Monthly Archives: April 2009

Back….to the Future

“You don’t know what you’re doing”. The chant of disgruntled fans to a seemingly clueless manager as yet another match drifts toward its inevitable conclusion. It’s also the cry that’s being circling the inside of my skull for the past six hours and 23 minutes. Not that I am having difficulties, on the contrary I am having the easiest working day I’ve had in a long time, precisely because I don’t know what I’m doing.

I’m “on the bench”, that lovely euphemistic term my company uses to describe those of us still employed but no longer productive for the company. I’ve just finished a four month spell on site at a London based client, and am now sitting in our Glasgow office. Why? Because I’m required to, despite the fact that there is no work for me to do, and, there’s been no management in to have a word, give me any idea as to what is happening as regards new placements or even just have a general chit chat about what’s bugging me.

There are five people in here in the same situation as me, some have been here six months, some a little less. One lucky survivor won the lottery today, and was rewarded with a six week gig in Paisley. Thankfully not me, been there, bought the stab vest. He’s been literally doing nothing since early December. I’m approaching the end of day one and it’s already doing my Swede. Going postal could be an option, though on the principle of a tree falling in a forest with no one there to hear it, would anyone notice if I did. We’re the sole tenant in an office building on a god forsaken business park on the edge of nowhere (or Bellshill as it says on the map). It’s windswept, bleak and it’s only highlight is a branch of ‘Make Your Own’ sandwich shop. Where you pay for the privilege of making your own sandwich…..hang on! Isn’t the point of buying from a shop being able to avoid doing the work? Shouldn’t it cost less? On this principle, I avoid the self service checkouts in supermarkets, or at least, until they discount me for the fact they need to employ fewer checkout “girls”.

The worst of it is, I could still be at work in that glamorous London location, living 4 nights a week in a swanky Kensington pad, my Marks and Spencer microwave meals paid for by expenses…..but….I chose to put family first. Four months of being away through the week has done nothing for my wife’s business, my kids behaviour or my credit card balance, so, it’s back to the Scottish arm of the business, and given how reliant we were on RBS and banks in general, it’s time to sit around and do nothing other than try to look busy. Not that there’s anyone around who’s overly bothered! I recognise hardly anyone, the nature of my work means I spend more time on client sites than I do in our own offices, so I feel like a stranger. Internet comes under a usage policy that blocks anything remotely interesting and restricts the rest, not that the PC I’m using has a network connection anyway! So, enough of this asinine woe is me stuff, time to be less personal and more topical and hopefully more interesting just on the off chance a single solitary surfer happens to stop by….Christ alone knows what you could have been looking for to bring you here….but, as Frank used to say, that’s life.

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Filed under London, Whinging

It’s here….runaway….runaway….

The news that a honeymooning couple from Falkirk have returned home from Cancun with Swine Flu, has predictably set the UK’s tabloid press into a frenzy of doomsday scenario related speculation.  Personally, I feel this is all going to fizzle out, in much the same way as it did a couple of years ago when they found a seagull in Fife that had died of bird flu, quarantined the area (except for the rolling news trucks of the BBC, Sky and CNN), told us we were doomed and then neglected to tell us of exactly how few people had promptly dropped dead of the dreaded H5N1 virus.  (None).

Stupidly thinking that the “quality” press might be a safer haven, I once again purchased the Independent.  (I find the Scotsman too parochial, the Telegraph too Tory, the Guardian unreadable and my dislike for Murdoch precludes me from getting the Times).  I was, of course, wrong.  Once again, hysteria appears to have taken over with the paper somehow contriving to make Simon Calder the voice of reason.  He’s advising us to carry on as normal….but then he would, he’s a travel journalist.   If the airlines start to struggle because we’ve all locked ourselves up at home, he’s out of a job!

Marvelously though, there’s another Q&A panel on page 5, with more of the burning questions and “reassuring” answers the discerning tabloid shaped broadsheet reader wants.  I was going to do a similar extract exercise to yesterdays, but then I read this and fear I may incur the wrath of Mr Morozov.  Oh fuck it, no one reads this anyway so what are the odds?

Q. Do masks provide protection against swine flu?

A. Yes, but probably not to the person wearing them.  Well thanks so much for that, very reassuring.  Plus it gives all those bastards wearing one another reason to be all sanctimonious.  Besides, that’s not a great shade of blue, how are you supposed to accessorise a face mask?

Q. Now swine flu has arrived in Britain how likely is it to spread?

A. Highly likely – if it hasn’t already.  Christ!!  Really piling on the happy thoughts today.  It’s time to head for the hills, live in caves as hermits.  It seems “Survivors” on BBC last Autumn wasn’t a drama, it was a public information film. We’re doooooooooomed.

Q. Should Britian screen travellers at it’s borders?

Flu is one of the most infectious illnesses known – one cough by an infected person can transmit the virus to a whole room.  Thank Christ this isn’t the Daily Mail.  This is a cue for a whole diatribe of invective railing against immigrants, coming over here, infecting us with swine flu, taking our low paid menial jobs no one wants anyway, dating our women and generally not being English.

Fred Goodwin must be loving this.  It’s actually taken the heat off him for a while.  Maybe he had something to do with it!?!?

I’m off to sit in a bath of Dettol, popping Tamiflu in my cave in the hills.

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Filed under Current Events, Swine Flu, Travel

Pigs might fly? No, they already have flu.

I was going to leave the subject of swine flu well alone, but, well, it’s reaching pandemic proportions in the media, and an article in todays’ Independent caught my eye.  They have a panel on page five, done in the standard Q&A format the papers always use in these situations.  I’m sure it was intended to convey facts and attempt to prove there’s no need for panic but….see for yourselves.  My comments are italicised.

Q. What is swine flu?

A. Much the same as human flu – but in pigs (that’ll be why it’s not Avian, Bovine or Ovine flu then!).

Q. How worried should we be?

A. At this stage, no one knows.  Fuck, time to head for the hills, that’s very reassurring.  We don’t know how worried you should be.  It’s too serious to not be worried, but please don’t go into wide spread panic.  Nothing is more designed to cause outright anarchy than the thought that no one knows what’s going on.

Q. Can it be treated?

A. Yes – up to a point.  What point?  Death?

Q. How bad might a pandemic be?

Er, I think the clue word here might just be “pandemic”

A. At it’s worst, it could have a devastating global impact, greater than a terrorist attack, nuclear accident or environmental disaster.  Don’t hold back now, go straight for the absolute worst case scenario.

Q. Is there a vaccine against it?

A. Not in humans (there is in pigs).  Well bully for them!

All designed to put your fears to rest innit!  The really good news is that it’s still safe to eat piggy products, and when the mass executions of pigs begins, and we have scenes reminiscent of the foot and mouth outbreak, there will be the wonderful smell of bacon coming from those giant funeral pyres.

Pass me a bacon roll….

Oh almost forgot, my absolute favourite extract from the piece is the advice printed in the News of the World in November 1918, the year of the big Spanish Influenza pandemic.

“Wash inside nose with soap and water night and morning; force yourself to sneeze night and morning, then breathe deeply.  Do not wear a muffler, take sharp walks regularly and walk home from work; eat plenty of porridge.”

Ha, in your face England!  As everyone knows, we Scots eat nothing but porridge!  Oh…………

Right, gotta go, I feel a sneeze coming on.

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Filed under Current Events, Swine Flu

Livin La Vida Smoke-a

I recently completed a four month stint working in London, and now the dust has settled, it’s time for a review of life in Lahndan Tahn.

As someone born and brought up in a small Borders town (pop. c.5000), who has subsequently spent much of his adult life in and around Edinburgh, which as a youngster was always an exciting day trip, the prospect of London was a little daunting.  It’s big, dirty, smelly, full of foreigners and traffic and murderers and druggies and prostitutes.  I mean, Newcastle is a big, place to me!!!

So, the size thing – yes, London is big, but, it’s pretty easy to get about in, all things considered, and it has the capacity to swallow events and leave you oblivious to there existence.  We were billetted in the Kensington area, Stamford Bridge was nearby, Craven Cottage fairly close, Wembley was visible from the office, Loftus Road around the corner.  All of these places were in use for big events in the time I was there, never once did it inconvenience me.  I’ve been in Edinburgh when the Six Nations are on, the city grinds to a halt!

Is it dirty?  Not really, for the most part it’s cleaner than many places, and certainly no worse.  My biggest bug bear?  It’s impossible to walk more than 10 yards without someone trying to hand you a free paper/magazine/lifestyle, and of course these publications end up all over the fucking place.

Smelly?  Have you been to Edinburgh when the breweries are in full “bloom”?  The main thing you notice about the London smell is the aroma of food….all those bloody foreigners cooking up some amazing dishes.  Which brings me to the bloody foreigners…..yes, there are many of them.  So many tourists, so many immigrant families and languages, and yet it all seems to fit pretty well together.  My only problems were with the odd Asian newsagent not taking Scottish notes, and the odd lairy “Cockernee” mouthing off about “sweaties”.

Traffic was a non issue for me, the tube got me everywhere I needed to be.  One thing about that though.  Londoners, what’s the rush?  Where’s the fire?  I used the Central line a lot, and the number of people rushing past in a blur to get the next train was amazing.  I mean, the Central line defines “there’ll be another one along in a minute”.  It’s not as if missing it would put a crimp in your day!  And that 9am Monday rom Liverpool Street tube….I’ve seen roomier sardine tins.  Nothing is so important you have to risk beheading yourself on the door just for two inches of space and a noseful of someones sweaty armpit. 

The danger side?  Never saw it, never felt it, never perceived it.  Yes there were many brasses around, mainly higher class ones due to where we were staying, in an area with many embassies.  I’m pretty sure the concierge knew exactly where to get us a lady had we asked, in fact I’m certain more than a few Eastern European lovelies plied their trade in our building.

I met some fantastic people, some of whom I had know online before going down, others were complete strangers.  I had some fantastic nights out, one in the Crown and Two Chairmen was a particular highlight, and if I only eat in two places in London again one will be Bodeans on Westbourne Grove, the other will be Chula in Hammersmith….

London, I’ll be back!

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Filed under Foodiness, London, Travel

The loneliness of the middle aged stripper

Thanks to the wonderful world of Twitter, I ended up reading this52?!?!?!?!  Unless Ohio is populated entirely by Wayne Rooney, what the heck kind of titty bars are they running over there.   I mean, no disrespect, and I’ve seen some fine looking women in their 50’s, but only bad things happen when they disrobe.  The suspect was at least a spring chicken in her 40’s…..I guess this place catered to a niche market, I know all strippers can’t be like Salma Hayek in “Dogma”, (actually no strippers are that good) but surely there should be some standards……oh well, it’s not like I’ll be visiting any of those establishments in the Buckeye State anytime soon.

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So Saturday so the mighty RHC 3’s shake of the winter rust with our first (only) preseason game, a visit to Murrayfield.  Wasn’t a bad effort, we were typically poor in he field, miserly with the ball and ham fisted with the bat.   But we won, thanks in part to yours truly holding his end up (ooer) for 40 minutes.  Took 2 for 24 off 7 overs as we held them to 85 all out.  Chased it down for 9 wickets, with me making a valiant 3 no out.   A minor triumph.  League season starts in two weeks…..

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OK, so, when is it going to be safe to turn on the TV/Radio or open a newspaper again?  Is there nothing else in the world going on but Susan Boyle?  She seems nice enough, and she lives not far from me, but, just because she looks like someones eccentric aunt, it’s not exactly shocking that she can sing is it?  She’s not going to change the world, end wolrd poverty, hunger and recession is she?  Maybe she is, maybe she’ll get together with Obama and sing the world back to health….please, let the woman be….and give me some f’ing sanity.

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I’m off, got dishes to do….and with a bit of luck I may get to sleep without dreaming of Ken Stott in a toga……

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Filed under Cricket

Ken Stott?!?!?!

OK…I admit it, I’m a little bit obsessed with Football Manager at the moment.   I grew up playing those sort of games, and after a few years of near addiction to the Internet, I decided to buy the 2009 edition.  On the plus side, I’m not on the Internet nearly as much as I used to be, vacantly staring at screens doing not so much (and yes, the wife banning me from Facebook helped that), but, now I’m on FM every chance I can manufacture…..and I’m not exactly all that good at it.  However, the way it’s taking over my life is going too far now. 

There I am, in bed, sleeping nicely thank you very much when I start dreaming.  Not all that unusual really, but, it’s an FM infestation.  My club was struggling against relegation in the game, andmy dream revolved around the fact that the board wanted to get rid of me.  Except sacking me wasn’t an option, this was a full blown plot to force me into either topping myself or them hiring a hitman.  Players were “poisoned” against me, it was a living hell.  The real kicker however was that the dream was me watching a “dramatised for TV” version of the events, in which I was played by Ken Stott.  Ken Stott!?!?!?!  No disrespect to Mr Stott, who’s performances I’ve enjoyed in many shows, but, outside of Scottishness, we have nothing in common.  OK, so Brad Pitt wouldn’t be a realistic choice either, but Ken Stott?  I know I have low self esteem, but surely my psyche could’ve found someone a tad more, oh, I dunno, I mean christ, not even Michael “I can do anyone” Sheen….maybe I should just switch off the laptop!!

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On that subject, I will be doing just that very shortly.  Cricket season is underway, even here in the frozen north, and it’s our first pre-season match today.  Sadly it’s on the plastic at Roseburn, where it’ll be cold and miserable, but it’s action.  I’ve had nothing but one fielding session in preparation, so no doubt, I’ll be firing the ball all over the place (no real change there), a full report will follow, as will a preview of the upcoming league season, starting on May 2nd.

I’m off to Roseburn…..

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Filed under Cricket, Football Manager

…and one ring to Endemol..

I came across this earlier.  Not really sure what I make it of really.  On the one hand making entertainment out of a group of people struggling to keep their job and secure a future for themselves seems to be the last twitch of dying ethics….on the other, is it really that far removed from ‘The Apprentice’? 

It also seems like a neat line into a further reality show from Endemol.  The one where they follow the lives of the sacked Joes and Josephines letting the viewers vote on which of them goes postal first.

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It’s day four of what feels like my own stay in the Big Brother house, and my ‘housemates’ are just as talkative as ever….still, I’ve been given a couple of tasks to work on…woo-hoo!  Neither of them are particularly interesting, or difficult, or indeed relevant to my job as such, but if creating a user guide to our office locations, complete with where to find food, shops, hookers etc and sorting out a company newsletter are what’s required to pay the bills, then I guess I’ll get on with it….of course, I’ve been warned about my sense of humour, and keeping it in check.  (Not exactly going to be difficult on the evidence of these blog posts so far!). 

There is something mildly cathartic in this, just writing stuff down for the sake of writing it down, knowing that no one is going to actually read it doesn’t matter, it’s mildly annoying that I haven’t found a “theme” yet but I’m sure that’ll come if I manage to continue this project of narcissism.  Highly doubtful over the next week as I’m on holiday, gonna be spending Easter weekend with the in-laws, what joys await……I fear there may be some ranty material to be had from the upcoming few days…..

I’m off to Quahog…….

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