Monday, 28 June 2010

Out of the office

Well, after a blissful two weeks off it was back to work this morning. Back to the Monday morning faces. Faces struggling to look cheerful, happy or interested after their own blissful two days off, enjoying the Scottish sun (not the newspaper), more than likely a few glasses of beer and a Sunday of laughing at the english football team.
Finally growing a bit fed up of the footie, Ka and myself went to the flicks yesterday afternoon and seen Woody Allen's latest effort, 'Whatever Works' coming out of the cinema into the rain.
The rain! The long forgotten, wonderful rain. People were once more walking around glasgow with umbrellas, taking shelter under shop archways in their shorts, some stumbling around with twisted faces, eyes stinging as their facial suncream ran into their eyes with the raindrops. Yes, the clouds are back, just in time for going back to work so I was quite happy to spend the day in the office, cheerfully greeting folk on my way in as always and getting the afore mentioned grunts of greeting (if that).
My, usually cheerful, 'hello' as I walk down the office to my seat is always nice to keep going. To most it's the only time of the day I speak to them, something I'm quite glad of depending who it is and, I'm sure, something most people in the office are quite glad of.
It's always very boring though when someone asks you what you done with your two weeks off. No I didn't go abroad, no I never went away anywhere nice, and yes it was nice just to be out the office. Okay, okay, in other words I done nothing! Nothing, okay! Nothing! And I'd do it again I tell you! Hahahahahaha! (Jump out the window...)
Of course, that ain't strictly true, I got up to lots of things but things I'm not going to tell anyone at work about. Not because it could be damaging to my career or anything, just because they wouldn't be the slightest bit interested. Some of them were, it has to be said, impressively polite today by pretending to be, bless 'em. But why would they? And quite right, as soon as you start rhyming off some of the 'lots of things', they start moaning internally, chastising themselves for being polite and then drifting into dreamland, a glazed look coming over their eyes as they start wondering when their next tea break is. Recognising this, I kept it brief, cutting it down to the 'best of' moments, trying to make it all sound just as exciting as two weeks in the pirate infested waters of the Caribbean or a hand gliding trip over Europe. "Oh well, at least you weren't in here" they'd say. It may not have been the most exciting of holidays but it was certainly pretty nice just to get out the office.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Someone's nicked the beach!

I'm still getting burnt as the sun is still out over Scotland. The clouds were quite heavy looking when we got up this morning for Ka's last holiday but by two o'clock the sun was back out once more, blazing away, incinerating many a Scottish skin cell. It's been a great week. We've went to the beach, attended a school sports day, watched a fair bit of the old World Cup, enjoyed a few pub lunches, had a few pints in the sun and seen a few movies, including the severely odd 'Greenberg'.
On Saturday Ka and myself drove down to Largs to visit the seafront once more only to find someone had nicked the beach. I was sure there had been a sand beach there when I was a kid. I had vague memories of visiting the shows of the seafront when I was wee and going to Nardini's for an ice cream before running down to the sandy beach. However, I must have been getting my coastal towns mixed up again (I hate it when that happens!). Largs has never had sand, only pebbles.
Not to be undeterred I spread the car's rug out over the rocky beach and lay down. It took a short while to shuffle and squirm around until I had made a decent Michael shaped indent in the pebbles underneath in order to lie in some degree of comfort, but I got there in the end, convincing Ka to join me. We ended up relaxing in our indents for a few hours, watching the ferry come and go for Millport more than a few times and people of all shapes and sizes attempt skimming stones over the shimmering waterfront. I barely managed 3 bounces with my stones but according to the World Skimming Championships, (, it's all down to the distance the stone travels rather than the amount of bounces. From what I could tell I skimmed just as good as the rest of them. It would have been a different story if Dad had been there.
Needless to say, Ka and myself came home a little burnt, even though we had been applying the sun cream. My prominent forehead shining a magnificent shade of luminous red which has, thankfully, now calmed down. From the looks of it the sun won't be going anywhere quite yet though.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Anything particularly amazing

What an great day! Ka and myself are off work for the week and we didn't do anything particularly amazing at all but it just felt great... does that make sense? Perhaps it's just the joys of not being in an office and simply spending time with my lovely wife... and the tv.
We both slept till 9am, not caring when we slept till. We had a marvellous breakfast in the form of Ka's cheesy scrambled egg but then almost fell asleep again watching Philip Schofield on the forever dreadful daytime tv. Saying that, 'This Morning' is not the worst of daytime tv, there's all those horrible bargain shows on the BBC channels and the horrifying woman panel show 'Loose Women' but, needless to say, I made sure the remote didn't even flick in that direction.
Going out we decided to take full advantage of the sunshine, and headed for the gym. On Saturday, lying on a beach in Ayr, I heavily burnt half my head and face. I woke up on Sunday morning, moaning, looking like a bad impression of Harvey (Two-Face) Dent from the Batman movies after the acid attack. The heat in the skin affected seems to tingle and burn everytime I venture outside or edge near a window so I was quite happy to avoid the sun for most of the day.
Spent an hour and a half in a quiet gym, which was something different in itself as we seemed to have the run of the place. Following this we then went for a swim in the club's pool, inadvertantly annoying some old ladies that obviously usually have the pool to themselves on a quiet Monday afternoon. How dare we swim in their club pool when there's only three free lanes. These ladies made a point of crossing lanes a few times, together with exaggerated splashing, as we swam the lengths. I splashed them back, growling with my burnt face.
We then came home and I attempted some gardening out in the front lawn before a bit of housework. All this hard work quite rightfully earned me some brownie points so I sat and watched the football. A rather unexciting Japan v Cameroon game, followed by the highlights from the Denmark/Holland game. Turning the channels after this I found an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? which centred on the wonderfully irascible Jeremy Paxman coming to terms with the fact he's half Scottish. His Great Grandmothers family, on his mothers side, grew up in the slums of Glasgow, just as I mother's side did and then emigrated to Canada just as my Gran and Granpa almost did.
After this I again flicked the channels to find an episode of the sixties cult classic 'The Prisoner' with the late, equally irascible, Patrick McGoohan. Then, dinner in the form of some superb tacos followed by the Italy v Paraguay game. Possibly the most football I've watched in one day ever. In fact, today was possibly the most tv I watched in one day, for a long time. However, I did somehow manage to fall asleep watching Italy. That was the dinner's fault though, not the football. Not that Ka had laced the tacos with sedatives or anything! I don't think she's that fed up with me yet... it's only Monday after all, she's still got another four days to go!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Balloons and horns

Well, I think we can safely say Austrailia are out and Germany have proven themselves to be up for the fight to the semi finals of the World Cup. A great game to watch.... obviously not if your Austrailian mind. Now that their star player, Tim Cahill, is off after a dubious red card, I doubt they've got much of a chance in the group. But what do I know? I mostly only pay attention to football when there's a World Cup going on and even then I've got to ask Colin McG about the points system. And when is someone going to ban those horns? They're enough to put you off watching the games. Vuvuzelas they're called, I think. They're not even tuneful! I'd rather have Rod Stewart singing over a tannoid as the game went on... no, on second thoughts maybe that's going a bit too far. I'm sure even the Vuvuzelas are more tuneful than him.
Colin, Dougie and myself were watching in the living room of the McGarva house whilst Morgan, my niece, fanned us and fed us fruit as royalty, gave us a salon hair treatment and made us perform an unimpressive X Factor audition. At one point we all ended up singing 'Bind Us Together' in full voice. The neighbouring family through the wall were most probably tutting with disapproval, rolling their eyes and putting it all down to bible bashing.
Praying being something the England fans were probably all doing last night after Green's little manoeuvre with the ball. Dougie was telling me there was another goalie error earlier on today so maybe Green won't feel quite as bad now.
After England's disappointing draw last night, Ka and myself sat and watched the fantastic 'Up', Disney/Pixar's latest movie about the old guy that lifts his house into the air with an enormous bunch of helium balloons and travels to South America with the help of a young Wilderness explorer's GPS. A great movie that could never be called a 'kids movie' after watching it - though it certainly makes you feel like one, what with all the whimsical, exciting, colourful ideas. Along with the poignant, touching, life affirming moments this movie made for fantastic viewing and would have probably even cheered up an England footie fan - maybe even an Aussie one tonight!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Who needs an alarm clock?

Woken up by the Singing Postman again at 5.50am this morning. Flushing his loo, washing his hands with noisey, squealing taps and then banging and plodding around his flat. With the amount of shuffling and banging about he was making I thought he was perhaps going about his morning business with a blindfold on, maybe some Crystal Maze like mission set by his new girlfriend. Standing over the bathroom sink, flinching under the shaving blade with his blindfold on as his girlfriend frantically directs from the doorway. Stumbling through the living room, banging into his couch, chairs or his treasured karaoke machine, making his way to the kitchen where his morning coffee sits waiting on a worktop, his girlfriend directing from behind.
Ah, the girlfriend, now does she exist? A question that has confounded Ka and myself for at least a few weeks now. Something's certainly quietened him down in the past few months, yet we still hear him talking up in his flat. We can never make out what he's saying, of course, his voice muffled and dulled down through his floorboards making him sound like an adult from the Charlie Brown cartoons. We've never seen or heard anyone else entering or leaving his flat though, and surely he can't be on a phonecall for that long? All very mysterious. Perhaps he's just sitting talking to himself? Nothing wrong with that. Everyone talks to themselves occasionally. Nothing beats giving yourself a good talking to. I don't do it so much now that I have a wife... what were we talking about again?
Anyway, hopefully Ka and myself won't be bothering, or being bothered, by upstairs neighbours for much longer as our plans for moving somewhere bigger move up a gear. We had a jolly 'Home Report' man round yesterday, walking round, knocking on walls, opening and closing doors, flushing the toilet, measuring walls and slurping coffee. Presumably all things which have to be done to assess the value of your home. I'm not sure why he had to slurp the coffee mind you. Maybe he was testing the water quality in his caffeine or something... who knows. All well worth it's £300, I'm sure...

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The woman in the back

After escaping from work early yesterday evening, Ka's Mum and Dad, Dougie and Grace, took us out. We were off into town and after a quick stop to buy some wine gums and jelly babies, were diving through the Glasgow traffic to the Theatre Royal to see the stage production of 'The Woman in Black'. A dark, chilling tale of a solicitor who gets inadvertantly cursed by an evil spirit, spawned from a client's family history.
'The Woman in Black' is an adaptation of Susan Hill's 1983 novel and has already been playing in London's West End for many years and is now on a Nation wide tour. An entertaining production with only three actors, two chairs, a door, a large wicker basket and an invisible dog which together served as the main players on stage to illustrate the ghostly tale. The actors were great in their roles and the audience watched with a quiet unease as the story unfolded with a few gentle scares along the way with appearances from the mysterious screaming woman in black.
As the story began, the elder of the main players walked out on to the stage and began reading quietly from a script. The audience of the theatre quietened down to a complete stillness as we all struggled to hear what was being murmured. As we strained to hear the words in the theatre's silence the audience began to wonder if we were actually supposed to be hearing the man's words. Ka took her bag of wine gums out from her pocket and very quietly started peeling the bag's glued top apart. Slowly, slowly, she prized the plastic bag open taking care to make as little noise as possible in the silence. The creaks of the old theatre seats and the odd, inescapable cough were the loudest noises in the large room as the man's words mumbled over us. Suddenly a loud voice yelled from the the back of the theatre shattering the concentrated silence into which the stage actor's mumbles had flowed. Many people jumped at the sudden loud shout from the rear of the stalls. Some screamed. One woman in particular, seated further behind us, screamed such a great, tremoring, 'oh my gawd!' that her voice broke out and above all the other noises of shock. Her screech seemed to echo louder than the actors, as the younger of the two actors strode from the back of the stalls to join his companion up on the stage. He talked as he walked but I think everyone was still suffering the aftereffects of the initial surprise to concentrate on his lines. I certainly could not stop myself from laughing for the first five minutes of the story, subtley trying to pinpoint from where the terrible screech had come from in the audience, perhaps waiting to catch a glimpse of a rather embarrassed lady slinking off to the loo. No one moved from their seat though and the woman remained anonymous . Her scream was so loud the woman must have, at the very least, spilt her jelly babies all over the place.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Beguiling and infuriating

Cameron has just won again. Online live Scrabble is proving to be a bit of an addiction. I'm going to have to finish it though especially since I cannot seem to win one game unless the online player vanishes for over 4 weeks.
Barry, Diana, Cameron and myself have been playing since Cameron first stumbled across it a few months ago in his wanderings round the world of facebook. A great online version of the classic game but with loads of help consisting of a rather helpful dictionary and a two letter word list which are great for when your in a tight spot. Barry entertains himself in games by coming up with words that sound very much like abuse or swear words whilst Cameron merely growls abuse when you gain 63 points by adding one letter on to one of his well thought out words and then advertise it on the facebook home page as your own impressive scrabble achievement. He still won the game though so I don't know what he's complaining about...
Cameron likes complaining though. He was complaining the other day about the end of Lost for instance, the tv series that has attracted, beguiled, confused, repelled and infuriated so many over the past six years.
Ka and myself had been devoted followers, looking forward to a revelatory ending on Friday night, staying in with a big bowl of crisps and a couple of beers to find out the answers. Some people do look for answers at the bottom of beer bottles and some may have been better off doing so. We certainly thought the writers had been at times anyway. However, it was a great ending to a great series, in my opinion, bringing a fitting conclusion to the stories of the crash survivors. Some dying on the mysterious island, some escaping with the help of a handily undrownable pilot, but all, apparently, ending up in the same afterlife storyline which had been running through the whole of season 6 in flashback form. The one thing that was not explained in the final episode was, of course, the island itself. How it came into being, why it had the powers it had, what the mystical tunnel was all about, how it was able to seemingly shift through time and space like some kind of geological time machine and where the hell the lighthouse popped up from? With these questions, and many others, still left unanswered, the ending to the series was never going to please everyone, especially Cameron.