Sunday, January 31, 2010

Good Morning

Up at 8am on a Sunday morning - this had better be worth it....

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Season 2009/2010: Match 7: Montrose v East Stirlingshire

Having missed last week's Links Park 4-5 thriller, today was my first live football match of 2010, and the first I've seen since mid-December.

Anyone hoping for a match as exciting as the previous week's must have been was sorely disappointed. The most exciting thing that happened (even more exciting than Shire's 18th minute winner) was the referee injuring himself and the stadium announcer sending out a call around the stadium for a registered referee or linseman.

Thankfully (or not, given the dire fare on show today) one of the matchday stewards also doubles as a match official and ran the far side touchline for the second half.

Montrose were abysmal. I don't think they had a shot on target - in fact, they had barely any shots at all. Shire were better, but never looked like they had to step out of first gear.

There can be no denying now that Montrose are the worst team in the country by a long, long way. Aside from John Maitland, not one of the players looked remotely confident. Allied with that was a complete lack of ideas.

Steven Tweed may have a long-term contract as Montrose's player-manager, but something needs to change. Only the Scottish Cup run has injected any enthusiasm into a dire season, but that run will certainly end at Easter Road in a fortnight's time.

It's been a grim winter with more grimness yet to come.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Ten - Ten Songs or Albums That Remind Me Of Different Places and Times

Whenever I hear one of these records, I am automatically transported back in time.

1) Nessun Dorma - Luciano Pavarotti: Any time I hear the last minute or so of Nessum Dorma, I'm 10 years old and spending the summer holidays with my Granny and Grampa in Brechin. The World Cup is on the BBC every day, and the green pitches seem especially bright under the Italian floodlights. Every match is preceded and followed by the tournament's adopted theme tune, bellowed by Pavarotti. This piece of music is a whole mish-mash of different memories - watching the matches in my Granny and Grampa's house, recreating Salvatori Schillachi's bug-eyed goal celebrations and Packie Bonner's penalty saves in Brechin Public Park, and generally playing more football in a day than my legs could now manage in a month.

2) This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours - Manic Street Preachers: This was the last album I bought before moving to Edinburgh for university at 18. In the flurry of leaving drinks, packing, work and general excitement in the week leading up to the move, I barely listened to the album. But once I'd unpacked in my new home in Craiglockhart Halls of Residence and set my stereo up, this album remained in the CD player for a while afterwards. All of the tracks are now forever associated with that first week away from home and the exciting new world it presented.

3) Who Killed The Zutons? - The Zutons: One of the first albums I bought after returning from a year traveling around the world, this coincided with me buying a car and an in-car CD player and getting a job with the Oban Times. As I scooted around the town from Mrs Wife's folks' house to the office, the Liverpudlians' first album became the soundtrack to that first week as a full-time journalist.

4) A Grand Don't Come For Free - The Streets: A few months into our round the world jaunt in 2003-2004, Mrs Wife and I were skint and living hand-to-mouth in Perth, Western Australia. One of my friends took pity and sent across a pile of albums to help pass the time. Later, when we were based in Melbourne, he did the same again, just before we started traveling down Australia's east coast by bus. One of the CDs was The Streets' second album, and I would often listen to it on overnight bus journies, this curious English concept album soundtracking sleepless nights staring out into the pitch-black bush.

5) Love Is Noise - The Verve: The Verve's fourth album was released the day I set off for Norway for the first time with work. I'd decided before leaving that Love Is Noise would be my anthem for the three-day jaunt, and I listened to the track any time I had a spare five minutes. I also drove my colleagues to distraction by singing it at all other times, including making an odd hooting noise to recreate the instruments. Any time I hear it now, I'm back in Stavanger in the summer sunshine.

6) Be Here Now - Oasis: Oasis opened the concerts on their Be Here Now tour of 1997 with the song of the same name, and any time I hear it I can remember the excitement of being in the front row, my arms squeezed against the barrier to stop my ribs snapping, as the band burst out of a red phonebox and straight into this song.

7) Did You Miss Me? - The Cooper Temple Clause: When working in a canteen while at university in 2001, I would arrive at 8am on Saturday morning (not a student-friendly time of the weekend), hook up my CD player and stick on my favourite album of the time, The Cooper Temple Clause's majestic debut See This Through and Leave. The opening keyboard refrain still helps perk me up on occasion, although I don't have an endless supply of bacon rolls and Coke on hand any more.

8) Death Trip 21 - Ash: In 1999, five of us from university went to Ireland for 10 days. These were the days of portable tape players, and my friends and I swapped compilation tapes. Strangely, the only track I can remember putting on mine is Death Trip 21 by Ash, from their Nu-Clear Sounds album. Hearing it now reminds me of the train ride from Belfast to Dublin.

9) In The Meantime - Spacehog: This song reminds me of the same holiday, as it was on the jukebox in the hostel we stayed in in Dublin. We were in the Irish capital in mid-April, but it was hammering down with snow for most of our time there. So we spent a lot of time in the hostel bar, and this song got a few airings during our stay.

10) Here, There and Everywhere - The Beatles: The first dance at our wedding. Mrs Wife had this on her list of potential first dances from her teenage years, and it was an easy choice to make. It also features in the episode of Friends where Phoebe gets married, played on a steel drum, but ours was the Fabs' version.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Forfar Four East Fife Five

I'm full of the cold and skint, so decided that spending a tenner to sit in a concrete shed in the pishing rain wasn't the best way to spend this afternoon.

Therefore, I chose not to go to Links Park for Montrose's hastily rearranged fixture with Stranraer.

Sitting on the comfortable Dungroanin' sofa, I had Jeff Stelling, Paul Merson, Charlie Nicholas and Phil Thompson for company as they kept the nation informed of the latest football scores on Soccer Saturday.

When Stranraer raced into an early 2-0 lead, I was glad I'd stayed at home.

When Montrose pulled it back to 2-2 just before half time, I said to Mrs Wife that I was now sure I was about to miss Montrose's first league win of the season.

Sure enough, they bagged another couple and found themselves 4-2 up with just 14 minutes left.

At that point, I considered driving down to the ground, walking in through the open gates and applauding the team from the pitch after a memorable comeback and much-needed three points.

But somehow, in those remaining minutes, Montrose contrived to lose THREE goals and match itself.

Even from the safety of my own settee, following Montrose is a harrowing experience.

Friday, January 15, 2010


On Monday I'll be making my televisual debut when I travel to Glasgow with five colleagues to film an episode of the BBC quiz show Eggheads.

We've all competed in pub quizzes and the company's annual quiz night, but this will be our first attempt at stepping up a huge number of levels to challenge "the UK's greatest quiz team".

It's an odd show in that you have no idea how much of a prize you're competing for until you start filming. If we're unfortunate enough to follow a team that wins, we'll be attempting to win £1,000, which isn't much when split six ways. But then the highest win in the programme's history is £75,000, which would be most welcome.

We've been in semi-serious training since we found out that we were definitely due to film an episode of the programme, organising lunchtime bouts of Trivial Pursuit to test the grey matter.

The upshot of this is that I've been nominated as our participant should any of the following question rounds come up: Music, Film & Television or Science.

I'm hoping that I get a crack at Music or Film & TV before Science comes up - I'd hate to be eliminated before getting a shot at my stronger subjects.

But it's just a case of wait and see.

Here's hoping we make a game of it on Monday....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I Have A Bad Feeling About This

Generally speaking, I'm a fairly easy-going, liberal-minded kinda fellow.
As long as your personal perversions are within the limits of the law and it involves only consenting adults, then I'm of the opinion that we should live and let live.
But a Star Wars-themed burlesque show? That's just a tad freaky.
I certainly don't fancy C3PO much.
Although I might suggest Mrs Wife gets herself one of those Storm Trooper costumes....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

No Weighting

This week, I have begun the latest skirkmish in what has been a long-fought and tempestuous battle.
Following the festive excesses, I weighed myself at the weekend and found that I've never been heavier, tipping the scales at almost 15 stone.
I'm not a small man - I'm 6' 0.5" tall (not "six and a half foot" as one nurse told me when I had a medical a few years back), wide-shouldered and broad-chested.
I've never been what one would call slim, and even at my athletic peak around 12 years (gulp!) ago, I was "robust".
But now, according to all recognised sources, I'm officially overweight.
Which means cutting out a lot of things I really like and doing a few that I don't really like.
Gone are the chocolates, sweeties, milshakes, ice creams and pies.
In come lunch breaks spent pounding the treadmills at my gym.
I'm assuming that my body, beginning the slow (but not slow enough) final approach into its 30s, will be increasingly reluctant to give up its roll of fat, especially as I begin to starve it of the calories, saturated fats and sugar to which it has become accustomed
In a previous weightloss effort, I lost more than a stone in a fortnight just by cutting out my daily two pints of milk.
I can see this attempt being considerably harder....

Monday, January 11, 2010

British Bunnies

More shameless plugging in this post - Mrs Wife has launched her own business.

British Bunnies ( caters for all your rabbit needs, with advice on your lagomorph's diet, health, training and welfare. It also has a directory of rabbit holiday accommodation and a fantastic forum to discuss all things bunny-related.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cash In

This humble outpost of the worldwide interweb is normally an advertising-free zone, but I'll make an exception for my latest discovery, AW Surveys, which pays decent cash for surveys that take only 30 seconds each. Well worth a look - just click on the picture below.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Vanilla Ice

This NASA image of Great Britain earlier this week is excellent.
(As seen on the BBC's site.)