Monday, March 31, 2008

Word Association

Recently, I've been reading CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, books I haven't read since I was around nine years old.

They've been a tad disappointing, if I'm honest, but I suppose I should have expected that, given that they were written for a young audience more than 50 years ago.

I've been reading a lot more since my transformation from car-bound commuting drone to train-bound commuting drone, and I now spend around an hour and a half each day immersed in a world of Fauns, Dufflepuds and Marshwiggles. (I think I should probably read War and Peace or something equally weighty once I've finished the Narnia series....)

Today, on my journey into Aberdeen, I reached chapter nine of The Silver Chair. And if any one passage summed up the differences in the use of language in literature from 50 years ago, it is the following excerpt detailing how a girl called Jane curried favour with the inhabitants of a household of giants:

"She made love to everyone - the grooms, the porters, the housemaids, the ladies-in-waiting and the elderly giant lords whose hunting days were past. She submitted to being kissed and pawed about by any number of giantesses."

Maybe it's my dirty mind, or maybe any other grown-up would think the same, but those two sentences sound more like the script for a Jenna Jameson* movie than a passage from one of the world's best-loved children's books.

Given that the books are a thinly-veiled allegory for Christian teachings, perhaps Clive Staples Lewis could have chosen his words slightly better.....

* Jenna Jameson is, I believe, the female star of many pornographic movies. Having never seen such a thing, I base this reference entirely on sources from the internet.

And that means Wikipedia, before any smart arses pipe up about my internet browsing habits.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Seventh Groanin' Jock Lyrical Challenge

It's been quite a while since the last Groanin' Jock lyrical challenge, so I thought I'd revive the game that no-one's talking about.

The object of the game is to identify the artists and tracks plucked at random from the Magic Tune Box. Answers in the comments. No Googling.

1: Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.

2: Though I ain't got a bean, 'cause I've nothing to dream. So if you're waiting for nothing, do something for me.

3: He left no time to regret, kept his dick wet, with his same old safe bet.

4: Left alone with just a memory, life seems dead and so unreal. All that's left is loneliness, there's nothing left to feel.

5: Riding through the city on my bike all day 'cause the filth took away my licence.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Perfect Guide

My Chinese guidebook arrived in the mail this morning, and I've been enthralled by it for the past hour.

I love guidebooks and everything about them. Looking at pictures of far-off lands I intend to visit very soon, reading about the history of a culture so alien to my own that it may as well be from another planet.

Everything about the Lonely Planet guidebooks is measured to perfection - from wide-ranging histories of the countries covered down to miniscule details of where to find a vegetarian restaurant or a laundrette in the smallest backwater town.

Although Mrs Wife and I will only be visiting Shanghai, the book I have covers the whole of China, and I can quite imagine that I'll read the whole thing before we head eastwards.

Opening the book at random places, I find ideas for entertainment in Hong Kong's Kowloon area, details on bike tours of Hangzhou and a recommendation to visit the West Street Bar in Suzhou, which is described as a "three storey bar crammed full of Chinese and European antiques. With its homey ambience, eclectic crowd and friendly management, it's a great place to relax with a beer".

Will I ever enjoy a bike ride around Hangzhou or a beer in Suzhou? Probably not. But just reading about them is almost enough to make me jack in my job and head off eastwards in search of adventure, becoming a perennial traveller.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008


The picture above reminds me of a story a friend told me a few years back.

A guy in his 40s, who had been divorced for a while and hadn't enjoyed female company since, set off to Amsterdam on a stag weekend with a group of friends.

Feeling sorry for the guy, his friends told him that they had decided to club together and buy him a night of passion with one of Amsterdam's hookers. The only condition was that, as he got down to business, he called one of their mobile phones so that they could listen in on the action.

(Strange friends....)

The guy agreed and his mates set up the encounter as promised. And, also as promised, he dialled one of their mobile phones as he reached the business end of the evening.

All progressed as you would expect for a number of minutes, until shouting could be heard on the other end of the line.

For this portion of the tale, do your best to imagine a broad Fife accent shouting at the top of its voice: "Fucking poof. Get oot ma room ye fucking poof. Get oot or I'll batter ye."

For those who haven't yet guessed, the guy's 'friends' had clubbed together and hired a very convincing transsexual prostitute, and were at that point wetting themselves in uncontrollable laughter .

The moral of the story?

Your friends are probably a shower of bastards.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Heading For China

I've seen a fair bit of this wee planet in my near 28 years wandering about its surface, but at the end of this month I'll be able to add another entry to the list of countries I've visited.

Bouyed by a couple of recent bonuses at work, Mrs Wife and I will be heading off to China for the last two weeks in May, to spend time with an old friend in Shanghai.

Back in the days when Mrs Wife was known as Miss Girlfriend, we set off on a year-long jaunt around the globe, a trip that included visits to several of the countries in Southeast Asis. Unfortunately, financial and time constraints meant it wasn't possible to take in China or Japan, and I've been keen ever since to visit both.

It seems the planets have aligned in our favour this time, as never before have we had the financial wherewithal to visit China at a time when we've got a ready-made tour guide willing to offer accommodation into the deal.

In my western mind, it seems strange to contemplate visiting China without heading to the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army or Hong Kong, but the distances to be covered would make such trips unfeasible given that we have only two weeks in China. Therefore, we are effectively heading to China blind, with no idea of what we will see or do once we arrive.

Our friend, who we met on our round-the-world adventure almost five years ago, has already begun working on an itinerary, so we may soon have a fair idea of what awaits us in a city that I have heard is amongst the most fascinating in the world. That Mrs Wife celebrates her birthday and we celebrate our wedding anniversary whilst there will simply add to the festivities.

So, does anyone fancy a blogmeet in Shanghai sometime in late May?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Deck The Halls.....Oops, Wrong Holiday

It's that time of year when everyone's talking denial, betrayal, wooden crosses and resurrection.

So, to make sure I book my place right beside the fire at the end of days, here's something I found at Popped Culture via Alastair's Heart Monitor:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Colds, classic albums and The Fab Four

It looks as though my near-fatal bout of Man Flu has abated slightly, so I feel rejuvenated enough to turn my attentions once again to the Blogosphere.

I was going to post about Elbow's latest album, The Seldom Seen Kid, and how it's looking like a shoo-in for my album of the year already, but I don't feel I'd be able to do it justice in my Lemsip and Strepsil-addled state. Needless to say, I thoroughly recommend everyone go and buy it RIGHT NOW - it's a work of subtle and understated beauty from a band every bit the equal of Radiohead and the Super Furry Animals.

In an attempt to recover from the dreaded lurgy, I spent most of yesterday parked on the sofa at Dungroanin', making my way through The Beatles Anthology DVD box set. Ten hours of Fabs Fabness really drummed home that, from 1965 until 1969, they were the coolest looking creatures ever to walk the face of this planet. I've posted the I Am The Walrus video before, in which they were probably at the peak both of their creative powers and sartorial elegance, but this picture, taken mere days before they closed the book on the greatest musical story ever, shows they were still looking good right up until the end:

The weekend now stretches before me and I'm looking forward to doing nothing more taxing than catching up with a backlog of recorded TV programmes within the warm confines of Dungroanin'.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Spend two hours sitting in a freezing shed during a North Sea gale watching Montrose annihilate Forfar.....

.....and the next day, you will be full of the cold. Trust me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Holiday? What Holiday?

It seems that Aberdeen is the most heathen city in Scotland, if not the world.
Whilst everyone else in this rainy corner of the world gets an extra two days off this weekend to celebrate the death of a bearded magician 2,000-odd years ago, Aberdeen is a rule unto itself.
No Easter holiday for the Granite City. No siree. Everyone is expected to be present and correct (or at the very least, present) on both Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Shame on you Aberdeen Public Holiday Deciders. What the hell (pardon the seasonal blasphemy) is the reason for Aberdeen's non-participation in the holiday?
Why is my company's Norwegian office closed for A WHOLE WEEK, when we poor Scots are subject to normal days of office-bound tedium?
It may be fair comment that, in the absence of Jocklings with whom to roll Easter eggs, I'd probably only spend a long weekend eating chocolate versions of the same and hot cross buns, and watching whatever Disney movie is foisted upon us.
But that's beside the point. I would be very grateful, oh Aberdeen Public Holiday Deciders, if, in your infinite wisdom, you could make some attempt to align the holidays in this grey and cold city with those elsewhere in the country - even 40 miles south, where Mrs Wife is afforded the normal holidays as celebrated by EVERY OTHER PART OF THE UK.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Carnage and Cup Finals

Apologies to you all for my shameful lack of recent blogging, but the past week has been fairly busy.

Besides my move from car-bound commuter drone to train-bound commuter drone, I've also attended a working lunch on the fledgling oil industry in Ghana, which was as thrilling as it sounds, and been on a stag weekend in Inverness, a gathering that has left me exhausted.

The look of dismay from the passengers on the train when 30 young men got on, one of them dressed as Superman with a bottle of Lambrini attached to his hand with duct tape, was priceless. There can be no better guarantee that your hopes of a quiet and relaxing train journey from Glasgow to Inverness have been ruined than when a stag party sits down and begins to work its way through countless crates of Stella at 10am.

Our weekend in the Highland capital also included the Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Falkirk football match, which I can safely say is the worst I've seen in many years. That the players on show at the match are amongst the highest-paid in the country is nothing short of scandalous.

Aside from the football, I am legally barred from reporting any other details of the weekend away, as it is common knowledge that what happens on the stag stays on the stag.

My journey home unfortunately clashed with the Rangers v Dundee Utd match, so I was unable to witness the Famous Glasgow Rangers win the first major silverware of the season and continue their push for an historic quadruple. But by all accounts, they were lucky.

Still, better to be a lucky winner than an unlucky loser.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Harsh, but I couldn't resist it - this is Leona from Aberdeen's personal dating advert. See if you can guess what unfortunate affliction she suffers from:

It's a real shame - she genuinely seems like a nice lassie.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sleep No More

The end of this week also marks the end of my days amongst the poor car-bound souls making their way slowly into Aberdeen each morning of the working week.

With my employer all set to move to a new city centre office in June, the time has come for me to sell Jagger, my trusty automobile companion, and join the ranks of those taking Virgin's red and silver train into the city instead.

Some of you may wonder why my car is named Jagger. Jagger follows on from Jimi, the first car I used for travelling to work in Aberdeen back in 2003, back when I worked for A Major Engineering Company.

Jimi, a small Rover Metro with two doors and four gears, was an idiosyncratic little beast, prone to bouts of unusual behaviour and erratic performances. Sadly, Jimi is no longer with us, gone to the great garage in the sky.

In comparison, Jagger is a more reliable but slightly less exciting individual, albeit worth a lot more than Jimi.

Anyway, names for cars aside, Thursday will see me sell Jagger to a new owner and invest a substantial portion of my annual salary in a year-long rail pass.

Unfortunately, what this also means is that lie-ins, even for five minutes, will be out of the window. If I'm driving to work and I sleep in, I can make up the lost time on the dual carriageway. But if I sleep in once I've become a proper commuter, the snooze button won't be a viable option.

There may be trouble ahead.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Harbour Lights

Aberdeen's harbour, like the docks of many (most?) ports, isn't the most salubrious of areas in which to spend an evening, but that is what myself and my male colleagues did on Friday night.

In what other area of the city could you see 60-year-old women in shell suits hogging the dancefloors of the drinking dens, eyeing up and occasionally groping the younger male drinkers?

The harbour really does offer a nightlife experience unlike any other. Not in these areas will you find the brushed chrome and polished mirrors of the city centre bars. In the harbour, the decor is more dated and the ambience generally less well-honed. In one bar, the overwhelming smell that greeted us as we arrived was disinfectant - always a pleasant aroma to start a drinking spell.

Despite the fact that we spent the best part of our evening in the grottier end of town, a cracking night was, I believe, had by all.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Screw This

A work colleague forwarded the above photograph to me today.

The warning makes for interesting reading, and is the way of useless tripe, got me thinking.

At what point during your DIY session do you think "Hmmm, I know EXACTLY where that screwdriver would fit."

I'm guessing that it's a warning to male users of the screwdriver set, rather than women who might think it could give their partner a "little surprise" in bed.

In my 28 years on the planet, it has never once occurred to me to stick anything in that particular orifice.
Let's face it, there aren't many things that would fit, and fewer still that would fit comfortably. Those that would qualify on the grounds of their physical dimensions would be those most likely to cause some pretty serious damage and pain I would think: I'm thinking cocktail sticks (how aptly named), hairpins and, yes, screwdrivers.

It makes me wonder how common a problem this is: do hospitals see a steady stream of people who have jammed workmen's tools into the nether regions? Have the manufacturers of such implements faced numerous lawsuits from injured and aggrieved men now missing a testicle after misjudging their angle of entry with a chisel?

Let's throw the question out to the blogosphere: Gents, have you ever been injured attempting to ram a screwdriver into your bellend? Answers in the comments please.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I am (allegedly) a professional writer.

I don't intend that to sound like some wanky self-aggrandising statement of my writing abilities - it's merely a statement that means I get paid to write stuff.

But being a professional writer means that I shouldn't now be sitting staring at a blank page (well, blank screen) pondering what nonsense to commit to the blogosphere.

That's not really the case though. Just because my employer is kind enough to fill my bank account at the end of each month for committing words to page, doesn't mean that I have any inspiration to write witty, intelligent and thoughtful discourse here on the worldwide interweb.

(I've never written anything witty, intelligent or thoughtful in 18 months of online gibberish to date, and I'm not about to start now.)

Basically, I get paid to translate the machinations of the oil industry into commercial gold, information that can help keep cars running and PlayStations in production around the world.

Inspiration isn't one of the job requirements. I never really have to start at the 'blank page' level.

But here - well I can write about anything I like or dislike. Nothing is taboo, no sacred cow is so sacred it can't be butchered.

And therein lies the problem - where do I start? How do I even begin to tackle the sheer volume of stuff happening in the world today, the weight of history behind it and the possibilities ahead of it?

Hmmm, maybe I can't - maybe I should stick to what I know best - weird folk from the internet:

Monday, March 03, 2008

Carry That Weight

My recent bilateral toenailectomy has had an unfortunate side effect entirely unrelated to the masked man who hacked at my feet with his interesting mini crowbar and scalpel combination.

Though both weeping wounds have long since stopped weeping, and the skin is returning to its standard "Scotland in February" corned-beef tones, the areas where the nails used to be are still a tad tender.

Unfortunately, this has left me unable to play football (some might argue that it has had no bearing on my inability to play football, but that's a debate for another day).

Even more unforunately, two games of football a week is about the only exercise I get. And now it has been temporarily removed from my schedule.

Which means that my weight is slowly but steadily creeping upwards, and I am in danger of reaching a weight I have never reached before.

I'm not quite there yet, but another week or two of couch-based chocolate guzzling would pretty much do it, I'm sure.