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.

Mute Tourette's Syndrome

I'm going to be taking part in a charity bike ride from Oban to Fort William on the 25th November to raise funds for Mute Tourette's Syndrome. A friend of mine has a six-year-old son who suffers from this and we are raising funds to pay for a year's therapy.

Mute Tourette's Syndrome has long been in the shadow of its more 'famous' sister disease, 'Tourette's Syndrome', and although much rarer, is even more tragic in its consequences.

While a child suffering from Tourette's has difficulty in containing its anger and frustration, a child with Mute Tourette's suffers a worse fate, and is unable to express their true feelings. The Mute Tourette's Foundation is using radical new art therapy techniques to help combat the frustration and loneliness of Mute Tourette's.

However, their work can only continue with your help. Just a pound will keep a child supplied with crayons and paper for a whole day. Eight pounds will provide them with enough art supplies for a week. I would be extremely grateful to anyone who feels able to help such a deserving cause. This picture demonstrates how the donations received so far have been put to good use. Many Thanks in advance to anyone who can help by sponsoring me.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


What use is having your own website if you can't shamelessly plug the work of your friends?

With this thought in mind, I would urge each and every one of you to scoot on over to Amazon, where you can order the debut album from Aberdeen's finest musical exports, Driveblind.

Anyone with a passing interest in The Who, The Band, Coldplay, Crowded House or other melodic guitar-based bands won't be disappointed by the record, which is released in the USA on October 24.

Although there's no UK release date yet, the album can also be ordered through Amazon's UK site.

For more information and a sneak preview of the band's music, visit their website or their MySpace site. There are also loads of videos of them in action on Youtube.

Welcome to my world

As I can't think of anything to write about today, I will instead complete the following quiz, as found on Or so I thought whilst blindly stumbling around the worldwide interweb last night (or early this morning).

1)You can press a button that will make any one person explode. Who would you blow up? I'd wait until the next Blair-Bush meeting, take out Bush and hope that Blair exploded through standing too close (like up Bush's ass).

2) You can flip a switch that will wipe any band or musical artist out of existence. Which one will it be? Tempted though I am to say The Strokes, I should really strike a blow for everyone by deleting Gareth Gates. He can't sing, he can't speak, he looks ridiculous - no great loss to the world's airwaves.

3) Who would you really like to just punch in the face? I'm a lover, not a fighter, but for the purposes of the poll, let's say Tony Blair (provided he hasn't already been blown up after question one). It's his government's fault that I owe the student loans company almost a year's salary.

4) What is your favorite cheese? Scottish cheddar

5) You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your immediate disposal. What kind will you make? Chicken and sweetcorn on a freshly-baked white Scottish roll.

6) You have the opportunity to sleep with the movie celebrity of your choice. We are talking no-strings-attached sex and it can only happen once. Who is the lucky celebrity of your choice? That's a toughy, but after careful consideration, I'll have to go with Jennifer Aniston.

7) You have the opportunity to sleep with the music-celebrity of your choice. Who do you pick? No contest. Jessica Simpson.

8) Now that you've slept with two different people in a row, you seem to be having an excellent day because you just came across a hundred-dollar bill on the sidewalk. Holy shit, a hundred bucks! How are you gonna spend it? That's not a lot of money, but I'd probably blow the lot on CDs and DVDs

9) You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go? Tokyo - one of the places in the world I've always wanted to visit but haven't reached yet.

10) Upon arrival to the aforementioned location, you get off the plane and discover another hundred-dollar bill. Shit! Now that you are in the new location, what are you gonna do? Spend it on a fancy electronic item of some description which would inevitably make my life seem more fulfilling.

11) An angel appears out of Heaven and offers you a lifetime supply of the alcoholic beverage of your choice. It is...? Cointreau. I love it, but it is pretty pricy.

12) Rufus appears out of nowhere with a time-traveling phone booth. You can go anytime in the PAST. What time are you traveling to and what are you going to do when you get there? To London or San Francisco during flower power to hang out with all the beautiful people.

13) You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own society. You make the rules. What is the first rule you put into place? I am always right. Even when I am wrong.

14) You have been given the opportunity to create the half-hour TV show of your own design. What is it called and what's the premise? I'd be quite happy to host my own music chat show like Jools Holland or that crap one that Jo Wiley did in the late 1990s. I'd have to think of a snappy title - how about Jukebox Jock - no, that sucks.

15) What is your favorite curse word? No other word in the English language has the versatility of the F-word. Whether as a verb, adjective or noun, it is perfect for any occasion.

16) You awaken and find your bed surrounded by Mummies. They don't do anything, but just stand there. How do you react to their presence? I should imagine I would freak out at being surrounded by Egyptians who have been dead for thousands of years. How did they get into my house?

17) Your house is on fire, holy shit! You have just enough time to run in there and grab ONE inanimate object. Don't worry, your loved ones and pets have already made it out safely. So what's the item? Being practical, it would have to be my wallet. Being impractical, my MP3 player, as there are loads of rare tracks on it I probably wouldn't be able to find again.

18) The Angel of Death has descended upon you. Fortunately, the Angel of Death is pretty cool and in a good mood, and it offers you a half-hour to do whatever you want before you bite it. Whatcha gonna do in that half-hour? I'd spend the time with Mrs Wife, making Buckasaurus (the mythical beast with two backs).

19) You accidentally eat some radioactive vegetables. They were good, and what's even cooler is that they endow you with the super-power of your choice! What's it gonna be? It would have to be invisibility. If you're invisible, you can do ANYTHING. Steal with impunity, find out what people are doing and what they're saying about you and just generally have a swell time.

20) You can re-live any point of time in your life. The time-span can only be a half-hour, though. What half-hour of your past would you like to experience again? The last half hour of my wedding dance, when everyone was drunk, hyperactive and dancing, and the night concluded with the piper playing a never-ending reel.

21) You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be? (the answer "nothing" doesn't count) The death of my grandfather.

22) You got kicked out of the country for being a time-traveling heathen who sleeps with celebrities and has super-powers. But check out this cool shit... you can move to anywhere else in the world! Bitchin'! What country are you going to live in now? Probably back to Australia, as I enjoyed living there despite being penniless. It'd be even better as a rich, invisible time traveller

23) This question still counts, even for those of you who are under age. Check it out. You have been eternally banned from every single bar in the world except for ONE. Which one is it gonna be? The Elephant and Wheelbarrow in Northbridge, Perth, Western Australia.

24) Hopefully you didn't mention this in the super-powers question.... If you did, then we'll just expand on that. Check it out... Suddenly, you have gained the ability to FLOAT!!! Whose house are you going to float to first, and be like "Dude, check it out... I can FLOAT!"? My former flatmate John McInally - he'd be very impressed and very jealous.

25) The constant absorption of magical moonbeams mixed with the radioactive vegetables you consumed earlier has given you the ability to resurrect the dead famous-person of your choice. So which celebrity will you bring back to life? I would say John Lennon, but he was getting kinda dull towards the end of his life. Let's go with Jimi Hendrix, I'm sure he had plenty lost worlds still to explore when he died.

26) The Celestial Gates of Beyond have opened, much to your surprise because you didn't think such a thing existed. Death appears. As it turns out, Death is actually a pretty cool entity, and happens to be in a fantastic mood. Death offers to return the friend/family-member/person, etc. of your choice to the living world. Who will you bring back? Both of my grandfathers.

27) What's your theme song? I don't know if I have one. My favourite song is Strawberry Fields Forever, but T Rex's 20th Century Boy seems more apt.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

One per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration

News from the BBC's football website this morning is that Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon wants David Beckham to stay at the Bernabeu.

Fair enough. Beckham is world sport's biggest cash cow, and his teats have not yet been suckled dry (if you'll pardon the hideous metaphor).

But what I can't allow to pass without comment is Calderon's assertion that Becks 'is a genius on and off the pitch and a wonderful person in every sense.'

A genius on and off the pitch? No, that is just wrong.

Beckham is a footballer who has made the most of a couple of wonderful footballing attributes - his excellent passing and an ability to curl a free-kick round a defensive wall into the top corner of the goal.

George Best, discussing Golden Balls' abilities, famously said: '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.'

Although Beckham makes my list of most irritating people, alongside Tony Blair, Jamie Oliver and Gillian McKeith, I'm prepared to acknowledge that he is a useful player.

But to describe him as a genius on the pitch would be overstepping the mark by a considerable margin - he's a hard-working player who can pass accurately.

Calderon's description of him as a genius OFF the pitch is even more ridiculous. Anyone who has ever heard his mono-syllabic, pre-scripted interviews could come to the quick assumption that he's pleasant and almost likeable in a naive way, but no rocket scientist.

Still, he's the richest footballer in history, so I'm sure he's not too fussed that he can't do algebra. And he'll probably be wooed by Calderon's over-the-top proclamations.

Which will hopefully mean he'll never return to British football, and we'll be spared the accompanying media circus that follows his every move.

Monday, October 02, 2006

You're only as old as you feel

It always comes as something of a shock to me when I remember that I am (much) closer to my 30th birthday than I am to my 16th.

A decade may have passed since I became old enough to legally smoke, ride a motorbike and engage in other adult activities, but I don't feel much different.

True, I may weigh two stone more than I did back then, and have gained an inch or two in height but mentally, I don't really feel too much different.

Although my thoughts are now occasionally filled with work, mortgages and other grown-up thoughts, large protions of my day are still spend musing over such pressing topics as football, music and women.

This is no real change from my teenage years, and if we substitute work for school and mortgage for drinking money, my thoughts are pretty much the same as they were back in my school days.

Even today, I cannot resist sliding across a tiled floor when wearing only socks on my feet. If I set eyes on a football, I feel an irresistable urge to kick it, and if I spy a guitar, I can't help but attempt to bash out a tune on it.

But, despite my brain's desire to remain a teenager forever, sadly it is not to be.

During my teenage years, I was, believe it or not, a sprinter. I have recently been training with a local football club, my first concerted exercise in a good few years.

Back in my teenage prime, I would have been the fastest player at the club. Today, I am the slowest, by a considerable margin.

What worries me most about this depressing statistic is that amongst my team mates are several who are well over 30 and some who are heavy smokers. I'm even slower than the goalkeepers.

Whilst I can laugh it off, regaling the others with my assertion that as my Laudrup-like pace has deserted me, I have developed a Gascoigne-esque ability on the ball, not to mention the weight to resist full-bodied challenges more readily, in actual fact it is embarrasing.

Which is why I have splashed out on a brand new mountain bike, which I am determined will transform me into a rippling mass of muscle and a winger so fast that no-one in the team will see me for dust during training.

So, if anyone driving through Argyll in the near future sees a fat, red-faced cyclist struggling to travel more than a few metres, pleaase don't stop. It's just my attempt to recapture my teenage glory years before it's too late.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Who needs Love?

That paragon of virtue, clean living, common sense and decency, Courtney Love, is at it again.

Let's face it, Courtney is to role models what Lemmy is to the sufragettes, but even by her own warped and very low standards, this photograph take some beating.


Family planning

Who says that the NHS is an inefficient, cash-guzzling monster?

This sign from a family planning clinic in Northampton proves that it is, in fact, totally efficient and concise. Much cheaper than providing teenage chavs with free condoms!