Thursday, 26 July 2012

Messed up

It’s all kicking off. The Olympics have started already and Danny Boyle hasn’t even had a chance to complain about the BBC yet. The Olympic football games have started ahead of the official opening ceremony this Friday night in Stratford.
Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium hosted Team GB’s win over New Zealand yesterday afternoon whilst Scotland hosted France, USA, Colombia and North Korea at Hampden Park, in Mount Florida. Let’s hope the USA weren’t expecting theme parks and Mickey Mouse.
Saying that, there must have been some kind of Mickey Mouse outfit in charge of the Hampden graphics as the North Korean Women’s football team stormed off the pitch in a huff tonight after the South Korean flag was shown alongside pictures of the team’s players on the big screens. Not a great start.
Still, what did they expect going to Glasgow for a game of football? Of course it was going to end up in a fight.
My disappearing fourth year Art School tutor suddenly reappeared on a STV news report about the whole affair claiming he didn’t have a clue what was going on. That’s not great considering the man’s a graphic designer.
On the way home the motorway yesterday signals warned of Olympic traffic and instructed which turn off to take to head for the Olympic football. I didn’t notice any Olympic traffic. In fact the traffic seemed it’s usual mundane self, quieter than usual if anything. Throughout the day there had been emails going around the work giving Olympic football tickets away. One of the guy’s in the daily record marketing department was giving a large bundle away for free. Graeme, who works opposite me in the office, had tickets and almost seemed desperate to get rid of them.
Earlier, on the company’s intranet, I found out I was one of 10 lucky winners to receive the new Rolling stones 50 book, a tome detailing the Rolling Stones’ lifetime through photographs taken by the newspaper company throughout the many long years. It was a staff only competition and one which didn’t require much effort, only the ability to type your name and address which I just about managed.
And yes, my address is still the same. We’re still waiting to hear back with regards to our mortgage for our potential new house but are not much further forward since the last time I wrote on this blog. Phonecalls have been made, emails have been sent and solicitor forms have been filled out and posted but still no news. Perhaps by the end of this week we’ll know something. Considering house buying is possibly one of the biggest decisions of your life, not to mention one of the most costly, these solicitors and mortgage companies just leave you hanging. Probably sneering at you on the other end of the phone as you sit and stress about the upcoming deadlines, cash worries and form filling.
As a short break away from it all we’re off to Leven at the weekend. Aunt Anne decided it was about time we had another family trip so this time we’re all meeting up for a family BBQ on a beach somewhere around the Crail, Fife region on Sunday. Tom and Linda are camping with Jim and James up in Crail. Laurence and Maria are also camping somewhere with Megan and Lauren. Anne and Ian are staying in a fancy hotel whilst Ka, Mum, Dad, Lynsey Ann and myself are staying at a hotel in Leven throughout the Saturday before travelling up to the yet to be disclosed location on the Sunday.
All this money talk and the signing of lives away is getting a little tiring so a brief respite may revitalise us a little.
Bump is growing too. We took another trip to Hairmyres Hospital last Friday morning for another scan and Baby Reid wouldn’t sit still for two minutes. Jumping about all over the place, she was, making it more than a little difficult for the Registrar and the Consultant, Dr. Ferguson, to get proper measurements of baby’s various body parts.
Notice how I said ‘she’ there?
Yes, after we asked the question once more, the registrar looked into the shadowy depths of the computer screen before him and mumbled a reply of female. Dr. Ferguson agreed having hummed and hawed and then eventually coming to that conclusion the last time. Another little girl.
A rather energetic, crazy, non stop little girl. Much like her mother I suspect as when Lucy was still in her mummy’s tummy she’d been more like myself. Lying back, relaxing in it’s womby waters, albeit with the occasional Blockbusters hand jive spotted more than once on the scan monitors.
This new little one won’t sit at peace for two minutes.
On Sunday Ka jumped on more than one occasion whilst sitting in the cinema and it wasn’t down to the break in any tense action sequence or sudden fright.
Either the loud voices, echoing bangs or roaring engines from the surrounding cinema were disturbing baby or she was just enjoying herself in there just as much as her mother was, sitting watching Christian Bale in the leather bat outfit.
Earlier in the week Ka had awoken from a dream in which she had been having an affair with Christian Bale. Not only that, but Christian Bale was her Dad’s brother.
“Wouldn’t that make him your Uncle?” I frowned, over my orange juice that morning.
“Yes” Ka nodded. “But in my dream, it didn’t matter”.
“Sleeping with your Uncle?” I continued to frown. “That’s just messed up”.
What was even more messed up, and unfortunately far more real, was what was to follow on the Friday night at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie, over in Aurora, Colorado.
A horrendous nightmare as yet another crazy person with a couple of guns, dressed and, quite obviously, disturbed, walked into a cinema, intent on killing.
For some reason.
12 people dead and 58 injured.
And yet, what do the people of Colorado do? Go out and buy more guns. According to the BBC website, in the days following the Colorado shooting, applications for the purchase of a gun were 43% higher than the previous week.
Is this the answer? Does this make people feel better?
I’m not so sure.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Monopoly and waffles

The clouds filled the sky on Saturday morning whilst only a slight spit of rain fell through the air as Ka, Grace and myself readied ourselves to take part in another 5k Big Fun Run in Bellahouston Park. The three of us had once more donned the Sands T-shirts, complete with pinned running numbers and our pictures of Lucy. Dougie stood at the side of the track, voted bag and camera carrier as he still nursed a sore ankle from a previous misadventure in the gym. Angela was on her way into town with Morgan and Joshua but had already called to say she had once more successfully got herself lost and had had to stop at Ibrox to ask for directions. Not the best place to ask directions, I thought, considering how long it’s been since they obviously lost their way.
Ka’s sister hadn't done much better than me though. After successfully taking the turn off for Govan from the M8, instead of taking an immediate left after the first right turning at the lights, which should have taken me down Paisley Road West, I decided to carry on, past Ibrox and down Edmiston Drive. It wasn’t until we reached Southern General Hospital that I realised I was way off course and performed a swift U-turn.
After picking up our numbers and carrying out a brief warm up on the track, we were off once more, running the same route that we had done last September, except this time with a little less rain.
At around the 29 minute mark I crossed the finishing line, Dougie missing me with the camera as Angela, Morgan and Joshua had just arrived from their travels. 29 minutes was Dougie’s approximation anyway although the time it took to go around the tree lined 5k route seemed a little longer, and a little tougher, this time around which doesn’t really bode well for the 10k to be completed this September.
Ka crossed the finishing line at approximately 45 minutes followed eventually by Grace, who was walking the lap with two other girls raising money for Yorkhill Hospital. After a visit to the swing park where Joshua squatted on the spring mounted wooden animal and dropped lolly pops and a quick coffee in the Leisure Centre’s cafĂ©, we headed home, Morgan hitching a ride with Ka and myself back to Kenilworth.
The pursuit of money. A game of power, greed, financial domination, property ownership, riches, taxes and possible bankruptcy. Again, nothing to do with Rangers F.C. but a minor game of Monopoly, one of Morgan’s favourites. However, if my niece was a football team I certainly know which one she’d be. She tries everything within her power in order to not have to pay her taxes, bills and other various fines imposed upon her by the board, the Chance and the Community Chest cards. I think she tried everything but the “Look Madonna!” tactic in order to avoid paying her dues. Once she realised she was playing with someone that checked the rulebook every five minutes though she got a little fed up and began to lose interest.
The two of us were crouched over the board on the open space of carpet in the living room, rolling the dice and diligently moving our pieces around the square of London locations.
As the afternoon wore on Morgan and I continued to lightheartedly argue and complain, swiping our credit cards through the banker’s calculator as Ka objected about the volume of our game busy, getting herself ready for our visit to Tommy and Tricia’s for a BBQ that night.
At first Ka shouted at us from the kitchen, her showered hair wrapped up in a towel, whilst she grilled us waffles for lunch. The waffles caused a rather confused look over Morgan’s face at first as Ka asked her if she’d like wAffles. Waffles with the double A.
With that little frown Morgan had entered into a debate that has been raging in the Reid household for some time.
“You mean waffles Auntie Ka?” she puzzled, pronounced with the ‘of’, a pronunciation I have been trying to implement into our day to day lives for years. Silently, and smugly, I nodded at Morgan and looked up at Ka’s slightly exasperated face as she struggled not to acknowledge my superior, silent, linguistic, victory.
That was before my victorious conclusion to the game as we counted up our final amounts, whilst Ka reminded me, once again, that Morgan was eight, a fact, I told Ka, that I was more than aware of.
Counting our final sums didn’t take too long as they don’t even have cash in Monopoly any more?!
In the edition we have you use credit cards and swipe them through either the plus or minus side of the calculator. I suspect I missed Morgan using the plus side of the calculator when she was paying her taxes a few times as I only narrowly won by a couple of hundred bucks when it came to the final count up just before Angela, Steven and Joshua arrived.
Our own, real life, adventures in buying property are moving a little slower than my decisions about the fate of Brick Lane.
Verbally, our offer for the house in Calderwood has been accepted. Legally, there is nothing confirmed as yet, only an official letter affirming our offer sent from our solicitor to theirs. So it looks like we’re playing the waiting game.
Claire is already looking out for tenants for us. She gave us a phone tonight to tell us that someone was on facebook that may be looking for a one bedroom flat to let. So I immediately got on the case, looking the complete stranger up and sending him a message.
We have been given a date for getting the keys to the house so we may well be in a new house by mid August. That’s one hell of a chance card.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Strawberries, T and Snow Patrol sleepiness

Last Wednesday, a week ago tonight, on July 4th, Ka and myself celebrated our third year Wedding anniversary. We didn’t celebrate with anything particularly special. A Chinese carry out from the Jasmine Inn and the exchange of a couple of small presents followed by a couple of bowl of strawberries.
For some reason we both went out and bought each other strawberries to celebrate. I’m not sure what the relevance of strawberries was, and even why we both intuitively thought they would make a great surprise present on a Wedding anniversary? Perhaps it was the Wimbledon influence?
A David Guetta album too. Ka liked the ‘Titanium’ single so I got her the French DJ and producer’s album.
Or David Ghetto as Ka calls him.
He was just one of the acts we missed at the weekend.
We had tickets to T in the Park this year but decided against it after Ka got pregnant. Now that she’s getting a little bigger, a little more uncomfortable and a lot more intolerant to the idea of camping, we thought best of it, but did manage to sell the tickets on to a couple of guys in Andy’s football team. Looking at the news reports and pictures from the festival over the weekend I am now very glad we made that decision. It would have been a nightmare putting up with Ka in those rivers of brown. Colin and Jillian were there and posting on facebook, mud up to their shins. Colin text me on Friday night, raving about how wonderful Florence and the Machine were but no matter how much he may want to go on about it I’d rather wait and see Florence in the SECC at a semi ludicrous price than in the mud of Balado.
I have wanted to see Florence for a long time though and I suppose I was secretly jealous. In fact, I’m not sure Pauline’s ever forgiven me for calling her a b*tch, at Christmas time, when she revealed she’d bought herself and a pal some tickets to see Florence and her band at the SECC when they played back in March.
No, instead of Balado, Ka and myself watched from the comfort of the couch on Friday night, occasionally getting up to dance when the mood took us, jumping about like loons to Olly Murs. He did ask us to dance with him so who were we to refuse?
Afterwards Snow Patrol took to the stage and so we swiftly fell asleep.
Nothing against Snow Patrol. I quite like Snow Patrol.
They do make you awfully sleepy though. Unless you’ve got a lighter, at least then you’d have something to do to keep you awake, keep your attention focused... but even that could be dangerous. You may inadvertently end up setting yourself on fire by falling asleep in mid lighter sway. The alcohol fuelled mud underfoot at T in the Park wouldn’t do you any favours either. A burning Snow Patrol fan stumbling through the mud, ablaze, screaming, confusing others into thinking they’d accidentally taken a wrong turn and dropped by the Wickerman festival. The screaming Snow Patrol fan being commended by passers by for his Edward Woodward tribute.
Anyway, on Saturday night we went out to dinner to Viva Pizzeria Ristorante, on Bothwell Street where we enjoyed a slap up meal involving meatballs, veal ravioli and chicken, washed down with a healthy glass of wine, or soda water and lime, in Ka’s case. Afterwards we walked up West Campbell Street, up on to Sauchiehall Street heading to the flicks to see Jason Segal and Emily Blunt in ‘The Five Year Engagement’, a film that’s been advertised and reviewed as a very strange, odd, occurrence. A half decent romcom.
Unfortunately, as we stood in the queue, a flash of red on screen alerted us to the fact that it was sold out so we ended up donning the 3D glasses again for the new Spiderman movie starring Britain’s very own Andrew Garfield.
Even though it’s barely been five years since the end of the last trilogy with timid Toby McGuire, it seemed a little strange for a new trilogy to start all over again and for that reason I wasn’t that fussed about seeing it. Even so, the new movie was surprisingly enjoyable with Garfield suitably impressing as the geeky, awkward Peter Parker with the spider bug and Rhys Ifans as the villain of the piece, a villain with heart and reason. There’s only one scene in particular towards the end which lets the film down a little, veering into American cheese, but, on the whole, a pretty good piece of escapism with a great moment involving Stan Lee in headphones.
Earlier that day, on the Saturday morning, Ka and myself took a trip along Calderwood to see a house. A house that’s been sitting on the market since the turn of the year.
The rain was peeing down and we arrived in the slightly crowded street early, barely able to see the property’s front door through the pellets of rain bouncing off the windscreen. Getting soaked in the short run to the front door we were greeted by one of the sisters leading the efforts to sell her parents’ home. My Aunt Anne knew the family and had been insisting that we go and view the property from as far back as February and we were only now getting round to it. With baby number two growing well, we thought we’d better start making a move, literally.
The short trip was worth it.
We liked it. It was a blank canvas and I like a blank canvas.
I like a blank canvas because it’s there for the taking. It’s empty and waiting for you to begin to create something wonderful with.
Ka likes a blank canvas because it is clean.
Plain and simple.
Clean, pristine and white. Perfect for the taking.
As soon as I got into work on Monday morning, whilst everyone mourned Andy Murray’s loss, I made sure I made a quick phonecall to the sellers’ solicitors and requested the Home Report.
By Tuesday morning, we’d made an offer.
Fingers crossed we may have a result by this time tomorrow.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

On the bill

Last weekend I was a ladybird for the night. Ka and myself were picked up by Vicki, taxi driven by her dad, and transported into town for a work’s night out. The Ladybird room were going to the Stand Comedy Club after a bite to eat in the newly refurbished Strata cocktail bar and restaurant in Glasgow’s Queen Street. Vicki’s Dad, a friendly liverpudlian with a rather nice convertible Astra of some sort, dropped us off in sunny George Square where we met Gillian who had been hanging around street corners for around half an hour, waiting on us turning up. From there we walked down Queen Street, through the shoppers heading for their trains, buses or cars home and headed towards number 45, past what used to be the Rock Garden bar, the fat face shop and the weird shop with all the gothic necklaces, beads, pipes and bongs in the window.
The last time Ka and myself had passed the Strata bar it had been all shut up, the windows all coated with a messy layer of whitewash. At the time I’d assumed that it had fallen as another victim of this all consuming recession so I was rather surprised to hear that Strata was to be the Ladybird room’s meeting place to kick start the night.
I swung the door open for the three ladies, feeling a little uncomfortable in Amy’s place. Amy, one of the current Ladybirds, had been unable to attend, so Ka and Vicki immediately thought of me to take her place. A kind act of charity considering I’d been moaning at Ka for the past few weeks after discovering the Ladybirds’ plans to visit Glasgow’s West End Comedy Club. I’d been annoying Ka for years to go along with me and check the place out one night and due to reasons unknown, especially to myself, I’d never got around to it. It was even mooted as a possible location for a birthday night out, but again, that never happened (violins please!). So, hearing my woes Vicki agreed with Ka that it would be a good idea to allow myself to accompany them in Amy’s place.
A husband at the work night out.
Not every man’s idea for a night out but it wasn’t so bad as I wasn’t to be the only bloke. We were meeting David, the Ladybird room’s teacher, who had just finished for his summer break the week before and had been, as it turned out, on the sauce since his last day on the Wednesday. In fact, as Vicki, Gillian and Ka led myself upstairs to the tabled area in the lively, rather swanky, new look Strata, we found David sitting back, behind a table, smiling contentedly as he sipped from a colourful daiquiri, his first tipple following the night before.
So the girls started with a cocktail, Ka going non alcoholic, of course, and I settled with a pint whilst we ordered up our meals. The gathered workers started gabbing about work, which I happily found myself fully capable of following many insightful conversations at home with the Mrs. As surprising as it may seem to Ka, I do actually pay attention to the many wonderful, varied tales and goings on produced by the Early Learning Unit. Conversations then went on to David’s night outs since finishing for the summer, his latest puke, the dropping of his iPod from a second floor window, the John Barrowman gig of the previous week attended by Ka and myself and the one song of Tori Amos’ that we all actually remember (Cornflake Girl). A spectacularly cheap bill was then paid, just after David revealed that his choice of Strata for the night was no spur of the moment decision. All meals were half price for the month. This was the first time I’d met David properly and I liked the way he was thinking. Vicki I’d met on various, previous occasions, mostly when I’d been picking Ka up from nights out and Gillian I’d met before but hadn’t really got to know until sitting at dinner with her that night in Strata.
As time was getting on, and David and Vicki fretted about not wanting to end up in the front rows in the Stand, we decided to make a move and after gulping down another pint I followed the Ladybird’s downstairs and back out into the sunny, dry evening to grab a black cab bound for Woodlands Road.
As the cab pulled up David, and some of the others, panicked. A massive queue had already formed, snaking from the small, cellar like entrance of the comedy club. We may have lost our chance for a quiet, secluded, seated position at the back of the room, out of sight from the comedians and out of harms way. We followed the steadily moving queue through the small playground of the old secondary school, down the steps and into the cellar where we were greeted by a colourful, cosy atmosphere surrounded by posters advertising all kinds of crazy acts and comedians, some recognisable, some promising and others just plain bonkers. We already had our tickets sorted so simply handed them over and made our way through the double doors to the main room.
A large open bar filled the left corner of the dimly lit room, whilst the stage stood to the right, a small, raised platform around the centre of the wall upon which a single microphone stood tall, waiting. Facing chairs surrounded the small stage with a multitude of small, round, candlelit tables, most of which were still empty, surprisingly enough, considering the amount of people that had been moving through the entrance doors before us.
The girls picked our seats around a small table at the back of the crowd of tightly packed tables. A safe table, plenty of distance between us and the front of the audience, so we were not slagged off by whomever was to take the stage. Another plus point, the others pointed out, was that this table was also near the toilets. Unsure why this was relevant I was beginning to wonder who I was out with, the Ladybirds or the Old dears?
During the first hour the kitty was made and more drinks were ordered as the ticket holders piled in through the doors behind us, the latecomers struggling for seats. Some of the latecomers consisted of women, dressed for their night out, but obviously also late for their night out. These women hung around suggestively, giving lots of huffs, puffs and vocal complaints about the lack of seats whenever I happened to turn around. Eventually I ended up receiving many an evil look as it slowly sunk in that I wasn’t giving my seat up for anyone, no matter how glamorous they considered themselves or how often they flicked their hair or fiddled with their bra straps.
Eventually the excitable, but not unfunny, compere hit the stage, almost immediately picking out faces from the front rows, only gently slagging them off, and obviously sussing out who was with who for the comedians that were to follow. An entertaining Scots guy was first up, followed by a weird Irish guy that based his routine on Bible stories, a second irish guy was next, and the funniest of the night, followed by a Canadian.
You’d think that as the night went on, and the more drinks that were consumed, the laughs would get louder. The fourth act proved this wrong. Unfortunately myself and the gathered crowd had either drank too much and missed the Canadian’s funny points or just got bored. You’ll notice, of course, that I cannot now remember any of the featured comedians names which could well contribute to the theory of ‘I just drank too much’ and after another few rounds in Oran Mor’s brasserie bar and a slow, oddly stomach churning taxi journey home, I fulfilled that theory with the wrong end of my body down my bathroom’s toilet seat.
Personally I blame Strata’s cut price food myself.