Friday, June 29, 2007

Fun Day In The Floods

This afternoon, instead of sitting at my desk messing about on blogs and watching as the clock makes its deathly-slow journey towards 4.30pm, my colleagues and I will be braving the Aberdeen monsoon in a quest for fun, entertainment and better bonding as workmates.

The company has generously stumped up the cash for our office to troop down to Codona's Amusement Arcade on Aberdeen's Beach Boulevard, where we will compete in games of Pirate Island Adventure Golf and ten-pin bowling. These activities will be separated by a shot on the dodgems and a meal. All of which certainly sounds more entertaining than an afternoon chasing stories about oilfields far, far away.

I will therefore spend this afternoon demonstrating that I can play golf like Tiger Woods, drive like Lewis Hamilton and bowl like John Goodman in The Big Lebowski.

Or, as is more likely, demonstrate that I play golf like Goodman, drive like Woods and bowl like Hamilton.

The Years Haven't Been Kind...

...To the Spice Girls.

As seen at Agent Bedhead

Is anyone else alarmed that Victoria Beckham's breasts are larger than her head? Or that Geri Halliwell has turned up for the biggest press conference of her life wearing her Granny's curtains?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Music Makes The People Come Together

My legs are stiff from a double dose of football yesterday, my brain is tired from a lack of proper sleep this week (thanks to Mrs Wife's newly-instigated Zero Tolerance policy to my snoring, which means I get a dig in the ribs every time my nose whistle pipes up), so I'll dip into the Magic Tune Box to see what kind of mood it's in today. What ten random noises will it pick from the 14,000 at its disposal?

1: Long Haired Child by Devendra Banhart (from the album Cripple Crow): Insane psychedelic hippy folk tune from the insane psychedelic hippy. Proclaims the necessity of encouraging children to grow their hair long.

2: His Last Painting by Manic Street Preachers (from the album Know Your Enemy): From the Manic's sixth studio album, which sounded like a good record thrown away. His Last Painting is the band in their comfort zone, with neither the growl of their early work nor the elegance of Everything Must Go. But hey, middle age (in rock'n'roll terms) will do that to you I suppose.

3: May This Be Love by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (from the album Are You Experienced?): Hypnotic, jangly love song from James Marshall Hendrix. Not his finest work, although things pick up when the track breaks into a driving chorus a minute in. Mitch Mitchell's drumming is, as ever, faultless.

4: Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol (from the album Eyes Open): I'm not a massive fan of Snow Patrol, but even I have to admire their tenacity in finally making it to the big league after years of slumming around in the indie undergrowth. Chasing Cars is probably their most famous track, and is pleasant enough, but a wee bit dull in my opinion.

5: Good People by Jack Johnson (from the album In Between Dreams): Pretty much sounds like every other Jack Johnson has ever released. Happy clappy, acoustic hippy track from the Hawaiian surfer turned alternative acoustic superstar. I first heard Johnson's work whilst living in Australia, and his albums almost seem perfectly made for days relaxing on the beach with a cold drink and the surf crashing onto the sand.

6: Aneurysm by Nirvana (from the album Incesticide): Aneurysm is one of my favourite Nirvana songs. This version was recorded for Radio 1's Evening Session, and includes Cobain's almost trademark buzzsaw guitar work backed by typically loud Grohl drums and purposefully off-key Novoselic backing vocals. Recently voted the band's third greatest song by Radio 1 listeners - not bad for a B-side.

7: There There by Homer: Indie pop song that puts me neither up nor down. Unremarkable enough to be pleasant, but not exciting enough to get, well, excited about.

8: How Soon Is Now? by The Smiths (from the compilation Best...I): My favourite Smiths song, How Soon Is Now? is also one of my favourite songs by any band. From Johnny Marr's fading guitar and slide work to Morrissey's lyrics ("I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar), everything about this track fits perfectly. As I've said before, I hope The Smiths never reform - it's better that they leave their memory unsullied.

9: Mario Man by Super Furry Animals (from the album Fuzzy Logic): I've written about my love of the lyrics of Gruff Rhys in the past. Their second album, Radiator, is amongst the greatest I've ever heard, but debut Fuzzy Logic was also pretty darn good. It's less focussed than its successor, but it still showcased a band of unique talents. In Mario Man, Gruff tells us that he "bought myself a frying pan and sailed it to the Isle of Man for a holiday". Insane indie genius, I'm looking forward to seeing the band again at this year's Connect Festival.

10: Mamma Mia by ABBA (from the compilation Gold): OK, in preparation for this weekend's housewarming BBQ, I put a whole load of "party" songs onto the Magic Tune Box - amongst them ABBA, Madonna and Prince. So, ABBA now make their debut on this blog. I'm no fan of them, but some of their tunes are pretty good - and I'm sure that they'll help keep the party spirit flowing on Saturday.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

7,000th visitor

Well, the 7,000th visitor to this far-flung outpost of the worldwide interweb was someone from Perai, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia, who visited for the second time to check out the story of the testicle-eating woman from Liverpool.

So, if you're that South East Asian reader, drop me an email and I'll send you a wonderful prize.

All wight?

In very poor taste, but funny nonetheless.

Those of you who don't know who Michael Barrymore is, type the name into Google alongside "murder" and "pool" and you'll find out soon enough.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sporran Language

Jesus Christ on a bike (apologies if that offended fact no, no apologies. This is MY blog - if you don't like a wee bit of blasphemy, just point your browser in another direction).

The British government is giving serious consideration to issuing licences to people who own sporrans.

As regular readers will be aware, I both own an (fairly) regularly don a kilt in an effort to convince people that I am a stylish, well-dressed drunk, rather than a scruffy, looks-like-he-dressed-in-a-charity-shop-with-his-eyes-closed drunk.

I've owned my kilt since shortly before my wedding last year - so therefore my sporran would be subject to the licensing laws.

So how exactly does one go about obtaining a license for a bit of dead seal bought more than a year ago?

What is this country coming to? Are we on a slippery slope to having to apply to the government to own a pair of leather shoes? Will angry mobs storm the streets demanding that the authorities recognise their Right To Wear Wool?

Well, the government can try - but I don't fancy their chances of getting that piece of legislation through.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Jake The Snake

Courtesy of my Baby Brother, some of the finest acting I've ever seen:

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Summer Cleaning

Not much time for blogging today: In a week's time, Dungroanin' will be the venue for a housewarming BBQ/party.

In preparation for this event, Mrs Wife and I are cleaning the homestead from top to bottom, sorting out the garden and building garden furniture and the BBQ itself.

So I can't stop for long. I will return once Dungroanin' has reached Mrs Wife's high standards.....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Oh Dear

British builders - what a bunch of geniuses (or should that be genii?)

Doctor Jones Is Back

I'm as excited as a bespectacled Sean Connery who believes he's just taken a drink from the Ark of the Covenant - The first photographs from the fourth Indiana Jones film have been released.

My boyhood years happily coincided with the peak of Harrison Ford's career, from Star Wars through to Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.

So please excuse me if I get excited at the prospect of seeing Indy flick that whip as he searches for further artefacts from the dawn of time.

What's Worn Under The Kilt?

Disturbing results from my latest batch of Google referrers.

In the past three days, the search terms that have brought people my way from the world's favourite search engine have included "anal gerbilling", "she pulled my testicles" and "colour underwear with kilt".

Of the three, it's the last that is most disturbing.

If you need to ask what colour of underwear you should be wearing beneath your kilt, you shouldn't be wearing one.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Life On Mars?

Anyone fancy spending a year and a half on a trip to Mars?

The European Space Agency is looking for volunteers to take part in a simulation of what life would be like for a team of astronauts travelling to the red planet from Earth.

According to the BBC report: "With the exception of weightlessness and radiation, the crew will experience most other aspects of long-haul space travel, such as cramped conditions, a high workload, lack of privacy, and limited supplies."

The ESA could save itself some money though: the experiment is taking place in Moscow - surely they don't have to build a dummy spaceship to simulate cramped conditions, high workload, lack of privacy and limited supplies? Just send the "crew" to live in a high rise block anywhere in Russia.

Even the "delayed communications with Earth" wouldn't be a problem, as anyone who's ever called Russia on a normal telephone will be able to attest to.

All joking aside, a mission to Mars sounds like a great way to spend 18 months. I would have thought it would take longer to get there, but you could do a round trip in three years, if you could build a spacecraft capable of holding that much fuel.

Ever since I was a wee laddy, I've always dreamed of going into space. I'm presuming that I'll never get the chance, although I suppose if, when they were children, you'd told my grandparents that they'd fly to France in an aeroplane, they would have had trouble imagining an aeroplane, let alone being inside one.

I don't know if the ESA will be desperately seeking overweight Scottish journalists for its maiden Mars voyage though.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Looking Good?

So, how are my socks looking in this photograph?

Considerably better than I am, I would say....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Socks Appeal

Dublin is a strange city. The city centre, with its Georgian townhouses and the landscaped beauty of St Stephen's Green, seems fairly affluent, albeit not in an overly ostentatious way. But the bus ride into the city from the airport takes you through suburbs as run down as any I've seen in western Europe. I suppose that all the EU money that the Republic of Ireland has pulled in over the past decade or so only stretches so far.

Mrs Wife and I were in Dublin this weekend to attend a party celebrating the marriage of a good friend of mine from my university days. Having decided to wed on a beach in Thailand, they then invited their family and friends to a low-key soiree in Dublin.

It was the third time I'd visited the Irish capital - the first was with the friend whose wedding party we were attending, way back in the days before I knew Mrs Wife and he knew his new bride. Six of us spent a week touring Ireland, a tour which involved spending more time in licensed premises than in tourist attractions.

My second visit was in 2003, when I took the then Miss Girlfriend to Dublin to see Justin Timberlake touring his debut album. At some point in the future, I may write about that trip, but for now, I will concentrate on this weekend.

Although I'd visited Dublin twice previously, this was the first time I'd flown into its airport, having arrived by train from Belfast on my previous trips. This trip was also different in that we knew that our sight-seeing time was to be limited, as we were partying on both the Saturday night and the Sunday night, the main event taking place on the Sunday.

When we were first invited to the party, I tried to book a hotel as close to the venue as possible. Mrs Wife and I have decided that, on reflection, selecting a hotel that "boasts" a nightclub which remains open until 3am was probably not a great idea. It would seem that the hotel in question makes most of its money from the nigthclub. Our room was easily the worst we have stayed in whilst travelling in Europe, and was worse than most of those we endured during three months in South East Asia.

Two enjoyable nights on the town aside, and discounting the grottiness of our room, the defining factor of our trip was my wardrobe. Deciding to exude a little Scottish class, I took my kilt across the Irish Sea. As I was awaiting our bags at the carousel in Dublin airport, it suddenly dawned on me that I had neglected to pack a shirt to go with the kilt. Whilst an inconvenience, this wasn't an insurmountable problem - I would simply buy a plain white shirt, which would be a passable replacement for the real thing.

Having found a suitable stand-in shirt, I was hanging up my outfit in the hotel and checking that I had all of the other constituent parts of the kilt. Sporran - check. Shoes - check. Bow tie - check. Socks. Socks. Socks? SOCKS?

Damn. I'd forgotten the socks. This may not sound like a big deal - socks are socks. Except when the outfit in question is a kilt. Because the kilt extends to knee length, and the shoes lace up around the calf and shin, the socks are vital to the overall look.

Mrs Wife was, of course, suitably impressed with this revelation. As Dublin's shops had closed for the evening, it meant that Sunday, the day of the party, was spent roaming the city's streets in search of socks for an outfit from a foreign country.

We tried many different outlets, including one chain that rents kilts out, but in vain - Dublin is not the best place in the world to buy kilt socks. Finally, with our hangovers reaching the "fatally dehydrated" stage, our patience wearing thin and our feet aching, we were directed to a store called House of Ireland.

They didn't stock kilt socks. But they did have thick, knee-length, woollen socks, which would stand as passable replacements for one evening. I almost baulked at the pricetag - ELEVEN POUNDS for a pair of socks (I am a man who normally buys underwear in packs of three and always for less than five pounds - eleven pounds for a pair of socks is a bit steep).

And the moral of the tale? Listen to your mother's advice - ALWAYS pack clean underwear.

(As a post script to this strangely lengthy tale of socks, most of the other guests at the party were wearing jeans and casual shirts. But hey, a man in a kilt in a roomful of Irish people wearing jeans is ALWAYS going to stand out.)

Friday, June 15, 2007


"LALOLKFATYK" - not the sound of a cat coughing up a particularly gruesome hairball, but the "Learn A Lot Of Little Known Facts About Those You Know" meme.

I've been tagged by Erica, my favourite Jewish Brooklyn wiseass. Anyone interested in finding out more facts about strange folk on the worldwide interweb can also find this meme over at Elisson's blog and at Chickie's.

WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? I don't think so. Mither has told me that when she first held me, she decided there and then when to call me. Just a pity she didn't pick something better than Groanin' Jock.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? I can't remember. (Well, I can, but I don't want to say.)

DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? I like it just fine, although it is atrocious. On a day-to-day basis, I write in capitals, as my proper handwriting is just a scrawl. I prefer typing - I can actually type faster than I can write with a pen and paper. Which is probably why I never passed my 100 words a minute shorthand exam....

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Emmmmm - does chicken and sweetcorn mayo count? It would probably have to be chicken in one of its many forms - whether barbecued, cooked in a Mexican stylee or just served on plain bread with salad.

DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Not yet. But I am looking forward to the days when I have an army of little Jocklings to mould in my own image. If I can persuade Mrs Wife to pop out five of them, that's an indoor football team sorted, and the garden at Dungroanin' is big enough to teach them how to play smooth passing football. Plus it's also enough to form the Groanin' Five, like the Jackson Five only without the afros and pet monkeys. In the words of Homer Simpson: "Kids are great. You can teach them to hate what you hate and, with the Internet and all, they practically raise themselves." Although they won't be getting anywhere near the strange folk on my Blogroll.

IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I think so. I'm pretty easy going, I like good music, I'm a fountain of wisdom and a have a barbed and sarcastic sense of humour. What's not to like?

DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Yes, every day, and far more than I should. Basically, it's the cornerstone of my sense of humour. Which is probably due to watching Fawlty Towers, Blackadder and Bottom during my formative years.

DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yes. Thankfully, by the time I contracted tonsilitis as a wee boy back in 1986, the practise of removing them had died out. I think I was just told to eat ice cream.

WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? No, never. I experienced the thrill of the bungee ball when I was in New Zealand and that was was bad enough, but I just can't imagine ever wanting to jump head first off a bridge.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CEREAL? It was always Frosties when I was a kid, but now I'm grown up (allegedly) I eat fruit and fibre every morning (nutritious, healthy and keeps things moving at the right pace). But I'm still partial to a bowl of Frosties (which are just as delicious when eaten "raw" - without milk) or Coco Pops.

DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Not usually - I'm lazy. Although when the shoes in question are new, expensive, my kilt shoes (which lace up around my calf and shin) or my bright blue Nike football trainers, I have to.

DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Not really, at least not with my arms. Years of playing football and running mean that my legs are much stronger than my arms, and that I've got a belter of shot when playing football. Not always terribly accurate mind, but it'll hurt if it catches you in a tender part of your body.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ICE CREAM? Pretty much all of them. I am partial to Ben and Jerry's Phish Food though.

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Probably eyes, but I think you just take in the whole package in one go, don't you? With women, probably chesticles and butt.

RED OR PINK? Neither. I think I only have two item of red clothing, a cheap sweatshirt and a Vietnam football shirt, and no pink ones.

WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? I'm lazy. I could easily tackle that problem by being less lazy, but I'm too lazy to do that.

WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Both my grandfathers, who died when I was six years old and 12 years old. They never got to see me and Baby Brother grow up to be the well-rounded individuals we've become.

WHAT COLOUR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Pants - does that mean trousers or underwear? If it's the former, a pair of baggy blue Levi's. If it's the latter, white cotton boxers. Shoes - brown, white and red Pierre Cardin trainers.

WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? A bowl of Tesco Fruit and Fibre with semi-skimmed milk and a pint of fresh orange juice.

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? General office background noise - people typing, talking about reports, people shuffling papers.

IF YOU WHERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOUR WOULD YOU BE? Is there such a colour as Purple Haze? Sounds like a good one to me. But realistically, I'd be blue or black - the two staple colours of my wardrobe.

FAVOURITE SMELLS? Warm cotton that's just been ironed, Mrs Wife, chicken fajitas cooking, Indian food, petrol, fresh cut grass on a hot summer day.

WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? A close friend who served as one of my best men at our wedding last year. Just a general catch up.

FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Football. Which shall never, on this blog, be referred to as soccer. It's football. If it was soccer, FIFA would be called FISA, the SFA would be the SSA and the FA Cup would be called the SA Cup.

HAIR COLOUR[S]? Brown, which has gotten darker as I've grown older. There are now quite a few grey patches creeping in as well, including a big clump right at the front that looks ridiculous.


DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No, I've got 20:20 vision (but I've never seen the light).

FAVOURITE FOOD? Chicken Fajitas. Chili Con Carne. My Mither's spaghetti bolognese. My Granny's steak pie, which I'll never taste again. Cheese cake. Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate.

SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? I like movies that make you think - it doesn't matter whether they're scary, funny or thrilling, just make them entertaining.

LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? I believe it was Pirates of the Caribbean 3. Which was rather good.

WHAT COLOUR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? A white t-shirt with a green and black rockstar grafitti pattern on it.

SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer - I hate being cold. I don't mind playing in the snow, but I generally hate being cold.

HUGS OR KISSES? I like both, but I'll choose kisses.

FAVOURITE DESSERT? Pretty much anything that doesn't have alcohol in it.

MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? I don't know - Sho? Tish?

LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Erica, Elisson and Chickie - they've already done it.

WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? The Prize: The Epic Quest For Oil, Money and Power by Daniel Yergin - it's a massive book detailing the history of the oil industry. So far, I'm about two chapters in, and things are getting interesting between America and Russia around the turn of the 19th/20th Century.

WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? At work it's plain blue with Belkin written on it. At home I use a laptop.

WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? Big Brother and the first episode of the second series of My Name Is Earl.

FAVOURITE SOUND[S]? An acoustic guitar being played by someone who can really play. Waves hitting the shore without any other background sounds.

ROLLING STONES OR THE BEATLES? The Beatles are the greatest band ever to have walked the Earth. They've been my favourite band since I was 16. But sometimes I get a craving for scuzzy rock'n'roll or something with a bit more growl than The Beatles ever recorded, and I'll listen to the Stones - especially Sympathy For The Devil and Gimme Shelter.

WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? I'm not sure which is farthest away - Perth, Western Australia; Tasmania; Brisbane; New Zealand; or Fiji.

DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? When I have time and put my mind to it, I'm a pretty good writer. I think there's a novel inside me, I just haven't got the time or the inclination to get it out right now.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Taste of Nuts

What's the worst injury ever inflicted upon you by another human being?

I think mine is probably taking a kick in the nose and mouth playing football - I bent downwards to head the ball, my opponent leant back to kick it, and my head met his foot at high speed. My nose exploded in a spectacular shower of blood, and I was left with an imprint of the Nike logo on my face for a week or two, but thankfully my nose didn't break.

The only other instance I can think of was when I bruised my ribs, again playing football, this time when an opponent and high collided at high speed.

Neither of these injuries was intentionally inflicted.

So I can't really imagine how 37-year-old Geoffrey Jones must have felt when a former partner ripped one of his testicles off with her bare hands.

According to the BBC report, Amanda Monti flew into a rage when Jones rejected her advances at the end of a house party.

She pulled off his left testicle and tried to swallow it, before spitting it out.

This woman clearly has issues. Not only did she manage to rip this man's testicle off - staggering enough in itself - but she then tried to eat it.

In a letter to the court that jailed her for two-and-a-half years, she said: "It was never my intention to cause harm to Geoff and the fact that I have caused him injury will live with me forever. I am in no way a violent person."

Of course you aren't dear, you just ripped a man's testicle out of his scrotum with your bare hands despite the fact that he was fully clothed at the time, then attempted to swallow it. You're obviously a timid pacifist.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


With the exception of a year spent travelling around the world with Mrs Wife (then known as Miss Girlfriend), I've lived all my life in Scotland.

Last night, in a conversation with Mrs Wife and my uncle on the Munros, I realised that I've only been to the top of one of Scotland's 284 highest mountains.

The one Munro which I can say with certainty that I have climbed is Mount Keen at the head of Glenesk, which I walked up with my fellow members of Glenesk Youth Club when I was only 10 years old.

I've never climbed Ben Nevis, Ben Macdui or Ben Lomond, although I have been up Cairn Gorm in its funicular railway.

In truth, my experience of travelling around Scotland is pretty limited. Until last month, when I visited Skye, I'd only been to one of Scotland's islands, Mull. I don't think I've ever been to Stirling Castle, I've never been to Eilean Donan and I haven't visited Orkney or Shetland.

It's quite strange that I've visited Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji and New Zealand, but I've never been to Blair Atholl. I've spent eight months in Australia, driving right across the country from the east coast to the west, but I haven't spent even a single day in Cupar.

In fact, I'm so poorly travelled within my own country that I think it's time I do something about it. Arran and Islay both appeal as the first ports of call on my Magical Mystery Tour of Scotland, which will begin just as soon as I have time.

However, it won't be this weekend, because that's when I'm visiting Dublin....for the third time.....

Monday, June 11, 2007


Every so often I'll have a week or fortnight long period when I immerse myself in the music of one particular band or artist.

I'll frequently go through periods where I listen to nothing but Bob Dylan's albums from the late 1960s and 1970s. Quite often, I'll find that classic Rolling Stones albums take up a semi-permanent residency in my CD player. And, on a less regular basis, I again become enamoured by David Bowie's recorded output, listening to random albums from the 1960s through to the noughties.

Recently, this strange affliction has moved onto Led Zeppelin, and, more often, Black Sabbath.

I love the sound of Sabbath's "Ozzy years". Subsequent incarnations without the band's original frontman just weren't the same.

Watching the BBC's brilliant Seven Ages of Rock series on Saturday, it was great to see the band in their pomp, barrelling through huge slabs of proto-metal. Though they founded heavy metal, lumbering the band with that tag is unfair. They stand apart from other metal bands through their sound, a heavy blues-driven rumble. Bill Ward's drumming, apparently drawing inspiration from industrial machinery in their native Birmingham, and Tony Iommi's howling guitar stand head and shoulders above all of the metal acts that followed.

The biggest revelation from the programme was that Ozzy Osbourne was known to wander the streets of Birmingham in the 1960s, dragging a shoe around on a rope, which he would tell passers by was his "pet shoe". I guess I always just thought it was drugs that turned him mad, rather than just exacerbated his obvious problems.

I doubt many of you will share my love of Sabbath. But I defy anyone to listen to The Wizard and not move in some way. Whether it's nodding your head, tapping your feet, playing air guitar, dancing or lurching to "stop that infernal racket", I'm sure you won't be able to sit still for long.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Begins At Home

England's international footballers are amongst the most loathsome, obscenely rich people in the country.

In one passage of Frank Lampard's autobiography (which must be a thrilling read covering his 28 years on the planet) he supposedly regales the reader with the story of how he was in awe of the wealth on show on Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's yacht. This from a man who earns about eighty thousand pounds a week.

In the space of a week, Joey Barton, a mono-syllabic thug who in any other walk of life would likely have been jailed by now, earns four times as much as the average British worker.

So, it is with mixed feelings that I read today's news that the England national team is to donate all of its earnings from international fixtures to charity.

True, the move is to be applauded. But we are talking here of 25 players making a donation once every couple of months. There are more than 400 players plying their trade in the Premiership, all of whom could make a sizeable difference by making a similar pledge.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I Am The Walrus

The sun is out, the sky is blue and I'm off to lie in the hammock. So I'll leave you with a masterpiece of psychedelic nonsense, from an era when four twenty-somethings from Liverpool were the coolest guys on the planet. This is the record that changed my life.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Weather or Not?

The weather here in Jockshire over the past 24 hours has been, for want of a better word, changeable.

Last night, as I drove home from Aberdeen, a lightning storm began to rip the thick black clouds apart, a forewarning of the Biblical rainstorm that followed.

All of last evening, as I sat in the house alone, the rain battered down, the lightning continuing for at least four hours. In fact, the thunder was still rumbling as I went to bed. I attempted to capture it on video, but unfortunately my mobile phone couldn't do the weather justice.

On the one occasion I ventured out in it, as far as the garage, I was utterly soaked, and the noise of the fat raindrops belting off the horizontal steel garage door sounded like bullets ripping into a metal bucket.

But this afternoon, as my colleagues and I left an Aberdeen restaurant following a "working lunch", the sun was drying Scotland out, beating down from a clear blue sky.

Which bodes well for a weekend when I have Dungroanin' to myself and when Mrs Wife is taking part in a sponsored walk up a Munro.

I sense a full hammock day is approaching.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

What's In A Name?

Guess which site is top unsponsored link when someone types "male jock meat" into the Optimum search engine?

Even worse - I finish above Gay Man Flicks TGP - Free Gay Sex Movies Every Day :)

I really should have thought of a better name for this blog....

Time For A Tune

Every now and again, I like to dig out the Magic Tune Box, set it to shuffle and see where its whims take us. This is one of those occasions, so here's today's random ten.

1: Who Named The Days? by Arab Strap (from the album Monday At The Hug and Pint): Trademark melancholy from Scotland's own sadly-departed purveyors of misery. Includes a haunting cello refrain to drag Aidan Moffat's lyrics even deeper into tear-stained territory.

2: Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta F' Wit by Wu-Tang Clang (from the album Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)): Still magnificent 13 years after its release, 36 Chambers is, alongside Straight Outta Compton, my favourite hip-hop album. There's an in-your-face delivery that still sounds menacing, whilst the Kung-Fu samples thrown in mark it as different from other records of its era.

3: Slow Fade by Teenage Fanclub (from the album Man-Made): From the Fannies' most recent record, this could have been recorded at any point during their lengthy career. That they've never made it to the upper reaches of the charts or the associated riches is criminal.

4: The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-1934) by Elton John (from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road): Recorded at the peak of Elton's commercial powers, The Ballad of Danny Bailey doesn't get the credit it deserves, having been dwarfed by Candle In The Wind, Bennie and The Jets, Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting and the album's title track. However, it bears favourable comparison with the cream of Elton's work, backing the electric piano with a soaring string arrangement.

5: I Forget by Campag Velocet (B-Side from the single To Lose La Trek): Ten-minute groove from purveyors of noisy, Clockwork Orange-influenced indie mentalists. Whispered vocals from Pete Voss fit in well with the Happy Mondays-style rhythms. A cracking track from a vastly-underrated band, one of the most absorbing live acts I've ever seen.

6: Get Back by The Beatles (from the album Let It Be): Paul McCartney may have gotten his way with the release of Let It Be...Naked in 2003, but Let It Be, despite Phil Spector's OTT production and the inclusion of snippets of dialogue, proved that The Beatles could still play hard and fast blues rock. Billy Preston's keyboard fits perfectly with the chugging bass riff and Ringo's freight train drumming. They may have been a band on the way out, but they ended their career in style.

7: All I Want by The Stone Roses (from the album Garage Flower): Garage Flower was intended as The Stone Roses' debut album, but the band scrapped it and went back to the drawing board, returning with the greatest album ever made, their eponymous debut. Garage Flower was eventually released after the band had split, and showcased a harder, punkier side than that recorded on the first official album. All I Want, like So Young and Tell Me, is probably underrated, but pales into comparison when played alongside anything from the official debut.

8: More Than Us by Travis (with Anne Dudley) (from the More Than Us EP): Delicate reworking of a track from Travis' debut album Good Feeling. Anne Dudley, formerly of the Art of Noise and now a composer, scored the strings for the remix, giving it a sound that fitted with the Britpop theme of the time purveyed by Oasis and The Verve.

9: The Song We Were Singing by Paul McCartney (from the album Flaming Pie): Paul McCartney's post-Beatles work has been unfairly maligned. Granted, much of his output in the 1970s and 1980s didn't cut the mustard, falling well below the standards expected of a songwriter of his pedigree. 1997's Flaming Pie did much to restore his reputation. Very Beatlesy, The Song We Were Singing is a gentle sing-along ending in delicate finger-picking and a strong string arrangement.

10: Sweet Little Sixteen by The Beatles (from the album Live At The BBC): Rock'n'roll standard recorded by the Fabs during one of their many appearances on BBC radio. Whilst showcasing a tight rock'n'roll band and John Lennon's vocal strength, it doesn't hint that the band would become musical revolutionaries within five years.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Movie Quiz - Take Two

Those of you who happen by this strange outpost on the far-flung margins of the worldwide interweb more than once may remember that I recently joined in the movie quiz meme, promising a fantastic prize for the person with the highest score.

So far, that person is Chickie. That is because, so far, Chickie is the only entrant. As she's already twice won prizes around these parts for landing here as the 3,000th and 6,000th visitor, I think someone else should jump in and gazump her (does that sound rude?).

The closing date for entries will therefore be noon GMT tomorrow - good luck!

Picture This

Just to prove that the words that appear on this humble blog aren't the overworkings of a head full of nonsense, here is the photographic evidence that I attended the primary school reunion last weekend.

Thank you to Sho, who risked the sack to send me the photograph instead of having me pay for it. For those of you who want to play "Where's Wally/Waldo?", I am NOT wearing a fluorescent shell suit in this picture. Which I'm sure will come as a great disappointment to many of you.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Foaming At The Mouth

Many aspects of my childhood years are gone forever - cartoons I enjoyed as a boy have long since been cancelled, the computer systems I grew up playing have long been rendered obselete and friends with whom I enjoyed countless games of football, hide and seek and manhunt have grown up and we've lost touch.

Food and drinks that I gorged on to satisfy my healthy childhood appetite have also changed, most of them not for the better. Curly Wurlys, once a half-hour of solid chewing on a slab of toffee half an inch think, are now thin, chocolate-coated slivers of caramel providing a far smaller task to finish. King Size Mars Bars were, to my recollection, once the equivalent of one-and-a-half regular Mars Bars, not slightly bigger, as they are today.

But one hallowed foodstuff from my formative years has gone forever. Creamola Foam, a soft drink made by mixing a flavoured powder with water, has long since disappeared from our shelves.

In Scotland, we revel in our unhealthy diet. If something can be consumed, it must have sugar added or be deep-fried. Creamola Foam, I am sure, can't have been healthy. It tasted unnaturally sweet and came in a variety of lurid colours.

Although I did enjoy partaking of a glass of Creamola Foam as a child, my fondest memories of it are from my teenage years, when a group of us found that it made the ideal mixer for vodka. It was common for us to mix a litre of vodka and a whole tub of Creamola Foam (which made around four pints of the soft drink) in a basin. Even with so much vodka swilling around this mix, no taste of alcohol could be discerned, making it the ideal concoction for teenage drinkers finding their feet in the world of illicit activities.

But alas it is no more. Which is why some of my nostalgic countrymen have begun a campaign to bring back Creamola Foam.

Gentlemen, whoever you are, I wish you every success. We may be living in a world at war, where children die every day due to poverty and where the very future of our planet is questionable. But I, for one, sincerely hope that your quest to bring back this vivid brew is a success.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Back To School

Until very recently, I believed that I was still too young to be invited to a school reunion. After all, it's only been nine years since I left secondary school, and only five since I graduated from university.

But despite still being a metaphorical spring chicken, I was recently invited to attend a reunion of all those fortunate past pupils of Tarfside Primary School who are still alive.

So, despite both suffering from chronic hangovers, Baby Brother and I headed back to the school for the first time in many years on Saturday.

Actually, that's a lie. Mither dropped us off at the school on Saturday. Which is pretty lame - a combined age of 50 and we're still getting driven to school by our mum.

It was an unusual gathering. Though many had travelled considerable distances to attend the event, many hadn't made it for one reason or another. So we were left with a strange spectrum of ages, ranging from the school's current pupils, all aged between five and twelve years, up to a handful of alumni now within grasping distance of their 80th birthdays.

(What is the correct collective name for a group of elderly folk? A wrinkle? A moan? A zimmer?)

The present, but soon to be retired, teacher at the school has retained self-made yearbooks for each of her years at the helm of the school, and it was equally intriguing and mortifying to flick through the pages chronicling my brief period as a pupil.

Parents in the early 1990s must have cruel, colourblind or both. Amongst the natty costumes I was sporting in the photos were a faded Rangers shellsuit, the jacket bleached a pastel shade closer to lilac than to the more proper Royal Blue; a Rangers strip (notice a trend here?) which I wore in its entirety, the shorts hiked up to somewhere around my armpits; and a pair of Bermuda-patterned Speedo swimming trunks, which at least provided some distraction from my lurid white pigeon chest.

Thankfully, this catalogue of what not to wear was shared equally amongst those of us who attended school around the same time, so the burden of shame wasn't mine to bear alone.

Even more toe-curling were the videos of school plays showing on a constant loop in a back room, showcasing to full effect the incendiary thespian skills of Scottish primary school children, starring yours truly affecting some god-awful English accent for recurring roles as a butler.

All in all, it was a great weekend, offering the opportunity to catch up with old friends who have been strangers for too long, drink to excess in the unique surroundings of Tarfside Masonic Hall and spend Sunday eating freshly barbecued hamburgers whilst playing football on the school playing field for the first time in nigh-on 15 years.

Needless to say, I had lost none of the magic.....

Friday, June 01, 2007

Happy Returns

So now to report back on the anniversary weekend.

Mrs Wife set off from sunny Montrose on the Saturday morning, bound for Gretna but with no accommodation booked. In hindsight, this probably wasn't the smartest move, given that it was a Bank Holiday weekend and we were heading for a town popular with wedding parties.

Nonetheless, we arrived at the Tourist Information office at Gretna Gateway Village (a discount retail park offering clothes, houshold goods and food at knockdown prices) and the kind ladies managed to find us what seemed to be the last B&B room in the whole of Dumfries and Galloway. Except that it was in England, but only by a mile.

We'd only been to Gretna once, passing through en route to visiting Mrs Wife's family down south. In truth, there isn't much to see - the Old Blacksmith's Shop and the retail village are about the extent of Gretna's attractions, at least outwith the football season.

So instead of hanging around, we visited Carlisle on the Saturday evening, where gruesome hen parties marauded the streets in search of fresh meat. There's a strange mix of accents in the Borders: native Scots mingling with the broad Geordie brogue, which can make drinking in the area a surreal experience.

Starved of excitment in Gretna, we visited Dumfries on our anniversary, where we turned our hands and feet to go-karting. Needless to say, male driving skills won the day, and I left Mrs Wife trailing in my wake (twice), despite crashing during an audacious overtaking manouvre.

In Dumfries we also saw a charity raft race on the river Nith, which given the cold wind and rain, seemed foolhardy at best.

Other local landmarks we visited were the camera obscura, our visit coinciding with one of the day's few dry spells, Robert Burns' house and his mausoleum.

For some reason, I didn't even know that Burns had a mausoleum - I thought he'd been buried in an unmarked pauper's grave. Which just goes to show how ignorant I am - his tomb is a majestic white building with locked gates and a statue of the man himself. This is doubly ignorant considering that I may be related to Scotland's most famous son.

Sunday's anniversary meal was a splendid affair in Smith's at Gretna Green, a luxurious hotel that doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the village.

We had no plans for our journey home, but decided that a trip to Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling was as good a way to spend the afternoon as any.

I have hazy recollections of visiting the park with Mither and Faither as a wee boy, and of monkeys climbing on the roof and bonnet of the car. There were no monkeys this time around, but we did get VERY close to a pride of lions. We watched as several lionesses wandered past our window, followed by a male lion. The male stopped right beside Mrs Wife's passenger window, where he showed his disdain for us by pissing on our bonnnet. There was no question - we were his bitches.

So, in a car smelling of lion piss, we headed back to less-than-sunny Montrose, stopping only to watch the third installment of the Pirates of The Caribbean series in Dundee. I was most keen to see Keith Richards playing a pirate, a role which he pulled off with aplomb - although it was hardly a departure from his daily life.

And there you have it - a weekend of mausoleums, rock'n'roll pirates, go-kart crashes and lion piss. My second anniversary will struggle to live up to that.