Monthly Archives: December 2009

So that was Christmas….

…and what did we do?

We ate far too much food, and turned it to poo….

The world’s most overhyped single day celebration has ended for another year. In truth it’s all over before it begins normally. Eldest child up at 3am, decides her younger brother just has to be awake. We hold out until 6:30. Presents all done and dusted an hour later. By 9, they’re bored. Nothing left to do but eat.

All that’s left is the build up to the second most over hyped single day celebration. New Year. Hordes of people getting drunk and expecting things to be magically different just because the clock has ticked over by a second.

Humbug-ery 101…..frak it….pass the Peroni.

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Feed me Seymour…

…or Twitter at any rate. Just playing with TwitterFeed, trying to see if it links properly to here….

Ooh, *titter* this BATE Borisov team have a player called Shitov….haha…

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Looking from a window above

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my travel agent gave to me,
Twelve mincing stewards
Eleven missing cases
Ten inflight meals
Nine check-in desks closed
Eight planes a-grounded
Seven baggage handlers
Six bendy bus drivers
Fiiiiive hour delays
Four miles to the gate
Three spare seats
Two cancelled tickets
And a BA cabin crew strike.

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/8412332.stm

It’s not quite Christmas time, but it is that time of year when houses in every town turn into some sort of celebration of all that is Las Vegas. As someone with an aversion to tinsel and the assorted fripperies of yuletide decoration, I quite frankly, can’t see the point. This isn’t just bah-humbuggery though. (Well, maybe a little bit).

I’d like to know where all the carbon footprint fascists are. It’s all very well attacking those who like to use their cars, or take flights, or import their foodstuffs from Asia, but the amount of light, heat and electricity wasted on these homages to Blackpool never merits a mention.

These people delude themselves into thinking they are celebrities in their community as they painstakingly drape their homes in bulbs, making sure each one works. (How do they do that by the way? The tree light phenomenon is well know, yet it doesn’t seem to affect this lot). Let’s not forget the inflatable Santa and the Santa figure that spends all day and all night climbing up and down a rope dangling from the roof.

Round our way there are a couple of houses in competition with each other. Each year adding more bulbs, baubles and tat in an attempt to out do the other. Given they are now outputting more light than the sun, and are warming the air at an equally powerful rate I worry for the safety of the neighbourhood kids.

In these days of carbon emissions, global warming and Copenhagen walkouts shouldn’t we be taking these peoples fuses away?

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I’m the smiling face on your T.V.

Dateline: Friday night, through the fog to the SECC, a soulless cavern on the banks of the Clyde. Glasgow, a city that manages to revel in living down to every cliché you’ve ever heard about it. As divided as cold war era Berlin, and where even the Catholic girls are orange.

We’re there for the previously mentioned Simple Minds gig. Excellent set list that featured all the classics, some of the new album and tracks from a number of the early albums too. At times it was easy to see and hear why they’d been on a par with U2 through the mid to late 80’s. Something was off however. They were good, but it wasn’t great and certainly not the best I’ve seen them. It may have been the acoustics in the building, or the mix of the sound but Jim’s voice just wasn’t there. There was an enforced hiatus mid-way through when a fuse blew or some other piece of technology had a melt down, but all in all it was enjoyable.

Support was provided by OMD, and boy did they put on a show. I’ve got a soft spot for them as a band, being as their high point is right in my era, but I’d allowed myself to forget just how good a band they are/were and how many memorable songs they did. They blasted through all the big songs you’d expect of them and for a guy who seemed tediously earnest in their hey day, Andy McCluskey showed a surprising sense of humour and genuinely appeared to be having a good time. It was almost enough to forgive him for foisting Kerry ‘Kebab Shop’ Katona on an unsuspecting public.

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Ryan Giggs, Sports Personality of the Year. Take a moment to consider those words carefully.

Even allowing for the fact that “Personality” has never been a criteria, it’s difficult to defend this choice. Either the red menace of United fans, as pervasive as Kudzu weed, voted en bloc or the addled minds of X-Factor fans got their phone numbers mixed up. Lets look at the contenders:

Jenson Button – won the F1 World Championship in a team that didn’t exist just a few weeks before the season started.

Mark Cavendish – winner of six, SIX! Stages at this years Tour De France – was never going to win though as he’s largely unheard of and of those who have heard of him 75% find him insufferably arrogant. Not how we like our British sports stars.

Tom Daley – another World Champion, but he’s 15 and won the junior prize

Jessica Ennis – another World Champion, but it’s only athletics and she hasn’t been seen since the summer

David Haye – hmm, a World Champion too, Ok he shoots his mouth off, but he’s a boxer ffs.

Phillips Idowu – wait a minute, isn’t he? Yes, a World Champion, but as with Jess Ennis, he suffers from athletics and it all happened months ago syndrome.

Andy Murray – only three men in the world, the entire world are better than him at tennis, at one stage only one man was. He won more title this year than anyone, no Grand Slams, but not Mickey Mouse ones either….too Scottish.

Andrew Strauss – too posh, too South African, cricket is only on Sky so it doesn’t count anymore and besides, they lost to the West Indies before beating a poor Australian side.

Beth Tweddle – OK, it’s only gymnastics, but she is, you know, one of them, that’s right, a World Champion

Which brings us to Giggsy. A part time starter, some time substitute, what has he done of note this year? Hmm, let’s see now, he’s scored a few goals, none of them crucial and he’s been at best, United’s third best player, behind Rooney and Ronaldo in the latter half of last season. His only real qualification for making the final ten so far as I can see is the “astonishing” fact that he’s still able to take the field at the age of 36 without the aid of a wheelchair and stannah stairlift.

And as for Fabio Capello. Coach of the Year? For what? Guiding England to the World Cup from a piss easy group? What the fuck will they give him if they win the tournament? How anyone could overlook Dean Richards for this is anyones guess. Who did more for rugby’s profile this year than him?

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Friends of Kim Philby

On Friday, I’m going out. It’s a rare occurrence, rare enough to merit comment. A combination of parenthood and financial restraint mean it doesn’t roll around too often. There’s an extra frisson of anticipation about this night out though. We’re heading through to Glasgow to see Simple Minds at the SECC. Ok, maybe not the most fashionable of bands to go see, but it’s special for me.

The Minds were the first band I ever went to see perform live. Growing up in the Borders every band worth their salt, and many not even worth the seawater, bypassed the area. There was no way my parents would be persuaded to ferry me to Newcastle or Edinburgh or Glasgow in order to attend a concert, at least not until I was 17 anyway. I’d been a fan of the band since ‘Sparkle In The Rain’, and finally was going to get to see them play, at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. Of course, this was at the height of the anti-apartheid era and so, there was a falling out with the SRU and the gig was re-housed at the vastly inferior Meadowbank. Not that this mattered to us.

I guess technically The Silencers were the first band I saw live as they were the first of the support acts. Thank you to the organizers for introducing me to the best Scottish band no one has ever heard of. Texas were also on the bill, a teenage Sharleen Spiteri tempting fate by asking the crowd “what have you got to show me first?” I’m fairly sure there was someone else on the bill, but for the life of me, I just don’t remember them. Jim and the boys were superb, making me realize that music is meant to be heard live and loud.

The bootleg tape procured from an Edinburgh record fair saw a fair bit of play in the years after the event, despite the out of time clapping, crap wit and tuneless shouting along of the guys stood around the recording device.

I’ve seen the Minds a couple of times since, at the Usher Hall and most recently in Princes Street Gardens, and they are still as good as ever. As an extra treat, Friday’s support act are OMD….it’s back to my youth all over again.

When it comes to favourite gigs, I have a few and for different reasons. The aforementioned Meadowbank show as it was my first. The biggest in terms of crowd numbers was the performance of ‘The Wall’ by Roger Waters and a cast of thousands in Berlin in 1990. Quarter of a million people, a fantastic show and a night spent sleeping rough on the floor of the Zoogardens Rail station. Fantastic. I’ve seen the Silencers a few times in the Queens Hall in Edinburgh. Wonderful gigs, such a small venue you’re almost on stage with the band.

Goodbye Mr Mackenzie was a memorable night at the Barrowlands, down the front, peering up at the soon to be famous Shirley Manson. Shame it took the demise of the Macs to make it happen.

James at Alton Towers rounds out my top five, a gig that was a triumph because of, rather than despite the weather. It had been miserable all day. Rain and wind had almost forced a cancellation. Johnny Rotten and PiL had been pelted with bottles and various other missiles, before James came on and whipped up the crowd. It was a tremendous atmosphere in amongst the fans. Steam rising as body heat counteracted the rainfall.

Here’s hoping that Friday night forces itself into consideration for the top five. It’s going to be good no matter what.

And James/Charlie, if you’re reading, I look forward to hearing, some, most or none of these tracks.

Spotify link

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I Took a Plane, I Took a Train…..

The big hitters on the world stage are in ‘vunderful, vunderful Copenhagen’, talking about climate change and controlling carbon emissions. Here, in ‘dear old Blighty’, the government are arguing for a 200% increase in air travel at the same time as other pressure groups are advising us all to let the train take the strain, and cut out short haul flights all together.

When it comes to climate change and green house gases etc. I’m still something of a fence sitter. A victim of the internet age and information overload. Whilst the evidence is compelling, there are equally good arguments for nature and cycles, and the fact that the planet has warmed and frozen and warmed with no assistance from man whatsoever. I mean, not to many 4×4’s around when huge swathes of the Ice Age thawed.

What tends to be forgotten is the amount of investment that would be needed to make the trains a viable option for many in this country. Yes, it’s possible to do London to Paris or even further a field using high speed rail lines, but try doing that from Edinburgh, or worse Aberdeen. It takes the better part of the day just to get to London.

If the government were really serious about cutting emissions, they’d make it near impossible for people to object to the placement of wind farms, instead, everyone says, yes, we want green power, but not in my back yard, ruining my view of the hillside. We should just encase these in plastic shells making them look like Windy Miller’s place of work. Far more scenic. That said, 300 hundred years ago when the flour milling industry was taking off, I bet the locals complained about unsightly windmills too.

For that matter, every new build home in the country should have solar panels fitted to the roof. Possibly even a wind turbine too. Make it easier for owners of existing homes to get these fitted and voila! Reliance on traditionally generated power drops. Oops, of course, silly me. The power company profits would drop too.

If action is to be taken to “save the planet”, profits need to be given the elbow. Where exactly would all the money be spent anyway? The cockroach motel?

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Ooh, it makes me right irate. I read this at lunchtime, http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2009/dec/09/parents-sue-buggy-maker-maclaren

Since when did it become acceptable to sue a third party for your own stupidity? Something folds up, therefore it has hinges and parts that close on each other. Common sense would dictate that when folding a buggy, keep the kids away from it. It’s not like these things were faulty. I’d have thought the fact that the buggy must have stuck and needed a good force to make it close on the wee one’s fingers would have been enough of a clue.

The only thing needing recalled is the sperm of the father of the parent’s who are suing the company. Would they sue Russell Hobbs because the kettle got hot?

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5, 6, 7, 8, gonna make you mine, better get in line….

Tiger Woods eh?!? Playa!

They say there’s danger off the tee, but who know a fluffed drive could go so horribly wrong. The only big question left is whether or not his attempts at course design stop at nine holes, or did he have the stamina to complete a full 18 hole course?

The list of “conquests” so far include a porn starlet, a ‘$5 an hour’ waitress (makes a change from a $5000 an hour hooker), a clubber and a socialite. A clubber?? Presuming that’s not someone who makes a living in the baby seal industry, since when did clubber become a profession? How does one apply for such a post? Does it pay more than the opportunity to become another notch on a frustrated golfers 3-wood? I guess socialite is a rung further up the career ladder than clubber. Socialite’s get invited to parties, clubbers just crash them.

Golf has always seemed a bizarre game to me. It’s practitioners are lauded for their ability to get the ball from one manicured piece of turf to another. Where’s the challenge? ‘Extreme’ Golf is the way forward. Get in among the long stuff, where the dog turds, half bricks, used drug paraphernalia and discarded beer cans lurk. The sight of a few of the pampered professionals hacking their way out of some gorse bush, chased by an irate chav would make the sport so much more appealing. (That said, some of the bush Tiger has been hacking around in can only be described as extreme).

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Last Friday saw the borefest that is the World Cup draw made. It’s an extended festival of the dull, that even exceeds the National Lottery draw for pointless over extension. At least it ha Charlize Theron, there’s a woman who could make grass growing an interesting diversion.

England managed to get their hot ball in to the pots. Nice safe-ish draw for them. Quarter Finals is the minimum they should be achieving, sadly the competition will be spoiled on TV here with all the rampant jingoism and refusal to believe that it’s not England’s God given right to make at least the semi final, but moreover to win the competition. A dose of realism should be required for all commentators and pundits. Give us facts not blind optimism. Yes, England have a chance, and I’d like to see them go well, but, there are probably half a dozen teams in genuine contention to win the trophy.

There will be a World Cup prediction competition going up on these pages at some point between now and July…..

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