Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Dead squirrel bodies

After a fantastic weekend of blistering heat the sun is holding out over Scotland. Last years summer lasted the whole of two weeks at the most. Could this be our short summer? Fast and fleeting like the life of the little squirrel I passed over on my way to work today. Slightly adjusting the path of the car, making sure either of it's tyres did not disturb the small furry motionless body I wondered where the squirrel had been heading at his time of death. Yes, I know, I should have stopped and tried to somehow move the body to the pavement or at least the side of the road but like so many others that had presumably done so before me, I drove on. I had more important things to do, like get to work on time.
Some of these animals have a death wish anyway. We were heading home in a taxi at the weekend after a BBQ in Chapelton, speeding along, when all of a sudden the driver swerved us into the middle of the road. As the approaching headlights lit up our faces through the windscreen and our lives flashed before our eyes the driver muttered something about narrowly avoiding a passing hedgehog.
Foxes are experts are getting run over too, especially on the expressway. Most of them ending up as flattened piles of mush on the tarmac. Dogs are different though. You run over a dog and they're more than likely to get up and dart away, perhaps with half a leg missing. Not unlike Bullet from 'The Scheme'.
I had been in quite a good mood last night until Ka and myself sat and watched this horrendous programme. A documentary series following a small number of families in a Kilmarnock housing scheme. Possibly the worst advert for life in Scotland ever. Hopefully it was not being transmitted outside Scotland as anyone watching it with little knowledge of our beloved country, it's districts and its people would most probably be horrified in a way that Rab C. Nesbitt could have only hinted at. Zombie like girls hooking each other in the street, stoned, indecipherable young guys slobbering their thoughts in between getting their neighbours daughters pregnant, police visits, court visits, families going on holiday and leaving children to fend for themselves, couples knocking each other about and pet dogs (the aforementioned Bullet) getting run over and left to suffer in the streets (gawd, that squirrel is going to haunt me now!). For the past week now, since the first episode of the series went out I've been listening to folk in the work laughing about it, and the people it follows, so I started watching it under the impression I would get some sort of laugh out of it. Unfortunately I was utterly depressed by the end of it and felt like immediately emigrating. No wonder so many Scots end up leaving. To get away from the people arguing around blind relatives smashing bottles over each others heads? As the credits rolled on this programme a BBC voiceover informed us that future episodes of the series had now been cancelled due to ongoing police investigations... In other words they've all been arrested.
Saying that, my Dad calls our area a 'scheme'. He might be right. There's a neighbour who sings Take That over and over upstairs on drunken nights in with mates, a neighbour living downstairs who likes to walk around the street naked, a bunch of wheelie bin thieves who burn the plastic for the fumes, a couple of six year olds who constantly cycle up and down our lawn while their Mum sits and drinks wine at her front door, a woman who parks her car by hitting it off others and a recently discovered transvestite living further down the street. There's also a bloke who noses at all of this and drives by dead squirrel bodies. Maybe I should put a call in to BBC Scotland?

Monday, 17 May 2010

Where all the jakies go

Uncle Jim was up from London for the weekend so this proved the perfect excuse for a wee get-together in Glasgow. A rare get together for the majority of the family and a good opportunity for a catch up. Twelve of us at a round table in Lakota, munching mushrooms and doritos, struggling for elbow room when the main courses arrived. Afterwards we all headed down the street following suggestions from Uncle Ian for the Scotia Bar for a bit of folk and entertainment. We ended up opting for a bar, a little closer, central and easier on the feet. Not that most of us would have minded walking all the way down to the Scotia but for the women in high heels it may have been a bit of a challenge. Ka was also a little dubious about the whole Scotia Bar idea. Upon hearing our suggestion her eyes grew wide and she blurted "the one where all the jakies go?!".
On many a trip from EK in the Number 20 bus we've seen more than a few drunken 'characters' stumble off at Stockwell Street, falling straight through the black doors, disappearing into the ancient, dishevelled looking Scotia. I've still never had a drink in the place and suspect it's perfectly respectable inside. I imagine it to be like the Monty or the Auldhouse in EK with old fashioned furnishings, ancient dusty optics and beer taps, various pieces of antique farming equipment and weaponry adorning the walls and a man playing a mandolin in the corner. Perfect for the tourists. The brave, ignorant tourists with no sense of smell that is...
We ended up in the Drum and Monkey on St. Vincent Street, with it's comfy chairs, friendly atmosphere and helpful barstaff. The comfy chairs we couldn't get any of thanks to pushy middle aged Sex and the City wannabe middleaged women pushing Craig, innocently trying to save a few for his Mum and Aunties, out of the way. The atmosphere was ruined on more than one occasion by strong farts, people diving for cover, asking who did what and the barstaff being particularly unfriendly, especially when asked for a Pinot Grigio rather than the 'automatic' Sauvignon Blanc.
As the witching hour approached we all went our seperate ways around half eleven and headed for our various buses and trains, some of us a little drunker than others. Illustrated perfectly after we met our cousin Chris on the bus and I started calling him his brothers name halfway through the conversation. Chris, being Chris, ever polite just looked at me and chuckled, his mates looking at me as if I was a complete drunken dork (as if!). After my retreat upstairs to join the others at the front of the top deck we were then entertained on the way home by a couple getting it on up on the back seat of the bus. With a groan of warning Kenny alerted us to the quiet, bouncing couple up the back. Most of us politely attempted not to watch via the reflections in the rain drop covered windows as the bus lumbered up towards EK. After a brief attempt to start up a drunken rendition of 'The Back of the Bus Cannae Sing' and being given a shut up elbow by my lovely wife I considered that that is always the great thing about the night buses, you certainly get plenty of entertainment. Not all of it welcome though - just ask Chris.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Virtual dominoes and the giant iPad

Well, it's over. So what the hell happens now? Is Cameron going to force Brown out? Hmmm, that didn't sound right...
I haven't sat and watched so many politicians and tv political pundits since 1997 when a grinning bloke from Edinburgh victoriously took to the stage.
After making the polling station at quarter to ten I arrived home, sat and watched at least two and a half hours worth, flicking between the BBC channels, the STV channel and Channel 4's alternative election night. The BBC had the two main channels dedicated with Jackie Bird craning her neck at us as usual and on One David Dimbleby, the BBC's head teacher, and the English broadcasters on Two. A rather lovely replacement to Peter Snow, Emily Maitlis, used a fantastic, full height iPad to illustrate what was going on with the latest results, using her touch screen to zap maps, graphs and stats up in various colourful guises. Jeremy Vine jumped about a digital map of Britain like a weatherman in Tron and then played a game of virtual dominoes, each piece representing a fallen MP. What a fantastic job it must be to help liven up these programmes. How to make political elections understandable to the masses - use virtual dominoes and giant iPads! All this while Jeremy Paxman shouted at MPs around his table up in the box like balcony of the studio, like a solo Statler and Waldorf.
Some of the television panelists were also outraged and raving about how disgraceful and disorganised it all was. Crowds of disgruntled folk being turned away from polling stations as they had turned up too late in the day or obvioulsy could not have got out of bed early enough. The commentators made it sound like all hell was breaking loose, with reports of the police being called in, people tearing their hair out, polling stations forcing their doors locked, jamming complaining voters' flailing arms or toes in the process, angry mobs shouting what for (literally). The view would then switch from the studio to a gloomy looking street in Sheffield where a long line of bored looking people stood morosely wondering why they were being filmed. A bloke in the background holding up a piece of card scibbled in felt pen, 'Hello Mum'. Then switching his card to another which read, 'I decided against the libs'.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The views of a DiMaggios waitress

Election Day at last, and not a moment too soon. I won't be getting to the local polling station till late tonight though. Hopefully the lingering MPs will have all gone home by that point or gone to a more central voting station. It's all well and good going along and showing your support for one of these people by scribbling an X in a box but actually standing and listening to someone explain to you why you've made that decision or why you've made the wrong one is something I can't really be bothered with. I'd rather dive into the booth, sign with an X and hurriedly make like a tree.
On Saturday night Chaz and myself sat in the Atrium, having a beer listening to a female waitress from New Jersey harp on about what she thought of the election and the voting system. The waitress had come over from a DiMaggios across the road but was under the impression she was the sole speaker at some sort of political rally. In one short break I commented some form of response, making some sort of vague comparison on American politics and the waitress simply looked at me, as if insulted.
"Are you, a scot, talking to me about American politics?".
I wondered what gave her the right to voice what she thought of our politics, in her lengthy one way conversation, and why we were not permitted to talk about the American equivalent. As I huffily returned to my drink I continued to listen to the waitress, wishing her back to America as she talked on. I'm sure there's plenty of DiMaggios over the Atlantic! Better watch what I say there, I'm verging on the immigration concerns of Gillian Duffy.