Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Day In The Life

My today has consisted of:

Attending a subsea technology conference in Aberdeen, where I listened to several presentations on subsea trees (a type of oilwell), pipe-in-pipe technology and the shortage of skilled oil workers in the UK.

This evening I have spent two hours cutting the vast expanse of lawn at Dungroanin', whilst listening to Black Sabbath, AC/DC and We Are Scientists on the Magic Tune Box.

I am now in need of a hot bath and an early night. I promise a full post will materialise here tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Prizegiving Day

In a super bumper day of prizes, the 6,000th visitor should pass this way today at some point.

If it's you, you win a prize!

Movie Quiz

I don't have time to write a "proper" post today - trifling matters like work and playing football are getting in the way.

So, by way of an apology, I'll finally get around to replying to the Movies Meme as originally seen over at Blissful Bedlam and Erica's Blog.

Here's the thinking behind the Meme: Pick out ten favorite movies, then look them up at

In the overview at the top of each movie’s page, there are "Plot Keywords", usually five of them. (Plus more, if you click the link.) Take the first five, and post them. Then the rest of us get to play movie buff and see if we can guess them.

So here are my movies:

Informer/Tragedy/Growing Up/Rise and Fall/No Opening Credits (That's an easy one to start with)

Bad Guy/Suspect/Line Up/Myth/FBI Agent (That's even easier)

Kennedy Assassination/Child Abuse/Mentally Impaired/Legless Person/Vietnam War Veteran (More of a tough one)

Door Broken Down/Stephen King/Snow/Disturbing/Cannibalism (Far too easy)

Dysfunctional Family/Pepsi/Television/Girl Next Door/Self Fulfillment (Not a hope in hell!)

Martial Arts/Hyperspace/Famous Opening Theme/Galactic War/Computer (A bit confusing, but probably still fairly easy)

1990s/1950s/1960s/Rise and Fall/Marijuana (Good luck!)

Female Sniper/Disturbing/Physical Abuse/Electric Shaver/1960s (What?!)

Long Take/Kiss/Katana Sword/Payback/Blood (I wouldn't have got this one)

Voice Over/Death of Daughter/Disturbing/Tragedy/Narration (A bit vague)

Post your guesses in the comments - there may be a prize for the person with the highest score - no cheating!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Crazy Days

How many of you can say that, in the course of your weekend, you have crashed a go-kart, visited the tomb of your country's most famous son, seen Keith Richards pretending (?) to be a pirate and been peed on by a lion?

I'm guessing I'm the only one who can tick all of THOSE boxes. Stay tuned for more....

Friday, May 25, 2007


Sunday marks the first anniversary of the happy day pictured left, when Miss Fiancee became Mrs Wife.
Though Inveraray was a tad wet on May 27 2006, it was still the happiest day of my life.
Hopefully Gretna will be drier this weekend as we celebrate our anniversary with a weekend away from Angus.
I shall return soon....


Teachers aren't allowed to do anything to discipline unruly pupils nowadays. I was fortunate in that I grew up in the post-cane era, so I never experienced the smack of willow on my hand or rear end as a result of my cheek.

But without the threat of corporal punishment, how can teachers control a class of 30 unruly teenagers? To be honest, some of them probably can't.

So is it any surprise that teachers at a school in Kent have resorted to keeping a private journal pointing out the flaws in pupils, primarily for their own entertainment?

Unfortunately for the school involved, someone misplaced the book and it fell into the hands of a member of the public.

This concerned citizen was disturbed to find that it referred to one boy as a "ding bat" who was "away with the fairies", and another as being a "bit of a wally".

Admitedly, the teachers shouldn't have let this book get out of the staff room. But is anyone really surprised that teachers think some pupils are a bit useless?

How many of us in our jobs don't deal with colleagues or customers who we would describe in equally fond terms?

One of my report cards from my final year of high school, when I was 18, said that I was "so laid back, he's almost horizontal". Another from primary school said that if I had devoted as much time to my lessons as I had to working on becoming Rangers' star striker, I'd have enjoyed a more fruitful year.

But hey, at least I cam out the other end a rounded, well-balanced individual (who didn't end up playing up front for Rangers). I wonder if the ding bat or the bit of a wally will do as well?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Monster Bob

Yesterday was Mrs Wife's birthday, so we headed to Montrose's very own Australian-themed restaurant, Roo's Leap, for a celebratory meal.

Roo's is one of my favourite restaurants. The food is always fantastic, and the portions are (big) man-sized.

My usual choice from the Roo's Leap menu is a gargantuan creation called a Monster Bob. The Monster Bob is the emperor of all burgers - two quarter-pound burgers smothered in cheese, bacon, onions and chilli, with a side serving of coleslaw and chips.

Quite simply, the Monster Bob is a burger without equal. In my late teens I was able to clear my plate, but on my three most recent visit to Roo's Leap, I have been struggling.

So I think, as with any sport, I'll just have to practise that little bit harder....

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Skye High

Well, the Blogosphere survives to see another day, and I guess that means it's time to recount my trip to Skye for my friend's stag party.

As I previously explained, I'd never been to Skye before, and had no idea what to expect.

Though Skye is an island, it has been linked to the mainland for the past 12 years by a mile-long bridge, which has been toll-free since December 2004.

Anyway, Mrs Wife and I left Montrose around 6pm on Friday evening, with the intention of breaking my journey up with an overnight stay at her parents' home in Oban. The wind was ferocious as we drove through deepest, darkest Perthshire, and our journey wasn't helped when we were diverted along a single track road along the southern bank of Loch Earn. Nonetheless, we arrived in Oban in one piece, albeit tired and cold.

The next morning, I set off alone for Skye, driving through torrential rain most of the way. My only previous journey along a comparable route was on a visit to Fort William when I lived in Oban, so it was a part of the world I was seeing for the first time.

Sometimes, when whole days are spent on Scotland's dual carriageways and in its concrete and fibreglass office blocks, it is easy to forget that in many places, my home country is small but perfectly formed. Passing through Fort William presents a great view of the towering mass of Ben Nevis, its summit snowcapped and swathed in mist even as summer approaches.

The journey also took me across the Connel and Ballachulish bridges, alongside the South Shiel mountain range and past Eilean Donan castle.

Crossing the Skye Bridge, I arrived in Kyleakin just as my fellow stag party members were ready to leave on the minibus to Carbost in the north of the island.

Our 15-strong party began a day of solid drinking at around 11.30am, and continued until well after 3am. So, if I tell you that I can't recall the names of all of the pubs that we visited, or even the names of towns and villages, please don't be surprised.

I do know that as well as Carbost, we visited Broadford and Portree before returning to Kyleakin. We watched the first half of the terminally dull FA Cup Final in the clubhouse at Portree Shinty Club, where we were treated to cheese toasties, and the second half in the upstairs bar of a hotel.

We had dinner in another hotel in Portree's town square, and we heard a decent covers band in a pub in Broadford.

I also know that we finished the night in the King Haakon bar in Kyleakin, although I can't remember the name of the bar we visited before that.

And, having exhausted the possible options for drinking in Kyleakin, we were invited to an impromptu house party in a house looking out on Kyleakin pier and the Skye Bridge.

For those seeking details of the nefarious activities of the stag party, I'm afraid my lips are sealed. It is an offence punishable by death to reveal the secrets of the stag....
All I will say is that a tremendous night was had by all, and that I will definitely return to Skye in the future. It's sometimes difficult to believe that so small an island could support so many pubs, let alone so many good pubs where it would be easy to spend whole weeks or years, let alone hours.

The photographs on this post may look a bit rubbish for two reasons: I took them whilst drunk/and/or/hungover and they were taken on a mobile phone. The top one is of a mountain and Portree harbour, the middle one of Eilean Donan castle on the drive home, and the last is the Skye Bridge as seen from the bedroom window of the kind people who gave me a bed for the night in Kyleakin.

Monday, May 21, 2007

This Is The End

I'm back from Skye, and there's the potential for a post or two once I get my thoughts together and download my photos.

But until then, I'll take this opportunity to finally get round to replying to this meme from Chattie Kat over at the Kat House.

Firstly, the premise: If the blogosphere were coming to an end 24 hours from now, what would your final post be? Would you go out with a bang, or as softly as a whisper? Would you say "goodbye and good riddance" and give us the virtual finger? This is your chance to make your mark on the blogosphere. I won't tag anyone - if you do the meme, let me know in the comments to this post and I'll link to your last post.

And secondly, the post:

"Please believe me when i say
This is how it has to end
This is easy on us all
Well, easier than other ways
Sleep is all i ask of you
Sleep and not to wake again
See this through and leave my friend
Tears will come and i will end"
Murder Song, The Cooper Temple Clause

The lyrics above seem to be the most apt way to end what has been an enjoyable stint in this strange world we call the Blogosphere.

I hope that, in the nine months that I've been committing every half-baked idea, barely-coherent rant and general moan that comes into my head to the internet, that some of you weird and wonderful people have gotten something worthwhile from it.

If I've made any of you smile, or provoked a thought in someone's head, then I would consider my job done.

Thanks to those who have taken the time to become regular visitors, your continued efforts to visit this humble site have ensured that I've kept it going, even when it seemed I had nothing left to write.

And to those who first inspired me to begin Groanin' Jock, thank you - I've enjoyed all of your work, and I'm only sorry I couldn't devote more time to reading and writing blogs.

So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehn, adieu.

The Blogosphere Is Dead - Long Live The Blogosphere.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Raging Bull and Scarface

The most exciting news I've heard all year - Robert De Niro and Al Pacino are to make a movie together.

De Niro and Pacino are my two favourite actors, so I'm giddy at the prospect of seeing them on screen together.

Although they were both in the Godfather II, they were never on screen at the same time. And in Heat, they had one short dialogue scene.

But in Righteous Kill, according to co-producer Avi lerner, "In this movie, they are in the whole thing together. This is an event in world history."

It sure is. Let's just hope it's good.

Over The Sea To Skye

This weekend, I will be attending the stag party of a friend from university who is to wed next month in South Africa.

Tomorrow's festivities, which will include a viewing of the ManUre v Lokomotiv London FA Cup Final and will also afford me the opportunity to:

1) Visit Skye for the first time. My friend hails from the Misty Isle. Though Mrs Wife and I have intended on several occasions to cross the bridge to Skye, we've never yet made it. So I'm hoping that my first visit will be blessed with sunshine rather than the more typical mist or rain.

2) Enjoy my third Indian meal in the space of a week. Following the events of Monday night with Eric, and a microwave facsimile last night, I am once again looking forward to taped sitars, garish wallpaper and two days of garlic-flavoured burps.

3) Drink far too much and suffer all the way during the five-hour drive home.

I shall report back soon.....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Last Night A DJ Saved My Life

As seen over at The Tomahawk Kid's site: The 100 Most Important Records of All Time

Mojo magazine recruited a panel of musicians to nominate the records that moved the earth for them and published the top 100, which I have reproduced below.

In the style of the 100 Books meme, copy the list to your own blog, bold or highlight the records you have in your collection or your iTunes library, then add a record that changed your life that didn't make the list. After you've finished come back and leave a comment, it would also be nice if you linked back to here from your post.

100 Gnarls Barkley : Crazy : single
99 The Stone Roses : The Stone Roses : album
98 Iron Maiden : Iron Maiden : album
97 Television : Marquee Moon : album
96 Donna Summer : I Feel Love : single
95 Green Day : Dookie : album
94 The Libertines : Up The Bracket : album
93 Nina Simone : To Be Young Gifted & Black : single
92 The Strokes : Is This It : album
91 Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five : West End Blues : single
90 Phuture : Acid Tracks : single
89 Oasis : Definitely Maybe : album
88 Queen : Sheer Heart Attack : album
87 Radiohead : The Bends : album
86 The Animals : The House Of The Rising Sun : single
85 Sonic Youth : EVOL : album
84 The Shadows : Apache : single
83 The Cure : Pornography : album
82 The Jesus & Mary Chain : Psychocandy : album
81 The Band : Music From The Big Pink : album
80 The Smiths : This Charming Man : single
79 Pixies : Surfer Rosa : album
78 Nick Drake : Five Leaves Left : album
77 Gang Of Four : Entertainment! : album
76 Big Youth : Screaming Target : album
75 R.E.M. : Murmur : album
74 Carole King : Tapestry : album
73 T. Rex : Get It On (Bang A Gong) : single
72 Bruce Springsteen : Born To Run : album
71 Public Image Ltd : Public Image : album
70 The Kingsmen : Louie Louie : single
69 MC5 : Kick Out The Jams : album
68 Brian Eno : Discreet Music : album
67 Billie Holiday : Strange Fruit : single
66 Love : Love : album
65 Joni Mitchell : Blue : album
64 David Bowie : Low : album
63 Marvin Gaye : What's Going On : album
62 Can : Tago Mago : album
61 N.W.A. : Straight Outta Compton : album
60 John Coltrane : My Favourite Things : album
59 The Upsetters : Blackboard Jungle Dub : album
58 Fairport Convention : Liege & Leif : album
57 The Byrds : Sweetheart Of The Rodeo : album
56 Pink Floyd : Arnold Layne : single
55 John Lennon : John Lennon : Plastic Ono Band : album
54 Chic : Good Times : single
53 Neil Young : Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere : album
52 Buddy Holly : That'll Be The Day : single
51 Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band : Trout Mask Replica : album
50 Stevie Wonder : Innervisions : album
49 The Doors : The Doors : album
48 The Rolling Stones : Sympathy For The Devil : album track
47 Sam Cooke : You Send Me : single
46 Joy Division : Unknown Pleasures : album
45 The Ronettes : Be My Baby : single
44 The Who : My Generation : single
43 Miles Davis : Kind Of Blue : album
42 Various : Nuggets : album
41 Link Wray : Rumble : single
40 The Beatles : Revolver : album
39 New York Dolls : New York Dolls : album
38 Lonnie Donegan : Rock Island Line : single
37 Jeff Buckley : Grace : album
36 The Stooges : Fun House : album
35 Davy Graham With Alexis Korner : 3/4AD : EP
34 Bob Marley & The Wailers : Exodus : album
33 Michael Jackson : Thriller : album
32 Jimmie Rodgers : Blue Yodel #1 (T For Texas) : single
31 David Bowie : The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars : album
30 Hank Williams : Move It On Over : single
29 Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five : The Message : single
28 Patti Smith : Horses : album
27 Nirvana : Smells Like Teen Spirit : single
26 Charlie Parker : Koko : single
25 Black Sabbath : Black Sabbath : album
24 The Clash : London Calling : album
23 Howlin' Wolf : The Rocking Chair Album : album
22 Ramones : Ramones : album
21 The Beach Boys : Pet Sounds : album
20 Led Zeppelin : IV : album
19 The Rolling Stones : (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction : single
18 Aretha Franklin : I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You : album
17 Bob Dylan : Like A Rolling Stone : single
16 The Beatles : Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band : album
15 James Brown : Papa's Got A Brand New Bag : single
14 The Jimi Hendrix Experience : Purple Haze : single
13 Woody Guthrie : Dust Bowl Ballads : album
12 Chuck Berry : Johnny B. Goode : single
11 Frank Sinatra : In The Wee Small Hours : album
10 Sex Pistols : God Save The Queen : single
9 Ray Charles : What'd I Say : single
8 Various : Anthology Of American Folk Music : album
7 The Velvet Underground And Nico : The Velvet Underground : album
6 Robert Johnson : King Of The Delta Blues Singers : album
5 Kraftwerk : Autobahn : album
4 Bob Dylan : The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan : album
3 Elvis Presley : Heartbreak Hotel : single
2 The Beatles : I Want To Hold Your Hand : single
1 Little Richard : Tutti Frutti : single

There are a few records that have changed my life that don't appear in this list, including the Super Furry Animals' second album Radiator and The Beatles' White Album. But I think I'd have to choose I Am The Walrus by The Beatles.

I first became aware of the track by means of Oasis' cover when I was around 16, and asked a friend to put the original on a cassette for me.

I would listen to it over and over again, rewinding and replaying the tape so much that it eventually wore out. Even now, there's no other track that sounds like it - the unusual arrangement, the swooping strings, John Lennon's gibberish lyrics, the incorporation of cut up pieces of radio dialogue and the way it practically stops before starting afresh. It showed me that, 30 years before I started listening to music, The Beatles were already light years ahead of the cream of Britpop.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Straight White Guys

I'm fighting off tiredness as I write this post.
Last night was spent eating, drinking and making merry with the Straight White Guy at Montrose's fine Indian Cottage.
As I've mentioned on these hallowed pages in the past, I've known Eric since my late teens, when I spent a week's work experience as his assistant.
I mentioned that he introduced me to the wonderful music of Stevie Ray Vaughan and that I bore witness to his prodigious capacity to demolish McDonald's food.
Eric was also the first, and to date only, person ever to attempt to cure one of my hangovers with Goldschlager, which isn't so much a favour as a punishment.
Anyway, last night afforded Eric and I the opportunity to catch up, eat too much Indian food (including the garlic cheese naan, a wondrous foodstuff previously unknown to Groanin' Jock and Mrs Wife, but now very likely to feature in all subsequent trips to the Indian) and drink too much beer.
Which should go some way to explaining why I'm now battling against sleep whilst feeling a tad sensitive.
I'm pretty certain that all present had a great evening, and in my case it represented a first 'blog meet'....of sorts.
As it was reading his ramblings that first set me on the road to blogging, that makes Eric my blogfather. Which seemed to take him by surprise, although this mild shock was quickly offset by consumption of several pints of Cobra lager.
(For those who are new to these parts, in the photograph above, I'm the drunk one in the dark shirt, draped around Eric's neck like some hideous scarf and displaying the fact that I have more chins than a Chinese phone directory. Unfortunately, the camera never lies....)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Does Whatever A Spider Can

Apparently, Spiderman 3 is the most expensive movie ever made.

More expensive than Steven Spielberg's animatronic dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, more costly than James Cameron sinking the Titanic, and more pricey than every other summer blockbuster ever committed to celluloid.

Mrs Wife and I went to see the movie on Sunday. To be honest, I hadn't been blown away by either of the prequels. They're perfectly passable films, but they just didn't grab me in the same way that the first couple of Batman films did, or in the way that the X Men trilogy has done.

I think the problem is characterisation - Batman and X Men both revolve around the unhinged personalities behind the spandex and leather boots.

Lest we forget, Batman doesn't even have any superpowers - he's just a rich psycho in bondage gear. And Wolverine is clearly hard as nails.

But Spiderman - he's just a scrawny college kid with some neat gymnastic moves and a web slinger.

So I was hoping that the latest installment of the Spiderman series would live up to the hype. The trailers suggested a darker, more violent, storyline. And, to some extent, it delivered.

The intergalactic goop that crash lands on Earth was cool. And the new, edgier Spiderman was also pretty interesting.

But I just have trouble associating Tobey Maguire with a superhero - he looks like a scrawny little college kid. This may be ideal for playing Peter Parker, but doesn't cut it as Spiderman. Clark Kent may be a geek, but that's just a disguise - he's still Superman. And as for Topher Grace as opinions on that are best kept to myself.

So, the most expensive movie of all time? Yeah, you can see how - most of the film is taken up with fast-moving special effects.

The plot? Certainly a step forward from the disappointing second movie.

But Spiderman 3 doesn't really bear comparison with the heavyweights in the super hero movie stakes.

Although it was at least better than Hulk.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

On The Tiles

Well rubberneckers, seems I have a hot date.

Eric, the heterosexual caucasian male, is in my new hometown for a few days, and drinks could well be on the horizon.

Those of you who have visited his site at Straight White Guy will be aware that he is partial to a drop of single malt, so I may well be joining him in sampling some of Scotland's finest produce.

...Wish me luck ladies and gentlemen...that stuff produces almighty hangovers...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Slippers and Cocoa

Am I middle-aged if I am happy that my weekend holds nothing more exciting than a haircut and Spiderman 3 at the cinema?

Not so long ago, I would be out twice a week, in Edinburgh's clubs until 3am and rarely in bed before 4am.

But nowadays, 6am is when I get up for work, not when I head for bed after a weekend of partying.

That's not strictly true - next weekend I'll be in Skye for a stag night, and in June I'll be in Dublin for a wedding party before hosting our own housewarming soiree.

But those nights are now the exception rather than the norm.

Which is just as well, as I don't think my body or bank balance would cope if I was out twice a week nowadays.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ta-Ta Tony

Finally, after 10 years of his gormless grin, sweaty shirts and smarmy style, Tony Blair has announced the date when he will resign as Prime Minister.

I am no fan of Blair. In fact, in my list of irritating people, he is probably second from the top behind Gillian McKeith (if you don't know who she is, you're lucky. But you can Google her.)

When Blair became Prime Minister, I was still at school, Princess Diana was still alive and Rangers were the champions of Scotland. I don't think that TB (how apt that his initials are the same as those of a fatal disease) was responsible for my aging, Diana's death or Rangers' decline, but he can be held accountable for a lot of things.

My student days were made a lot harder when Blair's government, all of whom enjoyed a free university education, decided to abolish student grants and replace them with loans.

On a very personal level, this is the Blair government's single biggest effect on my life. House prices and interest rates may have risen and the cost of living may be higher in general, but these things would probably have happened anyway. Blair and his cabinet made the decision to charge people for the privilege of enjoying higher education, and that is something I have never been able to forgive.

One of the joys of being British is that everyone is giving a chance to do the best they can, but stripping student grants added pitfalls to what was previously a level playing field.

Nonetheless, Blair is most likely to be remembered for his actions in peace and war. His time as Prime Minister has seen the unthinkable happen in Northern Ireland, with Unionists and Republicans sharing office, setting down their weapons and attempting to forge a better future in the province. A critic of Blair's I may be, but this development should rank as his greatest achievement.

However, his actions in leading Britain into Afghanistan and Iraq will serve as the permanent legacy of his time in charge. By throwing his hat in the ring with Bush, Tony lost a lot of friends, both at home and overseas, and a lot of voters. Even now, in polling booths across the country, voters who had previously backed Blair and his New Labour have deserted him in their thousands.

Whether the war was right or not is a debate that has been done to death. Stating that the war in Iraq was in response to proof that Saddam Hussein had, or was planning to build, weapons of mass destruction, was the wrong tack to take. Had Blair said from the outset: "Saddam's an asshole, he's killing people in Iraq and we want to free the Iraqis from his tyranny", he might have found more support coming his way.

The most disturbing aspect of Blair resigning as Prime Minister is that Gordon Brown is his replacement-in-waiting. Blair may be a smarmy, soundbite-driven snake, but he certainly has charisma. Brown, on the other hand, is as dour as can be imaginable. I don't for a minute think that politicians should be elected solely on their abilities in front of the camera, but what Brown makes up in political nous, he certainly lacks in flair.

Are we on the verge of a better time? Or will we look back on Blair's decade in charge as a comparitive golden era? Only hindsight will tell.

Visual DNA

Whilst checking out some of my favourite blogs this afternoon, I was intrigued by a link on Blue Sloth's page.

Over at Imagini, you're asked to choose images from a series that appears on screen, which is then used to build a personality profile, known as your Visual DNA

I must admit, I was sceptical at first, but my effort, seen above, managed pretty well to nail me.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Apathy Only Ruined Me

One of my favourite lyricists is Gruff Rhys of the Super Furry Animals. His native language is Welsh, which may be why his lyrics tend to differ from those written by songsmiths whose first tongue is English.

To my mind, the band peaked in 1997 and 1998 with the release of the album Radiator and the Ice Hockey Hair EP.

The track Hermann Loves Pauline, which first appeared on Radiator, explores the life and times of Albert Einstein. The opening verse sets the tone:

Hermann loved Pauline
And Pauline loved Hermann
They made love and gave birth
To a little German
They called him MC squared
Because he rapped like no other
An asthma sufferer
Like Ernesto Guevara

I don't think I'll ever hear another song that manages to namecheck Einstein, Che Guevara and Marie Curie, Monte Cristo cigars and Ventolin inhalers.

Another favourite is Demons:

Clarity just confuses me
The lines drawn on a map, a strange assembly
When there's northeners in southeners
And westenders in Eastenders
And sunny days in January
Left spaces in my diary

But the demons never need to know
What the demons never got to see
As we fall in and out of line
Stay in touch now for a while

Cos I know that apathy only ruined me
Hanging around waiting for calamity
And by the year four million
Our skins will be vermilion
I own a dartboard memory
So I'll forget any felony

But the demons never need to know
What the demons never got to see
As we fall in and out of line
Stay in touch now for a while
Cos I know that you know
That we know they don't know what's going on

But the demons never need to know
What the demons never got to see
As we fall in and out of line
Stay in touch now for a while
But the demons never need to read
What we never got around to write
A flirt with mediocrity comes with a heavy penalty
Cos I know that you know
That we know they don't know what's going on...

But my single favourite Gruff Rhys lyric is from Download, the penultimate song on Radiator:

There are people who think, and people who don't
And the people who don't are the ones who have most
There are people who lie, and others who'll cry
And the people who lie are the ones that get by
In the corporate rush to devour the new
We'll be losing our friends who will number but few
Position yourself on another man's cruise
One to share, the other to choose

No other lyric writer I've heard better encapsulates the stark realities of the modern corporate world than Gruff Rhys does on this track. Though the Super Furry Animals have continued to push the boundaries of indie music, welding electro beats, Beach Boys harmonies and scuzzy punk together, they've never again reached the same levels they did on Radiator, which is a musical and lyrical treat, and as good an album as I have ever heard.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


It's easy to forget, in this era of the Supersize Big Mac Meal and the Kingsize Mars Bar, that food in Britain was rationed less than 60 years ago.

For people of my generation, Thatcher's Children, a life where you can't eat whatever you want, whenever you want, is unthinkable.

It wasn't actually food that got me thinking along these lines. One day, whilst out walking in the Bruntsfield area of Edinburgh, I came across a balloon shop. As the name suggests, this was an emporium that stocked only balloons and related parephenalia And it struck me that life in Britain has progressed pretty fast in the last 60 years - from a country where meat, eggs and cheese were rationed, to one where we need a shop exclusively to sell balloons.

I can see vast differences in attitudes between my grandparents' generation and mine, with my parents' generation somewhere between the two. My grandparents would carefully manage their finances, down to the last penny. If something wasn't essential, it wasn't purchased. Household items were repaired, often many times.

My generation is almost the complete opposite. If you can't afford something, buy it anyway and rack up huge credit card bills and overdrafts in the process. If something breaks, buy a new one.

Our society in the west today seems to be geared towards the short term. How can it make sense that it costs more to repair a broken kettle than it does to buy a new one?

The recent Channel Four programme The Human Footprint showed in stark terms how wasteful we Brits are. As well as showing how much urine and vomit we produce in our lifetime, it also said that most of us will get through four televisions and nine DVD players.

The programme's website also has a nifty calculator, which told me that I've probably now consumed 291 tins of baked beans (probably more in my case - I was a student for four years), that I've had 36,011 dreams and bought 183 books.

And it came in short on the number of mobile phones I've had - it suggested six, when in fact I'm on my seventh. In fact, there are now more mobile phones in Britain than there are people.

If anything points at how wasteful a race we are it's that.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Scotia's Joy and Pride

Today is a Bank Holiday in Aberdeen, so I have been spared the hour-long commute to the Granite City.

Unfortunately, this does not mean that I am spared a day of work. Mrs Wife and I spent Saturday in Edinburgh shopping for new furniture that is due to be delivered today. All of this furniture, consisting of a new bed, two bedside cabinets, two chests of drawers and a desk, is flat-packed and designed to be built at home.

So this afternoon will be consumed in a flurry of allen keys, odd-shaped pieces of wood and a mismatching number of nuts and bolts.

Although a certain percentage of the weekend was spent trailing the soul-sapping aisles of Ikea, it was not a complete write-off. I made it to a comfortable Edinburgh hostelry to watch Rangers dominate the final Old Firm match of the season, providing more than a glimmer of hope for the next campaign.

I bolstered my CD collection by a further three albums, and spent a lazy afternoon lying in Princes Street Gardens enjoying the sun.

On a sunny day, Princes Street Gardens is one of my favourite places on the planet. Like Central Park in New York, there is something satisfying about sitting in the peace and quiet in the sunshine, knowing that the city goes about its business just yards away. And even NYC can't boast a view of Edinburgh Castle.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Political Power

Today it seems as though nothing is happening and that, conversely, everything is happening.

With each passing minute, the result from another constituency is announced, bringing us closer to a result from the closest Scottish election yet. But with each passing minute, as the result from another constituency is announced, neither Labour nor the SNP is showing any signs of gaining a majority in the Scottish Executive.

As I write this, Labour has won 37 seats in the Wee Parliament, the SNP 34, and the Liberal Democrats 12. Which means that, once again, the Liberals are the party with the real power.

If you'll excuse what may be a disturbing image for a moment, Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Nicol Stephen has the choice of jumping into bed with Jack McConnell or with Alex Salmond. With McConnell, he knows what to expect; they've been together before and have enjoyed a fairly steady relationship thus far.

But Alex represents a new and untested bedfellow, who is promising an exciting future as one of the founding fathers of an independent Scotland.

So, it's up to the Liberals - stay in the steady marriage or opt for the exciting affair. Who'd've thunk Scottish politics could be so tempestuous?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Election Time

Well, today is election day here in Scotland, and the poll is, according to the media, too close to call.

We may be on the verge of witnessing Labour lose a Scottish election for the first time in my lifetime, and the Scottish National Party move from opposition to government in their place.

Personally, I'd rather see Scotland stay in the Union than take the road to independence, but it seems that nationalism's popularity is at an all-time high.

The SNP won't be getting my vote, but there will be at least one benefit to me if they get in - they're proposing to wipe out the student loan debts of all Scots.

I'll be eagerly awaiting the results tomorrow morning - when Scotland could be about to make political history.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tomahawk Chop

It's come to my attention that I have, as yet, neglected to promote the work of The Tomahawk Kid, a fellow Aberdeen resident who shares my love of good music, good football (discounting his strange obsession with Dumbarton) and the strange world in which we live.

They say that great minds think alike, and it was demonstrated astutely this afternoon when he also posted on the shit curry story.

I recommend that if you want a laugh, you check out this post on parenthood.

This Curry Tastes Like Shit

Beware, gentlemen. No longer are scorned spouses satisfied with hefty divorce settlements.

One woman in Scotland decided that the best way to exact revenge on her husband as their marriage collapsed was to feed him a curry containing dog excrement.

Jill Martin is one seriously disturbed woman: "At first she claimed she had laced the dish with arsenic but then confessed she had added dog excrement instead. The court heard that the couple had been married for 21 years but in recent years their relationship "had hit an all time low"."

Geez - imagine being told that you were wolfing down arsenic, only to be told instead that it was dog shit. Would you be relieved?

I have had some shit meals in my time, but I have never eaten excrement (or never knowingly anyway). And I'm sure that Mr Martin thought he'd get through his three score years and ten without that experience as well.

I'm not sure what Mrs Martin's punishment should be - maybe she should finish the curry?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I Am The Music Man

I listen to music every day, and I suppose in many ways it defines my moods. If not, my moods certainly define my choice of music for the day.

But can the Magic Tune Box pick up on my moods and define me whilst set to shuffle? I spotted this little quiz over at Blissful Bedlam and again at Walrilla's Wonderings and thought I'd give it a go.

1. Put your music player on shuffle.

2. Press forward for each question.

3. Use the song title as the answer to the question even if it doesn’t make sense. NO CHEATING

How do you feel today? Imagine - John Lennon

What’s your outlook on life? Parting Gift - Fiona Apple

What does your family think of you? It Happened So Fast - The Cribs

What do your friends think of you? Splash 1 (Now I'm Home) - The 13th Floor Elevators

What do strangers think of you? Postcard Of A Painting - Maximo Park

What do your exes think of you? Pet Rock - Teenage Fanclub

How’s your love life? Hold On - John Lennon

How will your love life be in the future? Hynoptize - Audioslave

Will you get married? The Path - <209>

Are you good at school? Baby Let's Play House - Elvis Presley

Will you be successful? Truth Doesn't Make A Noise - The White Stripes

What song should they play on your birthday? Keep The Line Movin' - The Soundtrack Of Our Lives

What song should they play at your graduation? Speech by John Lennon

The Soundtrack of your life? May The Circle Remain Unbroken - The 13th Floor Elevators

You and your best friends are? Ross Ross Ross - Sebastian

Happy times: Mosh - Eminem

Sad times: Just Like A Woman - Nina Simone

Every day: The Levee's Gonna Break - Bob Dylan

For tomorrow: Mogwai Fear Satan - Mogwai

For you: Room 13 - Black Flag

What does next year have in store for me? Don't Be Cruel - Elvis Presley

What do I say when life gets too hard? You're Quiet - Brendan Benson

What song will I dance to at my wedding? The Dreams Of Children - The Jam

What do you want as your career? Set Me Free - Velvet Revolver

Your favourite saying? The Gloaming - Radiohead

How will I die? Carry That Weight - The Beatles

I think my favourite is the assertion that my love life is described as 'Hold On' - I'm sure Mrs Wife would be willing to testify to that - and that my career is 'Set Me Free' - get me out of fulltime employment and into a life of luxury. I don't have a best friend called Ross though, let alone three of them. And I would have liked John Lennon to give a speech at my graduation, had he not died 22 years earlier. But we never danced to 'Dreams of Children' at the wedding I'm afraid.