Monday, 31 August 2009

Two days slow

Watching movies and eating crisps. That's how I spent the weekend - or, at least, that's what it feels like. Back in work this morning and I've realised I've only got two teabags left in my office drawer. I've got to survive a Monday shift with only two cups of tea?! I'm not sure if it's possible but I'll give it my best shot - I may have to go grovelling though. Some fellow office workers sometimes throw the odd teabag in my general direction if I find myself struggling.
Last night, Sunday, I was forced to sit and watch the epitome of Chick Flicks - 'Bride Wars'. I'm not sure why I allowed myself to watch this piece of nonsense but I have to admit I've watched a hell of a lot worse. Plus I'm probably guilty of forcing Ka to sit and watch movies that she does not particularly want to see so maybe I deserved it. Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson starred as the main characters so this in itself made it a little more watchable along with the copious amounts of Red Sky crisps. Fantastic crisps, by the way, introduced to us by Tom and Linda and well worth paying the extra money for.
Ka was struggling on Saturday after waking up hungover after her Disco Diva night. While she was out enjoying herself I was driving everyone about. Chaz and myself went out for a pint and I, in my eternal wisdom, decided to drive and on walking into EK's new pub, The Byre, we met my parents who were sitting at the other end of the room getting happy with wine. So I was volunteered for lifts home before picking Ka and some of her friends up and taking them all home. The female company ranging from the plain drunk to the disorderly, teary eyed and/or joyously talkative. So it was down to me to carry out all of Saturdays messages such as visit the Wedding photographer, pop in to Your Move, do a bit of shopping and generally clean the flat up.
So on Saturday night, with Ka still suffering, we lounged on the couch and watched, the funnier than I remember, 'Meet the Fockers' followed by Johnny Depp in 'Secret Window'. DeNiro is a hoot as that uptight CIA Dad in the first movie and teamed up with the exuberant Hoffman made a great team. The latter flick was an entertaining enough romp with Depp playing a lonely writer in solitude in a lakeside log cabin out in the middle of nowhere struggling with a weird visitor who appears out of nowhere at his door. This reminded me of Ka with the strange,wee Avon girl that appears at our door occasionally, threatening her with her ridiculously overpriced make-up. It was almost strange to see Depp play a normal guy for the first half of the movie after all the dancing about as a pirate and wild staring of Sweeny Todd that we've seen recently. He seems to switch from the more normal characters to the weird and wonderful with amazing ease and is going back down the wild and crazy path again with Tim Burton's up and coming 'Alice in Wonderland'. Can't think of a better director than Burton to tackle the 'Alice' tale with Depp playing the Mad Hatter, the tea obsessed nutcase with his weird riddles and nonsense words. Sounds familiar somehow...

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Getting better all the time

Uncle Tommy has almost finished the Wedding video. Well, DVD movie, they're not called videos anymore are they?
We watched the rough a good few weeks ago now and since then Tommy has been working hard on a finished version. Ka and myself nipped round to the Westwood to visit Tommy and Tricia on Monday night. Ka is off to a 'Disco Diva' hen night on Friday and needs an outfit of some description. For some reason, Tricia was sure she could help. She was sure she would be able to find something lying around in her wardrobes. Tricia complains that she used to wear this gear before meeting Tommy so, in effect, must blame Tommy for killing off her inner Disco Diva. As my Auntie takes Ka upstairs I imagine Tricia supplying her with a large dark pair of shades before going into a wardrobe full of glittering, sparkling, luminous blouses and flares beaming an incandescent light out into the bedroom as she opens it's large doors. As it happens, Ka came down with a rather normal looking pair of jeans so my Sergeant Pepper like visions of Tricia's magical wardrobe were perhaps a little over the top.
The wedding DVD is almost there as Tommy has been patiently working on it for weeks, modifying, tweaking and generally slaving over his laptop in various movie making applications in order to get all the footage he filmed on the day into as good a movie presentation as possible. I feel I should publically, or at least on this blog, say a big thank you to him for all his efforts. To tell the truth I suspect he's had a few hairy moments with it all and more than a few moments of near laptop through the window incidents but the disc he gave me on Monday proves it has all been worth the wait. Thanks again Tommy.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Bolognese and badgers

On Friday night there was a desperate search for organic beef. We travelled to three different supermarkets, throughout the wilds of Hamilton, seeking organic produce with which to feed Angela, Steven and Morgan who were due to visit on the Sunday. We went to Asda, Morrisons and then finally, Sainsburys where we managed to find some organic beef mince. Asda were useless with only a few organic beef joints which would have struggled to feed three people, and Morrisons had one lone organic chicken on the shelf. At least Sainsburys had one or two shelves devoted to the cause but with such little food available either we had just went in to the supermarkets at the wrong time of day or the organic food market is just not catching on, no matter how much Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall rabbit on. I did manage to make a cracking spaghetti bolognese with the organic meat for the visitation though which, I was told, was my best ever, so maybe there is something to all this organic carry-on after all. Personally I'm not sure it tasted any different to my usual 'conventional' bolognese, it just cost more to make this time round. Ka made the most expensive soup ever. £1.50 for four carrots?! I'd rather buy the non organic, pesticide riddled, insect protected full bag of ten carrots for 70p thank you very much and risk the possibility of Whittingstall knocking angrily on my front door. But then, that's the problem with the general population at the moment - too concerned about the holes in our wallets than the environment and what effects conventional food production is having on it?
Before the Spaghetti cooking we travelled down to Hawick on Saturday to visit Morven, Sean and Leo and see Morven's brother and his band play at the town's annual 'Party on the Pitch'. 'The Honey Budgers', sorry, 'The Honey Badgers' were excellent, though suffered the type error on the day's playlist and the support of a dreadful Elvis tribute act. Luckily we had our picnic lunch to divert our attention while he warbled. We sat on the green eating rolls, sausage rolls, Morven's vola vons and Sean's Mars Bar cake. After the Badgers, the dance outfit QFX took to the stage and the surrounding Hawick locals seemed to get a little overly excited about the beats blasting out over the Cricket grounds. Personally I thought 'The Badgers' were far more deserving for such a reception but there's just no accounting for taste. Shortly after, Ka and myself took our leave ending the day, after the long drive home, falling asleep on the couch with a bottle of champagne. Not sure what we were celebrating exactly but the bottle had been in the fridge for weeks and so Ka and myself decided that it deserved to be drunk!

Thursday, 20 August 2009


U2 rocked Hampden on Tuesday with a fantastic concert. Ka, Chaz, Tracey (a friend of Ka's) and myself headed into the stadium around six and met up with Colin and Heather who had already picked their spot. A rather good spot as it turned out almost directly infront of the stage, facing the east side of the stadium and directly infront of the circular walkway which surrounded the stage. Above us stood the massive 'claw' stage with it's giant screen circling the upper part of the claw and the tower of lights at it's centre spewing out dry ice as David Bowie's 'Space Oddity' roared from the eight sets of speakers hanging above us.
Then Larry took the stage pounding on his drums, the opening beats of 'Breathe' welcoming Adam, The Edge and then Bono to the stage. I had been moaning about the sound quality at the last Hampden gig with the Vertigo Tour back in 2005 (ish) but there were no such problems this time round, whether this was to do with the stage being more centralised in the stadium or not I have no idea but it just sounded ten times better and as a result made the whole gig far better. There was a slight problem later in the gig when the sound was lost during 'Walk On', one of the roadies must have tripped on a plug wire or something. The sound loss only lasted around a minute or so and things soon kicked back in making everyone breathe a sigh of relief. 'Walk On' was sang in tribute to the Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose prison sentence was extended last week, and sang in protest and support for her with volunteers from the stadium's crowd taking to the stage with masks of photos of her face. A face I had mistaken for David Mitchell's upon arrival in the crowd when the masks were being dished out.
There were countless folk holding their phones up for the near entirety of the gig, filming the whole thing. You only have to have a quick look on You Tube to find loads of clips of varying quality from quite clear and sharp to just plain rubbish. I only took a couple of short little clips, the longest of which I've put on my You Tube page but most of that picture quality comes from the enormous circular screen which was really something to see, especially when it expanded down over the stage and gave us the incredible light shows which accompanied some of the songs such as 'Unforgettable Fire' and 'City of Blinding Lights'. In all a great concert and a great night out.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Volatile thoughts and hot ice cream

Hot ice cream?! That's impossible! Ice cream withstanding oven temperatures?! How can this be?! The answer, my friends, is Baked Alaska. A layer of ice cream protected in a meringue shell atop a fruit and sponge base. A dessert, I like to believe, only a few can successfully recreate. My very own multi skilled mother being one of them. After much shouting, blending, stirring and beating Mum emerged from the kitchen with a Baked Alaska which only just made it to the dinner table after a failure of kitchen blending tools. Thankfully Dad came to the rescue in building the new advanced blender at the last minute, a new piece of equipment that had lay dormant in the kitchen cupboard until last night, when it answered the emergency call. Mum is still bemoaning the breakdown of her old blender - her original number one blender and presumably this was why she has never used the new device considering the original, the best. I asked her if she buried it in the back garden and surprisingly she nodded with a yes. A vision came into my head of her holding a service for it, a gathering in the garden, singing 'Blend us together lord'.
Before all this Ka and myself had the laziest Sunday Ever. Nothing. Sheer, unadulterated, nothing was done. No gym, no painting, no shopping, no visits, no internet, zilch. Merely the odd chapter of my latest read. We did not get to bed till half six this morning mind you getting back to the flat at approximately half four only to find the living room overrun by Ka and three of her mates after a work night out, all lounging around the couches drinking vodkas, eating pringles and generally putting the world to rights.
Before this Chaz and myself had been in Glasgow, starting off in the Merchant City and ending up in Glasgow's Royal Exchange Square having a catch up over some drinks where discussions got slightly dark and deep with subjects such as life, death, religion, Richard Dawkins and Sambuca. Well, the sambuca wasn't so much talked about, just drank, quickly and sent my stomach into strange, volatile movements with which it slowly recovered after some medicinal vodkas. A trip to the casino followed and then a taxi journey home with Big Raymond from the Auldhouse at the wheel. Raymond was one of the locals from the Auldhouse bar, the famed small country pub I used to work in through my student years, and we done a bit of catching up with him on the way home. Once again the main subject of the conversation being the cheery "who was now dead and who wasn't" like that rather melancholy game they used to play on Radio 1 when listeners had to phone in and tell Simon Mayo if a certain famous person was dead or alive - a major kick up the arse to any work quiet, listening celebrities that were accused of having passed away.
Obviously, since the events of last week, the subjects of death and loss have never been far from my mind. Hopefully thoughts and conversations will get a little cheerier with time.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Byrne in full swing

During the weekend Ka and myself took a brief and deliberate break on the Saturday night. We went through to Edinburgh to see Mr. David Byrne again. We last seen him in Glasgow at the end of March as he hit Scotland on his Everything That Happens tour and I was delighted to find he was going to be part of Edinburgh's Edge Festival and booked the tickets with a mere week to go before the gig. Unfortunately after Gran passed away I was unsure whether to still go through for the gig but after various relations told me not to be silly and what Gran would have said I agreed that it may still be a good idea and would maybe even help take our minds off the grief that was to come on Sunday and Monday.
It worked, if only for the Saturday night, and Mr Byrne and his band were great. There were a few teathing problems for the first half hour however as Byrne had to restart the third song after realising the guitar he had started using for that song was completely out of tune. Unfortunately there was also a couple of gobsh*tes in the audience who revelled especially in the guitar tuning break yelling at the musician and his band in the first half hour or so whenever they got the chance. Presumably they were shut up at some point as they went quiet after the first half hour or so once the music was back in full swing. In fact, after Byrne had tried and failed with that guitar he seemed to start up full throttle again as if in answer to the critics in the crowd and after a couple of songs more everyone in the Playhouse was on their feet and dancing. Byrne's dancers were excellent, spiralling, jumping and swaying over the stage, behind, in front and around Byrne and his band as they played a good mix of new tunes and old, mixing new material from the 'Everything that happens...' album and the Talking Heads material, mostly from the Eno produced albums. The sound in the Playhouse was not great (certainly not as good as Byrne had sounded in the Royal Concert Hall in March) but was certainly not the worst, being a hundred times better than any stadium gig I've been to in recent years.
Talking of which, U2 will be at Hampden next Tuesday with their new sci-fi looking spider stage. U2's sound at Hampden had been a major disappointment the last time on the Vertigo tour so hopefully things will have improved since then.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

A fitting ceremony

Well, what a weekend. Along with the rest of the family I spent the weekend grappling with the extreme sadness of Gran Reid passing away whilst the funeral was organised and prepared for. The service was held yesterday in St. Vincent's Church, Gran's own parish with a congregation that Gran probably would not have believed. We ran out of orders of service with the church only half full as the people paying respect kept on coming. My cousin James even suggested we ask the priest if he had a photocopier handy in order to spontaneously create more leaflets. I suspected we were grasping at straws though and Kenny, James and myself had to stand at the door a little dumbstruck as more mourners filtered through the doors, some looking a little disgruntled at not receiving a leaflet. Inside the church some people ended up having to sit in the cry chapel, situated up the right hand side of the usual pews, in the bright airy building. The service was beautiful with the organ belting out the tunes to the lovely voices of the church choir as we said goodbye to Gran, making our way to the Philipshill cemetary after church to lay her to rest alongside Granpa Reid. A fitting ceremony to a great woman.
Back at work today I couldn't help but feel depressed not only at the loss of my last Grand parent but at the prospect of having to go back into work as if nothing had changed. Everybody milling about their usual business. Giving orders, moaning on the phone to sales reps, laughing and joking as if nothing had ever happened. Ignorance must be bliss.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Annie G. Reid

My Gran, Annie (Nan) Gillan Reid died on Tuesday afternoon. She was preparing for a bus trip with her pals from the surrounding complex and suffered a heart attack presumably as she went for her coat. She passed the way she lived. On the go. Forever on the go.
I'm still feeling a little numb from the news as she had seemed to be better than she had been for months battling various ailments with her usual fierce, stubborn determination. Taking unwell around a month before the Wedding she had argued with anyone that had suggested a visit to the hospital. Gran feared that they'd just keep her in and merely confine her to a bed, a treatment, she insisted, she could well put upon herself in her own bed at home thusly not risk any way of missing the Wedding. Afterwards she did seem to recover and on the day of the wedding 'looked a million dollars' as more than one person commented.
Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother - Gran was the rock of the family. The Matriarch, the Queen bee. A woman to be loved but also a woman to be feared! When Ka started seeing me she was not sure who to fear more, my Mum or my Gran! Happy, loving, hard-working, socialable, kind, considerate, generous, noble, faithful, principled and extraordinary are only a few words to describe my Gran. Words that don't even do her justice. She will be sorely missed. My Gran. Annie Gillon Reid (Pollock). 1928 - 2009.

Monday, 3 August 2009

The disappearing wife trick

On Saturday Ka kicked me out of bed to attend Morgan's birthday party (not true, I was actually more excited than she was!). Morgan was five on Thursday and Angela and Steven had a party to celebrate at a large indoor play area in Blantyre with thirty other kids of similar age. Finding myself surrounded by around ten mothers and the odd family member I volunteered as chief tea and juice pourer. Any husbands that had dropped the kids off had quickly scarpered whereas any Mums were quite happy to sit, chat, gossip and drink teas and coffees producing the usual Mum gabble. At times I looked over at all these Mum's sitting blethering to one another and wondered if they were even listening to what each other was saying. They all just seemed to be talking instantaneously. While I poured the teas the kids had all run off into the play area which, I have to say, looked great. Ka's brother, Colin, and myself were genuinely disappointed we were not allowed into it. They never had play areas like that when we were kids! A huge towering construction that filled one end of the warehouse sized room, this blue tower of plastic and rope had slides of varying steepness, punch bags, ladders, bridges, climbing frames, rope swings, helter skelters and even a giant tub of hovering balls. Amazing. I looked on disappointedly as I poured the teas, sighing as I put up with the Mums' ongoing jibba jabba in the background.
After the play area the kids were then called into the hired room for some entertainment in the form of a 'magician'. Unfortunately I'm using the term 'magician' rather loosely. Personally, telling the kids he's going to make my new wife disappear, putting her in hand cuffs and then simply shoving her out the room's back door was not quite as impressive (or effective) as I had hoped. Especially as Morgan immediately rushed out the entrance door, sped round the corridor outside and brought Ka back herself, before the 'magician' had the chance to announce any form of magical reappearance. He couldn't even make a half decent balloon animal?! After bursting one on his first attempts he opted for swords which were basically a long balloon with a short tie at the end to act as a hilt. Okay, maybe I could not have done a better balloon myself but, if given the chance, when sitting listening to the Mums' continuous jibba jabba I could have done a better disappearing trick.