Tag Archives: Ratho

Up, Down, Turn Around, Please Don’t Let Me Hit The Ground

Sunday, dawn, and I awake, sweaty and shaky. The vivid imagery of my legs concertina-ing, fragments of shattered bone exploding outwards as my feet make contact with my buttocks remains embedded in my mind.

Today is the day. I’m joining two of my club mates and around 20 parents from my kids’ school in dangling 100ft above the floor of the Edinburgh International Climbing Centre. It’s Aerial Assault day.

After watching from air-conditioned comfort as the first batch of parents, and a sprinkling of 12-year-old kids, successfully complete the course, it’s our turn. Up the spiral staircase to the launch platform, the ‘banter’ becoming ever more strained as we attempt to divert our minds from the task at hand. It’s difficult to envision just how high 100ft is, when you are looking down. Suffice to say, it’s far enough.

On with the harness, then the helmet and get that attached to the harness. All watches removed and shoes tightened. The consequences of an item falling from that height onto a head below wouldn’t be pleasant. And it’s time to hook up, much like a stick of paratroopers on a DC-10 we stand in line awaiting the green light. Well, except for me. There are 11 in our group and only harnesses. I have to wait until the leadoff dangler has returned to the eyrie.

Soon, people are off and it’s the cricketers’ turn. Tricky is up first. He’s chosen now to reveal he has a real issue with heights, and for a while it looks like he may not make it. We stand, waiting mostly in silence, offering the odd word of encouragement and watching the back of his neck get redder as he battles with his inner demons. Suddenly, with a deep breath he’s gone. Lamby waits until he reaches the first platform before he is released, and it’s my turn. The nice young lady at the turnstile gives my nuts a last check (not difficult, given how snug these harnesses are), adjusts the ropes and with a last little nudge, sends me on my way.

Out over the arena, on a leisurely slide across to the first platform, nothing to do but sneak a quick peak at the ground. Nothing but thin air between me and a couple of large scrambling boulders. Very thin air! Victoria Beckham thin air. The kind of thin air that makes it very clear it won’t be doing anything to counteract gravity.

Soon the landing platform is in reach and after a short scramble up, it’s out onto the obstacles. Log bridges, rope ladders, scramble nets and various other things to go over or round, swing from the roof. The disconnect between the knowledge that the harness and pulley system is safe for 3 to 4 times my bodyweight and the fact that everything is wobbling and unsteady is on occasion a tough thing to bridge. It proves so for Tricky up ahead as the three of us are now bunched up in the middle. Lamby and I hold back giving him the room to sort himself out and he’s off again.

The toughest section of the course involves traversing the climbing wall at one side and involves a four-foot leap over nothing. Again, psychology comes into play, getting your brain to trust in what it can’t see!

The last leg is fairly straight forward and the course ends with a speedier zip slide style run back to the starting point, the signal for much relief, large smiles and handshakes. Adrenaline still coursing through the veins gives everyone a case of the shakes, the last word belonging to Lamby. “I’d do it again, but I don’t know if I’d do it without a harness!”

I’d like to thank Tricky and Lamby for turning up and doing this, and on behalf of each of them thanks to everyone who sponsored us and helped raise a few more pounds for our coaching funds.


It seems to be a week for manufactured controversy, and it’s only bloody Tuesday! We’ve had various talking heads on TV and radio this morning queuing up to condemn ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’ as sick, depraved and a grave threat to our very well-being. None of these people it should be added have actually seen the game. I haven’t either I hasten to add, hence the reason I won’t comment on the game itself.

The thrust of the argument revolves around a section of the game that involves the player taking on the role of a terrorist in an airport, dispatching civilians. Yes, I can see how that may be disquieting to some. However, given the average of gamers is 33, given that it has an 18 certificate (plus an extra warning about this section, with an option to skip it) it would seem that the makers have done everything they can to make it clear to people what the content is like.

“Oh, but we all know kids will get their hands on it” – yes, yes they will, just like they’ll get their hands on 18 certificate movies, and drama’s like 24. Did you see the last series of 24? It contained a scene with terrorists running around gunning people down in an airport, amongst other gory scenes including ‘our hero’ torturing people. My point? Sounds like this game is no worse than any other media available to us today. Jumping on the bandwagon and whipping up a frenzy of condemnation serves no purpose other than to create publicity and demand for the very thing they have an issue with. Grand Theft Auto is the most infamous example of this. The cycle of publicity gained thanks to “outraged of Tunbridge Wells” led to these games selling far more copies than the actual quality of the game deserved.

It’s a similar tale for Grodon Brown (did you see what I did there?). The Sun have taken it upon themselves to act for the entire British electorate and hound the man from office. His latest faux pas is to be a poor writer. Christ, thank fuck it’s not me then, I’ve got two good (well half decent) eyes and still can’t get much more than a spidery scrawl. OK, the lady in question is upset. Which parent wouldn’t be? Which parent wouldn’t be looking to lash out and find someone or something to blame? OK, maybe he should have taken a bit more time to edit the thing to at least make it presentable, but to be frank, I’d be more angry to receive a pro-forma standard template letter from a computer printer.

And kind old King George
Sent Mother a note
When he heard that father was gone.
It was, I recall,
In the form of a scroll,
With gold leaf and all.
And I found it one day
In a drawer of old photographs, hidden away.
And my eyes still grow damp to remember
His Majesty signed
With his own rubber stamp.

The whole things smacks of finding a stick with which to beat a man who is already down. How convenient that they were able to get a recording of a surprise phone conversation. Speaking only for myself, but I admit, I always have the recording device ready lest a random world leader phone me up of an evening.

The guy can’t do anything right, or rather; The Sun will always find something to blow up into a ‘national disgrace’. I’m not particularly a Labour voter or a Gordon Brown fan but, I’m starting to have some sympathy for the guy. It would be mildly amusing for at least a couple of hours if, in their zeal to have another ‘It Was The Sun Wot Won It’ post election front page, Murdoch’s gutter journalists actually engendered enough sympathy for Brown to cling to power.


And so to a meeting in Edinburgh tonight….it was short, and bitter…seems I now have a 1 in 7 chance of being redundant this time next week…..yay me!


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F***ing In Rhythm and Sorrow

Swearing.  Apparently it’s neither big, nor clever.  What it is, it seems, is a damn good excuse for a whining session designed to bemoan the end decline in “British standards”, the end of empire and general signal that Messrs. War, Famine, Pestilence and Death are abroad.

Stepping up to the plate in defence of all that is sacred to heart of Mr Churchill, Henry V and Sir Francis Drake is invariably the Daily Fail and their blood vendetta against the foul hand of leftie pinko communism that is The BBC.

It was the Mail who led the charge of the indignant during Sachsgate last year.  Whipping a storm of indifference into a feeding frenzy weeks after the fact.  They followed this up by manufacturing outrage at the Question Time appearance of Thicky Griffin and the supposedly controversial memo.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mediamonkeyblog/2009/oct/26/question-time-daily-mail-nick-griffin.  They have however outdone themselves this time.

Sunday afternoon, BBC1.  The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has just been completed.  The cameras follow the top three finishers into the small ante-room they use to towel off, pull on a sponsors cap and relax before heading out to the podium for the presentations.  During this segment, snippets of a conversation between two of the drivers can be heard.  It’s quite interesting; in that normally we get the well rehearsed “on message” speak of sports stars.  This was more akin to a couple of mates chewing the fat, talking about what had been a very tight bit of racing between the two over the last couple of laps.  During this, one of the protagonists dropped the F-word.

Now, everyone knows swear words, everyone has used swear words.  We all try to prevent our kids from using them, but we know it’s futile.  We also know that on occasion they can be blurted out without thinking.

Cue the Daily Fail taking up the cudgels once more and swinging them in the general direction of the BBC.  It’s an action almost as preposterous as the Daily Express and their “Diana Monday” front pages.

By the time I’d realized he’d said it, three or four further sentences had been said.  I’d guess that large numbers of people watching didn’t register the “fuck”.

Whilst the pictures were shown on the BBC, it wasn’t a BBC camera crew and it wasn’t a BBC production team responsible.  Formula One have their own in house TV production who generate all the images etc used in coverage of the races.  The only bits the BBC control are those where the BBC presenting team is on camera.

Jenson Button is the person who swore.  This wasn’t the Sex Pistols and Mr. Grundy.  It was one word, not a string of them, and not all that audible really.

The Daily Mail.  What a bunch of fucking tossers.



As has been written in the past, I’m a member of a cricket club.  Not a particularly big time cricket club.  Our first team plays in the third tier of Scottish Cricket.  Our second and third teams play in the Eastern District Leagues, in the second and seventh divisions respectively.

Like all clubs of our stature we have expenditures to meet.  We rely on subscriptions and sponsorships to meet some of those costs.  We also rely on fundraising.  Unlike many of our contempories we don’t own the pavilion facilities and therefore we don’t get any income from bar takings, a potentially large source of funds for any club.  To this end, our own fundraising efforts are key to the survival of the club.

Sadly fundraising events require a membership that gets off its collective arse and either volunteer to help out or gets involved.  That’s where we fall down.

This weekend Parent Association for the school my kids attend have organized to do a sponsored circuit of the Aerial Assault course here:


They originally booked a two-hour slot.  This would be enough for 40 people to get round.  Currently the school has around 20 people down to do it.  Seeing an opportunity, and knowing the organizer, I arranged to take 10 of the spaces for the club.

Despite a couple of appeals for emails round the club, a players meeting (admittedly cancelled on the day – no-one told me) and an email sent personally by me, we have a grand total of 3 people willing to do this.

Presumably, when the club goes to the wall, the ones who couldn’t be arsed to get involved will be the ones moaning loudest and longest about the demise of ‘their’ club.


So, the big story of the weekend? Afghanistan?  Iraq?  Elections in the USA?  Nope.

Stephen Fry having a hissy fit?  You got it.

It seems Mr Fry, not normally known for diva like antics took exception to someone on Twitter describing his musings as “boring”.  Well, boo-hoo.  Cue ‘hurt’ responses claiming he was leaving Twitter, followed by a frenzy of followers giving him “hugs” and “cuddles” to get him to stay.  Couldn’t he have just ignored the fella?  Blocked him?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of Mr. Fry, for a man so much more talented, witty and intelligent than a mere mortal, he’s very down to earth and seemingly genuine.  He’s pretty much a national treasure, and not really given to outbreaks of “lost in showbiz”.  He’s also I would say for many people, the “acceptable face” of gay.

He doesn’t wear his sexuality as some sort of badge of honour.  He’s not in your face about it at all, none of that, “look at me, I’m gay, isn’t it faaaabuuulous!”  Compare him to the likes of Dale Winton, Graham Norton, George Michael, Julian Clary or Ainsley Harriot.  Each of them is camper than a Winnebago convention.  They all appear to be competing to be the most flamboyant, conforming to the worst kind of stereotype.

This “story” seemed to be a big issue with weekend news bulletins, achieving a prominence wholly at odds with its importance.  Celebrity has argument with pleb, sulks!  It was the third top story on the BBC News website at one point.  Of course there was the follow up story the next day.  Celebrity grows up, remains on Twitter, world saved!

Who says the UK media has become a celebrity-obsessed trash-fest?  Use of the word celebrity is to massively over-rate many of the people being photographed or written about.  Never mind A-List and all that.  For these reality show rejects grimly whapping out their breasts for the paparazzi a whole new alphabet is required, although given the surgical enhancements they all seem to get maybe DD list is the answer.

I fear for the future of this country given the numbers of Sun reading, X-Factor auditioning, WAG wannabe, make me a footballer youth out there.  The entitled generation is upon us.  God help us all.



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