Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Ten: Ten People Who Aren't Coming To My Birthday Party Tomorrow

1: Osama Bin Laden

2: Barack Obama

3: Kylie Minogue

4: John Terry

5: David Cameron

6: Courtney Love

7: Paul McCartney

8: Lewis Hamilton

9: Tiger Woods

10: Cheryl Cole

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Picture Tells A Thousand Words

There's a widespread belief that comics are a juvenile artform.
That somehow, just because a story is illustrated, it is somehow less deserving of appreciation than if it were told by means of words alone.
To which I say - utter nonsense.
I've always been an afficionado of comic books, although it took a lengthy hiatus between my early teenage years and my acquiring (as a present from Mrs Wife) Frank Miller's Dark Knight Batman books a couple of years ago.
But there are dozens of comics and graphic novels that more than stand their own amongst the great novels of our time.
As well as the Miller's Dark Knight books - particularly The Dark Knight Returns, which chronicles the exploits of an aging Batman returning to fight crime after a period of retirement - titles such as Watchmen, Wanted, Sin City, Superman: Red Son, Kick-Ass and the Marvel Civil War epic are all worthy of high praise.
Without comics, many of the biggest (which, I concede, doesn't necessarily mean best) movies of the last 50 years would never have seen the light of day.
Alan Moore's Watchmen even appears on TIME magazine's list of the 100 greatest novels of all time - an honour I don't expect will ever be bestowed upon Harry Potter or Dan Brown.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pig's Ear

I'm reading a book at the moment, Pig Island by Mo Hayder, that is set in and around my former stomping ground, Mid Argyll.

It's interesting and entertaining to read a thriller set in a part of the world I know so well.

But what is irritating is that there are factual inaccuracies that leave me questioning the author's knowledge of the local area.

She mentions Oban having cobbled streets - but I don't recall any. She mentions that Oban Police Station is a brick building on the main street. But it's a sandstone building away from the town centre.

Inveraray (misspelt Inverary throughout) has a Superdrug and a Holland and Barrett - which will be news to its residents. Not only has it been turned into a major shopping centre, it's now only 15 miles from Crinan - or Crinian as Hayder insists on spelling it throughout the book.

These mistakes are so annoying that I'm almost tempted to give up on the book.

Which is a shame, as it's an otherwise entertaining read.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Gone But Never Forgotten

Mrs Wife's uncle died today after a lengthy illness.

Although I'd only known him a few years, I'll miss him greatly. He was one of the kindest, most generous, friendliest and funniest people I've ever met.

Every minute spent in his company, even the hungover ones, is one that I'll treasure, and the world is a considerably poorer place today than yesterday.

Gone but never forgotten.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Season 2009/2010: Match 14: Montrose v Livingston

Yesterday I was at what will probably be the last match I'll attend this season, Scotland's worst team facing the newly-crowned Division Three champions.

Shock of shocks, Montrose got pumped 5-0. They played well enough in the first half, but conceded the first just five minutes before half time.

The second half was a complete write-off though, and Montrose will be glad to see the back of it and this miserable season.

Steven Tweed has 13 players signed up for next season. But that doesn't exactly fill anyone with confidence. There have been brief flashes of decent play over the course of the season, but it's generally been a long hard slog.

At least Livingston, the most morally (and financially) bankrupt side in Scottish football are gone from the division. Clyde are coming down next season, and I'd expect them to be favourites to bounce straight back up.

But for Montrose, anything better than bottom will be a start....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Ten: My 10 Favourite Pubs

As I count down the hours here at work ahead of a colleague's leaving do, I've been remembering my favourite licensed establishments from around the world. Only one criteria - I have to have had a drink in the pub in question.
1: The Elephant and Wheelbarrow, Perth, Western Australia - As well as being my favourite watering hole in the world, the Elephant and Wheelbarrow is also a former employer, Mrs Wife and I having spent four months working there in 2004. Twelve hour shifts may not have been entirely pleasant, but the pub became a second home where we ate, drank and made lifelong friends.
2: Bar Kohl, Edinburgh - Not a pub as such, but Bar Kohl on George IV Bridge in Edinburgh is a fantastic place to have a drink, courtesy of the hundreds of flavoured vodkas it stocks. A pitcher of the Fab cocktail - based on the ice lolly and containing strawberry, chocolate and vanilla vodka, milk and chocolate sprinkles - is not to be missed.
3: Craiglockhart Student Union, Napier University, Edinburgh - Where I spent hours and a huge portion of my student loan in first year at university. In a stroke of genius, the bar was part of the same building as the halls of residence, which were both extensions to the Craiglockhart Hydropathic Hospital building, made famous as a war hospital whose patients included Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. The union had everything required - cheap beer, a pool table, a cracking jukebox and lots of students. I believe that the union, and the halls of residence, have now been demolished, taking with them the first adult memories of an entire generation.
4: Centre Court, Edinburgh - After the student union, this was the second closest pub to the halls of residence. A good selection of beers on tap, cracking food and occasional karaoke nights were always a winner.
5: The Cafe Bar, Northern Hotel, Brechin - Now just a memory, having been revamped and turned into Hudson's, this small and fairly dingy bar was generally the starting point for most of our nights out when my friends and I were teenagers. A cheap pool table and cheap beer in a quiet wee pub always seemed like the best way to start an evening. Again, memories of shambolic karaoke, live bands and nights when the pub didn't even have standing room come flooding back.
6: The Merlin, Edinburgh - Since my student days, this bar has undergone numerous refurbishments and reopenings, but it was our drinking den of choice when my flatmates and I were in third and fourth years. Great food and comfy sofas often meant that several of us could be sprawled there for extended periods when we should really have been working on our dissertations.
7: The Elephant and Wheelbarrow, Melbourne - Sister establishment to my favourite pub, the Melbourne branch is less cosy and generally far busier, given that it's located in Melbourne's CBD. Another three months working here helped pay the bills, and again we made friends that we've kept in touch with over the intervening six years.
8: Springfield House, Brechin - Another favourite from the latter years of my schooldays, the Springfield was the hostelry favoured by the sixth years of Brechin High School in 1997 and 1998. By a quirk of fate, it was also the closest pub to the school, but it found favour not because of that but because it was big, had a beer garden, a pool table and a selection of board games. And it seemed to be quite easy for underage drinkers to get served....
9: Aitchie's Ale House, Aberdeen - Not quite the closest boozer to my office, but almost visible from the window I sit at. A real traditional pub with excellent staff and fine pints, many a great works night out has begun in Aitchie's.
10: Satellite Sports Cafe, Amsterdam - The simplest concept in foreign drinking: Fill a pub with televisions showing 20 football matches simultaneously on a Saturday afternoon, and the punters won't mind paying six euros a pint. On my only visit to Amsterdam for a stag party, we spent eight uninterrupted hours in this place, which also boasts table service from attractive Dutch barmaids. Flawless (aside from the six euro pints).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jan Wouters' Comedy Moustache

Courtesy of The Guardian's football website, I've come across this scanned copy of the complete Italia 90 Panini sticker album.
This was, I think, the first football sticker album I owned, or I at least had the British version of it. But I came nowhere near to finishing it.
1990 was when I began taking a serious interest in football, and watching matches from that year's World Cup is still a fond memory from my childhood.
It's interesting looking back at the members of some of the squads who were stars at the time but who have been forgotten in the intervening two(!) decades, or those who achieved much more after the tournament.
Scotland's defence looks impressively solid - Miller, McLeish, Gough, Malpas and Gillespie (and Dave McPherson). Andy Goram (or one of them) and Stuart McCall look so fresh-faced.
The hairdos sported by the two Colombian goalkeepers are fantastic - and you'd have thought that Carlos Valderama would easily scoop the worst haircut award from that squad.
I very much doubt that any of the players in the book are still playing today, but Paolo Maldini, who turned 22 during Italia 90, isn't long retired.
And finally, 20 years later, the name of South Korea's Sang-Bum Gu, which Baby Brother and I found so amusing in 1990, still makes me smile.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Things I Hate: Volume 1: Toilet Seats

OK, first off, I know that this blog has in the past repeatedly been about things I hate.
But I feel that now, as I hit my 30s and Grumpy Old Man status, it's time I began cataloguing my dislikes more systematically.
So, first up, toilet seats.
I don't hate toilet seats. Far from it. They provide a necessary service in the world, and I wouldn't want to be without them.
But I hate toilet seats that don't stay up of their own accord, requiring the use of one hand to maintain their upright position during non-seated toilet-based operations.
This is especially taxing in the middle of the night, when I'm doing my best to avoid waking up fully - taking care of business on autopilot if you like.
I know women feel the need to constantly fret about toilet seats being left up, so I'm assuming that the automatically falling toilet seat is a female invention.
And when was anything useful ever invented by a woman?
(Even more annoying is the potentially fatal toilet seat that lulls the urinator into a false sense of security by staying upright until the action is underway....)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Mrs Wife and I have just returned from a long weekend on Arran, of which there may be more later.

But for now I simply repeat, without comment, this classified ad from The Arran Banner:

60+ non-drinking male with new zest for life, seeks company of soignée lady in 25-80 age group to help find lost libido. Must have acute sense of humour and tolerance of cigarette smoke. Apply in confidence to Box No 157 or phone Tony at Lamlash.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hello, I Love You

I've been committing that worst of bloggy sins over the past few weeks, months and years - neglect.

For various reasons, some of which I may blog about and some of which I won't, I haven't had the motivation to post my inane and semi-coherent nonsense to the worldwide interweb as often as I once did.

And further disgraceful behaviour has also seen me neglect those far-flung corners of the blogosphere where I was once a regular visitor.

I have decided that the time has come to right these wrongs and attempt to restore my browsing habits to their former glories.

And if more than 10 people want to read my barely-literate ramblings in the process?

That would be most welcome.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Season 2009/2010: Match 13: Montrose v Annan Athletic

As Montrose's season from hell draws to an inglorious climax, it seemed as though the side had remembered that they can be half decent.

Steven Tweed received the Division Three Manager of the Month award for March for masterminding Montrose's brief jump off the bottom of the bottom division.

But normal service was resumed yesterday, with the team finding themselves two down inside 12 minutes.

Neither side was much cop, but Annan wanted it more in the first half. The second half saw them come into the game a bit more, and they were unlucky not to salvage a draw, with one shot cleared off the line before Stephen McNally's 89th minute consolation.

Montrose have just one home match left this season, and we'll be glad to see the back of a campaign that was so utterly horrendous - the Scottish Cup run excluded.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

It Was Thirty Years Ago Today....

....That I took my first lungfuls of air in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.

This photograph was taken a bit later when I was Christened.