Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Smiley Miley's Radio Roadshow

As Coldplay's ‘Every Teardrop’ drew to a climatic conclusion on the Pyramid stage around midnight on Saturday we all counted up our miles. Dad finished with over 2,200 miles in his possession which meant he won the game, even though I had been the first to reach London after the nationwide journey around the board of the Smiley Miley Game and thus brining an end to the game.
Lynsey Ann had brought the Radio One Smiley Miley Road Show game up with her to Mum and Dad's on Saturday night to be played after we all demolished a delicious and rather impressive Chinese carry-out which included Chow Mein, King Prawns and Sweet and Sour chicken.
The Smiley Miley board game was based on the famous Radio 1 Road shows which toured the country every summer between the late seventies and the late nineties, entertaining the nation live on Saturday afternoons from various beaches and parks across the country. The young Reid family went to around three or four of them. The likes of Bruno Brookes, Phillip Schofield and the lovely Jackie Brambles would present the show live to the gathered locals. Games with lucky contestants plucked from the crowds included pop quizzes, 'Bits and Pieces' and 'Smiley Miley's Mileage Game'.
In 'Bits and Pieces' a small sample of a tune was played and you had to guess the artist, song name, or both, a game which I ended up introducing into the family Christmas quizzes I used to put together for the Big Boxing Night bashes we used to have. Mum and Dad's vinyl collection always came in quite handy for that particular round. I'd use the linked tape recorder to make cassettes up full of five to ten second clips from records that my Mum and Dad had bought over the years and apparently forgotten the sound of after a few beers on Boxing Night. I still use the old 'Bit and Pieces' routine occasionally in homemade quizzes to this day. Instead of the old tape recorder I now use the Mac's Garageband application. It's much easier to blend the tracks and even distort them but it's strangely not as much fun.
I miss cassettes. Music in a thin plastic case on a magnetic tape played when wound between two cogs. How cool does that sound? Antiquated, but cool! They were so brilliantly temperamental too.
I spent many an afternoon trying to wind a tape smoothly back inside it's cassette casing. Hours of fun! Once successfully all wound back into place, I'd plug the tape victoriously back into the my cassette player, pressing play with a satisified grin, only to hear the music start warping and morphing, after a few minutes, into a chewed up garbling noise. A wonderful alien noise the BBC's Radiophonic workshop could not easily produce.
Anyway, the BBC finally axed the Radio 1 Roadshow in 2000 replacing it with the present day, annual, festival wannabe, Big Weekend. Probably a good move in the end up as The Big Weekend now attracts pretty big, international names such as the Foo Fighters, Lady Gaga and Madonna.
Del Amitri and Status Quo were the big crowd pullers of the Road Show. Not quite the same.
The last Road Show we went to was in Arran. Mum, Dad, Lynsey Ann, Kenny and myself travelled over in the wee Nissan Micra with our tents, setting up camp on the Friday afternoon, the wee two man tent and the bigger three man dome tent, alongside each other, just in time for the imminent arrival of the Radio 1 lorries and their guest artists, Wet Wet Wet.
Mum and Dad had decided to set up camp with the rest of the Radio 1 roadshow campers and as we settled down to bed, everyone else in the makeshift campsite decided to waken up and the campsite seemed to suddenly transform into a rave. Being younger and naive at the time the Reid family spent the night cowering in our tents, surrounded by crazy, wild, drunken teenagers high on drugs and juice, falling into the sides of the tents, puking on tents, shouting, dancing and ramsacking tents. Kenny and myself were in the wee two man tent which stood before the larger where Mum, Dad and Lynsey Ann’s cowered, sleep deprived and helpless. Halfway through the night Kenny and myself looked up into the darkness of our tent to find some bloke staring back at us.
“Here, there’s somebody in this tent?!”, I remember the guy blurted, before reversing back out and diving off into the noisy darkness.
A young Jackie Brambles and the rest of the roadshow, eventually arrived the next morning as promised, and as Marti Pellow started belting out the hits live on air to the gathered crowd, who seemed strangely mellow and considerably more controlled than they had been the past eight hours, even with Wet Wet Wet on stage, the band they were apparently all camping out to see.
Mum, Dad, Lynsey Ann, Kenny and myself sat on the grass in the open Arran park, half dozing in the Scottish summer sun, enjoying the quiet. Even with Marti Pellow warbling in the background it seemed like bliss.
The board game proved to be more of a hit for the Reid family than that particular Road Show in Arran and at the weekend proved that, although dated, it’s still a hell of a lot more enjoyable than listening to Wet Wet Wet.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Black for good

Ka is soaked. Ka, along with a bunch of friends and acquaintances, have been standing in Hampden all evening, listening to, watching, and no doubt screaming passionately, at Take That who have arrived in Glasgow today, tonight being the first of three live shows they are putting on for all the Scottish fans. It’s now a sisterly tradition for Ka and Angela to go to Hampden to see “their boys” every time the Manchester group venture this far up the country. Being Ka and Angela they are not just simply going to a gig though. No. When Ka and Angela go to a gig together, they’ve got to do it with some style. So following the buying of concert tickets Angela hires a chauffeur limo to take them all to Hampden along with a few bottles of champagne and no doubt a couple of bags of nibbles for good luck. They’ll be lucky if the limo doesn’t get mobbed by confused Take That fans, believing their stretched car to be full of Manchester pop stars.
Apparently the weather has not been kind tonight and even after the delights of a few bottles of champagne, Ka moaned over the phone with the need for a cup of tea.
Ka never drinks tea? I’m the tea drinker of the house, or the Tea Jennie, as my Aunt Mina used to call me. Ka’s a coffee girl and very rarely accepts an offer of the golden Char. If, on the odd occasion, she ever does drink tea, there has to be a bar of Dairy Milk involved. She’s black coffee, all the way, without fail. I’m the opposite and never drink coffee. Though I have been tempted recently.
A few weeks back we splashed out and, with the help of some near out of date Currys vouchers we’d received at our Wedding from Colin and Jillian, bought ourselves a Tassimo machine.
It’s all very impressive. Sitting there in the kitchen, it’s sleak, polished black form standing tall at one side of the kitchen intimidating the white plastic kettle on the other side of the room. The kettle with it’s slightly stained exterior, cowers on the other side of the kitchen, it’s one sole switch wearing away with age and it’s one light no competition against the flashing greens and reds which flicker on and off with the production of the near instantaneous coffees. The tea pot stands by the kettle, like a trusted friend also aging and in need of replacement, standing firm like a stubborn General, refusing to retire or retreat.
The Tassimo produces some great smells too but, so far, even the aroma from the small pots placed inside the machine which churn out the perfect cups of coffee have not been enough to sway me to the dark side yet. However, it is surprisingly flexible for a coffee machine. It produces Hot Chocolates too. Lattes, Mochas, Espressos, Creamy Tiramisu delights and, wait for it, tea! Yes, instead of having to put a teabag in a mug or teapot, go to the efforts of swirling it about and adding milk and any of the other ritualistic rigmaroles you go through in order to make your own cup of Rosy Lee all you have to do is simply insert a Twinings Tea disc of English Breakfast, Green Tea, Earl Grey or, my favourite, Darjeeling, and it does it all for you.
Well, when I say it does it all for you, you still have to change the T disc to the Milk variety in order to get your dairy hit, which means more fiddling with the machine cap, more pressing of buttons and waiting on more lights changing colour.
In fact, it’s all way too much hassle for me. Even after I bought a pack of Darjeeling discs, in order to get some use out of the the Tassimo for myself, I’ve yet to use it.
I’ll stick with the General and the kettle, which I’ll just go and put on for Ka coming in.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Guilty of a mug smashing

Woke up yesterday morning with a start (which is what mornings usually are). My mobile was blaring away, vibrating on the desk at the side of the bed, the familiar beat and twinkling background notes of ‘Once in a Lifetime’ interrupting my dream.
After a brief conversation with Ka and making sure her straighteners were off, for at least the fourth time this week, I stumbled into the shower in an effort to wake myself up. After drying and pulling on a shirt I stomped into the kitchen only to be faced with another of my own wonderful creations from the night before. Another leaning tower of dishes, left drying at the side of the sink. Ka hates me leaving the dishes drying overnight and the mighty piles of pots I balance precariously on top of one another. After a short huff I set to work and started prizing the pile of dishes, pots, mugs and cutlery apart from the intricately balanced structure they were leaning in. Unfortunately, even after my shower, I was obviously not fully awake.
An oven dish slipped.
A casserole dish toppled.
A plate fell forward.
A large glass and a mug at the side of the draining board, balanced on the edge of the sink, were hit.
I moved to rescue them but missed the escaping tumblers. They spun, fell and hit the laminate floor below, smashing into a hundred tiny glistening pieces around my bare feet. The mug broke in half and only the base of the glass remained intact, complete with a large triangular, jagged shard, pointed threateningly up at me. Rolling my eyes, I got the brush and pan out from under the sink. After what seemed like ages, sweeping the smooth laminate floor in my bare feet, dodging around the hundreds of glass pieces dotting the floor, I finally finished and put the pan away and started making a now rushed breakfast. As I moved around the kitchen, flicking switches, punching down toasters and pouring cereal, glass occasionally nipped at the soles of my feet.
I’d tried to tidy the floor of all the glass with the brush but there were still small shreds lurking over the smooth floor. You couldn’t see them, and only barely feel them if you ran your hands over the deck, but they continued to nip at my feet.
The situation seemed to express perfectly how I have been feeling mentally for at least the past few months. No matter how much you try and tidy things up, tidy away, there’s always something there to remind you, no matter how small or seemingly invisible.
It was the second glass I’d smashed in a week and the second mug in a month. Yesterday’s mug was my ‘Ring For Service’ mug, a mug I had received as a present from former work colleagues down in Solihull. Natalie and Hannah had bought me it as a joke, insinuating my glorified tea boy status at the time. At least I think that was the joke? I certainly don’t think they were alluding to any other rings…
In that job I carried out my role as glorified teaboy brilliantly, until the two girls were made ‘redundant’ and I became the company’s General Dogsbody. As it happened I also carried that role out rather brilliantly until I left in 2004 to come back up to Scotland.
The first smashed mug of the month was my Homer mug. One of my favourites which Ka had bought me on one of our first Christmases together. A picture of Homer Simpson adorned the mug’s side, his head x-rayed to see his brain split up into sections, which included, ‘Sleep’, ‘Doughnuts’, ‘Sex’, ‘TV’, ‘Sweet, sweet beer’ etc. along with the caption: “Genius at work”.
Since I am a genius (if only in my own mind) I’d taken the mug into work to use for my teabreaks. Unfortunately, using her Studio Supervisor perks, Andrea had been getting her hot water delivered to her desk to her from the kitchen boiler tap, and one day asked me to fetch her hot water. Andrea passed her mug to me making my own slip from my hand and crack off the floor. As the Homer mug lay there, in bits over the floor, I looked up at Andrea as she burst out laughing. It felt like that moment in ‘Back to the Future’ when Biff had George McFly’s hand up his back. George’s fist forming slowly, pulling back at his side to the tune of Biff’s laughing, gearing up for the expertly delivery sucker punch.
Thankfully, I let it pass.
Andrea continued to laugh and I sighed out heavily, giving an expert fake smile as I picked the mug shards up off the floor. I’ll never forgive Andrea for that.
The love of my life, Ka, has even been guilty of a mug smashing. A more ‘Karate Kid’ flavoured one. Mum and Dad bought Kenny and myself Star Wars mugs, many moons ago. One had Luke Skywalker on the side, the other Boba Fett. Needless to say I demanded the Boba Fett mug and enjoyed many a cup of tea from it, up until a few years back when Ka decided, after watching some telly, to swing her legs off the arm of the sofa and successfully kick my Boba Fett mug, which had been minding it’s own business on the coffee table, across the living room. Half a cup of tea and a mug handle suffered as a result. The handleless Boba Fett mug now holds my paint brushes. As a protest and a heavy hint for a replacement, I didn’t throw it out. I know how not throwing stuff out really annoys Ka, but, for some reason, she allows me to use it as a paintbrush holder (it would also be a great breadstick holder). It must be the guilt. She’s still not bought me a new one.
It’s only stuff at the end of the day though. Mugs, glasses. Whatever.
Why am I sitting writing about mugs? I’m not sure. Because I’m sad? Stupid? Possibly. It’s just the way this blog has flowed I suppose, like tea that’s not had enough brewing time.
The other morning I was asked what was wrong with my mug? Being only half awake at the time, I asked, “what one?”

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Racing at Raploch

Ka and myself are lying across our couches. Ka sipping 5.5% rose wine that I bought her in Asda the other day (obviously unaware that it was 5.5% and gaining some ear ache on my return home) and me supping some Kronenbourg lager and generally having a lazy Saturday night after the fun and shenanigans of last night’s charity race night (wonderful word, shenanigans…)
The Raploch Bowling Club sprung to life last night much to the disapproval of the regulars. The bar staff were miserable and, from the impression I got, highly suspicious of us strangers, and the drinking regulars disturbed by our presence, an old man with a walking stick particularly unhappy to see us, growling at us as he tried to get through to the bar. The gathered crowd didn’t let that get to them though.
The various staff members from Ka’s work, the Early Learning Unit, the various parents of kids at the ELU and a fairly large portion of family and friends assembled soon got the race night started as ever under the guidance of Kay (spelling?) and Fiona, the husband and wife team that make up the backbone of the ELU’s successful charity bashes. Ka and myself have been particularly touched by the support of the ELU with this charity night as the cause was inspired by our wee Lucy Reid, not to mention all the other babies that pass through Wishaw Hospital’s Neonatal ward’s doors.
Upon arrival at the bowling club, secreted away like a green batcave behind some worn out billboards, Fiona and Kay immediately volunteered me as a jockey for one of the horses. I opted immediately for the first race, believing it to be better to get it over and done with. The first few races were South Park themed making each of the ‘horses’ characters from the seemingly forever popular American cartoon, so, in memory of my brother, I went for Kenny.
Not that Kenny’s dead. He’s just in Australia. Exploring, seeing a bit of the world, travelling another continent and getting dogs impounded.
Anyway, like Kenny’s dog, I wasn’t going anywhere fast. My racing wrists failed me three quarters of the way through my lap. Ka’s bro, Colin, would have won the race if he had not decided to give his horse/character one final, illegal tug of the cord over the line. Kay immediately disqualified him thus making the dark horse of the race, George, the jockey to my right, the victor. Colin was raging, but only at himself, either for performing the illegal manoeuvre in the first place or being spotted by the adjudicator carrying it out. My guess is the second.
Even though I had even odds at the beginning of the race, I ended up third, or was it fourth? I’m not sure now but I was fairly average anyway, ensuring more than a few folk lost their money. It’s all for a good cause though so I didn’t mind.
Roslyn did, mind you. She scowled at me for around two hours afterwards. Her other half, Iain, won a race an hour or so afterwards in the night though so she lightened up later. Or maybe that was just the alcohol?
As I retreated back to our tables with shaking wrists, disappointed and a little downtrodden, the races went on. Ka continued organising the buffet in the kitchen area, the ELU girls sold out of raffle tickets, Kay continued shouting at folk and Angela and Unlce John nicked Auntie Lorna’s caramel shortcake from it’s tin foil cloaked, secret location in the backroom corridor.
With a little help from the two Mum’s, Ka cooked up a cracking buffet and after the ELU staff members all helped bring through and set up, the gathered crowd of betters and racers demolished it, sandwiches, chicken legs, pizza, sausage rolls, garlic bread, pasta, quiche, Victoria sponges and all, even the whole four pieces of caramel shortcake that had been left on their tray.
The Victoria sponges were particularly magnificent along with the fantastic white chocolate snowballs, all made by Jillian and her Mum. That will have to become a buffet tradition. Like Auntie Linda’s trifle.
After eating it was the ELU race, in which a representative of each ELU room, raced and competed for the coveted Race night trophy. Louisa impressed all the girls with her wrist action lifting the trophy and winning a bottle of red wine in the process (the wine she swapped for a bottle of white when no one was looking).
The world’s largest raffle ended the night. The amount of donated prizes was fantastic and could explain why the girls sold out of raffle tickets. Numbers and colours were read out one after the other.
Lynsey Ann won a very nice pair of crystal glasses (one cracked) and a bottle of Grants (which my Dad gained as an early Fathers Day present). Jillian won more than a few prizes for more than a few cousins. Colin won a box of chocolate biscuits. Jennifer won a bottle of plonk (one of many won by others) and Dougie won his now traditional collection of bath salts and lotions, together with the exfoliating cloth. He had had his eye on it earlier on, as he sat, before the massive pile of raffle prizes, waiting to race. The only thing being he had been swearing not to win the soapy bath box of delights this time around as he’d won bath products instead of bottles at most, if not all, of the previous charity nights.
Anyway, he accepted his prize with grace and dignity, everyone laughing as he huffed and puffed walking back to his table, almost losing his exfoliating cloth on the way.
Finally a signed Rangers football, signed by the current squad and organised by Claire and her Auntie, was auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Colin started the bidding and continued the bidding, apparently being one of few Rangers fans among the gathered crowd. His Uncle John joined in, much to Colin’s irritation.
“You don’t even support Rangers!”
At one point Colin even outbid himself and as everyone laughed, a rather flustered Colin yelled, “just gee us the baw!”
In the end an old guy, sitting quietly in the shadows in the corner of the hall, outbid everyone and won the football for around £65, donating even more wonderful money to the cause.
Fiona, Kay and the rest of the ELU had all worked very hard to make the night a success and thanks to all the generous donations, raffle ticket buyers, racers, bookies and backers, made it a fantastic success. I’m certain the Neonatal ward will be more than happy with their donation.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Say what you see with friends

Quiet as a mouse. Land in jail. Frog in the throat. Scared stiff. Cool cat. The walls have ears.
Colin, Jillian, Ka and myself fought over the remote playing Catchphrase on Saturday night.
As Mr. chips illustrated catchphrases on the television before us we had to go for the remote, before anyone else got to it, as soon as we had a guess, pressing the remote button assigned to our team and yelling the answer.
Strictly speaking, we probably didn't have to yell, the volume of your voice was not really a game requirement of the completely uninteractive DVD, but, as the competition got fiercer, the voices got louder. We reckoned we were safe from upsetting any neighbours though as we'd seen the Singing Postman leave earlier in the day with a bag full of booze and food, probably off to a singing barbeque somewhere. Anyway, as we played, the fake Roy Walker continued to give us the scores, which forever see sawed between the two teams of couples.
That was the most disappointing aspect of the game for me. No Roy Walker. Instead we got some bloke, that kind of sounded like he might have had some kind of vague irish accent at some point in his life. Presumably the irish part. It wasn't even a good impersonation. I had been quite looking forward to hearing the big, irish “Riiiiigggghhht!”, or even the occasional, “It's good, but it's not the one”.
With a couple of plates full of chicken fajitas and with a good few beers, the four of us had great fun on our games flavoured Saturday night in.
Following Catchphrase, I dug the Friends Scene It out from the flat's TARDIS cupboard. The Scene It games require you to circle a board answering questions on the featured movie or tv show, the questions usually accompanied by clips on the accompanying DVD. The picture frame, Jillian, the coffee cup, Colin, the skyscraper, myself and Joey's easy chair, Ka all headed out around the board on the spin of the dice. Ka's easy chair seemed to take things a little too easy though as I'm not sure she left the starting square and, like the other two, have seen every episode of the easy watching American comedy. Jillian won in the end, just beating Colin, who showed an extreme geek knowledge of the show, naming episodes, coming up with the obscure guest star character names and even naming a season just by watching the opening sequence.
I did manage to get at least one question right.
The question was a 'which episode?' and as the other three shouted, “The one when he asked her to marry her”, “The one when he popped her the question”, “The one with the ring!” and other such ridiculous answers.
I relaxed, took my time and then shouted, “The one with the Proposal!”.
I got it right. I wasn't smug about it though. I saved my victory dance for later when I started singing Aloe Blacc.
“I need a dollar, dollar, dollar is what I need, hey hey”.
Or a quid.
That's all a strip of raffle tickets for Friday night's prizes is. A mere quid.
Any more takers? (Ah, you thought I'd forgotten didn't you?!)

Friday, 3 June 2011

Raffles, races and a great cause

Raffle tickets for sale! Lot's of prizes to be won! £1 a strip! I may as well advertise it here on my blog too.
Ka's work, the Early Learning Unit Nursery in Hamilton, have organised a charity race/games night to raise funds for Wishaw Hospital's Neonatal Ward in memory of our Baby Lucy. All proceeds will go towards the care of all the sick or premature babies that pass through the Ward's doors, the general upkeep of the Ward and all that goes with it, including the many machines and operations it has to fund in order to care for and save the lives of all these very young children.
The race/games night takes place on the 10th June at the Raploch Bowling Club in Larkhall and all are welcome.
The ELU's race nights are always good fun and always a good laugh once the races get going. There's no boring old horse races on tv screens at these race nights though. It's all down to wrist action.
Taking part in these races, your sat, facing the wall, on one side of the room with a line of string tied around a stick. The line of string runs down between your legs under your chair and over the floor behind you, to the other side of the room where the other end is tied to a vertical, flat wooden horse on a small platform. Once the whistle blows, or the horn toots, or a New Zealander bellows,
the race begins, and you've got to wind the string up, around the mid section of your stick and that's when the wrist action kicks in. Winding the stick around in your hands, pulling the string up and around as speedily as you can all the while pulling the small wooden horse behind you, in towards the back of your chair. Obviously the first horse to reach and get pulled under it's pullers chair wins the race. Before each race small bets are placed on each puller and obviously if you've bet on the winner, you're in the money.
On one of the first race nights that we attended, Ka and myself brought the two sets of Mums and Dads along with us. After I successfully managed to win one of the first races, my Mum, suitably impressed, turned and asked Ka how my wrist action was. Ka, a little perplexed by the question, was not sure how to respond. Our relationship was at an earlier stage back then so it's probably understandable that she was not aware of what my wrist action was like. It's obviously deteriorated since back then anyway as I've never won a race since.
The last charity night also had a game of bingo at which I apparently got quite competitive, scanning my card, listening intently to the numbers being called, refusing to speak to anyone, merely giving the occasional grunt in response to questions or chat.
Prizes for the raffles and bingo have included signed footballs and strips from various old firm and Motherwell football players, bottles, chocolates, baskets of fruit, remote control cars, vouchers, bath salts and various other soapy delights.
As that last game of bingo drew to a close I finally stamped the last number on my card. I won a woman's umbrella and Dougie, Ka's Dad, not long afterwards, won an exfoliating glove - not great prizes from the bingo admittedly, but we were among the last to shout 'House!'.
I'm not sure this charity night will be as happy or care free as the last race nights, especially for Ka and myself, but I'm sure I'll end up pulling a horse's string at some point. I'll try and win a race for Lucy.