Friday, December 28, 2007


There are coupons in the Fife Free Press and Dunfermline Press this week for people to send in their suggestion for the name of the new bridge (AKA "The Upper Forth Crossing at Kincardine") which will span the Forth. As we have two papers we can send in two entries although I don't think there's a prize. We've gone for the plain old The Kingdom Bridge but I'll need to put some thought into a less serious name. Perhaps, the Third Bridge (after all we have two Forth Bridges, although no First and Second bridges) or The Trans Fife-Clackmannanshire-Central Bridge or perhaps The Fae Fife Bridge in honour of The Rezillos chanteuse...I'll get back to you. Feel free to add your own suggestions.

I phoned the Fife Free Press this morning to let them know that their competition to win one of 30 pedometers doesn't actually have a qualifying question. There's an answer space, preceded by an "A", but no question.

I must also e-mail The Adam Smith Theatre as in their latest brochure their spelling of Psychopath, in the headline for Jerry Sadowitz's show, looks like it's been spelled by a, well, psychopath. They've spelled it PHYSCOPATH! Oh dear, they're not smarter than a 10 year old, are they? (Stop Press: they've been e-mailed and I wished them a Mary Krissmass and a Hippy Knew Ear - I'm here all week).

Over the past few days, in between James Bond films, selection boxes and frustrating toys (more on that in a minute*), I've been hunting down "alternative-stroke-indie" Christmas songs. At last count, I now have over 500. I'm going to grade these that haven't been graded today for possible inclusion in compilation CDs for friends next Christmas. I must thank the people behind 17 Seconds blog and for providing me with a whole load of new ones. By the way, did anyone download the new one-day-only Christmas song from Belle and Sebastian's MySpace site? Having binned my MySpace a few months ago I couldn't be bothered making a new one just to get one song. I'm also open to receiving any other Christmas songs who make think I don't have.

People I want to see less of in 2008: Fearne Cotton (she loves EVERY band/artist/human being), Toss Daly and Jenny Falconer. Celebrity Execution anyone?

Karen, Andy and family - who are you? You've sent me and my brood a Christmas card for the last three years but we haven't got a clue who you are! The GLW and I figure that it's from someone I know as I'm named first (Paul and family). For the last two years there hasn't even been a postmark that could narrow down the search (another example in the meltdown of the postal system). Whoever you are we wish you a Merry Christmas but next year please add a return address label to the envelope.

*I was about to say that I've sent my first complaint e-mail of the year but I keep forgetting that it's still only December 2007. Ravensburger have been on the receiving end of a strongly-worded missive due to the piss poor mechanism of their Bounce Bounce Tigger game (think Winnie the Pooh version of Buckaroo and you'll get the drift). You're supposed to be able to push the head/body down into a plinth and then do the same to the head, which should "click" into place. This forces Tigger's arms right out, in a star jump fashion. The object of the game is to place various bits of clothing on him before he "bounces". Occasionally it will work but only until the nanosecond you're about to start to play the game and then it "bounces" of its own accord. The GLW almost threw it out of a window on Boxing Day. Missive sent and awaiting response.

My brother-in-law also had a problem with his "Fingers on Buzzers" DVD game, which I also got for Christmas. He brought it round to the outlaws on boxing Day but again there was a long frustrating time waiting for it to set up. We haven't tried ours yet but I'll wait until I've popped a few beta blockers so as not to fulfil the urge to plant my size 10s through the television screen. I went on to Amazon to see what reviewers had said about the product and the results are interesting. There seems to be a split down the middle between loving it and hating it and those in the latter category seem convinced Channel 4's PR company are responsible for the positive reviews. A deeper look into the positive reviews and you see that the positive reviewers have also made similar comments about other Channel 4 products, such as Jimmy Carr's Live DVD and the Deal Or No Deal DVD game. I suspect that my version of "Fingers on Buzzers" will now remain unopened and returned.

It's 1338 and the postie has turned up. He must have shit the bed. Anyway, there is good news. Mojo, one of only two magazines I subscribe to, has arrived. My usual Mojo routine involves two acts; firstly I rip it open to see what the free CD is (this month it's Electronica from the last four decades) and then I check to see if I've won the crossword. Guess what? I've won! I'd only ever won a runners-up prize previously (Elvis Live box set and tennis shoes) but this time it's three books from Genesis Publications. Three books? Not much you might think but these are no ordinary tomes. These are music photo book and the combined worth of these three is nearly £800. You can have a look at them here! What I like about the Mojo crossword is that they make you work hard to complete it but the prize is always worth the effort. I gave up on a couple of prize crosswords over Christmas because the prize was only a dictionary. The sort of person that completes these mammoth cryptic efforts from the broadsheets doesn't need another bloody dictionary, I'll be bound.

My plans to grade the new Christmas songs have gone out of the window because today's Scottish Daily Express has a number of comps and Sonic Stage seems to interfere with Internet Explorer when I have the two running together. Instead I've decided to listen to the only CD I got for Christmas. It's an Ace compilation called "The Answer To Everything - Girl Answer Songs of the 60s". Each track, as the title suggests, is an answer record. For example, we have "I'm No Run Around" by Ginger Davis and the Snaps, which is a reply to "Runaround Sue". There's also "Yes, I'm Lonesome Tonight" ("Are You Lonesome Tonight?"), "Duchess of Earl" ("Duke of Earl") and "They Took You Away - I'm Glad, I'm Glad", which is a riposte to "They're Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Haa!".

The Herald's Christmas prize crossword is doing my nut in. I'm getting there but it's such slow progress. A top prize of £50 worth of Waterstone's vouchers (£25 each for two runners-up) means I won't be giving up just yet. It doesn't close until 19 January so I've got time. I'll put it aside for a while and start on the Books "prize brain teaser" form today's Express. I've had a quick look at this and it looks like it'll definitely be a case of Googling and checking out competition forums.

The GLW and the Flickster were at The Snowman today and it was a good job because I've been having a rather bad day, in terms of mental health. My depression is really bad and I'm at the point of getting the shakes. I nearly exploded this morning when there was no cold water for my shower and a minor prang with a post at the Ferrytoll (while parked!) has me really worked up. I hate uphill starts and anyone who knows Inverkeithing train station will now there's a big one leading to the main road. I had to tell the GLW to shut up so I could concentrate. I got so worked up I stalled and before you know I was driving appallingly. The rest of the journey home was in silence. I'm off to pop a couple of pills and have a lie down.

Monday, December 24, 2007


It's 4pm on Christmas Eve and I'm exhausted. No, I haven't been indulging in the last minute carnage of Christmas shopping. The GLW has just come back from the doctors and there seems to be two bugs going around; one a respiratory infection and the other the gastric variety. Thankfully, I don't think I have either - I'm just knackered.

Flick and I fell asleep during "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and only woke up when the phone went. Dave, who I run the Jock 'n' Roll website with, phoned to say, yes, he would be interested in making up a team of three for a new quiz show. "Brainbox Challenge" hasn't even gone out yet and I'm already on the hunt for my next (losing) television appearance.

Talking of "Brainbox Challenge", for the first time I can remember I actually got a letter from a show thanking me for my appearance and telling us they'll let us know when our show goes out. These little touches make all the difference.

Since Friday I have spent the time doing a variety of Christmas prize crosswords and quizzes. I've even bought newspapers I wouldn't normally touch. I actually bought the NME yesterday for the first time in a long while. I did the crossword easily enough but the "Lethal Quizzle" is proving difficult. Not least because I don't know all these new-fangled artists they're asking about. I'm soooo out of touch with "the kids". Incidentally, the quiz was co-written by Alan Woodhouse, a good friend of Dave's (and mine to a lesser extent) and a staunch Hibee. I sent him a text damning him for his hard quiz. Actually, if you knew the bands concerned, and read the NME, it probably wouldn't be so hard.

Of course, one of the problems at this time of year, in terms of crosswords and competitions is that some publications don't take into account the holidays over the festive period and expect the entries to be in by the usual day. As a result I've driven out to the local Sorting Office on a number of occasions to post off newly completed crosswords, puzzles and/or quizzes so that they're in the system as soon as possible and in with a slim chance of actually getting to their destination in time.

Unfortunately, this has brought about my last big moan of the year. Six times since Friday I have encountered overflowing post boxes at either the Sorting Office or the big Asda (Dunfermline also has "little" Asda). On Friday, when collecting a parcel, I had to point out to a member of staff that the box outside was "heaving", then I popped up to big Asda to find the same problem. I pointed it out to staff but as I left a postie turned up. He said the earlier postie couldn't get it open because of a problem with his key. The following day ("So on with the boots, back out in the snow") it was back to scouring the news stands and then more postal entries to send. This time the post box at Asda had a piece of A4 covering the post box hole saying that it was full! Another trip to the Sorting Office on Sunday and another post box ripe for the picking by any opportunist thief. One side seemed to be empty so I actually grabbed a handful of mail form the left and put it into the right hand side. This morning was no better as again a large queue formed outside the Sorting Office to collect parcels (makes me wonder if any parcels were actually delivered this week) and my attempt to post more entries was thwarted by another bulging box. I actually walked into the "staff only" area and informed a postie that it was full. AGAIN.

Then I did what any normal human being would do - I phoned the local paper. They had run a story on this very problem about three or four weeks ago and this was an ideal follow-up piece in the making. One of the problems is that there seem to be so few post boxes within the local vicinity and those that do exist no longer have collection times on them. They have one big we-might-collect-your-mail-by-this-time-if-you're-lucky time. So you never know when your mail will be collected only when it might get done by.

I don't really blame the posties because the whole Post Office/Royal Mail/whatever you want to call it has gone downhill for years. Firstly, they took away second deliveries (although many people didn't even know that such a thing existed) and now they're talking about getting rid of morning deliveries. As far as I'm concerned this is also something that many people in my local area won't miss, mainly because they've never had it.

These problems didn't stop me tipping my postie (it's always a bottle of whisky) and I also tipped the window cleaner. However, and this has been the subject of much debate recently, we didn't tip the binmen. Why? Well, partly because of their lack of flexibility when dealing with our bins (if the top is 2mm ajar they won't empty it) and the change from weekly to fortnightly collections. If they don't empty your bin you have to wait two weeks for that bin to be emptied again. In the meantime, where does your new rubbish go? We have three bins; a brown one for garden rubbish (they wouldn't empty it one day because some of the uprooted plants had soil on them!), a blue bin for paper and a grey bin for the other stuff. We have also, off our own backs, bought a composter and three stacking plastic bins for cans/tins, plastics and bottles, which we empty ourselves. The Council wants people to "go green" but they have a funny way of helping us.

On that cheery note, may I wish everyone I know and all those who have taken the time to visit my Blog a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (except those two twats who posted abuse anonymously and who I hope you get run over by a runaway snow plough).

Now, that Herald Christmas crossword won't do itself...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

In a blatant rip-off of what everyone else does at this time of year, it's time to reflect on the last 12 months.


Charlie Brooker - Screenwipe (lent to me by Joe, who didn't want it back)
Joanna Blythman - Shopped
Stuart Maconie - Pies and Prejudice
Matthew Sweet - Shepperton Babylon
Carl Hiaasen - Tourist Season
Tim Moore - Nul Points
Andrew Collins - That's Me In The Corner
Andrew Loog-Oldham - Stoned Too
The Guinness Book of Hit Singles - Issue 19 (whilst the charts themselves have become meaningless it's still handy to have in my bottom drawer at work so I can correct local radio DJs who continue to show how little they know about music)

I know that most of those books didn't come out in 2007 but I'm slow to pick up on stuff.


I didn't see a single film this year, not one. The local Odeon Multiplex is so poor.

TV programmes

Dexter (FX)
House (C4)
Not Going Out (BBC1) - what do The Metro know
Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares (C4)
Kath and Kim (Living) - although I found Matt Lucas' cameo dreadfully unfunny
Crimewatch (BBC1)
Saxondale (BBC2)


The Orchids (Maggie May's/Cottier Bar, Glasgow) - I hadn't seen them since January 1994 and it was a welcome return for one of my favourite bands and a nice bunch of guys. Managed to see them twice, including my first ever through-the-night-across-country drive home.

Ray Davies (Usher Hall, Edinburgh)

The Wedding Present (Liquid Room, Edinburgh) - The George Best 25th anniversary tour gig and one that I'll especially remember for the number of faces from the past I saw outside the venue afterwards.

Personal Highs

Passing my driving test (at the second attempt)

Appearing on two game shows, "Take It Or Leave It" and "Brainbox Challenge"

The Jock'n'Roll website being all over the papers and getting interviewed on Radio Scotland and BBC Birmingham

Personal Lows

Losing out on £18,050 on Challenge TV's "Take It Or Leave It" on the last question

Failing my first driving test

Still being in the same job

Having to endure continuous battles with Stagecoach to get a decent local bus service

Competition Wins:

6 bottles of win (Dunfermline Press)
Dunfermline v Man Utd tickets (Dunfermline Press - and there's me thinking they hated me)
A bumper box of 6 DVDs, 4 books, a paperweight, a game and other bits and pieces from the History Channel
£15 book token and boxing tickets (Fife Free Press)
A signed LP400 white Stagg guitar from the Scottish Association for Mental Health


One of my neighbours. Horrible unruly children and no respect for other people's property (especially mine). Extended family and friends no better.
The decline in the postal service (they binned the second post after I thought it had already gone and now morning deliveries are set to disappear. Too late round here as we never get it before 2pm anyway)
Stagecoach (from top to bottom)
Life Property Management (robbing bastards)
Continued battle with depression
Destroying any chance of a job with Forth One after pointing out at least 6 mistakes in a variety of competitions and generally pissing off some of the presenters over the last few months - their loss
The Quizzing website (run by small-minded individuals who think nothing of looking at your PMs and passing dossiers on to the police a la News of the World. is why quizzers are now getting a bad name with some production companies. For a website trying to be the quizzers' moral guardian some of their behaviour is quite appalling).


My horrible neighbours selling their house

Hopes for 2008:

A new job
A bus shelter at my morning stop
Some paid writing
A hospital radio show
To learn to play my new guitar
A decent win on a game show

I don't want much and I never get it so I shouldn't be disappointed but I am. Frequently.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Monday 17 December 2007

WMESB™: 4 people on it but 2 got off at Rosyth
I advised the driver at the Ferrytoll that although it wasn’t re-registered yet the X57 would now stop at the Learmonth Hotel. He seemed happy enough.

Thankfully this is my last week before having two weeks off before Christmas.

Spent the early evening in Tesco and then Asda buying a new digital camera and then an SD memory card. Then it was time for University Challenge, in which Edinburgh University got a right doing. The GLW watched Americas’ Next Top Stick Insect and did what I do best – potter.

Tuesday 18 December 2007

Today I have the car and my fear at not getting a parking space (always unfounded) gets me into work at 6.30am. I don’t start until 8 but I enjoy the peace and quiet until everyone else comes in.

I had a look at Andrew Collins’ blog last night and I read his choices for his favourite singles and albums of the year. The most depressing thing is that I am so out of touch with music that I only recognise a handful of artists and have very few of the records themselves. It never used to be this way; I used to have my finger on the pulse of what “The kids” were listening to. Hell, I was one of the kids. I’ll try and put together a list of my favourite records from this year but they’ll almost certainly be re-issues from years gone by. The only record I seem to have in common with Andrew is the Kate Nash album.

My favourite singles/albums/compilations of 2007:

Kate Nash – Made of Bricks LP
Jim Gipson - Just To Reach You (6-track CD from Joe's ex-bandmate in Black Nite Crash)
Various – The Hair, The Teeth, The Smell (compilation CD made by Dave)
Various - Poems From Wee June (compilation CD made by Dave)
Various – Independent and Free (Neon Tetra compilation CD)
Pale Fountains – Pacific Street LP
Pale Fountains – From Across The Kitchen Table LP
The Orchids – Good To Be A Stranger LP
Ally Kerr – Could Have Been A Contender CD single
Fountains of Wayne - Traffic and Weather LP
Fontella Bass – Best of LP
Various – The Queens of King (Ace girl group compilation)
Various – Here Comes The Girls Volume 3 and 9
Pete YornNightcrawler LP
Various – Dead (Ace compilation of “death” songs)
Various – These Ghoulish Things (Ace compilation of Hallowe’en songs)
BMX Bandits – Radio Sessions

Note I prefer to call albums LPs rather than CDs. To me, a record is either a single or an album (yes, I know you can get EPs and mini-LPs too); CDs, like 7”s and 12”s, are simply formats.

Wednesday 19 December 2007

A foggy morning in the Kingdom and no problems on the buses.

Yesterday I finished work early so I could pick up Flick from pre-school before returning her later to perform in her Christmas concert. In between her mummy and granny were collected from the station.

Of course, like every other parent and grandparent there, we thought our child was the best but they all did brilliantly. After some mulled wine and mince pies and a cup of tea at home, I drove granny home and listened to my mate Dave’s compilation on the way home. I stopped off to get us chips (which were disgusting) and then watched “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares”. Tonight it’s the last in the series of “The Secret Millionaire”. I’ll get the tissues ready!

Another day, another quiz cock-up on Forth One. They asked in which year "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was the number 1 at Hogmanay. They were looking for an answer of "1984" but of course the answer is 1984 or 1989 or 2004!! I did get a namecheck for pointing out the mistake but that' about the fifth one I've pointed out this year. This is what happens when non-quizzers try and write quiz questions - no research and no art. I have offered my services but they're not interested. Their loss.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Tuesday 11 December 2007

WMESB™: 3 people on it again today.
Driver (X57): I had a stand up argument with the driver, the same one as yesterday, about where the X57 should stop and this was before the bus even left the Ferrytoll. He said that the timetable changed on 29 October 2007 and the X57 shouldn’t stop at the Learmonth Hotel. I said if that was the case then why has it stopped there for the last six weeks? I had to then get off the bus, before it left, and wait on a 53 or 55. Needless to say another strongly worded missive was sent off to Stagecoach.

As soon as I got in last night I started on my piece about my Top 5 Christmas records. Originally the piece was to be done “whenever”, then it was in the next couple of days and then I received an e-mail last night asking for it before lunchtime today. That’s the world of newspapers for you – deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.

I made a cool Christmas compilation for my colleague Nikki and now my supervisor wants one! It’s a goody, even if I do say so myself, and it avoids all the usual suspects.

Wednesday 12 December 2007

The trip to Manchester for my latest quiz/game show appearance (“Brainbox Challenge”) couldn’t have run any smoother. Two buses, a plane and a train and I was in Manchester before I knew it. My room at Jury’s wasn’t going to be ready for an hour so I went for a wander and some food. I walked to the Granada Studios just to see where it was and I saw Johnny Briggs (aka Mike Baldwin). He didn’t recognise me though. (I saw from a news item later on that he’s doing panto and he was at Granada to promote it). I also took a picture on my phone of the Patricia Phoenix commemorative plaque, which is on the building. If I knew how to get the picture off my camera I'd add it on!

I scoffed the largest Brie Salad Ciabatta I’d ever seen as my plans to spend the afternoon shopping went by the way. Instead I watch Diagnosis Murder (a bloody repeat), Countdown, Deal or No Deal and The Great Pretender, which I fell asleep during. I went down to the bar for something to eat (an uninspiring Cajun Chicken Burger) and watched a bit of the football before boredom sent me back to my room for Watchdog and The Secret Millionaire.

Thursday 13 December 2007

After the obligatory I-might-as-well-eat-as-much-as-I-can-because-it’s-free breakfast, the contestants gathered in the reception. No one was really speaking until the runner from the Beeb turned up. We were taken to the studio in shifts so Ben, Hannah and Jenna and I got to know each other while we waited. As usual the conversation soon turned to “So, what else have you been on?” I didn’t let on about all the shows I’d done although I did say, “I’ve done that one” a lot!

We had seven hours in a Green Room together with only occasional respite from cabin fever with trips to wardrobe, make up and the toilet. As well as the aforementioned “gang of four”, we also had the pleasure of the company of Julie from Northern Ireland, Martyn and Driss.

Highlights of our confinement included:

- Hannah sliding off the leather settee, much to everyone else’s amusement
- Julie and I showing everyone how to do The Slosh (she calls it The Slush)
- My incessant winding up and teasing of Hannah (I still have the bruises)

We got to see the audience for The Jeremy Kyle Show coming and going. Actually we heard them first, with the sound of knuckles dragging echoing along the corridors! Jenna and Hannah’s repeated requests to meet Jeremy fell on deaf ears.

I finally got into the studio around 3pm. I won’t tell you what happened (don’t want to spoil the results) but I’ll give my side of the story when the show airs in February/March. The host is Clive Anderson.

Hugs and kisses all round as we said our goodbyes and exchanged contact details.

I found the journey home a real drag. After a train from Piccadilly to Manchester Airport, an interminable wait there (I couldn’t even phone or text anyone as I ran out of credit) and two buses home, I finally arrived home at 9.15pm.

Friday 14 December 2007

Back to the “real world” and work.

An e-mail from Steve Walker confirmed that although X57 shouldn’t stop at Learmonth Hotel it now would, although technically it shouldn’t until it has been re-registered.

After a buffet lunch, we’re allowed away early (at 1330) and I decide I have enough time to go home to get ready for our departmental Christmas do. The buses are running late and the D7 is 18 minutes late! I finally get to Edinburgh for 5pm and I’m only five minutes late for our meal at “The Room in the West End”, which was excellent.

We had tickets for the Christmas Disco at the Police Club and we sent a scouting party ahead to ensure a table. We needn’t have worried, as we were first there. I even had time to teach one of the bar staff The Slosh.

A drunken night ensued as I spent most of the night drinking and dancing. We had three Slosh records (Dawn, Daniel Boone and Tony Christie), three Northern Soul classics (“There’s a Ghost in my House”, “The Snake” and “Ski-ing In The Snow”), the “Cha Cha Slide” and most of the records we asked the DJ to play. Nikki even taught me the dance to Whigfield’s “Saturday Night”. I was that drunk!

I almost missed my night bus home, which wouldn’t have been such a bad thing. It was full and I had to pay £6 to stand. Luckily, I was engaging a friendly girl in conversation, which was a good distraction from the torture of the journey. A lot of people were asleep on it and one girl was sick. Interestingly, I wasn’t so drunk that I didn’t notice the bus going the wrong way! Luckily, it stopped a short walk from my house. I got in at 2am.

Saturday 15 December 2007

I didn’t feel so bad when I finally got up. Mind you there was to be a “royal” visit from my mother. I’m lucky if I see her or hear from her more than twice a year. It passed off fairly smoothly. We were rather amused when she asked Flick about her “advert” calendar.

Watching BBC1’s lottery show “Who Dares Wins” I was rather surprised to see them mention The Clash as having done a Bond theme.

Sunday 16 December 2007

An industrious day. I dropped the girls off at church and then drove around Rosyth and Dunfermline delivering Christmas cards, before heading off to Asda, where I managed to find the Ally Kerr CD, and Homebase (bird feed). Picked up the girls from church, had lunch, did the crosswords and competitions and then headed back out later on to Tesco (recycling and petrol) and Asda to return the Ally Kerr CD, because the box was smashed to pieces!

After dinner, I did some more competitions, recorded Christmas compilations for my colleagues and updated the Jock ‘n’ Roll website with some bits and pieces.

Watched Europe win the Mosconi Cup, the pool equivalent of the golf’s Ryder Cup. The Americans, particularly Earl "The Pearl" Strickland, behaved appallingly in defeat. (I wrote again to the BBC to ask why the event wasn’t being covered on their website. I’m still awaiting a response.)

Monday, December 10, 2007


Monday 10 December 2007

WMESB™: 3 people on it today.
Driver (WMESB™): I asked for my usual £23 Megarider to Edinburgh to be told there was only a £22 one. He consulted his new ticket machine, in conjunction with laminated list of menus, and confirmed that it was £22. I wasn’t convinced and queried it when I got to the Ferrytoll. They confirmed that it was £22 but having paid £23 for as long as I remember I’m still not convinced. I feel an e-mail coming on.
Driver (X57): I rang the buzzer before preparing to get off at my usual stop. The driver said, sorry, the next stop is the West End. I said, quite firmly, that, no the next stop is the Learmonth Hotel. It has always stopped there. He claimed that since the timetables had changed that it doesn’t stop there. He gave me the old “I’ll stop here this time”. I even pointed to the X57 sticker at the bus stop but he said that that was wrong!! Needless to say the first thing I did when I got to work was e-mail the Operations Manager about both incidents.

Saturday afternoon was spent at the panto with the GLW, the Flickster, the Outlaws and extended family. Whilst I enjoyed the panto itself, I found the view from the box we were in to be absolutely terrible. We got boxes 3 and 4 as a special treat but the view was awful. Tickets for next year’s panto, Aladdin, go on sale in January so we’re going to try and get Boxes 1 and/or 6.

After the panto we went to Monster Mash. We’d pre-ordered so it wasn’t long before I was tucking into Monster Sausages, Champ Mash and Onion Gravy. No room for pudding though!

I spent Sunday doing some serious pottering. I uploaded most of our Christmas CDs onto Sonic Stage and downloaded a few more that I found on the ‘net. It took most of the day (yes, we have that many Christmas CDs). I’m looking at putting together a compilation for a few friends, assuming I can get the time to do it. In between I was listening to other Christmas CDs and grading them so I would know instantly which tracks would make the final cut.

I didn’t watch the Sports Sycophant of the Year. I think the results for the main prizes were correct (not like Louis Hamilton to be second!) but I just can’t believe that the English Rugby Union Team won the team award. In my opinion, it should have gone to either the Northern Ireland football team or the Scotland football team for both performing well above expectations. There was an element of let’s-give-him-something-before-he pops-off about the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sir Bobby Robson but I do think it was well deserved.

Today I e-mailed the employment agency that was dealing with my application for the R & A post. It seems that I was sent two e-mails yet neither of them reached me, which is rather annoying. It seems my CV was shortlisted but there were other people with more experience in that field (or golf course) who were invited for interview. Fair enough, or should that be fairway enough! I haven’t been so disappointed since I didn’t get an interview for the World Curling Federation on Great King Street in Edinburgh. I had visions of turning up to work to met by the cleaners brushing in tandem up the corridor as they attempt to get their mop bucket into the “house”. That thought always tickles me.

Got a call from Claire at The Scotsman asking me if want to write 400 words on my Top 5 favourite Christmas records. Do I ever? I’m sticking with the Top 5 from the other day. Hey, it isn’t a paying gig but it might lead to something. From little acorns etc.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Saturday 8 December 2007

I missed a call yesterday, from Claire Smith at The Scotsman looking for a quote about Christmas records. I was gutted because I LOVE Christmas records and I've got plenty to say on the subject.

By the time I got in touch with her the piece had been done. I'd sent her a list of my all-time 10 favoruite christmas tunes and she said, "Shame I didn't get your list earlier - it's far cooler and quirkier than the one that ended up in the paper."

For the record, my Top 10 favourite Christmas tracks, as at 8 December 2007, are:

1. Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
2. The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping (long version)
3. Alma Cogan - Never Do A Tango With An Eskimo
4. Eels - Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas
5. Fountains of Wayne - I Want An Alien For Christmas
6. The Cocteau Twins - Frosty The Snowman
7. Teenage Fanclub - Jesus Christ
8. Shonen Knife - Space Christmas
9. St. Etienne - I Was Born On Christmas Day
10. Rufus Wainwright - Spotlight On Christmas

Last night I wiled away a few hours downloading some more newly-discovered seasonal tunes; The Raveonettes, Reigning Sound, Sonic Youth and Death Cab for Cutie amongst others. I don't know if any of them will make my Top 10 list by this time next year (mainly because I haven't listened to them yet) but it was good to find new stuff because I'm always looking for new Christmas records. I've got to the stage where I don't even mind hearing Wham, Slade and Wizzard. Cliff Richard? Well, he's a different kettle of crap.

I reminded Claire not to forget about me when it comes to Eurovision time either.

When I e-mailed Claire I mentioned that there's definitely a gap in the market for a quality Scottish Christmas record. Forget Auld Lang Syne or Cliff's bastardisation of it as part of The Millennium Prayer (I still can't believe that he actually called himself a "genius" for putting the Lord's Prayer and Auld Land Syne together), a decent Scottish Christmas tune would shift units for years and years. Even the mainstream Scottish acts like Texas, Deacon Blue and Travis haven't, to the best of my knowledge, relased a Christmas single. Sort it out guys! Anything to rid this country of the indelible images of Fran and Anna and piss poor episodes of "Only An Excuse" during the festive season.

Talking of "Only An Excuse", I've come to realise that the three words I hate hearing on television, apart from "Strictly Come Dancing" are "BBC Scotland Comedy". A bigger waste of money there has never been. They also always seem to be Glasgow-based. I can't believe there are no budding comedy writers elsewhere in Scotland. Maybe it's another one of these closed shops whereby you have to know someone to get your foot in the door.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Monday 3 December 2007

WMESB™: Unbelievably, there were three other people on MY bus. One got off half way so today’s count is officially 3 ½. Also, it dawdled and I had to run for the X57.

It was quite a good weekend. The GLW was out for her annual Girls’ Day Out, which her and Elizabeth save all year for. They indulge in shopping, cocktails and then more shopping. So it was just The Flickster and I and we headed off to Waterstone’s in Kirkcaldy so I could collect my £15 voucher that I won from the Fife free Press.

Kirkcaldy is remarkably easy to get into but impossible to get out of, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the roads. Maybe that’s deliberate, maybe no one is allowed to leave. Ever! Cue theme for The Omen…

Anyway it was some quality time between father and daughter and we had a ball.

On Sunday, after dropping the girls off at church I headed through to Edinburgh to meet Dave, my fellow Jocknroll website founder, Moira, his wife and Al. Dave got us all tickets to a reading by Will Hodgkinson at the Burnsong festival at The Queen’s Hall. Will had a mission to learn to play guitar and be able to play a gig within six months. This was the subject of "Guitar Man". A daunting task by any stretch of the imagination. He also talked about the follow-up book "The Song Man", where he talks about learning the art of songwriting. Using his connections (he's a music journalist for The Guardian) he was able to get guitar and songwriting lessons from some of the greats, such as Johnny Marr, Ray Davies and Andy Partridge. I asked him if he'd had any singing lessons (he admits he's not a great vocalist) and he replied, "One"! I went Waterstone's to find the book after the reading but they only had "Song Man" and it didn't feel right to read the second book first. There's a link to Will's website and Blog to the left. His current project involves running his own record label, although it's coming to an end.

Tuesday 4 December 2007

WMESB™: What’s going on. Another veritable avalanche of customers on my bus! 4 ½ by the time it got to the Ferrytoll. It could have been more but for me informing the driver that this D7 doesn’t go to Inverkeithing station until after she’s been to the Ferrytoll, when it changes to a 53. The D7 was even later than yesterday and I only just made the X57 after sprinting across the forecourt between buses.

Last night we watched our usual quiz double bill of Mastermind and University Challenge. My new issue of Mojo magazine arrived so I went upstairs to play the free CD that came with it, a Stax compilation, while the GLW watched “America’s Next Stick Insect”. I’m so glad that JL was voted off last week, not that I watch it you understand!!

Our first Christmas card arrived. It’s always from Dorothy and Sandy, who live not far away. I used to work with Dorothy when I was in the Navy and we’ve kept in touch. We used to phone each other on a Sunday to discuss the Skeleton crossword from the Sunday Express and we’d complete it between us.

Wednesday 5 December 2007

WMESB™: What WMESB? I didn’t bother showing up this morning! Bastards. A strongly worded missive was sent to the Operations Manager (copied to one of my local councillors and my MSP) within 10 minutes of getting into work.

Last night I watched the documentary on Five about the massacre at the Munich Olympics and what came across was the sheer incompetence of the usually “technically efficient” Germans.

Then it was “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” which concentrated on a Welsh couple who seemed to spend more time arguing with each other and the customers than running their business. What I liked about this one was there seemed to be a genuine improvement in them as people and the business at the end and in the update they continued to take on board Gordon’s ideas. I do like a happy ending. Taped “The Secret Millionaire” for watching tomorrow night. The Kleenex is at the ready.

Had a bit of a rant at Forth One’s Grant Stott yesterday. He has a feature called “A Touch of Tartan”, where he plays a Scottish record and I sent him five suggestions, namely: “Kandy Pop” by Bis, “Lloyd I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken” by Camera Obscura, “Could Have Been A Contender” by Ally Kerr, “Nothing To Be Done” by The Pastels and “Reason For Living” by Roddy Frame. Now I knew he would never play Bis or the Pastels but I figured that the others were eminently suitable for daytime airplay.

Grant: “Nice selection but perhaps you could come up with some more "radio friendly" tunes???????”
Me: “2, 3 and 5 are very radio friendly! Have you heard them?”
Grant: “No, no that's not what I so much that there perhaps a tad obscure for daytime radio... Need to try and stick with things that a decent number of folk will be familiar with...”
Me, in rant mode: “Everyone starts off "obscure" until they're heard, like The View or The Killers. How are artists like Camera Obscura, Ally Kerr and the legend that is Roddy Frame going to raise their profile if they're only ever heard on marginal stations? What is achieved by playing the same old records? It just turns commercial radio into "wallpaper". It's too safe and ultimately dull. Where's the risk?

We've been discussing this situation in the office and we're thinking of changing stations because we're fed up of hearing the same old songs and we have a variety of age groups and tastes here.”

The feature started off really well and he played some cracking tunes that hadn’t been heard for ages but now it’s just fallen back into the same old, same old. Hell, what do I know? I’m only a listener.

Congratulations to my mate Mark who got on to the game show “Goldenballs”. It’ll be broadcast in the spring so I won’t spoil the outcome. Mark and I went on “Sudo-Q” together and although we were second (story of my life) we had a great time. He’s the only guy I’ve seen spend £10 in a chip shop on himself!!

Stop Press: I’ve had an e-mail from Grant Stott this morning:

“Hoi Daftie heid!!! Go and retrieve that rattle you threw out of your pram yesterday!!!

In case it has escaped your notice, whether you like it or not, Forth One is a Hit Music Station. Which definition...we are a radio station!!!! I would have thought that was blatantly obvious!

We don't play tunes that don't have wide appeal because that isn't what our audience expect or want, so as a commercial business that wouldn't make sense!

If you do decide to change stations in a quest to find one that plays Camera Obscura, Ally Kerr and indeed the marvellous Roddy Frame (of whom, as you well know, I too am a fan), then please let me know if and when you find one!!!

We all have guidelines in our work. I certainly did when I worked at L&B!!! And sometimes you have to stick to them!



I replied, “I'm well aware of Forth One's status and the type of station it is".

You've played minor/non-hits on "A Touch of Tartan" before. I wouldn't expect to hear the likes of Camera Obscura or Aberfeldy every day. But just once, as a wee change from the jumped-up karaoke singers from X-Factor, would be good. There's more to life than Deacon Blue.“

I guess that any chances of getting a job at Forth One in the immediate or distant future are now pretty much non-existent. They wouldn’t want someone like me working for them anyway because I care too much about music. Yet they could do with someone like me to sort out the continuity errors, the quizzes and the out of date website. Some of the stuff on the website is just very poorly laid out and looks unprofessional. For a business, it’s just shoddy.

I’ve been rather depressed this afternoon, well since about 1030. I’m tired, listless and I feel I could sleep for a week. Which reminds me, next week at this time I’ll be preparing for my trip to Manchester. I’m a bit concerned that I haven’t received any tickets yet or further details from the production company about the show itself. They know who’s hosting it but they’re not saying yet.

I received an e-mail from Stagecoach about this morning’s missing bus. It seems that it developed not one but two problems. Firstly, the brand new ticket machine was playing up and then the brand new bus itself activated an alarm and then died at the side of the road. I asked Stagecoach if they’d kept the receipt!

Thursday 6 December 2007

WMESB™: 2 passengers in total on my bus and no major problems otherwise.

I also picked up an airport timetable for my imminent trip to Manchester for the quiz show appearance. The details and e-tickets finally came through last night. I won’t go into the details of the show itself (too complex to explain anyway) but it would take a monumental effort to walk off with the top prize of £13,000. I think I’d settle for winning one show and walking away with about £1500. Still no idea who the host of the show will be. I suspect my bag will be packed on Sunday, even though I’m not travelling until Wednesday!! Looking forward to a few spare hours in Manchester and time to wander around the shops and hop on and off trams.

I volunteered to do a Mystery Shop on Saturday morning but it turns out that the cost of the purchase I have to make wouldn’t be refunded so I doubt it’ll be going ahead – certainly not with me doing it. I get £10 for doing a Mystery Shop but have to spend at least a fiver – hardly worth the effort. The last time I was able to return a shirt I’d bought but you can’t return a meal!!

Another episode of “The Secret Millionaire” last night and another box of Kleenex bit the dust. There wasn’t even a small child in sight, which usually triggers the floodgates. And I’ve still got last week’s on tape to watch. I also watched “Watchdog” and “My Big Fat Moonie Wedding”, which was reasonably interesting but could’ve gone into more depth and profiled more of the people who featured in the 1982 mass wedding at Madison Square Gardens - too much padding out with pointless reconstructions.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Friday 30 November 2007

WMESB™: 2 passengers today: that’s right, there was an interloper on MY bus.

The late night on a school night finally took its toll yesterday afternoon and when I got home I went straight to bed for two hours. After getting up to watch “Never Mind The Buzzcocks”, checking the football scores, doing my e-mails and reading some other blogs I went back to bed.

Today is St. Andrew’s Day and Forth One are making a big play of the fact that they’ll be playing lots of Scottish artists throughout the day. Well it’s nearly lunchtime and all they’ve played is the usual suspects; namely Wet Wet Wet, Texas, The Proclaimers, The Fratellis and other Scottish acts that they always play. Today would have been an ideal opportunity to expand on their normal repertoire and play a wider range of great Scottish singles. From the Jock ‘n’ Roll Singles Poll Top 10 alone they could have played any of these classics:

The Associates – Party Fears Two
The Skids – Into The Valley
Aztec Camera – Oblivious
Big Country – In A Big Country
The Blue Nile – Tinseltown In The Rain
Trashcan Sinatras – Obscurity Knocks
Cocteau Twins – Pearly Dewdrops’ Drops

There’s a whole host of Scottish bands that they could play instead of the usual “safe” selections. Other great Scottish acts that featured in the Jock ‘n’ Roll Top 100 Singles included: The Waterboys, Edwyn Collins/Orange Juice, Gerry Rafferty, Jesus and Mary Chain, Altered Images, Primal Scream, Hipsway, Teenage Fanclub, Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, Lloyd Cole an the Commotions, The Rezillos, Belle and Sebastian, Roddy Frame/Aztec Camera, Strawberry Switchblade, Love and Money, Arab Strap, Friends Again, Idlewild, The Big Dish, Camera Obscura, Shop Assistants, Average White Band, Eddi Reader, Fire Engines, Horse, Bay City Rollers, Sensational Alex Harvey Band, The Vaselines, Sons and Daughters, BMX Bandits, The River Detectives, Win, Josef K, Fiction Factory, Nazareth, H²O, The Bluebells, The Beta Band, Frankie Miller and Bourgie Bourgie. That’s a great list by anyone’s standards but instead we get Travis, Del Amitri and Deacon Bloody Blue all the time.

Sam Jackson’s Forth One show, which starts at 1pm, has a feature called “Class or Trash”. I sent her an e-mail a few weeks ago suggesting that she play the two records that were voted Best and Worst Scottish Single in the Jock ‘n’ Roll poll, namely “Party Fears Two” up against Wet Wet Wet’s Love Is All Around”, as part of the St. Andrew's Day celebrations. It’ll be interested to see if she actually plays them. As well as being a presenter she’s Head of Music and I’ve always wondered what that job actually involves ata commercial station. Does she go out looking for new bands and singers to play or does she head up a “Roundtable” style “Juke Box Jury” selection of new records, full of RnB and pop records foisted on them from major label pluggers? Either way, they’ve missed some great Scottish records over the last two years. Things like “Lloyd I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken”/“Let’s Get Out Of This Country” by Camera Obscura or Aberfeldy’s “Tom Weir” would sound great on the radio, as would Ally Kerr’s “Could Have Been A Contender”, which is a cracking track and my new favourite record. (Stop Press: She didn’t play my selections – what a shock).

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Thursday 29 November 2007

WMESB™: You’ve guessed it, only one passenger again.
Driver: Same driver as yesterday. I suggested he pick me up at my front door as no one would notice.

All my meticulous planning for the trip to Glasgow went out of the window ten minutes before I was due to leave!

John phoned me and asked if I was still going. I picked him up at his house, which was nearer the Kincardine Bridge than the Forth Bridge so we went that way. It was a nightmare. In the dark, weaving between hundreds of cones on an unfamiliar road was not my idea of fun but, hey, this is rock ‘n’ roll. We only took one small wrong turn and got to the venue easily enough and parking was a doddle. In fact, we were right outside the venue.

As John is a well-kent face around the music scene he struck up a conversation with Ally Kerr, who is the resident turn at the Viva Melodia gigs. I was keen to get to the gig early enough to see Ally play as I’d only heard a couple of tracks and I’d really enjoyed them. He didn’t disappoint as he played four or five songs, accompanied by another guitarist, who John said was better than his normal guitarist. I was pleased to hear that Ally had heard of the Jock ‘n’ Roll website

Lead singer James was the first of The Orchids to appear. I thought he might have been at the pub watching the Celtic game with the others but he’d come straight from work. Guitarist Keith joined us as we watched support band The Recovery Club, a three-piece with more than a hint of Portishead about them; kind of ethereal and floaty but enjoyable nonetheless.

The rest of The Orchids turned up and were in a good mood (Celtic had won 2-1 with a goal at the death). The band was on fine form and played a semi-acoustic set, including two songs*:

You Could Do Something To Me
A Place Called Home
Johnny Loves Methadone*
Welcome To My Curious Heart
I Need You To Believe In Me
The Last Thing (On Your Mind)
The OK Song*
Obsession No 1

John had been never heard The Orchids before tonight so I played the “Striving For The Lazy Perfection” album on the way over. He was glad that he’d come out for the gig and I was glad to have a navigator. I’ve found in my short time driving that local knowledge is an invaluable tool. In fact we didn’t even bother with the Sat Nav. on the way home.

We shared a drink with the band, Elaine (James’ wife), Elspeth and Calum after the set and then we went our separate ways. But not before Ally Kerr kindly gave John and I a copy of the “Could Have Been A Contender” CD single, one of the two tracks I knew by him. The trip home was worse that the run over. Pissing rain, spray everywhere and too many drivers not dipping their headlights. After dropping John off, I drove through the empty streets of Dunfermline (it was like the place had officially been shut) and got home at 1am. Another rock ’n’ roll night had come to an end.

I thought I might feel like crap this morning but I wasn’t too bad. No doubt, due to supping soft drinks at the gig – something I’ll have to get used to.

There’s a new person to annoy me on the buses (except she doesn’t actually get on my bus). On several occasions, over the last two weeks, the same woman walks up to the door of the X57 at the Ferrytoll and asks the driver for confirmation that the X58 (sitting behind the X57) will be leaving first. She then gets on the X58. Doing that once is fair enough but it’s been three or four times now. Does she think the timetable is suddenly going to change overnight? I wonder what she would do if she took her seat on the X58 and the X57 actually left first. I was praying for the driver to leave early today, just for sport.

Wednesday 28 November 2007

WMESB™: I refer the honourable readers to the answer I gave some 24 hours ago.
Driver: Same driver as yesterday.

Flicked between several footie matches last night without really concentrating on one.

Went on to a variety of websites in an attempt to find the definitive route to the Cottier Theatre – three sites, three differing routes. I forgot that Glasgow has some crazy one-way system, especially around the venue. At least I’ve got plenty of time to get there and home again. I think I’ll need it. More importantly, I’ve organised my soundtrack for the journey.

Talking of which, I’m enjoying the newly refreshed mp3 player and this morning’s journey to work featured some doozies:

Jesus and Mary Chain – Never Understand
Crowded House – Distant Sun
Jane’s Addiction – Been Caught Stealing
The Popguns – Waiting For The Winter
Groove Farm – The Best Part of Being With You
My Bloody Valentine – Paint A Rainbow
Darling Buds – Uptight
Mother and the Addicts – So Tough
The Smiths – Bigmouth Strikes Again
The Beat – Jeanette
Chin Chin – Stop Your Crying
Morrissey – Boxers
Superstar – Couldn’t It Be You
Simple Minds – Theme For Great Cities (the perfect travelling-to-work-in-the-morning-on-public-transport-in-the-dark instrumental)
The Beat – I Confess
Babybird – Goodnight
Tom Tom Club – Genius of Love 12”
Sharon Tandy – Love Makes The World Go Round
House of Love – Destroy The Heart
Jim Gipson – Kill Me Once Again

Watched “Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” and it begs the questions: (a) why do people unsuited to the restaurant business go into it (and risk losing everything they have)? (b) why do people who can’t cook work in kitchens (risking the lives of customers)? and (c) why do people ignore the sound advice of someone who has countless restaurants and awards and a wealth of experience? Personally, I’d have spit-roasted Toby and sold him on the carvery, although I suspect he’d have been a bit grisly.

I didn’t get a chance to sob like a big Jessie last night as "The Secret Millionaire", which usually follows Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares had been put back to 2305 because of a programme about The Sun’s “Dear Deirdre” column. I’ve taped it and shall watch it tomorrow with a box of Kleenex at the ready.

I’ve once again been snubbed in the list of the Scotland on Sunday’s Top 50 Most Eligible Scots. I suspect this is in no small part down to the fact that (a) I’m married and (b) I’m not Scottish; still, it would be nice to be considered. The GLW has suggested I’m “bubbling under” at 51, again. Bless her. I actually know someone who IS on the list. Billy McElhaney is at number 22 and he’s a friend of the family. He’s also a bloody good laugh.

I’ve just found out that as well as the Celtic game there are also three big gigs on in Glasgow tonight. Queens of the Stone Age (Carling Academy), The Pigeon Detectives (Barrowlands – Sold Out) and Michael Buble at the SECCCCC will help to add to the congestion! I just can’t wait!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Tuesday 27 November 2007

WMESB™: Just me as usual. I feel like I have my own bus.
Driver: After yesterday’s rip-off £5.70 single, I buy a 12-journey ticket for £23. The driver, the same one as yesterday, informs me that his new ticket machine was £36 down yesterday!! What was he doing? Helping himself?

I got an e-mail back from the Promotions and Marketing Executive, Oona McGinnis, at Forth One who insisted that the presenter “executed the quiz correctly” yesterday. She asked me to call her so she could go over the rules.

In my e-mail yesterday I also, rather cheekily, suggested that they could do worse that employ someone like me to avoid these kind of problems. I also suggested, however, that they probably couldn’t afford me.

I didn’t call Oona but e-mailed the following reply:

“I still believe that the quiz wasn’t executed properly because player A was disadvantaged.

The phrase ”sudden death” is a misnomer because if you have two players being asked questions independently then they need to be asked an equal number of questions. If they were “on the buzzer” or had to shout out, directly against each other, then it would be appropriate to have a one-off “sudden death” situation. If Player A gets his first question wrong do you declare Player B the winner without a question? No you don’t. So why should it be any different in a subsequent round of questions?

Player A is disadvantaged because Player A has got his question wrong and he hasn’t had the chance to see if Player B will get their question wrong too. In a football penalty shoot out that goes to “sudden death” if Team A misses Team B still have to score their penalty to win. I don’t see how this is any different. The player going first in your quiz is disadvantaged.

I appreciate that you might not want a quiz to “drag on” but you prevent that happening by making the questions progressively harder.

If memory serves me correctly, I’m pretty sure that if you listen to recordings of Grant doing the quiz you’ll hear him doing it the correct/fair way.



P.S. Got any jobs? ;)”

I also e-mailed Edwin Mutton at the Institute of Sales Promotions for his opinion of the fairness of the quiz. He’s out the office until Monday but hopefully he’ll get back to me next week.

Fact: Quizzes should be written and run by quiz people.

It was a slow afternoon in the office and for a reason I'm still not entirely sure about the four of us drew round our hands and then decorated them. I think it was a competition for a Women's cause/charity thing. I did mine on red paper and alternated yellow and orange highlighters in stripes across it. Then I wrote HANDS at the tips of the fingers and OFF at the wrist. I thought it was subtly coloured whilst still getting the message across, whatever it's supposed to be! Tony Hart would've been proud. Oh, and apparently I have fat fingers. You know what they say about men with big fingers? That's right, they wear big gloves!

I'll get my coat. And scarf. And big gloves.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Sunday 25 November 2007

The plan was to spend the day at my brother-in-law’s but when I woke up I just didn’t feel like being sociable. The GLW and the Flickster left me to it. As it turned out, I got a lot of stuff done. After my lie-in, I got the Sunday papers, read them and cut out the competitions and crosswords, washed the windows, hovered, ironed my shirts for work, completed the comps/crosswords, watched the World Cup draw online, did all the dishes (twice), did the recycling, emptied the bins in the kitchen and study, make a sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch and even fitted in some quality pottering and “doing stuff”.

The only thing I didn’t manage to do was refresh my mp3 player. I’ve had the same 130+ tracks for a few months now and it needs a radical shake up. I don’t want to sicken myself of songs I love. I had a crazy notion to put every single Smiths song on it but then I realised that most of them are on vinyl. So until I get a USB turntable I’ll need to make do with another compilation – a veritable cornucopia of classic cuts of consummate coo, or something.

Monday 26 November 2007

WMESB™: Yes, you’ve guessed it, 1!
Driver: They’ve got new ticket machines on the buses and the driver claimed he couldn’t sell me a Single to Edinburgh! He suggested I take a seat and get it at the Ferrytoll. About a hundred yards from the Ferrytoll he shouted that he’d found it!! £5.70 for a bloody single to Edinburgh! A 12-journey Megarider is only £23.

Work was uneventful. Thankfully, I’m got a lift home and the quiz double bill of Mastermind and University Challenge has been restored.

I’m off to see The Orchids in Glasgow’s Cottier Theatre on Wednesday night. It’s a free gig, my favourite kind, and it’s the first time I’ll have driven cross-country to a gig. My only concern is the traffic because Celtic are playing at home in a Champions League game. However, most of the band are Celtic fans so I don’t imagine they’ll be playing until after the game has finished. I’ll probably be going on my own but I’ve asked John, a guy I’ve met at various gigs over the years, if he wants to come. He stays near me so it won’t be a complicated pickup. I've been to plenty of gigs on my own over the years but it'd be nice to go through with someone.

Forth One cocked up their Just The Job competition today and I told the presenter so. The first contestant got a question wrong and the other guy was declared the winner without having to get one of his own right. Even in football penalty shoot-outs the other tea is given the opportunity to score or miss after the first team has missed. This is what happens when non-quiz people write/present quizzes. I did offer my services to them but then decided that they couldn’t afford me. The presenter, who shall remain nameless, said it was the “world’s most confusing quiz”. It wasn’t, certainly not compared with the “darts” one that BBC6 Music had on Nemone’s show. Now that one was a crock of shit.

Some good news this afternoon as I’ve been accepted for “Brainbox”, a show I auditioned for in Glasgow a few weeks ago. I got a call from BBC Manchester and I’ll need to take a couple of days off in mid-December. Luckily the show won’t clash with my Christmas night out, which is the day after. I’m already getting nervous about it and it isn’t for three weeks! Mind you, I always get this way. I think you can win £5000 a day for a maximum of three days and, needless to say, I’d be happy with one £5k win. Oh, and I’ll need a new quiz show shirt too! Although my experience shows that it shouldn't have small checks, big checks, black, white red (it "bleeds" on screen) or logos. Where's my wardrobe assistant?

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Saturday 24 November 2007

After a lie-in I busied myself this morning with "pottering" and "doing stuff", two of my favourite hobbies, something that men, as a whole, tend to excel at.

I sent off an application form to be a Trainee Question Setter/Fact Checker for a well-known production company. The closing date is actually passed but when I sent them an e-mail I got an automated reply back, complete with application form. So I filled it in and sent it back with a short paragraph or two. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. How cool would it be if I could work for the R&A organising entries for the Open (sorry, Tiger, your cheque's bounced!) AND being a question writer for television quiz shows? The optimist in me says" you never know", the pessimist in me "I should be so lucky" and the realist says "in your fuckin' dreams".

The Outlaws were visiting so after tea I drove them home. I listened to a CD of songs by Jim Gipson, former frontman of Black Nite Crash, the nearly men of indie rock. It was given to me by Joe, who was also in BNC and now works for the same employer I do. The CD is an absolute cracker and pisses all over singer-songwriters like James Morrison, James Blunt et al. Jim could be big in 2008 - watch this space.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Wednesday 21 November 2007

WMESB™: 1 passenger, which was obviously moi. How can a bus with one passenger be running late? It was 7/8 minutes late at my bus stop and a similar amount when I got to the Ferrytoll. I had to run for the X57 parked ahead of the D7.

In line with No Music Day, I didn’t bother with my mp3 player on the bus. I managed to get a seat behind the driver, which is far enough away from the other passengers so that I don’t have to put up with their inane chitchat. I spent the entire journey looking out of the window at the people in their cosy little cars, with more than a hint of jealousy. I’d spent ten minutes at the bus stop in the wind and rain (no bus shelter) wondering in a rather self-pitying manner why, at the age of 40, I’m still spending so much of my life at bus stops, freezing my bollocks off. I traipsed into work cold and depressed.

I got a lift home to the Ferrytoll after work yesterday and just made the 1630 D7, only to be charged a whopping £1.70 for a 16-minute journey. For a similarly timed journey on the D3/D4 into James Street, it’s only £1.15! My friend and colleague Tricia is back from holiday so hopefully I can get a regular lift home. She drives like a demon so we normally get home quick smart. She says she only gives me a lift because she needs ballast in the car, one of those flat grey Smart cars.

The only interesting piece of mail I got when I got home was my fortnightly copy of Web User one of only two magazines I subscribe to; the other being Mojo. What I like about Web User is the amount of useful tips in each issue. Some issues are better than others but for the most part I always find some useful computer tip. Their website forums are also a great help. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been helped on there.

Dave, my Jocknroll website cohort, phoned me last night from Newport Pagnall (no, he hadn’t lost his bag). He said one of his colleagues had heard me on Radio Scotland promoting the website and is now a fan because he thought I was hilarious. The comment about people who weren’t into music liking Texas, in the same way that people who don’t like sport watch rugby union went down especially well and had the listener in bits. I was blushing on the phone. Just before Dave phoned I got an e-mail from David Wells, who runs Neon Tetra records, the Scottish record company whose roster of acts was promoted on the “Independent and Free” CD that I mentioned a few blogs ago. We swapped mutual appreciation. He thanked us for plugging the label and CD on our site and I thanked him for such a bloody good compilation. It’s been one of five CDs on constant rotation since the weekend. My favourite tracks are the “Honest Injun” by Green Peppers (featuring Del Amitri’s Justin Currie on guest vocals) and the Daniel Wylie one, whose title escapes me for the moment (Stop Press: "Define Love").

The telly was pretty rubbish last night. I watched a Storyville documentary on BBC4 about a company in India called “Office Tiger”, who I would just hate to work for. 18-hour days, I don’t think so. And we’re not talking about downtrodden sweatshop call centre workers (although it is a call centre of sorts); these people WANT to work these hours for this company. No mention was made of the sorts of salaries the workers were paid. The head honcho (pictured, right) was an American whose every pronouncement was full of management speak. He’d shake hands and say hello to everybody although he had a habit of getting their names wrong. He was also obsessed that everyone should wear a tie so as to give off a professional image. I just thought he looked like a Scientologist and therefore a bit of a twat. It was shown as part of the 10th anniversary of the Storyville documentaries, which I enjoy. There was another one on after “Office Tiger” about the dotcom boom (called "" and I was keen to watch it but I taped it because it was finishing at 0045, well past my bedtime.

I e-mailed the chairman of one of the other local residents’ associations to see what problems, if any, he has encountered with his factors. Ours, as has been previously discussed, are idiots. The meeting with them is at 7pm at the new Leisure Centre and I’m not looking forward to it. I can see it either being a washout in terms of attendance or an absolute rabble, especially if certain local residents attend.

I watched England’s dismal performance against Croatia. As a goalkeeper of sorts (I retired while I was at the bottom), I feel sorry for Scott Carson. It’s unfortunate that his mistake will overshadow the shoddy performance of so many others. The only player who came out of the first half with any merit was the much-maligned Peter Crouch. He did his job well but no one was coming from midfield for the knockdowns. I thought the state of the pitch was shocking too and I can’t believe they allowed an American Football match to be played on it so close to a vital match. No doubt it was all down to money.

Thursday 22 November 2007

Last night, after the football and before going to bed, I did one last check of my e-mails and I was rather irked to see that there were two anonymous comments on my Blog and they were both very negative.

Under normal circumstances I would gladly fight for someone’s right to express their own opinion in our democratic society. But when the comments made are done anonymously by Keyboard Cowards™ then that right, as far as I am concerned, goes out the window. If you think my Blog is “a pile of wank” then fine but don’t make that comment hiding behind the “anonymous” moniker. Making comments in this way says more about you than me.

I could handle it if you said my Blog was maybe dull, after all it is meant to reflect my mundane existence and the shit I have to face day in, day out; the stupid people, my life-sucking job and the occasional moment of joy. It’s not Pulitzer Prize winning stuff and it’s not meant to be. I wish I could write as well as the likes of Andrew Collins or Charlie Brooker but I can’t. They get paid for their writings and deservedly so. I don’t and therefore I won’t tolerate abuse of my blog or me as a person.

I never thought I would get many comments on my Blog as it was only ever intended as a “release” - a way of unclogging my mind of all the frustrations that weigh me down and prevent me from getting some sort of focus. I thank those who have taken the time to post a comment because it really is appreciated.

I won’t let these sad small-minded individuals (although I suspect the two comments were made by the same person) get me down. I’ve now stopped anonymous posts and switched the Comment Moderation on. It’s a shame I had to do that. Onwards and upwards.

I had my annual review at work today. It doesn’t really affect my salary but I go along with it although I’m not really a fan of the system because it just seems like paperwork for paperwork's sake. All the behavioural and/or technical competencies for my job are the same as they were last year, although once again I’ve exceeded my competency in “Creativity and Innovation” and “Office Technology”. It’s no coincidence that these are really the only two areas of my job that I enjoy.

I’ve been job-hunting on and off for the last 6 months. I’ve trying to get a job that matches my admin experience with an interesting post in an interesting environment. The thought of working in a financial institution or a call centre fills me with dread. One post I’ve applied for recently is as the Championship Entries Co-ordinator for the Open, yes the major golf tournament. It pays more than what I am on and it’s based in St. Andrews, a scenic drive north. What concerns me is that I’ve applied for the post through and whenever I’ve applied for a job through them or I’ve never heard anything back. No acknowledgment, no rejection letter, no e-mail, nothing! This worries me as I really want this post as it looks and sounds very interesting. It’s a job that I could really utilise my strengths. Fingers crossed.

The LPM meeting was so dispiriting that I don’t even want to talk about it. Total shysters. Property Management equals licence to print money.

Watched "" after the meeting and realised I'd seen it before but I watched it nevertheless enjoyed it. I was amazed at how easy it seemed to be for them to raise $60m and the whole thing was over in about 18 months!

Friday 23 November 2007

WMESB™: 1 passenger.

An otherwise dull and uneventful day. I got three buses home from work and was cold, tired and very depressed by the time when I set foot in my house. I spent the rest of the evening updating the Jock'n'Roll website, answering e-mails and doing competitions. Oh, I forgot to mention that I won a £15 Waterstone’s voucher in this week’s Fife Free Press. It was for the crossword, which always seems to have very familiar clues. No matter, I’ve won and that’s all that counts.
I need a drink.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Monday 19 November 2007

I forget to mention a few things about last week.

The guitar arrived from the SAMH on Wednesday. It’s been signed by Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai), Pop Up, The Passengers, Sam Cory (River Detectives), Jerry Dammers (The Specials), Michael Hargen, Danse or Die, Fortune Drive, The Amphetamines, The Daintees, 5th and Pontiac and Stroszek.

For the second week in a row I cried during “the Secret Millionaire” and once again it was the sight of a young child in tears, at being given some money to make a better life for herself, that set me off. Tonight’s episode also featured the Salford Lads’ Club, which features on the sleeve of The Smiths’ “The Queen Is Dead” album.

On Thursday I took a Family Care Day off to look after Flick. She picked up throughout the day and never fell asleep once, unlike myself. She was also well enough to kick my arse at Snakes and Ladders and The Shopping Game. She’s such a board and card game hustler. That’s my girl.

For the umpteenth day in a row our post was delivered at 3pm!! It’s bad enough that our normal posited usually turns up between 12 and 1. 3pm? That’s a joke. As much as I supported the posties throughout their recent strike it’s sometimes hard to continue to back them when the services is so poor. We had a non-existent second post taken off us (although I think they’ve actually binned the first and kept the second), postal charges continue to rise, not to mention the more complicated system for charging for posting letters, “big” letters and small packets!

On Friday it was back to getting the bus to work. On the WMESB™, there were 2.5 passengers (one got on at my stop but got off at Rosyth so I’m only counting her as a half because she only went half way) and for some reason, that still isn’t clear, the driver stopped just before Blackhall for 7/8 minutes. He wandered up the bus, then down the bus, then up, then down. He opened the front door, phoned someone, got back on, closed the door, opened the door again, closed the door and then sat down and drove off and not once did he think to inform us what was going on.

Friday was, as previously mentioned, quiz night. I forgot to mention all the team names: The Terrahawks, Fat Kids Always Win at Seasaw (my favourite), The Beasting Appreciation Society, Quizmas Crackers, Britney’s Briefs, Good Times and/or Bad Times, Woozy Bankers, The Team Formerly Known As Magiwhip, Only Smarties Have The Answer, Quizteama Aguilera, No Scooby Do and the imaginatively entitled Laura Hair’s team.

On this morning’s WMESB™ there was 1 passenger, yours truly, which brings the average number of passengers on that bus down to a round 2 again! I got off the D7 at the Ferrytoll. It changed to a 53 and as I got inside the building I saw the X57 appeared behind the 53. I wondered out, overtook a ditherer who didn’t seem to know if it was New York or New Year, and made my way to the X57. I stood at his door, waiting for it to open. But he ignored me and moved the bus forward as the 53 went on its way. So I walk forward to the X57 as yet another ditherer skips in front of me. He opens the doors as I give him an absolutely evil stare and boy does he know it. Meanwhile the queue-jumping dimwit fumbles in her bag for her ticket and proceeds to drop all her belongings on the floor. I make sure my loud exhalation of air is heard at the back of the bus. Finally she gets her life together and finds her ticket. I finally step on to the bus, hold my Megarider ticket up and say, “Transfer”. He wants to take it off me and punch it but as it’s already been punched I continue that I’d just come off the D7 that had pulled in in front of him and therefore it doesn’t need punching because my journey form Dunfermline to Edinburgh is in two parts. (It pisses me off that I have to keep explaining to Stagecoach drivers how their own transfer system works). He makes a begrudging grumbling noise as I take my seat. I put on my mp3 player and watch the traffic for the rest of the journey. I didn’t thank him when I got off. I always make a point of thanking drivers who have got me from A to B with the minimum of fuss and on time. This is a practice I’ve instilled in Felicity.

I’m not in a sociable mood today. I like rain and I don’t mind wind but put the two together and throw in some faulty heating and my feet are like blocks of ice. On the way into work I saw three brass monkeys crying their eyes out. I’m filling myself up with hot coffee and the thought of a hot water bottle tonight.

Major TV clash tonight. Monday is normally quiz night with Mastermind on at 1930, followed by University Challenge at 2000 but Watchdog has been moved to BBC1 at 1930 (I suspect to accommodate the England game on Wednesday) and there’s a Dispatches documentary on Channel 4 featuring Mark Thomas investigating the not-so squeaky world of Coca Cola. The problem is that we’ve never had our analogue aerial put in and as a result we can only tape the channel we’re on! I’ve mentioned Sky+ to the GLW a number of times but she isn’t biting yet!

When you’re self-employed you don’t have to worry about petty office bureaucracy like having to do a 1 o’clock all week for two weeks out of four. I hate one o’clock lunches. I’m always starving at 12 and besides the little “angels” from the school across the road get out for lunch at 1245 and the local supermarket is swarming with them.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

WMESB™: Only 1 passenger today, which was of course yours truly
Driver: Approaching a narrow stretch of road near the Ferrytoll the driver took exception to a white van man for some reason. All I heard was “Look at the size of me (I think he meant his bus but he'll never see 18 stone again). Thick? It’s you that’s fuckin’ thick”. Charming.
This morning’s mp3 tunes included: “Portions for Foxes” (Rilo Kiley), “Torn” (Natalie Imbruglia), “Do The Standing Still” (The Table), “Public Image” (PiL), “Back Together” (Babybird), “Freakin’ Out (Graham Coxon), “Obscurity Knocks” (Trashcan Sinatras) and “Eat For Two” (10,000 Maniacs).

Last night I watched Watchdog, University Challenge and Dispatches on Channel 4 + 1, which was about Coca-Cola and how naughty and bad they are. Boo! Hiss!

Following on from the battles with Stagecoach, the latest company to feel my wrath is Life Property Management, the factors for the area I live in. We had to pay £150 when we moved in and then we didn’t get a bill for 3 years! The most recent bill, the cause of my annoyance (and those of my fellow neighbours), included a number of “interesting” charges. The most contentious one being that the debt of non-payers (and the legal charges in pursuing it) is spread between those who do pay their bills.

A recent exchange has just angered me even more. I was promised a map of the areas covered by this company (I believe we’re also being charged for another area that is totally separate form ours and I wanted to check which bits we should be paying for) and yet when I chased it up I was told it would now cost £10+ VAT!!! I only want a photocopy! And if we want to look at the accounts of the “trust” account that has been set up for all our payments, charges, interests etc then we’ll incur another charge!! At least Dick Turpin wore a mask.

There’s a meeting on Thursday and I’m in two minds as to whether I want to go because I’ll end up even more frustrated than normal. If they’re as arrogant in person as they are in their written correspondence there could well be a lynching and maybe a hanging or two. I’m determined to stay at the back and keep a low profile and take notes.

Yesterday I got some junk mail, which I tend to get quite a bit of down to the number of competitions and prize draws I enter, and one of them was a Formula One catalogue. I flicked through it and there were SEVEN Lewis Hamilton biographies. He’s had one season in F1, albeit a good one, and suddenly everyone is writing his life story!! As Gordon Ramsay would say, fuck me!

Monday, November 19, 2007


I really must remember, having spent all day doing it instead of working, to e-mail my Blog home.

Having watched Dispatches on Channel 4 +1 it got me to thinking about the companies I dislike and/or avoid giving my hard earned pennies to. Companies that have done me wrong over the years include:

1. Amtrak - Okay it was a franchisee but he was representing them so he's in my list. Said he would deliver my new computer on a Monday and then didn't show up because "he forgot"! I couldn't take another day off and my mother-in-law had to endure a right bloody misery when he did turn up. I haven't forgotten you pal. I just hope that one day I'll have a huge company and I'll put the deliveries out to tender and you can apply and then I can say, "Fuck off ya torn-faced misery! Forget my computer? I didnae!!"

2. Coca-Cola - for all the reasons pointed out by Mark Thomas and many others before him and to come. It wouldn't be so bad if the stuff wasn't such gutrot. Thank god the Flickster prefers good old fashioned water. I can't believe there's eight spoonfuls of sugar in each can and it takes more than 330ml of water to make that much juice. The situation in Colombia is particularly galling as paramilitaries are killing workers who want to be in a union. Workers are forced to sign statements resigning from the union. These statements were printed on Coca-Cola factory machines and collected by management yet Coca-Cola HQ claims that it has nothing to do with them. Increasingly these paramilitaries are targeting the families of union members and murdering those who fail to comply with their demands. Another problem is the unsustainable use of local water, which farmers rely on for their crops. Waste products from bottling plants have found to have pesticides in them. Of course, Coca-Cola's own studies found that the water was 100% pure. Hmm...

3. Starbucks - overpriced coffee on every bloody corner. And it's not even that nice.

4. Tesco - especially for the way they treat their fruit and vegetable suppliers and their destruction of the "high streets" in every town.

5. Stagecoach - they continue to bully their way into local communities and as soon as any opposition is driven out they cut services and put prices up. Let's not forget the homophobic spoutings of Brian Soutar, which has obviously filtered down to at least one of his drivers as this story demonstrates.

6. Ambertop/Help Mates/Europe Suppliers Ltd - or whatever the many other Eastern European here-today-gone-tomorrow companies calls themselves. They put leaflets through your door claiming to be collecting clothes, shoes and bric-a-brac (I wonder what the Lithuanian for bric-a-brac is) for their fellow countrypeople only to find out it's all sold on for profit. These people are absolute scum who are "stealing" gifts that should be going to genuine charities. I've written to the local Trading Standards and my local politicians on the subject, as well as knocking on all my neighbours doors and letting them know of these scamsters. I also wrote to the Dunfermline (De)Press but they stole the content of my letter and used it as the basis for an article of their own without so much as a credit.

7. Ticketmaster - how many more fees can they invent to add on top of the already inflated ticket prices? admin fee, booking fee, putting them in an envelope fee, fee fee trixiebelle... When I went to all seven dates of The Smiths' September 1985 tour of Scotland I sent a cheque and an SAE to five of the seven venues (I got the Glasgow and Edinburgh tickets in Ripping Records) and I got all the tickets back within a week. I still have the tickets; I really must scan them in posterity.

8. HMV - I had no choice on Saturday but under normal circumstances I wouldn't go near them. Too expensive, poor choice and they never gave me a job once. Reason enough, methinks.

9. Banks - Going down the Ticketmaster route. The Reclaim Bank Charges campaign shook them up but they still worm their way out of these situations. Amazing how the government can find billions to save Northern Rock but the Farepak customers screwed for a total of £40m are still waiting for their money.

10. Celtic and Rangers Football Clubs - An unhealthy monopoly over the rest of the football clubs in Scotland. They continue to cherrypick the best of their domestic opposition by waving big wage packets in front of their faces. (Most of these players end up warming the bench and then being sold on down south). They weaken the other SPL teams and then complain that their poor performances in Europe are down to no competition at home. They want their deep-fried cake and eat it. Let's not forget the Weegia's (Glaswegian Media) obsession with reporting anything and everything about the Rantic, to the detriment of the other Scottish clubs. They also continue to pay lip service to the anti-sectarian initiatives. I like to see them lose.

Who do you hate?