent me an email today. A receipt for the direct debit charge for my annual website renewal. I've just swiftly pointed out that they have actually, already charged me, approximately two weeks ago. I think I must have called their customer care department around five or six times that week. Idiots. There are warnings all over the web about Fasthosts but did I listen to them, no. Numpties. Looks like yet another phonecall to yet another customer care division is called for.
Just watched two hours of comic relief related telly with the celebrity climbers going up Mount Kilimanjaro followed by The Apprentice for Comic Relief which had a team of male celebrities up against a team of females. the girls were led by Michelle Mone, the Glaswegian lingerie entrepreneur, now based in EK, the boys by Gerlad Ratner, a jeweller... or something. Jack Dee, Jonathan Ross, Alan Carr and Gok Wan were the other members of the male team, Jack being his usual hilairious self. Jack sat on the couch and worked out the whole presentatio whilst Jonathan Ross jumped about the couch, firing water pistols and bouncing on those bouncing ball things with antlers. What are they called? Each team had to create a toy for 5-8 year old boys and girls. The boys came up with a great belt idea with which kids would have to collect figures for each of its clips. Each figure looking like something designed by a Japanese cartoonist. The girls had an idea of a suit made of velcro. The velcro suit won... Yeah, I'm sure I would have loved a velcro suit at that age... Turning up at a birthday party at that age and being told to put on a velcro suit, in order to jump about the floor and stick to both girls and boys, would have probably made me leave, sharpish.
The trek up Kilimanjaro looked far more challenging and had a far better result with all the celebrities making it up to the top. Even Chris Moyles and Cheryl Cole made it (whai aye man!). They've apparently raised well over one million by doing it too so good on 'em! I thought climbing the odd Munro was challenging. At times that climb looked like hell. Especially for poor Cotton.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Infinity is a great place to start

Have been listening to 'No Line on the Horizon', U2's latest album, and have finally come to a decision. It's pretty brilliant. On hearing the first single 'Get on your boots' over a month ago I was not so sure about their return but have found the track to be a bit of a grower, however, now I feel it to be one of the weaker tracks on the album and very unlike the rest of the accompanying songs. In fact, the whole album is a definite 'grower' taking more than a few listens to get into, which I usually find to be a good thing. Again working with Lillywhite, Lanois and the brilliant Brian Eno, U2 have produced an exciting group of songs, pushing at their own boundaries and comfort zones, mixing noise and tempo with smooth quiet and echoes resulting in a really contrasting, varied collection. Tracks such as 'White As snow' and 'Moment of Surrender' drift soothingly whilst tracks such as 'Magnificent' and 'Breathe' grab your attention and punch you across the face, making you sit up and listen. The album closes with the excellent Cedars of Lebanon written from the viewpoint of a journalist in the Middle east, a long way from the crazy, non sensical 'Get on your Boots' a mere five tracks earlier. 'Fez-Being Born' is a great track, inspired largely by Eno I suspect, taking the listener on a journey through Morocco, where the album was made. Certainly not their best album, but certainly one which proves U2 are still producing great music.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Needing time out

Times must be bad. At lunch, Gareth and myself halved in to buy a Time Out chocolate biscuit. One finger each. The machine stands up against one of the walls of the work canteen facing you as you walk in for your break, immediately tempting you with all sorts of snacking delights. Usually I can resist no problem and am quite happy to eat my sandwiches and fruit. However, today it was tough. It has been one of those Mondays for me. In for work on time, working continuously for the first three quarters of the day, gulping down tea in the hope that it stirred some life into me and still I remained drowsy. I don't think I actually reached full consiousness till around four in the afternoon today. The surrender to half a Time Out was in the hope that some chocolate would waken me up a little. It probably worked but took till around four to do so.
Trying to cut down on all the sugary delights at the moment. At the McGarvas for dinner last night I was forced to eat two desserts. Well, not forced exactly, but i would have felt bad if I had refused the second. A piece of Cadbury's Chocolate Easter cake - complete with mini eggs on top. As we drank our tea and ate our puddings after a brilliant Sunday roast the McGarvas and myself watched Dancing On Ice, the show in which celebrities compete with each other, figure skating with their own partnered professionals. Glossy, crystal clean, teeth sparkling entertainment. Not one for watching these kind of programs, worryingly I found myself transfixed by the skaters gliding round the tv screen. Whether this was because I was in the In laws household and had nowhere else to escape, because I was half sleeping, digesting the sunday meal or because I was genuinely enjoying the program, I've no idea. Perhaps it was down to the girl from Blue Peter, Zoé Salmon. Blue Peter presenters have changed a lot since the eighties that's for sure! Who did we have? Mark Curry and Anthea flamin' Turner?! Shockingly, Zoé was booted off in the final with the dire 'Loose Woman' Nolan sister still in the competition. What's that all about?! Have the voting public for these tv shows gone mad? First John Sargeant nearly wins the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing by wobbling his double chin, the next, a fumbling, overweight Nolan sister wins over a beautiful, skilled dancer like Zoé. Dispicable. The show's corrupt. Has to be!
Woke up this morning to the neighbours arguing again. A young couple, maybe slightly younger than us, live above with their small baby. Once a week the girl has a screaming fit. Not the baby, the grown up. Shouting and yelling at the other half, saying how he does nothing, he does not care for her, blah blah. All the usual stuff. At least when Ka and myself argue we come up with different, more imaginative ways to yell at each other (door slamming competitions, handstands, balancing a glass of water on our head, etc). The two upstairs just seem to go through the same thing everytime. It's always the girl you hear shouting though, never the guy. His voice only travels down as a barely audible mumble in reply to his raving partner's. No wonder I'm so flamin' tired.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

I've been called a lot of things, but never funny

Ignored the miserable weather today and headed into Glasgow for a wee walk around and a few odd jobs. The picking up of a Wedding ring, the buying of a birthday present and a quick look in the camera shops. Jessops is apparently closing down, so I ventured up Sauchiehall street to see if I could grab a bargain. Jessops being Jessops, of course, I could not. Large posters advertising some kind of Spring clearance sale inside adorned the windows. On venturing inside I discovered one basket at the till filled with dusty, old discounted camera bags. That was it. The Spring Clearance Sale apparently only applying to dusty old camera bags I gave up and wandered back down to the chaotic Buchanan Galleries to meet up with Ka. After some shopping, (I say some but I mean, as little as possible), we decided to go for a bite. We opted for some cheap and cheerful pub grub.
Why is it some folk find it so difficult washing their hands after using the toilet. Especially blokes. After eating some fairly nice pub grub in The Maltman on Renfield Street I visited the loo and as I stood drying my hands at a particularly powerful drying machine after washing I could not help notice some bloke leave the wall urinal and head straight out through the door. I'd just like to make it clear I was not, in any way, watching the guy do the toilet but was merely aware of the dismal fact that he left without so much as a spray of cold water from the taps. Why is this? Do blokes find it unmanly to wash their hands after freeing themselves from a full bladder? Surely washing after pi**ing should be mandatory for blokes?! Are they in that much of a hurry to get back to their beloved pints? Is the conversation with their mates THAT good that they have to go back to a busy bar with their hands reeking? Maybe it was the chef rushing back to his kitchen? No, I don't want to even go there. The thought, not the kitchen. I'm sure the kitchen is very hygienic...
After our meal we seen the excellent Gran Torino. Fantastic. Clint Eastwood is just a genius. A true Hollywood great. He seems to be just getting better with age (he must be ancient now?!). He not only starred in Gran Torino, but directed, produced and contributed to the music. Just as the excellent Changeling before it. Eastwood basically plays a miserable old, Korean war veteran with a grudge against his life and himself who slowly, and inadvertantly, turns himself into a neighbourhood hero. Brilliant.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Springtime and music pirates

Springtime is coming! Bono shouted this during Live Aid in 1985 during Feed the World, even though it is a song about Christmas. This exclamation is made even more puzzling by the fact that Live Aid took place in the summer, July 13th to be precise. So even though Bono was completely wrong at the time, it is an accurate assessment of the weather that greeted me this morning on leaving the flat. The sun was out this morning, at least it was up there somewhere among the clouds, and there is the growing feeling of winter leaving us once more. Hopefully. This is Scotland I suppose. Our summers usually last approximately one week, or if your thinking back to 2008, probably around three days.
As I thought this getting into my car I turned on the radio to hear the one and only Irish singer once more in another repeat on Radio 1 of the latest U2 single. 'No Line on the Horizon' hit the shops yesterday and is apparently another big seller after only one day on the shelves. Unable to purchase until thursday,however, and am steadfastly refusing to download it, unlike certain other friends of mine (they shall go unnamed). One of them has even had the album for at least two weeks. This is exactly the reason why the music and movie industry is suffering at the moment. All the pirates wandering the web, illegally plundering the downloads for their treasures. I work with a few of them too, I should know. Limping into work everyday, all innocent, as if butter wouldn't melt. I'll watch them as they go about their business, working away at their desks, growling abuse down their phones through their rotten teeth and feeding their parrots perched on their monitors. Okay, they're not all that bad. Some of them do floss apparently. Not that I'd know, of course (I prefer a simple brush with Colgate and a quick rinse with Plax myself). You used to hear of these raids down the Glasgow Barrowlands every now and again where Police would swoop in on the occasional Saturday morning and seize thousands of pounds worth of pirated material. As much as I liked getting the bootlegs I used to dread buying them. You'd approach the stall hesitantly, looking round you at all times, giving the occasional peer over the shoulder. You'd then set to work, ferociously flicking through the mountains of CDs at breakneck pace until you found the one you were after. You'd throw the money at the smelly owner of the stall and quickly hide the CD under your jacket and slink off into the Glasgow market crowds. Maybe buy some doughnuts on the way. I always hated the idea of the police disturbing me as I found the rare bootleg version of Bowie's original cut of Scarey Monsters or some lost live album from Talking Heads' past. "Officer, please, this is listed as the fifth rarest bootleg of all time!". "Put it down son, your nicked". It wasn't so much the nicking it was more the fact I'd found something worth buying.
Most of the smelly stall owners in the Barras were always suspicious at the best of times anyway. One Saturday morning, during my time at Art School, I was quietly sitting drawing a book stall when all of a sudden the lady owner realised I was there and started hurling abuse as she ran at me. Apparently she 'knew my game'? I had not been aware of playing any game at the time, though I was a bit of a Games Workshop nut at the time. Still, you don't expect that kind of abuse for that do you? Maybe a bit of a slagging from your mates (if you have any) but not an attack from a female vigilante book stall owner. Almost dropping my sketch book with alarm I just managed to get away from the crazy old bird feeling a little more hesitant to sketch the market scenes afterwards. Maybe she thought I was an undercover agent for Strathclyde police or something. Which means she must have been feeling rather guilty about something. Perhaps her books were off the back of a lorry? It was a shame really as it was a bloody good book stall. There's hardly any decent second hand book shops or stalls left. Sometimes I wonder into the Oxfams and Cancer Research charity shops for a browse though. Most of the time their shelves are only filled with fifteen year old Guiness Book of Records, Maeve Binchy novels or the Daniel O'Donnell - My Story. My Great Aunt Mina used to go to that cheery, irish warbler's concerts. We used to joke that she threw her knickers at him on stage. She would join us with a smile and laugh rather uncomfortably, then go strangely quiet...

Monday, 2 March 2009

Gate crashers, kilts and christenings

A busy weekend there with some parties and a long awaited shopping trip. The weekend kicked off with a birthday party. Happy Birthday Uncle Tommy who hit the grand age of 50 on Friday (well, his party was on Friday anyway). Family and friends gathered at the Rolls Royce Club in EK to celebrate and to help raise some funds for the local hospital. A good night was had by all as we enjoyed the food and music with the credit crunch defying bar prices. There was over ten of us at the Reid tables and the drink prices were coming in at approximately 15 quid a round. Fantastic. You'd probably pay at least 15 for five drinks in Glasgow. No wonder Rolls Royce is making hundreds redundant - they should maybe think about upping their club bar prices. It was down to the women to rescue the dancefloor again. A gate crasher from Kenny's work turned up with a girl in tow, drunk and, worse than that, dancing willingly. Trust the gate crasher to put us blokes to shame. So, as we neared the end of the night a good bunch of us ended up doing the Macarena. I say "us" because embarassingly, for some Jack Daniels fuelled reason, I ended up shaking my hips to the awful spaniards, the surrounding Aunties, alonside Ka, Chris and Martin, showing me how it was done. As far as I can remember the dance moves were extremely similar to The Time Warp, in fact, it was a blatant rip off. Richard O'Brien should sue! However, it has been a while since I have done the Time Warp so don't quote me on that...Why is it you always end up getting up and doing these embarassing dances with Aunties? When you Mum asks you to dance you give her a firm and definite NO. One which may or may not come in the form of two words but when it is an Auntie you somehow struggle to give the same response. It is as if your conscience is unable to give an Auntie a negative response. There is something in the programming that conflicts and after a short mind battle, short circuits and results in a tired "okay then".
After saying our goodbyes to Tommy and Tricia we left the party to walk straight into a small crowd at the car park exit. The gate crasher was busy insulting a passing girl's diet plan and, as a result, was causing a bit of a raucous. Ka tried to calm the girl down and usher her on but unfortunately the bloke kept persisting with his idiocy. As Dad finally managed to pull Ka, Kenneth and myself from the crowd people started hitting off the temporary metal work fence, erected around the car park, like vertical trampolines. Shortly afterwards, the numbskull that started it all dived into a waiting car and sped off into the night, not before stopping at the side of the road and offering Kenny a lift. Thankfully, Kenny declined and Mum piled us into the car and drove us all home.
The next day was the long awaited kilt hunting. Sprung out of bed, with a rather surprising springiness considering the Jack Daniels from the night before, and wolved down a bacon roll, pulled on some clothes and jumped on a bus for Renfield Street. It was kilt day and time to bite the bullet. Generally not comfortable in kilts I had been kind of dreading the kilt day but, as it turned out, did not have much to worry about. Met Dougie and Colin at Slanj in St Vincent Street, a kilt hire place that, as we found out, only hires out a vast selection of 4 grey tartan kilts. Disappointing. Just as disappointing as the rubbish service we did not really get in the place. After Kenny arrived we headed out, disappointed and a little pessimistic, and headed straight for Moss Brothers on Renfield Street where Dad caught up with us, disconcertingly sneaking up behind up us as we were talking to the tailor. Unlike Slanj, the tailor in Moss Brothers went straight to work with his measuring tape and kitted us out in the full gear disappearing through a small doorway in the corner occasionally and reappearing almost instantly through the same door with kilts, jackets and shoes, hindered only by our over pondering of shoe sizes. Anyway, after the kilts were booked up Dad, Kenny and I went, yep, you guessed it, to the pub where we had a few pints and a spectacular pub lunch watching Scotland beat Italy.
The next day it was out and about again, only this time to the christening of my cousin Sarah's little boy, Christopher. It was good to catch up with some of the other family members after the service where the priest talked in detail about the light and the dark in religion and the rejection of evil drawing comparisons with the Star Wars movies. Darth Vader, of course, being the devil incarnate. Even though I had drawn similar comparisons many moons ago I did wonder if this was the first time I had heard the dreaded name Darth Vader in a chapel before. Now the priests are using the the texts of George Lucas in their sermons. I always knew Star Wars was worth watching.