Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Queen's English

Yesterday, whilst watching television, I was subjected to an advertisement for a new movie.

I can't remember what the movie was, but at the very end of the commercial, the voice-over informed the viewers that it would be released on 'Jan Five'.

That's how he said it - Jan as in the woman's name and the number five.

When did January the Fifth become Jan Five? What advantage does the voiceover gain from shortening the date? Admittedly, it might make the commerical one second shorter, which could reduce its cost - but it's a slippery slope folks.

Any more of this shortening and our language will become unintelligable - text speak (not TXT SPK) is already creeping into print and conversation such as with the dreadful LOL, which I believe stands for 'laugh out loud'.

Make a stand people - start speaking your own language as it was intended to be spoken.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Get Me Out Of Here

Yesterday, whilst hunting for those post-Christmas bargains, Mrs Wife and I went our separate ways, she to find clothing bargains and me to seek out those audio-visual deals too good to miss.

Having had my fill of the crowds and the cold, I attempted to find Mrs Wife in a large department store.

So engrossed was I in this task that I wasn't paying too much attention to the departments in which I was wandering, until it was too late.

It seems that whilst attempting to locate the little lady, I had stumbled into the lingerie section of the store. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it).

Which begs the question: Is there a subtle way for a man in his mid 20s, wearing a leather jacket and jeans and absent-mindedly sending a text message to leave the ladies' underwear section of a large high street store?

Should one straighten one's back and stride purposefully out of the area without looking back? Or should one scurry out, casting furtive glances hither and yon, lest someone has seen you?

I think my retreat was a combination of the two - a purposeful stride whilst looking round to see if anyone had noticed.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Over The Counter Culture

The turkey has been stripped of edible meat, the trifle is but a memory and the mince pies are slowly disappearing.

I always find the days following Christmas a bit strange - you spend weeks or even months preparing for it, spend a whole day eating, and then just go back to life as normal.

Well, not quite normal. As early as 9am on boxing day, people were descending on the shops in the hunt for that once-in-a-year bargain.

Even in Brechin, a small town with little in the way of shops, the streets were pretty busy. Hordes of rampaging consumers stampeded from aisle to aisle, barging past their fellow man lest they miss out on that Little Britain DVD reduced in price for one month only.

I dread to think what bigger cities will be like. Mrs Wife and I are to venture to Dundee tomorrow in our own quest for Goods of Reduced Price (like the Holy Grail, only available from Next and HMV).

If there are no further posts to this site, it is because I have been lost in the Bargain Hunter War of 2006.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

As I am likely to spend the next few days in a stupor caused by excessive amounts of meat, chocolate, trifle, Christmas pudding, rubbish television and alcohol, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very happy Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

World Tour

Never been to Paris? Desperate to see the world-famous Pinnacles in Western Australia? Want to get closer to a bunch of sad Star Wars fans queuing two months in advance to get tickets for Episode III?

If you answered yes to any of the above, check out this website. I don't know how they do it, but it's mighty impressive.

The reason I'm giving you the link to the Pinnacles site is that it is one of the places on the website that I have visited.

Mrs Wife (then known as Miss Girlfriend) and I arrived shortly before nightfall, in the part of the day known as the gloaming. With the light falling and the visitors leaving, I was inspired to dance around the Pinnacles in the style made famous by Billy Connolly.

For those unaware of the great man's work, Mr Connolly has been known to perform a merry dance in several famous world locations, not least the Arctic and at a stone circle on Orkney, as well as the Pinnacles.

The thing that makes Billy's dances so memorable is that he performs them naked. Which is what I did deep in the Australian desert one April evening.

Miss Girlfriend recorded video evidence, which I may be prepared to share with you weird and wonderful people if enough of you are disturbed enough to actually want to see it. And if you give me enough money.....

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Festive funk

I love Christmas music - to me, Christmas is as much about Slade and Wizzard as it is Santa Claus and mince pies.

The growth of the worldwide interweb and the ability to download music now means that I have a sizeable stash of festive music on the magic tunebox.

So at work today I am sharing the delights of some of the best Christmas music with everyone in the office.

And I can't let all you good people miss out, so here is Bootsy Collins' take on Jingle Bellz.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Groanin' Jock's Guide To Christmas

Further to my recent post calling on the government (whether in Britain or Scotland) to make the whole of December a holiday (I still haven't heard from Westminster or Holyrood - must be busy at Christmas parties), I am now proposing some broadcasting rules.

There should be no soap operas on television on Christmas Day. Who really wants to wallow in misery on Albert Square or Coronation Street on the biggest holiday of the year?

Christmas Day's television should be devoted entirely to blockbuster films, comedies, the Queen's speech and re-runs of festive Top Of The Pops.

Sadly, I think this appeal will fall on deaf ears, and that Mrs Wife and Mither will subject me to an afternoon with the soaps on Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mystical ball(s)

The internet is a fantastic place people - where like-minded folks can get together and shoot the breeze about the important topics of the day. (It's also a place for people to find pictures of Britney Spears' front bottom, but that's another issue altogether.)

But the worldwide interweb is also a magical place, where true sorcerers can practise their dark arts in anonymity.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Mystical Ball - be amazed, and just a little afraid.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas in Dundee

A little ditty from my friend Mike dropped onto my virtual doormat this morning by email.

Mistletoe and Wine
Christmas time, valium and wine,
Children indulging in petty crime,
Dad's on the heroin, Mum's oot her tree,
Christmas is great when you live in Dundee.

As I was born in Dundee, it makes me pine for home!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Firm favourites

It's very rare that an Old Firm match has meant so much and little as today's.

Rangers really need a win over Celtic to restore a bit of pride, but even a resounding victory would leave them 13 points adrift of the Bhoys.

If Celtic take the honours, they will be 19 points clear of the Gers before Christmas, a frankly embarrasing situation.

Admittedly, Rangers do have a further two matches against Celtic after today's, which, if all three were won, would reduce the gap to seven points - still needing Celtic to lose three times outwith the Old Firm encounters and Rangers to win all their matches.

But hey, let's just get on with restoring some pride.

Oh, and winning the UEFA Cup as well.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Force is strong in this one

As this is the first weekend when neither Mrs Wife nor I are working, where we have no visitors and no plans to do anything, we will be testing the surround sound system to its limit, with all six Star Wars films back-to-back.

We've loaded up on popcorn, Irn Bru and crisps, the curtains are drawn and I'm all set to press play.

Speak to you all in 15 hours' time

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Say no to sprouts

One thing I've never been able to stomach (literally) about Christmas is Brussel sprouts.

I remember reading once, possibly in FHM, that the sprouts were 'Satan's vomit in bite-sized packages' - I've never yet heard a better description.

With this in mind - and Mither, if you're reading this, no sprouts on my plate on the 25th please - I can recommend this little game.

Smash the sprouts!

Feeling festive?

I can scarcely believe that it is less than a fortnight until Christmas.

As I've grown older, all of the magical ritual associated with Christmas has been stripped away.

Who could forget the buillding excitement we experienced as children as the run-up to Christmas began? Adverts extolling the merits of the latest toys and games, kids TV programmes running Christmas specials and Slade and Wizzard blaring from every radio.

Probably the biggest factor was spending eight hours a day in school with other children, all whipping each other into a frenzy.

Even the little details, like sending Christmas cards, buying Advent calendars and putting up the tree seemed so exciting when we were young.

Now, they are just extra chores to tackle at the end of a long working day. Spending 40 hours a week in an office is no great way to build excitment for Christmas.

So, I am now proposing that December be declared a holiday. I realise that there may be impracticalities to this, but screw it, let the politicians figure out the fine details.

Just give me my month off.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ginger at Christmas time

This is the greatest Irn Bru advert EVER!!! I love it - especially as I have always hated The Snowman with little gay Aled Jones warbling away. Listen carefully to the lyrics on this version - they're great!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Is this aloud?

I've always thought of myself as a pretty cool indie kid - my musical heroes are such bands as The Stone Roses, Oasis, The Beatles and so on.

So is it wrong that I think I'd quite like Girls Aloud's Greatest Hits?

Most of the songs seem to be pretty darn good - plus the girls are pretty easy on the eye (yes, even the ginger one isn't too bad).

Am I getting old? Or is my taste in music shrivelling? Or do Girls Aloud just make super-duper pop music?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Early Christmas present

Great news this morning - Rangers are said to be leading the chase to sign recently-released Hearts captain Steven Pressley.

I've been hoping that David Murray would open his cheque book to bring big Elvis back to Ibrox for a few years now, and it seems circumstances may work in the Gers' favour.

Rangers' defence has been flimsy this season, and Pressley would add a massive chunk of Scottish grit to the back line. He may not be the most gifted footballer in the world, or a replacement for the long-departed Richard Gough, but chances are he would be a damn sight better than the mish-mash of confused foreigners who have filled the centre back slots since the start of Rangers' ramshackle season.

Even if the big man does return to the club where he started as a teenager 15 years ago, he won't be eligible for the UEFA Cup.

But he's still well worth signing.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The 2006 Jock Awards

It's that time of year when every magazine, TV show, cable channel and blog reveals its top performers of the year.

So, ladies, gentlemen and those of you who are neither, I welcome you to the Jocks (like the Oscars, only on a slightly lower budget.)

The Stone Roses award for Album of The Year: (Nominees: Muse - Black Holes and Revelations; Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not; Bob Dylan - Modern Times; Dirty Pretty Things - Waterloo To Anywhere; Driveblind - Driveblind; Wolfmother - Wolfmother)
The first gong at this year's award, and one of the most highly-contested, goes to Arctic Monkeys. After the hype and all the publicity, when all the dust has settled, the Sheffield band's debut stands as a great record of our times. Punky, spunky and lyrically brilliant, this year's most eagerly-awaited album was also its best.

The Strawberry Fields Forever award for Single of The Year: (Nominees: Kasabian - Empire; Arctic Monkeys - I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor; Muse - Knights of Cydonia; The Fratellis - Chelsea Dagger; Amy Winehouse - Rehab; Gnarls Barkley - Crazy)
Living in an alternative universe where there is life on Mars and everything is painted in dayglo technicolor, Muse are the anti-Arctic Monkeys. Ridiculously over-the-top, Knights of Cydonia has continent-sized riffs and the tempo of a runaway juggernaut. The track that moved them into the stadium rock bracket.

The Rolling Stones award for Live Act of The Year: (Nominees: Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Who, Muse, Arctic Monkeys, The Cooper Temple Clause)
Picking up their second award, Muse beat off stiff competition to win the live act award. Groanin' Jock was fortunate to see the band at Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh in August, where they opened with Knights of Cydonia and never looked back. Very few three-piece bands could pull off a stdium gig - for Muse, it's just a day at the office.

The Goodfellas Award for Movie of the Year: This award has been declared null and void - the judging panel (AKA Groanin' Jock and Mrs Wife) lives too far from the cinema to be able to rule with any authority.

The Knight Rider award for TV Programme of The Year: (Nominees: Lost, Desperate Housewives, Dragons' Den, Hogan Knows Best)
An insane second series and fast-developing third series continues to keep Lost's viewers guessing. Yeah, it may be the biggest shaggy dog story ever told and mean absolutely nothing. Who cares - it's still great TV.

The Marilyn Monroe award for Babe of The Year: (Nominees: Mrs Wife, Evangeline Lily, Katie Holmes, Beyonce, Cameron Diaz, Kate Moss)
In the year that Groanin' Jock tied the knot, there could only be one winner of this award - Mrs Wife. Gorgeous in every way imaginable (she's not watching me write this, honest). Evangeline Lily, AKA Kate 'Freckles' Austin from Lost, is a distant second.

The Jet Set Willy Award for Computer Game of The Year: (Nominee: Football Manager 2007)
This is almost the only game I have played this year. Not so much a computer game (or pretty database) as a way of life. Once you start playing Football Manager 2007, you just can't stop.

The Godfather III award for Biggest Disappointment of The Year: (Nominees: Kasabian - Empire; Primal Scream - Riot City Blues; Razorlight - Razorlight)
Three bands attempting to follow superb albums, and none of them truly cutting the mustard. The biggest disappointment of the three is probably Primal Scream's pastiche of a rock'n'roll record, which came on the back of an unholy trinity of electro-punk noise classics. Most worrying of all, the band think it's great.

The Screamadelica award for Scottish Album of The Year: (Nominees: The Fratellis - Costello Music; Driveblind - Driveblind)
In a one-on-one stand-off, the boys from Aberdeen triumph over the Weegie lads. Drivelind's debut may have been recorded in LA and owe a big debt to classic American rock, but it was conceived in Scotland and recorded by the most exciting Scottish band in a long time.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

New recruit to the Goon Platoon

Whilst over at Lisa W's site at Lemons and Lollipops, I decided to confirm once and for all that I am, as often told by Mrs Wife, a nerd.

I am nerdier than 23% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Except it seems that I'm only a wannabe nerd.

Is that worse than actually being one?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Goo Goo Ga Joob

Today is the 26th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon.

Since I was in my mid-teens, The Beatles have been my favourite band, and Lennon my favourite songwriter.

The colour, imagination and inventiveness of Lennon's work have always intrigued me, especially the way he could go from writing She Loves You to Tomorrow Never Knows in the space of only five years. This is a man who was almost simultaneously working on Dear Prudence, Sexy Sadie and Revolution #9, during a two-year period in which he became the greatest songwriter ever to have lived.

From the end of 1966 until the start of 1969, Lennon and McCartney were simply unassailable - quite a boast when competing with Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Simon and Garfunkel and The Beach Boys. In this short period of time, in which most modern bands would struggle to complete a solitary album, The Beatles released Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour and The White Album.

Lennon's contribution to the band's output in this period was frankly astonishing: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite, I Am The Walrus, All You Need Is Love and The Beatles' two finest moments, A Day In The Life and Strawberry Fields Forever.

True, his solo work never truly recaptured the scope of that recorded with The Beatles - but whose could? Imagine, as an album, is strong, though Phil Spector's over-the-top production does take a little of the lustre away from the songs. A flick through his 'greatest hits', including Instant Karma!, God and Mind Games, shows a gifted songwriter simultaneously carving his own niche whilst attempting to escape his own legcay.

So what would a 66-year-old John Lennon be doing were he alive today? The easiest answer is that no-one knows. Given that he was riddled with contradictions throughout his life, I doubt whether he would have fitted neatly into any of the boxes which he is commonly placed in.

Yes, he may have been at the forefront of campaigns such as Live8 - but suggested wisdom is that he didn't really enjoy performing. Would he simply have lived a quiet life as a house husband, living off royalties from his halcyon days? Maybe, but chances are the simple life would grate after a while. Would he have continued to churn out solo albums as Paul McCartney has done? We will never know.

That Lennon's work continues to have signifigance more than a quarter of a century after his untimely death shows how much he is still missed to this day.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

And the winner is....

....Somebody from Hungary who arrived at Groanin' Jock by searching on Blogger for 'the beatles love'.

So, if you were that Hungarian who stopped only for a second, congratulations, email me to get your prize for being the 2,000th visitor.

And to everyone else - Thank you for your entry. Unfortunately, you have not been successful on this occasion. Please try again later.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I acquired a copy of the latest Beatles album, Love, at the weekend.

For those who don't know, it's a whole host of well-known Beatles classics mashed together - so we get Within You Without You over the top of the drum loop from Tomorrow Never Knows, and other such combinations.

I've been a massive fan of The Beatles since I was 16, and I had doubts over this latest project - could George Martin and his son Giles pull it off without destroying the originals or have the new album become sacriligeous?

In short - they did it. It's clear that a great deal of time and love has gone into Love and I think that the album can stand comfortably beside the rest of The Beatles' recorded output.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Aye - 2K

If traffic here at GJ continues at its usual rate, the 2,000th visitor should stop by within the next 24 hours.

There might be a prize in it for the person(?) who clicks at the right time!

D'ya wanna be a spaceman?

In previous posts, I have alluded to the fact that I like sci-fi. I'll elaborate - since the age of around four, I've wanted to be a spaceman.

So I'm delighted by the news that NASA is going to build a permanently-manned moonbase.

Yeah, so the base is going to 'serve as a science outpost as well as a testbed for technologies needed for future travel to planets'.

But what I want to know is - when can we start taking lunar holidays?

No-one's been to the moon since well before I was born, but hey, bring it on - I'm ready to volunteer.

At least it doesn't rain on the moon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Norse god of Lager vents his fury

Some of you may have noticed that there was no new post on this here website yesterday.

This is because I was ill - with one of those mysterious '24-hour bugs' that affect people who have consumed large quantities of lager the previous evening.

Yes, after about 18 months without a hangover, I finally pushed my body too far.

Thus, my day of rest was largely a washout. Except that I had to play football for my work's five-a-side team. Which meant driving through 80mph gales and horizontal rain for an hour, running around almost non-stop for 40 minutes with a splitting headache, enduring a 13-3 defeat, and driving back again through worsening conditions.

Let's just say I've had better days!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Elephant polo

I've never been to an elephant polo match, but I think it would be quite entertaining. I've ridden elephants in Thailand, and was surprised by how graceful and quiet they are, even when walking uphill through a jungle whilst carrying four passengers.

Anyway, Advocates for Animals is calling for Chivas Brothers to end its sponsorship of elephant polo.

I've met the Duke of Argyll on a few occasions, and my paper has run stories on his Elephant World Cup exploits. From the way he describes it, no harm comes to the elephants, they aren't mistreated, and all money raised goes to charities that care for elephants.

But blinkered do-gooders can't see the benefits, and simply decide that elephant polo must be wrong and that it should end.

In the words of Billy Connolly: "Every time I meet a vegan, I have an overwhelming urge to bite a live pig's arse".

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sound and vision

Yesterday, I drove for three hours to Dundee, where I exchanged the broken surround sound system for a new one (sorry if this seems to be a recurring theme).

I then drove for three hours back to deepest, darkest Argyll, where I unboxed the system and spent more than an hour feeding cables round furniture and through speaker stands.

Just as I finished this complex procedure, I realised something - I hadn't seen a remote control in amongst all the equipment.

There wasn't one.

So, I then had to strip it all back down and pack it back in its box, ready to be transported back to the store. So another long trip ensued this evening, two hours through driving rain to pick up the third surround sound system.

But it's all working fine now. Bring on the blockbusters!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Work in progress

Sorry folks, don't have time to stop tonight - I've got a surround sound system to wire up.

I'll be back tomorrow though, promise!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Is this thing on?

I love electronic gadgets - I always have. Ever since I was a little boy, I've been fascinated by anything that lights up, plays a tune or displays a picture. It's an affliction I inherited from Faither, who would always have the latest gizmo - from electronic ear defenders for shooting to a CD player and on to MP3 technology and various laptops.

Anyway, I love it when my hi-tech household runs like digital clockwork. Mrs Wife and I invested in a home cinema system earlier this year, which I think has been one of my best buys ever. I love being able to watch DVDs and hear the action explode all round me.

At least I did until the woofer stopped working this week. The rest of the speakers work just fine, but they are hampered by the lack of low frequency kick generated by the working woofer.

Several emails and phone calls later, the good people at Acoustic Solutions and Argos have decided that the best option is to exchange the system. Which is all well and good until it comes to unravelling almost 30 metres of cables and dismantling all the speaker stands, a task I have been engaged in for the past two evenings.

Still, it will all be worth it when I sit down to watch all six Star Wars movies back to back at some point in the next two weeks. Life doesn't get much better....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Love lost on me

What a day. Staff absences have meant that I have been the sole member of editorial staff in my office for almost three weeks now, which means single-handedly writing and producing a newspaper, including taking all the photographs and laying out all the copy.

But yet again I pulled it off and the paper is complete for another week. So I am now lounging on the couch, browsing the worldwide interweb and listening to Love's Forver Changes.

I've had the album for a few years, but have never really been able to get into it. Some people I know think it is the work of bona fide genii (which I believe is the plural of genius). It may well be, but something about it just never floated my boat in the same way that many albums from that same era have.

I'd much rather have the psychedelic wooziness of The Beatles at their most experimental, the all-out, good time, bluesy rock'n'roll of the Stones, the sheer ferocity of The Who, the English whimsy and tongue-in-cheek humour of The Kinks, the organ-backed howl of The Doors or the harmonic blend of Simon and Garfunkel.

In fact, when you throw Dylan, The Zombies and the Small Faces into the mix, Love struggle to make my top ten of bands from the 60s.

Don't get me wrong, it's a good album. It just doesn't strike that chord with me, and joins a list of other musical acts that I've never really been able to fathom, amongst them Springsteen, The Strokes and Captain Beefheart.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Paul McCartney's garage sale

As he is the one remaining genius Beatle still knocking around, it's maybe a bit harsh to have a laugh at Macca's expense, but I'm definitely on his side. I urge you all to support his garage sale this weekend:

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Irresistible force and immovable object

Another weekend, another mouth-watering Premiership clash.

Chelsea may have spent three thousand gazillion pounds in the summer to hoover up a few more of the world's best players, but their squad hasn't gelled as well as Jose Mourinho would have hoped.

Meanwhile, Alex Ferguson seems to be getting the best from his previously mis-firing team, including a rejuvenated Rooney and revitalised Ronaldo.

If anyone had said at the the start of the season that a Man Ure squad missing Ruud Van Nistelrooy would be top of the Premiership, with the opportunity to go six points ahead of Chelsea before the end of November, I'd have laughed in their face.

But the Reds seem to have clicked, perhaps because they had been so completely written off beforehand. Ferguson has always excelled at building a siege mentality in his squads, from the beginnings of his success at Aberdeen onwards. That they are playing football with an artistic flair which is absent from Chelsea's play at the moment would no doubt make a Man Ure victory today all the sweeter - what better than to play the champions off the park?

That Chelsea's squad is now bursting at the seams with world-class players may be the root of their problems - how can you possibly accommodate Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Geremi, Jon Obi Mikel, Joe Cole, Arjen Robben, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien AND Andriy Shevchenko in the same team? Put simply, you can't, and it may be that the sheer weight of dented egos will drag Chelsea into second place in this year's Premiership.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Blast from the past

My current favourite advert on television is the following spot for Oatso Simple, starring Windy Miller of Camberwick Green.

What a wonderful way to bring back childhood memories (even if Windy has sold his soul for the advertising cash).

Look out for He-Man selling bleach and Huckleberry Hound peddling washing powder soon.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Hail to the geek

Praise be to the uber-geeks who invented the worldwide interweb. Without them I would be far less happy than I am at the moment.

The reason for my happiness? I have just completed my Christmas shopping from the comfort of my office chair.

I know that I moaned about people starting Christmas too early in this previous post, and that I demanded no-one mention the C-word until December 1.

But Mrs Wife has been driving herself, and as a result me, into a frenzy by demanding that we buy everyone's presents and write the cards so that we don't have to do it nearer the time.

So, leaving the purchasing of most of the gifts to the little lady, I have finished it off with just a click of my mouse and an assault on my credit card.

It must be the first stirrings of middle age - having my Christmas shopping completed by the end of November. If only other areas of my life were so organised....

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Smokes 'n' drugs 'n' Rolling Rock

Well folks, it's all drink, smokes and drugs in the UK today, with a plethora of news stories doing the rounds as the government attempts to stop us gluggling, puffing and snorting ourselves to death.

First up, the Scottish Executive (the nice name given to Scotland's kiddy-on parliament) aims to raise the legal age of buying tobacco products from 16 to 18 within the next few months.

This announcement follows the ban on smoking in enclosed public places that was put in place in March. As a non-smoker, I have certainly seen the difference. Waking up the morning after a heavy sesh, it's much better to find that your hair and clothes don't reek of stale smoke.

But I don't know how much difference raising the legal age would make. Lots of people I went to high school with were smoking from the age of 10 or 11 - they were obviously able to get the cigarettes without too much difficulty, and I don't think the Executive's plans will change that in any great way. But hey, good luck to them.

Next, the Big Government down in London will be cheered by the news that the EU is not going to allow people to buy alcohol over the internet from other member states, thus circumventing taxation in their home country.

The UK stood to lose billions of pounds in lost revenue if the law had been changed. However nice it might have been to order a bottle of Polish vodka for a couple of quid over the worldwide interweb, or a nice Port direct from a Portuguese warehouse, at least Gordon Brown won't have to worry about making up those lost billions.

And finally, it seems that Britain's high rollers get through almost 60 million quid's worth of cocaine each week, and that we have the fastest-growing cocaine problem in the west.

So what does all this tell us about life in Little Britain? That we're a bunch of party-loving junkies? That we're so determined to have a good time that we're prepared to die in the process? Or that no matter how hard the government tries, they won't stop us drinking, smoking and taking drugs?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Where to begin?

I'm currently considering buying a new laptop, but the whole process of trying to find the best deal is so frustrating, I don't know where to begin.

Although, in a former life, I worked as an IT support technician, I've been away from it for long enough that I've lost touch with what's hot in the world of mobile PCs.

Which processors are fastest? Who makes the best RAM? Which manufacturers should be avoided?

Ideally, I'd like a mimimum of 1GB RAM and 60GB hard drive. In a perfect world, it would be a Dell, but go beyond their basic packages and they start getting pretty pricey.

So I'm throwing the question open to the floor - what's the best deal for the laptop I'm looking for? Preferably costing (substantially) less than 500 quid.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Divided disloyalties

Normally, deciding who to support when Celtic or Manchester United are in action isn't a difficult choice to make - it's the opposition.

But when the two evils clash, where do I put my loyalties?

One the one hand, we have Celtic, the sworn and bitter enemies of the Famous Glasgow Rangers. A club whose players and fans, their horrible green and white hooped shirts - even their stadium - call forth a great dislike from within me (I would say hate, but that's a bit too strong).

Then, on the other, we have Manchester United. A club with an arrogant manager, the club at which the loathsome Roy Keane reached the pinnacle of his abilities and the spawning ground for Real Madrid's overpaid ballerina David Beckham.

Should I be wishing for a Manchester United win at Parkhead tonight to show the Bhoys that they aren't as good as they think, even at home? Or should I back Scotland's only remaining representatives in European football's premier competition?

It's a no-brainer. Tonight, Matthew, I will be a Manchester United fan.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Magic Tune Box

It's Monday, it's wet and I'm still recovering from driving home from Perth in the dark during hurricane winds and torrential rain. So it feels like a good time to take a look through the Magic Tune Box and see where its mood takes us.

1: Sunshine Of Your Love by Cream (from the album Disraeli Gears): Clapton at his finest, matched by Ginger Baker's thunderous drums, both of which are anchored by Jack Bruce on bass. The only three-piece band ever to have matched the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

2: White Palms by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (from the album Black Rebel Motorcycle Club): Bass-driven punk squal taking a pro (or anti) religious stance, depending on your beliefs. "Jesus when you coming back, Jesus when you coming back, Jesus never coming back - Jesus I dare you to come back."

3: Mucho Mungo by John Lennon (from the Dakota disc of the Lennon Anthology box set): Downbeat acoustic lament in which it is possible to hear baby Sean screaming in the background. A little hint of the way Lennon's life was going before he died.

4: Mellow Doubt by Teenage Fanclub (from the album Grand Prix): A slice of acoustic beauty clocking in at less than three minutes long. Includes the Fannies' trademark layered harmonies and a whistled solo. Possibly their finest song.

5: Ode To Billy Joe by Bobby Gentry: A song that, despite its dark subject matter, always makes me smile. Gentry's vocals, whilst hardly in the soul diva category, are nonetheless highly evocative. I love songs that tell a story, and Ode To Billy Joe is a fine example.

6: Bad by Michael Jackson (from the album Bad): A song that, from those opening synth strings, transports me back to when I was seven and this album was released. I don't care what anyone says, at that age I thought Wacko was the coolest guy on Earth, dressed in shiny black leather and dancing like some futuristic spaceman. Pop as it should be done.

7: Desert Drought by Cast (from the album Beetroot): High-tempo, jaunty indie number driven by flutes and bongos, an interesting combo. Sounds nothing like anything Cast had done previously, which is probably a good thing. Typically nonsensical lyrics though: "The way some people operate, they spend their time promoting counterfeit that's fake".

8: A Bell (Of Love Rings Out For You) by AC Acoustics (from the album AC Acoustics): Inoffensive indie song that could have been written at any point between 1966 and 2006.

9: 138th Street by The Walkmen (from the album Bows + Arrows): Jingly-jangly guitars and almost Dylan-esque vocals. Reminds me of The Pogues' Fairytale In New York.

10: PS You Rock My World by Eels (from the album Electro-Shock Blues): Typically gloomy but oddly inspiring string-laden love song of sorts.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hedging your bets

One of my favourite quotes of all time popped into my head the other day, and it still makes me smile a few years after I first heard it.

For the last 10 years of his life, Elvis wore both a Christian cross and a Jewish star on chains around his neck.

When asked why, the drug-addled, obese rock'n'roll legend replied:

"I don't want to get kept out of Heaven on a technicality."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Winter's here

It's snowing today in Jockshire, a sight that would normally fill my heart with joy.

However, it is not soft, white, fluffy snow that lends itself to snowballs and sledging, but cold, wet, horizontal snow that gets in your eyes, numbs your fingers and soaks you to the bone.

Rumour has it that we are to pay for enjoying the hottest summer on record earlier this year by having one of the coldest winters. If it's already snowing in mid November, in an area which doesn't tend to get the worst conditions, those predictions may be right.

We'll find out soon enough. Think I'll invest in a new sledge just in case.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I fought the law

Apologies for the lack of postage yesterday - Blogger was playing silly buggers when I got home and I couldn't be bothered to wait for it to fix itself.

I would have posted during the day, but I spent all day in court.

Fear not, dear surfers, for I was not in the dock, merely sitting through the day's business as a reporter.

It staggers me just how many people commit crimes in my small town. The public gallery was absolutely packed with people waiting for justice to decide their fate.

Most of these people, when appearing in front of the sheriff, chose appropriate clothing for the occasion. They wore white trainers, tracksuit bottoms and sweatshirts. Some had their headphones draped around their necks.

One gentleman (I use the term VERY loosely), when asked whether his name was John Smith, answered "sure am". Which went down really well with an already crabbit sheriff.

The crimes were, for the most part, drink driving offences and people who had been fighting in the street whilst drunk. One upstanding member of the community was brought before the sheriff for shouting at his wife and mother-in-law, telling them that they were "a pair of f***ing mongols".

If ever there was evidence to suggest that Darwin got things wrong, it's the 'people' in Scotland's criminal courts.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Am I a woman?

Man has sent hi-tech pieces of equipment, and humans, to the moon. He has successfully taken organs from one person and transplanted them into another. He has invented millions of life-changing gizmos including the television, the internal combustion engine, the computer and the Pot Noodle.

Yet man cannot make calorie-free food that tastes as good as the real thing. If we can observe the surface of Mars first hand, why can't we invent a jam doughnut that's as good for you as celery? How have the assembled scientific minds of the 21st century not yet stumbled upon the recipe for calorie-free Dairy Milk chocolate that tastes EXACTLY the same as the original product? Why aren't nutritional experts urging us to make sure that we drink two litres of Coke each day and ensure that we get our five daily portions of cheesecake?

I'm no scientist. I am to mathematics what Paris Hilton is to celebacy, and to physics what Courtney Love is to decency. But surely these dietary advances are possible?

The reason I ponder this problem is because I don't like healthy food. Quiches, salads, fish and most vegetables fail to register on my list of most palatable foods. I'd eat red meat every day if I could, would gorge on chocolate and guzzle fizzy drinks by the bottle.

But if I ate to satisfy my desires, I'd end up being removed from my house by a fire crew, watched by little children standing with mouths agape as the crane buckled under my bulk.

Anyway, that ends today's groanin'. I'm off for lunch. What am I having? Chicken soup....

Monday, November 13, 2006

A monumental quest

Last night, Mrs Wife, Mither and I settled down to watch the second installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers.

Channel 4 was showing the film, but being clever, we decided to watch it on DVD instead, thinking that our viewing would be unsullied by adverting breaks and that we'd get the benefit of surround sound.

Whilst both these facts are true, what we forgot to take into account is that the DVD version is extended. It takes almost FOUR HOURS to watch this movie. That's half a working day.

The films are cinematic masterpieces, there can be no doubt of that. But at a combined length of something approaching 15 hours, they do require stamina if you're going to sit and watch them.

Which is why, at work today, I am bleary-eyed. Mrs Wife and I had harboured ambitions of watching the three back-to-back, a feat I previously managed with the original Star Wars trilogy.

I think, though, that those plans have now been shelved.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Living life to the full

As Mrs Wife and Mither watched reality pop programmes and rubbish films on TV last night, I caught up with my fellow bloggers on the worlwide interweb.

Whilst round at Ralphd00d's site 'Boobies and Beer', I decided to use a random series of binary digits to determine whether my life to date was worthwhile.

And guess what? I scored pretty high! It seems my body is the best bit about my life, closely followed by my love life (I think the two may be connected).

My lowest score was for friends and family - so screw you all, I'm going to use my aparently hot body and firm financial footing to buy new and better friends.

(I'm only joking folks, I love you all really....)

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Friday, November 10, 2006

Modern society

It seems that Groanin' Jock is spending too much time in the gutter.

Google searches that have brought visitors this way in the past 24 hours have included "absolute munter" and "Derek Riordan caught in a strip bar".

Who says high culture is dying?


Tonight, 'professional' wrestlers descend on Argyll for a performance in the local sports centre.

Before anyone starts, I KNOW it's 'fake', and they aren't really getting hurt.

But surely no-one over the age of 12 watches wrestling because it's real. They watch it for the entertainment value.

And whether or not the bodyslams and piledrivers are real, these guys are still lifting and throwing other big guys, which is an impressive show of strength and coreography.

Baby brother (who is 22, but still my baby brother) was meant to come through to watch this feast of lycra shorts and ridiculous headgear (as modelled by RIP and the Masked Destroyer in the above photograph).

If he had been 10, his presence at the event would be have been guaranteed. I think he still secretly believes he will grow up to be Hulk Hogan's tag team partner, and his knowledge of WWF wrestling from the late 80s and early 90s is frankly disturbing (bearing in mind that he was only six in 1990).

But rather than spend the evening engrossed in the action, he has opted instead to go on a date.

How the times change!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Gallic flair?

What. A. Shambles.

For years, Rangers fans have enjoyed mocking their Celtic counterparts for the Hoops' infamous defeat at the hands of Inverness Caledonian Thistle during the reign of John Barnes.

Now Rangers have reached their own equally painful nadir.

For Rangers to lose is an affront. For Rangers to lose at Ibrox is shameful. For Rangers to lose at home to a team in the First Division is inexcusable.

Until now, I have been willing to give Paul Le Guen the benefit of the doubt. Expecting the man to work miracles was unfair.

But the indifferent performances he has presided over domestically cannot be allowed to continue.

Yes, Rangers have been impressive in Europe. Yes, the side occasionally looks exciting and full of flair, especially when Burke and Adam are firing on all cylinders.

But too many points have been dropped in the league and too many games which should have been guaranteed wins have ended in defeat.

The question now is whether David Murray will bite the bullet and sack a manager for the first time in nearly two decades at Ibrox.

Whatever the outcome, I'm sure the taunts from fans of Celtic (not to mention Hearts, Dundee Utd and now St Johnstone) will ring loud for years to come.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What a panic's in thy breastie

After a busy couple of days visiting relatives in Angus, and another mammoth journey, I'm back in less than sunny Argyll.

The most interesting visit of my time at home was when I went up to visit my Granny. She was looking at a photograph of her grandmother, taken she was 94.

This got us talking about our family history - a discussion which culminated with Granny telling me that her grandmother, and therefore both us, was related to Robert Burns.

Now, whether this is true or not, I don't know. But it is very intriguing.

The idea of being related to the most famous Scotsman EVER (I imagine some will make a case for Sean Connery or Billy Connolly, but until there is a Connery Day or I attend a Connolly Supper, it's Burns) is very exciting.

I have severe doubts as to whether Granny's claim is true, but I can't let it pass.

So, the next time I'm back home, sheand I are going to sit down and work on the family tree, Burns and all.

I shall report back.....

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


It's good to see that politicians in the west have accepted the Iraqi court's decision to hang Saddam.

Whilst I don't personally approve of the death penalty, if the US and Britain have spent the last three years bleating on about Iraq 's need for self-governance, at least they've had the good sense to realise that the Iraqis' own decisions must be adhered to.

And whilst there is a risk of Saddam becoming a martyr, they are probably right in their belief that the country will be a lot safer without Saddam.

Monday, November 06, 2006


The sun is shining and a cool breeze is coaxing the leaves from the Angus trees today. Mither's house looks out onto Brechin's public park, a vast green expanse that has probably been the one constant in my life over its first 26 years.

My grandparents first moved into this house in 1963, and it is the one place on earth which reminds me most of my childhood. Apparently I took my first tentative steps on the grass across the road from the house. I remember staying with my grandparents in the warm summer of 1990, watching Italy v Argentina in the World Cup semi-final before recreating the celebrations of Diego Maradona and Salvatore Schillachi using sapling trees as replacement goalposts.

This park has it all: a hill ideal for sledging in winter and rolling Easter eggs in spring; hedges which make ideal hiding places during marathon Man Hunt sessions; a BMX track and monkey bars that I spent a whole summer attempting to master to no avail.

There are relics of bygone days: a towering concrete war memorial, a band stand practically unused for its original purpose in the past 30 years and an elaborate lions head fountain that has long since run dry and been turned into a flower bed.

In my first quarter century, much has changed. I hope Brechin Public Park never does.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

On the road

I'm just about to head back to the east coast to see the folks for a few days, a journey I'm to undertake by bus, as Mrs Wife needs the Jockmobile for work.

Incredibly, this journey from the west to the east is going to take SEVEN HOURS.

How can it be possible to travel for seven hours in a country as small as Scotland and only travel a couple of hundred miles? Seven-hour journies should at least be enough to take the traveller as far as England.

Just as well I have today's paper and an account of an intriguing Celtic v Hearts match to devour en route.

Friday, November 03, 2006

More random noises from the Magic Tune Box

Once again, I have failed to come up with a blog topic as witty, intelligent and thought-provoking as my usual standards, so I will set the Magic Tune Box to random and see where it takes us, as I did in a previous post.

1: Hawks & Doves by Magdalen Green (from the Magdalen Green EP): Bluesy Zep-like acoustic ballad tinged with harmonicas and bongos. From the young British band's debut single, which I recommend everyone check out as soon as possible.

2: Song of Life by Leftfield (from the album Leftism): A reminder of why Leftfield were so good at their peak. Coming from the same album that gave rise to Open Up, Song of Life starts slowly, combining Indian chanting with quiet drums, before accelerating to clubland in its final four minutes, including Leftfield's own trademark skull-crushing drums.

3: Sittin' Here In Silence (On My Own) by Oasis (B-side from the Let There Be Love single): Downbeat acoustic strum-along from the band's recent renaissance. Only two minutes long, the song hints that not everything in Noel Gallagher's world is rosy in the post-Britpop comedown.

4: Policeman Skank...(The Story of My Life) by Audioweb (from the album Fireworks City): Audioweb's lead singer Sugar was a strange creature - a six foot plus black guy who could sing like an angel and rap better than most of his contemporaries. This reggae-tinged pop romp tells, as the title suggests, the story of his life, arrest and time in jail.

5: Rain by Terence Trent D'Arby (from the album Introducing The Hardline According To Terence Trent D'Arby): A comparitively weak track from the 80s soul saviour's debut album. Doesn't come close to the greatness he enjoyed on Wishing Well and Sign Your Name. A statement that could also be made about the remainder of TTD's career after this album.

6: Safe In Mind (Please Take This Gun From Out My Face) by UNKLE (from the album Never, Never, Land): UNKLE's futuristic, string-drenched electro hip-hop brings in Queens of The Stone Age's Josh Homme on lead vocals, to brilliant effect. UNKLE are most definitely at their best when collaborating with guest vocalists, with key hook-ups including Richard Ashcroft, Thom Yorke, Ian Brown and Badly Drawn Boy. This track includes the lyric 'Life's a gun that's always pointing in my face.'

7: Strawberry Fields Forever (Take 1) by The Beatles (from the album Anthology 2): The original first studio take of the greatest song ever. Includes woozy acoustic slide guitar, deadened drums and John Lennon giving a heart-rending performance on acoustic guitar and lead vocals. Reveals that at the heart of the most wonderful piece of art ever created, lies a simple acoustic ballad. Beautiful.

8: Talk On by Ocean Colour Scene (from the album Ocean Colour Scene): Many people believe that Moseley Shoals, the album which included the singles The Riverboat Song, The Day We Caught The Train and The Circle, was Ocean Colour Scene's debut. In fact, it was this self-titled record, after which they were quickly dropped by their record company. OCS themselves largely ignore this album, feeling that the band and label's conflicting musical views led to a 'watered-down' debut which lacked the edge of OCS' live popularity. An inoffensive and un-inspiring track, a charge which could be levelled at most of those on the record. Cynically re-released in 1996 to captialise on the band's new-found popularity.

9: Central Reservation (The Then Again Version) by Beth Orton (from the album Central Reservation): Trip-hop influenced remix of the title track from Orton's second album. Although I own all of her albums, I don't think I've listened to one for a few years - which is a shame, as whenever one pops up on the Magic Tune Box, I remember how good she is. Then I go home, forget all about her and listen to Bob Dylan instead.

10: Half A Dream Away by Ocean Colour Scene (from the album Marchin' Already): Seems the Magic Tune Box has an OCS fixation today. Typically well-played, well-produced but terminally bland album track from the follow-up to Moseley Shoals. Includes a trombone solo and some bizarre couplets including: 'The fireman tried but the hose was frozen; The cupboard's bare but the door needs closing'. Does end with a 30-second spell of finger picking by Steve Craddock. Which is nice.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Christmas is coming

As a kid, I loved Christmas. Everything about it - the tree, the decorations, the holiday, the food and, of course, the presents.

As I've grown up, I've realised that you need to start saving VERY early if you're going to avoid seriously damaging your credit card and found the days running up to Christmas aren't a holiday, but hectic days at work on the coldest, darkest days of the year.

But Christmas day itself is still a good day to relax, eat too much and watch loads of television.

What really annoys me about Christmas nowadays though is that it seems to start in August.

Mrs Wife and I were in Glasgow at the weekend, and every shop was going into Christmas advertising meltdown, with selection boxes in Woolworths sitting beside the Hallowe'en sweets and the bookshops recommending festive stocking fillers for your mum, dad, aunties, brothers and neighbours' dog.

I am proposing that governments across the world unite and instigate a blanket ban on Christmas at any point prior to December 1st. No mention of 'the C word' is to be made until this date. How can you even begin to discuss Christmas when Hallowe'en, Guy Fawkes Day and St Andrew's Day are all still to come?

Aside from the crass and opportunistic retailers hoping to snatch your money, surely no-one would object to delaying Christmas until December? Kids can fill their days quite happily without having Christmas to think about four months in advance.

In fact, kids will whip themselves into a frenzy in the DAYS leading up to Christmas, they don't need additional weeks of making their parents' lives a misery, demanding the latest toys and video games.

I realise that by writing this very post, I am contravening my own law. So, as of THIS VERY SECOND, I don't want to hear anything about Christmas until December 1st at the very earliest.

Bah, Humbug.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Scare me, please

Well, that's Hallowe'en been and gone again.

We only had seven kids come to our door during the evening, which is just as well, as we were criminally under-prepared. As per usual, Mrs Wife and I neglected to buy any sweets beforehand, and the local store (a supermarket in ambition only) was sold out by the afternoon. So we picked up a couple of bags from elsewhere, which was thankfully enough to see us through.

But there were two disturbing factors I noted:

1) A poor standard of performance from the kids on the doorstep. One little girl of around six attempted Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, and couldn't remember the words. I'm sorry, but how can you forget that? It's not a very difficult song.

2) Kids dressed as fairies and cowboys. Hallowe'en costumes should be ghosts, ghouls, vampires, mummies and other assorted scary creatures. Nothing else is acceptable.

I didn't argue with the kids though, and happily handed over the sweeties. Still, standards are slipping.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Time keeps rolling on

This week we have our second work experience girl in a month spending a week at the office. Regular readers will remember that we had a 16-year-old girl in a few weeks ago to learn from the greats (or me at least).

This week's young unfortunate is only 14, which is frightening in a number of ways. Firstly, she is very outgoing and is proving to be a useful addition to our little office, despite never having worked before.

And secondly we will soon reach the stage when I am old enough to be the father of work experience kids.

Admittedly, this day is still a couple of years away - but it's still frightening when I consider that I still feel 16 (or 18 anyway) myself.

Where have the years gone?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Guess who's back

Hello everybody.

Mrs Wife and I have returned from our weekend in Glasgow, having made it through in one piece.

The combination of rotten weather and Mrs Wife feeling a bit ill limited the debauchery slightly, but a good time was still had by all.

A good deal of money was spent, which in my experience always tends to mean that fun was had. We caught up with friends we haven't seen in a few months, had a few good meals and took in a gig by The Cooper Temple Clause (the greatest rock'n'roll band on the planet).

It's back to reality tomorrow, with work's black shadow looming closer and closer as the evening draws in. The clocks went back during the weekend, which now means that it's dark by 4pm, as well as cold, windy and very wet. The working day will now be bookended by two dark, wet walks through poorly-lit streets.

But Mrs Wife and I have a supply of quality DVDs to see us through the winter nights. And I have my fledgling management career on Football Manager 2007 to keep me occupied as well.

But I still can't wait for the spring (or at least for the snow).

Friday, October 27, 2006

Where did it all go wrong?

What do you know, I was right.

A little chat with the editor yesterday afternoon revealed that there will be no increase in the Groanin' Jock wage packet this month.

The reason? The company directors have all been on holiday this month and didn't approve the recommended rise in time.

I have been promised a back-dated rise in next month's pay, but I won't be expecting much.

To add insult to injury, the weather in Argyll at the moment is horrendous, gale force winds forcing the torrential rain directly into your face.

And Mrs Wife is ill, just as we were readying ourselves for a weekend of drunken debauchery in Glasgow.

I need a holiday!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Show me the money

Today has all the hallmarks of a wasted day. The employees from our little satellite office have been summoned to company HQ for a meeting on the cut-throat world of company pension funds.

This little day out will involve an hour-long journey on one of Scotland's twistiest roads, followed by what is likely to be a loooooooong meeting full of riveting information about interest rates and expected pay-outs.

Don't get me wrong, I know pensions are important. But I'm happy to let the company and the pension fund sort it out amongst themselves and just keep me posted occasionally.

I won't be retiring for another 39 years, and the chances of me working for my current employers when that day comes are somewhere between slim and hee-haw.

However, today's spell at head office is also to include my annual salary review, which I find a LOT more interesting.

You see, the paper's circulation has been rising ever since I started. And last month it hit a seven-year high. So the omens are good for a decent rise.

Don't they say pride always comes before a fall?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Food, glorious food

What is the worst possible combination of food you can possibly imagine? Chocolate and tuna snack bars? Curry-flavoured ice lollies? Pickled onion ice cream?

How about this: Pancakes and sausage. On a stick. With chocolate chips.

I'm with Elisson on this one: "Sometimes a Sausage on a Stick is just a Sausage on a Stick...unless it's the End of Western Civilization."

What kind of human being wants

a) A sausage on a stick?

b) A sausage on a stick wrapped in a pancake?

c) A sausage on a stick wrapped in a chocolate chip pancake?

God only knows what Jamie Oliver would make of this fast-track route to obesity, coronary problems and halitosis.

Buy this record!

Just a little reminder to all you wonderful people out there on the worldwide interweb to rush out and buy a copy of Driveblind's debut album, available now from Amazon. (So obviously you can't rush out and buy it, but follow the link and splash the cash instead).

It is on general release in the States though, so all you American Groanin' visitors can toddle on down to your local record emporium and pick up a copy of the greatest Scottish record since Primal Scream's Screamadelica.

Which I heartily recommend you do right now. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

One-legged gold-digger

In the pre-fight build-up to the biggest showbiz divorce trial EVER (at least in monetary stakes), Heather Mills isn't coming across too well.

Celebitchy gives an update on the story here.

I want to go home

Work sucks today. In what is probably my biggest f***-up since starting with the paper, I managed to confuse two villages almost 100 miles apart in a front page story in last week's edition.

So I have spent most of this morning sorting that out, a process involving talking to one press officer, the editor of the paper and a member of the Scottish Parliament.

I just have a feeling that it's going to be a very long day....

Monday, October 23, 2006

Big brother is watching

Too scared to shop online in case someone manages to get hold of your credit card details? Worried that faceless beings lurking in the worldwide interweb know more about you than your own family do? Think that The Matrix was a documentary?

If any of the above apply to you, I'd probably advise against checking out this video, a spoof documentary set in 2014, when Google controls the world.

Exploring what could happen if the search engine continues to snaffle up online enterprises (inlcuding Blogger and now YouTube), the video reaches its climax with the death of The New York Times, which has been rendered obselete by Googlezon, the multi-tentacled online octopus formed by the merger of Amazon and Google.

To be honest, I don't really fear for my future, even if Google does continue to expand. Yes, online retailers do know what we like to buy, and I regularly get recommendations from both Amazon and Tesco.

But if you're THAT worried about the dangers of shopping online, there is a solution. Don't.

There are high street retailers who will happily charge you 20 per cent more for the same product you would get online.

Paranoia in the face of technology is nothing new, from the days of the first hot air balloon flights shot down for fear they were demons to the present day.

A future where Amazon sends you recommendations based on your Google searches may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I have a potential solution (aside from the obvious 'Don't use Google or Amazon').

If we reach a stage where Googlezon becomes a reality, start throwing in occasional 'obtuse' search terms to confuse things.

My own personal suggestion would be 'bi-sexual goat fisting'. Let's see Amazon recommend something based on that.....

A grand feeling

As eagle-eyed readers will have noticed by looking at the left-hand column of this page, Groanin' Jock today passed through the magical 1,000 visitors barrier.

So in the same vein as an Oscar acceptance speech, I'd like to thank everyone who's dropped by during the first six weeks of online groanin'.

And in the manner of a minimum wage employee at an American fast food restaurant - "Come Again".

Searching low and high

More Google search madness - a visitor from Ankara in Turkey was directed here by trying to find 'Knight Rider soundtrack'. A man after my own heart!

And a visitor from the UK typed in the following search term: "he can't kick with his left foot, he can't tackle, he can't head the ball and he doesn't score many goals. apart from that, he's all right."

Now people THAT is how to get results on Google!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Is Bono a murderer?

Today's joke of the day is brought to you in association with my Mither (that's Mom to my American readers):

Bono is playing a U2 concert in Glasgow when he asks the audience for some quiet.

Then in the silence, he starts to slowly clap his hands.

Holding the audience in total silence, he says into the microphone: "Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies."

A voice from near the front pierces the silence: "Well, stop f***ing doing it then!"

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Lost weekend


My copy of Football Manager 2007 arrived yesterday, Mrs Wife is away to see her parents this weekend, I am off work, don't have to get my bandaged foot seen by a nurse until Monday and Man Utd v Liverpool is on the telly tomorrow.

The weekend stretches before me!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Italian stallions

A question dear readers - how can a team lose at home to Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Saturday, then travel to Italy five days later and record the first win by a Scottish club on Italian soil?

The one consistent factor in Rangers' season so far has been their inconsistency. Last night's win at least showed that they still have the mettle to scrap for points.

Charlie Adam's volleyed opener gave a hint of his supposedly massive ability, and Kris Boyd's performance was typically powerful. Coupled with a hard-working shift from Nacho Novo and a creative showing from Thomas Buffel, Rangers looked strong when pressing forwards.

But defensively, the Ibrox club looks fragile, with panic quick to spread through the back line at the merest hint of threat.

This wasn't helped by Lionel Letizi's nervous performance. Within the first few minutes, he had handled outside his box, come for and missed an easy catch and punched a shot which would have been easier, and safer, to hold.

The goal has, for the past 20 years, been the position in the Rangers team which has consistently been filled with a strong performer. From Chris Woods through to Andy Goram and onto Stefan Klos, Rangers have always been able to play safe in the knowledge that they have probably the best goalkeeper in the country at that time in the nets.

Letizi's performance against Livorno last night has done little to enhance his claims for a starting berth each week. With Stefan Klos kicking his heels in the reserves and Allan McGregor straining at the leash to be given more match time, manager Paul Le Guen should bite the bullet and drop the Frenchman.

In fact, none of Le Guen's signings to date has really grasped the nettle since being introduced to the Rangers first team. Last night's heroes were players signed by Alex McLeish. Le Guen, for all his past history as a tactical mastermind at Lyon, has yet to show that he has what it takes for the Scottish game. Slipping any further behind Celtic in the title race will put his post under pressure - the UEFA Cup could yet be his saving grace.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Can you give me directions to....

An update to the topic covered in this post: somebody in Germany turned up at Groanin' Jock today after searching on Google using the following term: 'white marks on my toenail'.

The mind boggles.

Noises from the magic tune box

As I am in my office on my own and have nothing to write about, I will borrow an idea from Elisson. I've hooked my MP3 player up to my computer and will list the first 10 tracks it plays (from a selection of around 12,000), when set to 'random', and will write a little about each one.

1: Rocks by Primal Scream (from the album Give Out But Don't Give Up): A euphoric slab of Stones-aping good time rock. Probably the band's best track, from a 20-year career of highs (both musical and chemical). Sadly covered awfully by Rod Stewart many years later.

2: Danny The Dog by Massive Attack (from the album Danny The Dog): An ice-cold sheet of instrumental bleakness. From the instrumental soundtrack to the movie of the same name. Not the Bristol band's finest hour.

3: Let Me Put My Love Into You by AC/DC (from the album Back In Black): ACCA-DACCA at their finest - Bon may be gone, but Back In Black showed that the band truly belonged in the upper echelons of rock'n'roll. Anyone who doesn't like this album is deaf or dead.

4: I'm Gonna Crawl by Led Zeppelin (from the album In Through The Out Door): One of the better tracks from Zep's last studio album. By no means their greatest work, with no sense of the blues-based power of their early years. Even Robert Plant sounds understated.

5: See Emily Play by Pink Floyd (from the Pink Floyd Best Of Echoes): A woozy psychedelic trip into Syd Barrett's mind, which by all accounts wasn't a pleasant place at times. No hint of the globe-straddling prog beast that Floyd would evolve into after Syd's departure.

6: Truth Hides by Asian Dub Foundation (from the album Community Music): Eight-minute epic from the angry drum'n'bass collective. Builds slowly, with spoken word sections before a haunting Asian vocal. Gives way to cacophonous drums in the last minute.

7: Ain't That A Shame by Ike and Tina Turner (from the Nutbush City Limits boxset): Tina going through the motions on a cover of the soul standard.

8: Mind The Gap by The Soundtrack of Our Lives (from the album Behind The Music): Beatles-esque masterpiece from the 60s-tinged Swedish rockers. Crashing piano chords and drums of which Ginger Baker would be proud, culminating in chant-along chorus of 'We might as well blow you away'. Genius.

9: Behind These Cannonball Eyes (mash-up of Kelly Clarkson's Behind These Eyes and The Breeders' Cannonball): Strangely enjoyable mix of the indie classic's bass riff with American Idol winner's preening pop. Has to be heard to be believed.

10: Workingman's Blues #2 by Bob Dylan (from the album Modern Times): Proof, as if any were needed, that Dylan is America's greatest ever songwriter, and testament to the fact that, of all the artists from the 1960s, Dylan alone continues to record music that is relevant today.

If any of you want to hear these tracks, let me know and I'll put them online somewhere (just don't tell the record companies)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Best man for the job?

Did anyone else notice that, whilst appearing as a studio guest for the Celtic v Benfica match on ITV, John Collins was wearing a maroon tie?

Not the best way to dress if he IS serious about wanting to manage Hibs....

Mind your language

My parents didn't swear when my brother and I were kids. Or if they did, I never heard them do so.

Occasionally, in moments of great frustration, one of them might exclaim 'Hell's bells and buckets of blood' or 'Jesus wept', but that was about the extent of it.

The reason I bring this up is that I swear like the proverbial trooper. So it stands to reason that this is a talent that I picked up outwith the Groanin' Jock childhood homestead.

As far as I can recall, I began cursing when I changed schools in Primary Two. I moved from a class of six-year-olds to a school of only 13 pupils, all of whom sat in the same room.

This mingling with 12-year-olds must have opened my eyes to the wonderful world of obscenities, and I've never looked back.

Nowadays, my speech is liberally peppered with swear words, and none is used more than that age-old favourite - the F-word. (Though I swear too often whilst talking, I still balk at the idea of typing 'bad words' - it must be my journalistic training).

Whether in use as a noun, a verb or an adjective, I do tend to over-use the F-word. When coupled with my fondness for a badly-misused term for an illegitimate child, I have a worryingly gutter-level vocabulary for one so educated.

Which is why, today, I am making a resolution - to cut all cursing from my day-to-day speech. I will still, on occasion, use sweary words to indicate extreme displeasure - such as when battering my bandaged toe off of a door, or when Rangers concede a goal.

So, I can expect to swear at least 300 times in the next 48 hours. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Can you see the real me?

I know this will come as a shock to some of you, but I don't actually look anything like the picture in the top right-hand corner of this page.

If any of you did think that I was a flame-haired, big-bearded Highlander with an unusual blue and black hat, I apologise. For a start, I am 26, not 56. And I have dark hair.

To rectify this deception, I have drawn a self-portrait using Planearium's website, which I discovered through No Accuser.

So, finally, I can show you exactly what I look like:

The sky's the limit

Finally, the news I've been waiting for for more than 20 years - the world's first flying car has been put up for auction on Ebay.

Designed by Moller, a working protoype of the M400X has been put up for sale. Bidding ends on Thursday, with the winner taking home a four-seat cruiser with eight engines, a top speed of 375mph - and cup holders.

Quite what anyone would be able to drink at 375mph I don't know, but it's a nice touch.

Moller expects that within ten years, 25 per cent of the US population will have accesss to a Skycar, rising to 90 per cent within 25 years.

The car is apparently a combination of a helicopter, a jet plane and a mid-range car - a flying Ford Mondeo if you like.

Except I've never seen a Mondeo sell for four million dollars - the expected selling price of the prototype.

My boyhood fascination with all things sci-fi means this is a dream come true, that sizeable pricetag notwithstanding.

The fact that it looks like one of the pod racers from Star Wars Episode One make it all the better.

A Skycar would certainly make my frequent jaunts to Glasgow a few hours shorter, but unfortunately they don't come with in-built CD players or much boot space.

Still, if anyone's feeling generous, or if I ever win that elusive EuroMillions lottery draw, I'll get my hands on a Skycar.

Bet it would be quite pricy to insure though.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

You know when you've been Googled

Though some of you strange people out there are regular readers of this site, others stumble across it by accident, courtesy of Google.

In the past 24 hours, two such people have arrived at this far-flung corner of the blogosphere via a Google search, and their search terms were quite different.

Firstly, someone from the University of Massachusetts happened upon my site whilst using the search term 'gordon's vodka no hangover'. I'm guessing this person was a student rather than a lecturer, but you never know. Whoever he or she was, they certainly wouldn't have found the answer here.

Secondly, a passer-by from the Danish Network for Research and Education turned up whilst searching for 'tourettes syndrome mute people'.

As regular readers will know, I do have a bit more knowledge on this subject. For more information, visit this previous post.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tomorrow is another day

The day started with such promise as well....

It is 6pm as I write this.

Today I waited an hour for a nurse to dress the bleeding wound which was once my left toenail.

Today Rangers lost at home to Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Today Celtic came from behind to beat Dundee United 4-1.

Today Manchester United came from behind to beat Wigan.

Right now Mrs Wife is watching The X Factor.

Woe is me.....

Friday, October 13, 2006

Caught by the fuzz

Two news stories on the BBC's football website got me thinking this morning.

Firstly, the story of Anton Ferdinand's arrest. The West Ham and England U21 defender was arrested for an alleged assault outside an Essex nightclub.

Secondly, the news that Wales captain Craig Bellamy's assault trial has been postponed.

Why can't footballers behave themselves?

The answer is, I would imagine, pretty simple. Footballers at the level of Bellamy and Ferdinand are, generally, young men of limited intelligence who earn more money in a week than most people earn in a year, two years and in some cases three or four years.

Their jobs give them loads of time off, with a maximum of two matches a week during most of the season, coupled with afternoons off for most clubs.

And so, these super-rich young men have to find ways of occupying themselves, and too often this involves alcohol.

I'm not for a minute suggesting that footballers shouldn't be allowed to go out for a drink. Nor am I naive enough to suggest that drunken nights out are by definition wrong. Some of the best nights out I've ever had have been extremely drunken.

But I would suggest that if you are a famous international footballer, a city-centre nightclub may not be the best place to spend your evenings.

Given the fact that Bellamy especially has a notoriously short fuse, it shouldn't come as a shock that fans of opposing teams, when spotting his ugly mug out and about, give him a bit of abuse.

It's part and parcel of the job - if you're a Premiership footballer, you're in the limelight just like any other celebrity.

What these footballers need to learn is to walk away from trouble. Or alternatively, drink in places where they won't get into scrapes.

The problem seems to be a fairly recent one. There have always been notorious footballers famed for enjoying a pint or twelve, but the obscene amount of money flowing into footballers' wallets in the past ten years has exacerbated the problem.

Bellamy and Ferdinand are just two of the more recent examples. They are joined on the list of bad boys by Derek Riordan, John Terry, Paul Gascoigne, Tony Adams, Paul Merson and Anton's older brother Rio, to name just a few.

Is there any solution to the problem? Not so long as footballers continue to earn disgusting figures for playing the beautiful game.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Playing for laughs

British comedy isn't dead!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Gary and Paul, the hottest double act since Reeves and Mortimer.

It's made all the funnier by the fact that Sacha Baron Cohen, AKA Borat, is watching from the advertising hoardings.

Heads held high

With my bandaged toe safely suspended above the floor and the threat of being stood on by Mrs Wife, I settled down last night to watch Scotland aim for a fourth consecutive win in Group B of the European Championship qualifiers.

Expectations may have been high after our historic (albeit fortunate) victory over France, but we shouldn't allow defeat in Kiev to take the wind out of our sails.

Scotland's performance last night was of the battling quality we have come to expect. McFadden and Fletcher were walking disciplinary tightropes from early on, which may have subdued them. Pressley's sending off was the wrong decision, as was the award of the penalty which decided the tie.

But, now that the dust has cleared, we are still top of our group, a much stronger position than we could ever have hoped for in the 'group of death'.

Admittedly, there are a lot of tough matches still to come, not least France in Paris, Italy at home and away and a return fixture with Ukraine at Hampden.

What Walter Smith must ensure is that we take maximum points against the other teams in the group - Georgia, Lithuania and the Faroe Islands.

Only then can we truly be in the running for a summer jaunt to Switzerland and Austria in 2008.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I will survive

Well, I survived the surgery.

Admittedly, there was little danger of me dying on the operating table, given that I had a local anaesthetic before my toenail was cut.

But it's good to have come out the other side.

Except that my toe now hurts like hell and I can't put my left shoe on.

So I am hopping around with a blue shoe normally given to people wearing plaster casts.

And I'm eating ibuprofen like M&Ms.

The reason for this unexpected level of pain is that the doctor, in his infinite wisdom, decided to remove the whole nail rather than just cut away a small section as originally planned.

Watched by a student doctor (and not by me) he attacked the offending nail with what looked like a huge pair of pliers.

As my toe was numb, I couldn't feel any pain, but was aware of the sensation of the metal crunching through to the skin.

Actually, the worst part was having the anaesthetic injections - the initial sting as the needles went in, followed by the strange sensation of feeling the fluid flow through the nerves, switching them off as it passed.

What I hadn't expected was the amount of blood which pumped from the freshly-denailed toe.

The required bandage looks like one from a cartoon, as if Jerry has just smacked Tom's toe with a hammer.

And how much sympathy have I had?

None. Not a bit. Mrs Wife was staying in Campbeltown last night for work, so I had to hop around the house and fend for myself.

Number of times I smacked said toe against doors and pieces of furniture: 3

Number of expletives uttered after said toe smackings: More than 3

One final piece of information. As I attempted to put my sock on (to no avail), I asked the doctor when I would be able to play football again.

His magnificent answer?

'When it doesn't hurt anymore'


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pray for Groanin' Jock

Spare a thought for Groanin' Jock at 3pm - that's when I go under the knife for the first time in my life.

If there are no more posts to this website, you'll know why.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Unofficial World Champions

Imagine if football's world champions were determined not by a World Cup every four years, but in the same way as in boxing - if you beat the world champions, you take over the title yourself.

Well, at the Unofficial Football World Championships, a dedicated group has managed to provide a full history of who the REAL best team in the world is.

Venezuela are world champions at the moment, having beaten Uruguay on September 27. Their first defence will take place in a rematch on October 18.

Oh, and by the by, Scotland are top of the all-time rankings, ahead of second-placed England and third-placed Argentina. Brazil are way off the pace in sixth place.

Are you experienced?

There's a new miner (or should that be minor?) at the coalface today - we have an unfortunate 16-year-old girl in the office for work experience.

I can barely believe that it is 10 years since I carried out my own work experience placement, where I was mentored by Eric of Straight White Guy.

To say this was a sudden introduction to the working world is a dramatic understatement. At 16, I was incredibly naive, probably quite shy and spectacularly unready for the adult world.

For that week, I was Eric's gopher as we journied around Angus providing IT support to those in need. Between jobs, I was given a crash course in Stevie Ray Vaughan in Eric's ancient BMW and bore witness to his massive ability to demolish McDonald's food, which he didn't so much eat as inhale.

I had seen nothing like it during my short time on the planet.

And so, this afternoon I will continue the tradition by subjecting the poor girl to some SRV in the company van as we head out to a job. She has already seen me eat, and I don't imagine she will have enjoyed that experience one little bit.

It'll probably be enough to put her off working for at least 10 years.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

My head hurts

The combination of last night's wedding and Scotland beating France 1-0 gave me an excuse last night to over-indulge on alcoholic refreshments.

Regular readers (both of you) will remember that I don't get hangovers. However, today I am feeling a little tender.

Free white wine during the meal, combined with strong French lager (oh, how ironic that I should celebrate one of French football's most embarrasing defeats with Kronenbourg) and vodka, has left my head pounding.

But it was worth it.

We beat probably the best international football side in the world.

We are top of a group containing the world champions, the World Cup runners-up and quarter finalists from the same tournament.

It's great to be Scottish today, even with a sore head.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Wedding in the rain

Another weekend, another wedding - and it's chucking down.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Fantastic plastic

Catching up with the latest football news on the worldwide interweb this morning, I was startled to read the headline ' Hamilton thank Uefa for cup final'.

Surely not - UEFA is to host the Champions League or UEFA Cup final at New Douglas Park?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is not the case. UEFA has in fact agreed that the artificial pitch in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium will be the surface which the 2008 Champions League finalists will grace.

Apparently, Hamilton Accies were the first club in Europe to use such a surface, and have thanked UEFA for having faith in the plastic.

Call me old-fashioned, but to my mind, football should be played on grass. Mud and grass stains are as much a part of football as dodgy refereeing decisions, cynical challenges and botulism pies.

I've played on a few artificial surfaces over the years, and have never yet found one that felt like grass, or which didn't give rise to burns and skinned knees.

In fact, the worst injury I have ever had in almost 20 years of playing football was sustained on an artificial pitch. I performed a sliding tackle and stood up to find that I had no left leg....left.

I couldn't walk properly for weeks, although picking off the scabs was good fun.

I'm reminded of a line from Only Fools and Horses - Del is on the pull, pretending that Rodney is a professional tennis player. Rodney, not paying attention, is asked whether he prefers grass or astroturf.

To which the immortal reply is:

'I don't know, I've never smoked astroturf'

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Return to the dark ages

No sooner have Rangers fans stopped singing songs glorifying secterian battles from the 1690s, than Airdrie United fans think it would be a good idea to dress up as Ku Klux Klan members.

Surely, in 2006, we have gone past the stage where racial abuse is acceptable in Scotland?

Black players have graced Scottish football for years, so why the 'fans' decided to adopt this new dress code in recent weeks is beyond comprehension.

Airdrie themselves, in their previous incarnation as Airdrieonians, included both Justin Fashanu and Gus Caesar in their sides during the 1990s.

But 15 years on, the club's supporters think their behaviour at Gretna is acceptable.

With the Old Firm clubs making serious inroads into ending religious bigotry at football matches, what this latest incident proves is that there is still a lot of work to be done to eradicate racism from our terraces.

Hopefully this incident was a one-off, and those responsible will be banned from Scotland's grounds.