Monday, September 29, 2008

The Kids Are Alright

I'm knackered.

Over the weekend, Dungroanin' played host to an old schoolfriend of Mrs Wife's, accompanied by her two-year-old son.

It's been the best part of 23 years since I lived with a two-year-old boy, and at that time Baby Brother was more of an apprentice than a hindrance.

I've been up more climbing frames, down more chutes and round more roundabouts in the past two days than in the previous two years.

And our little visitor is at the stage where he needs to know what everything is, why everything is, where everything is and who everyone is.

Mrs Wife's rabbits, Pepper and Dylan, have now been rechristened Paper and Dinnae, and were a source of much excitement. As was the local park, the beach, dogs in the park and a football-shaped bottle opener that emits a crowd noise every time it's used.

But the 5.30am wake-up calls have taken their toll, and I'm now feeling more exhausted than I did at the end of the working week.

Just as well we were able to send him home today....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Tomorrow night sees my company's second annual employee pub quiz.

Mrs Wife will be accompanying me, a colleague and his wife as we attempt to do better than we fared in last year's event, when we led early on before tailing off later into the event.

So, to get everyone in the mood, here are five random questions. Answers in the comments, no Googling.

1. What is the capital city of Tanzania?

2. In the nursery rhyme, who visited the person with the little nut tree?

3. Who won the Formula 1 Drivers Championship in 2000?

4. What did the Romans call Paris?

5. Which actor plays Ali G and Borat?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Just 17

A friend from my university days came to visit last week, providing us with the first opportunity to catch up with each other since his stag do last year.

While he and his wife were here, we watched Motherwell playing in Europe, a match in which it was brought to our attention that it is 17 years since Motherwell last won a trophy.

I remember the Scottish Cup final of 1991, as I think it was the first in which I'd taken a real interest. The fact that it was an extra time seven-goal thriller helped, as did Ally Maxwell's heroics in goal despite having suffered a broken rib during the match.

But it wasn't the football reminiscing that struck me - it was the idea that the match was more than 17 years ago.

Initially, it seemed impossible that 17 years had passed. But I'm torn between that fact and the fact that ONLY 17 years have passed, given how much has happened in the interim.

Since a Motherwell team containing Davie Cooper, Tom Boyd and Phil O'Donnell lifted the cup, I've finished primary school and been through both high school and university. Britain has had three new Prime Ministers, four if you include Thatcher, whose reign ended in 1991.

I've moved house at least 10 times. Mrs Wife and I have been around the world. Mrs Wife has become Mrs Wife. My grampa has died. My parents have split up. I've endured more hangovers than I care to remember. Princess Diana, George Harrison, the Queen Mother, the Pope and George Best have all died. Dunblane, Columbine, two Iraq wars, the complete collapse of the Soviet Union and September 11 have all come and gone. So too have Euro 92, USA 94, Euro 96, France 98, Euro 2000, Japan & South Korea 2002, Euro 2004, Germany 2006 and Euro 2008.

But I can still remember watching that Scottish Cup final, and recreating its key moments with a seven-year-old Baby Brother in the park afterwards. I remember the excitement at receiving a signed photograph of Ally Maxwell from the SFA. I remember Davie Cooper humiliating Dundee United despite being in his late 30s.

So, has it been 17 long years since Motherwell won a trophy? Or only 17 years? I can't decide.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 9: Montrose v East Stirlingshire

For the first time this season, I missed Montrose scoring a goal at home.

Mrs Wife and I were delayed in leaving a first birthday party in Aberdeen, and by the time I reached Links Park, the Gable Endies were already a goal to the good against the magnificently inept East Stirlingshire.

Thankfully, my journey to the ground wasn't wasted, as I saw Montrose score twice more to remain unbeaten and move up to second in the league. Shire also missed a penalty and had a man sent off, so the afternoon was enjoyable even for those of us watching with a hangover.

But, as is often the case with matches involving the Shire, the most entertaining aspect of the match was the performance of Mad Bill, one of Scottish football's most colourful travelling fans.

I didn't capture any footage of the man himself in action, but here's a link to a post Big Rab made last season that includes a video of him on a previous visit to Links Park.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 8: Aberdeen v Hamilton Academical

Aberdeen: Scottish football's third force (allegedly). Playing at home following a decent, if hardly earth-shattering start to the season.
Hamilton Accies: Playing in Scottish football's top flight for the first two in two decades. The last time they were this high in the national game, Aberdeen were arguably Scottish football's number one side. Many people's favourites to go straight back down to Division One.
On paper, this should have been a walk-over.
Thankfully, football matches aren't played on paper.
I was at Pittodrie today through the kind offer of a spare season ticket. Last season, I visited the stadium to witness the Dons lose to Hearts. And today I saw them lose to a hard-working Hamilton team.
Hamilton were so confident today that they gave Aberdeen a one-goal start, Gary McDonald netting after just seven minutes.
But from there, Accies never looked back.
Sone Aluko, who spent last season on loan at Aberdeen from Birmingham, made his second home debut following his £50,000 transfer. And he looked to be head and shoulders above his team mates. His runs were positive and his crossing looked dangerous. It was a pity, for Aberdeen fans at least, that neither the horrendously poor Darren Mackie nor the ineffective Lee Miller could do anything with them.
The Dons were gash. Hamilton were first to every ball, defended with vigour and more than a little growl, and generally gave Aberdeen a chasing all over the park. It was no surprise when they equalised and even less of a surprise when they went ahead in the second half.
Jimmy Calderwood attempted to shake things up by introducing Dutch hairdresser Jeffrey De Visscher and Scottish gobshite Chris Maguire. Thankfully, for the fans of Rangers and comedy watching from the stands (probably just me), the changes amounted to nothing.
Third force in Scottish football? At this rate, Aberdeen might soon be the third best club in Division One.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Favourite Albums: Number 2: Nirvana - Nevermind

In the 17 years since its release, I'd imagine more has been written about Nirvana, Nevermind and Kurt Cobain than any other combination of band, album and songwriter from the 1990s.

Many of these pieces focus on Cobain himself - his misery, his inability to deal with fame, and his suicide at the age of 27.

What is often overlooked is the music - a tragically small collection of just three studio albums, two live recordings and a rarities compilation.

As a teenage Britpop fan, I was fairly dismissive of Nirvana and their music, and the Grunge v Britpop debate, at least at my school, was akin to a modern retelling of the Mods v Rockers wars of the 1960s, albeit without the scooters, violence and Sting.

I only really gave Nirvana a chance in the few months between leaving school and starting university. And I was immediately enamoured.

As I'm sure is the case with many, perhaps even most, Nirvana fans, my introduction to the band was Nevermind. And the introduction to Nevermind is Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Again, many words have been used to describe the album's lead single - bombastic, thunderous, vitriolic.

But, above all else, Smells Like Teen Spirit is an extraordinary pop song.

Kurt Cobain was an exceptional writer of pop songs and pop hooks, and Nevermind is dripping in them. Smells Like Teen Spirit may be the best known - thanks also to Cobain's nihilistic roar and buzzsaw guitar and Dave Grohl's furious double drum detonations - but the opening half of the record would stand the test of time alongside any other single side of vinyl ever pressed.

In Bloom continues with the thunderous drums and dark imagery, before making way for the more sedate Come As You Are.

Though Nevermind is defined by the growl of its louder tracks, it is on the quieter songs that the other side of Kurt Cobain, as a crafter of mature and thought-provoking lyrics and melodies, shows itself. Polly, narrated by a kidnapper/torturer is a glimpse into its writer's dark side, while closing track Something In The Way puts into music the life of a heroin addict.

Metal, rock, pop - whatever Nevermind is, it stands as one of, if not THE defining album of the 1990s.
Rather than leave you with the obvious Smells Like Teen Spirit, here's the video for In Bloom:

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Kick Your Blogroll Up The Arse

As instigated by Misssy M of the Misssy M Misssives, I'm going to give my blogroll a kick up the arse.

Misssy, inspired by her own laziness, has decided to venture out into the uncharted (by her) regions of the Blogosphere in search of pastures new, and is encouraging everyone else to follow suit.

Here are the handy copy-and-paste rules:

What you do is you go to four of your favourite blogs and pick a blog from their blogroll that you’ve never visited or commented on.

You then add them to your blogroll or feed, read them for at least a month (by which time there should be no turning back) and give them a chance to invade your life.

Then you duplicate the main part of this post with a note on whose blog you got it from. Stick the four new blogs you are going to read up , tell us briefly why you chose them and whose blogroll they came from.

And if you want, coerce others mercilessly into joining in. Then start reading.

Here are the choices I have made:

1: From Misssy's own blogroll, Gorilla Bananas' The Japing Ape. Looks like I've hit gold from the get-go: magnificently surreal in places, pictures of Britney snogging Madonna and a droll dead pan wit. What more could one expect of the world's leading anthropological ape?

2: Eric is, officially, my Blogfather, so I guess his blogroll would be another good place to look. Chosen completely at random, I've alighted at Quality Weenie. Who is, apparently, an Early Explorer, a Daydreamer and a dog lover. All of which sounds much like myself.

3. Big Rab likes good music, good football (and Dumbarton) and a good dram. Hopefully, his taste in bloggers is as refined as his other tastes. And the fact that Helpless Dancer's blog is called The Endless Note and that he describes himself as a music enthusiast suggests I'm in good company here. The Who, Glasvegas, Dr John and football on the front page is a good start.

4. And finally, from Erica's blog roll, Last One Speaks - "Musings of a complicated woman with simple tastes" - who's intrigued by her Oriental neighbours. Hey, now I'm intrigued too.....

No tagging from me - play along if you want to....

Monday, September 08, 2008

Nae Bather

Recently, I was a passenger on an Aberdeen bus.

Given that I had a hangover and had had only a few hours' sleep, I didn't have the Magic Tune Box pumping its wares into my lugs.

Because I didn't have the Magic Tune Box on, I was subjected to the conversations of the passengers around me.

As the bus passed through the Altens industrial estate, a black man alighted on the bus, a huge white grin greeting the passengers before him.

He was barely in his seat when his phone rang.

It became evident fairly quickly that this latest arrival on the bus was from Nigeria. And that we was deeply religious.

His first word upon answering the phone was "Hallelujah" - he was evidently delighted to hear from the caller, whom it transpired was his pastor from Nigeria, who had returned to Scotland the previous night.

None of this is the reason why the man struck me as unusual - although devout Christians from Nigeria aren't ten-a-penny in Aberdeen.

What struck me was the man's accent. He spoke in a broad, sing-song Nigerian accent - but his speech was littered with words and phrases heard only in the northeast of Scotland.

On several occasions I heard him say "Nae bather" (that's baa-ther, not bay-ther), "bra" (as in good, not over the shoulder boulder holder) and, at the end of his conversation, "cheerio".

I don't know why it's stayed with me since then, but I found the conversation comical, and I only heard half of it. Maybe I was still drunk....

Friday, September 05, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 7: Montrose v Dundee United

Friday night - what a shite time of the week for a football match.
Tonight's Forfarshire Cup semi-final between Montrose and Dundee United was originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon, but was moved to this evening at the Premier League club's request - I'm guessing so that the players can go out for a few pints to watch the Scotland match tomorrow.
Anyway, a stiff North Sea breeze kept everyone at Links Park cool, but the football on show was surprisingly good - five goals and a missed penalty ensured no-one was bored for long.
That Montrose won 4-1 doesn't really indicate how much of the play the young and pacy visiting team enjoyed. If David Goodwillie had spent as much time putting the ball in the net as he had mouthing off and girning, he'd have beaten Montrose single-handedly. Plus his penalty on the stroke of half time was honking.
But as it turned out, it was John Baird who stole the show with a hat-trick. Last season, only Celtic's Scott McDonald scored more goals in Scottish football than Baird, and the wee striker looks as though he's now rediscovering that form. In truth, the best goal of the match was Stephen Black's opener, the winger taking the time to control a cross, flick the ball up and lash a half volley over the goalkeeper.
Hopefully we'll see more of this type of football from Montrose in the coming weeks -typically, I missed the first win of the season when I was at Connect last weekend. But they're still unbeaten in the league, so maybe a promotion push is on the cards.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

That Was The Week That Was

I'm operating on zombie-esque levels of sleep now what with the combination of Norway, Connect and being back at work today.

Norway was a strange experience - any country where three pizzas costs £75 and a round of drinks more than £100 is a tad too pricey for me. But we managed to see a bit of Stavanger in between the work sessions, and found enough free drink to keep ourselves going without taking out a second mortgage. A party on a traditional sailing ship in the sunshine on Stavanger harbour was the highlight of our time.

Our stay in Stavanger was fairly short, and within a couple of days my merry band was heading to Inveraray for the second Connect festival.

Highlights from the weekend were an incendiary set from Gossip, an all-too-short mid-afternoon slot by Elbow, a nostalgic run through Gomez's debut album and Friday night's headliners Kasabian blasting through their greatest hits.

And lest we forget, Rangers pumped Celtic 4-2 at Parkhead.

All in all, it's been a great week!