Sunday, October 28, 2007


Tuesday 23 October: A colleague points that the Jock 'n' Roll website run by Dave and I is featured in the Metro. Although the Best and Worst Scottish Album polls closed a couple of months ago there is a piece about them (predominantly the Worst poll) on page 9. No sooner had I finished reading the article in question than Radio Scotland were on the phone asking for an interview (I've no idea how they got my number). They send a cab for me at 3.30pm and I'm whisked off to The Tun on Holyrood Road. Their Edinburgh studios are behind The Tun and are no doubt there for the proximity to the Scottish Parliament. I had interesting chat with the taxi driver about music. he'd been in bands. I mention a band called The Boston Dexters, who used to dress like gangsters, and he says, yes, we knew them, we used to call them The Bus Conductors!
Just as I get to reception to say why I'm there my mobile goes off. It's Kevin Keane from BBC Online who wants to ask me more about the problems we are having with Stagecoach buses in Fife. (The main problem, apart from their total monopoly in Fife, is that they have decided to take off the only bus that goes direct from the Eastern Expansion of Dunfermline (aka The DEX), the largest housing expansion in Europe, to Edinburgh. The DEX, which is advertised as a commuter belt, has already lost the Yellow Taxibus and now the X57 has been returned to its old route. I'm now in the position were I'll have to get two, maybe three, buses to and from work. The journey is depressing enough without the extra inconvenience.) He's going to do a piece for the site and wants to use me as a case study. No problem says I.

After a 15-minute chat, which we transferred to one of the BBC Scotland phones, I finally introduce myself at the main reception. After a short wait I was shown into a small booth where I put on some headphones while I listened to the Newsdrive programme. Every 30 seconds I voice would appear in my ears saying something like "We'll be going to you soon Paul". The interview was light-hearted and over all too quickly. (A couple of people at work heard it and said it was funny so I was pleased). They got me a taxi back to my place of work and my friend Tricia gave me a lift home.

After putting my daughter to bed and having my tea I settle down to watch some of the football, only for my mobile to go again. It's Nicole from BBC Birmingham wanted to know if I'd like to do an interview about Jock 'n' Roll for Danny Kelly's radio show. They say they'll phone back later because they want to do it before the show so they can edit it and fit it in - fare enough. However, at 9.45pm, 15 minutes before his show is due to start Danny's producer Nicole calls back to say it's a bit tight for tonight and can we do it on Thursday night. Sure, I'm easy.

Wednesday 24 October: Today I had the day off as I was off to Glasgow for a game show audition (a new show called "Brainbox"). I dropped my wife and daughter off at pre-school and the train station respectively and headed back home to update the Jock 'n' Roll website. We'd missed a couple of other interview opportunities as I hadn't checked the Jock 'n' Roll mailbox for a few days, otherwise I would have been even busier! I reply to some e-mails and update some the website before preparing for my trip to Glasgow. The audition is held in the new BBC Scotland HQ at Pacific Quay. I call them to check on the parking arrangements and they say it's staff only but I can park in the Science Centre for £2 a day.

I've never driven as far as I did today, from Dunfermline to Glasgow along the M8. To be honest, it wasn't so much the motorway bit that bothered me as the getting to Pacific Quay. Three different motoring organisation website route planners have given me three different routes and I was left thoroughly confused (Do I get off at Junction 19, 20 or 24? God only knows). Although I'm driving through mid-morning, mid-week I've given myself loads of time. I miss Junction 19 (as recommended by the Brainbox people) as I was in the wrong lane so I get off at 20 and hope it's well signposted. It is and I begin to relax as I park the car.

I arrive about an hour and a half early for my 1 o'clock audition and let them know I'm here. They recommend the Science Centre for a reasonable lunch so I head over there for food and a £2 parking token, which gets you out of the car park. As I sit down for haddock, chips and peas I checked my phone and find a missed call. It's from Kevin Keane again who wants some more background on the Stagecoach X57 issue. My fish and chips go cold as I go over the numerous problems with Stagecoach and their disregard for passengers. The story can be found here:

Fed and watered I head back to the BBC building. It is impressive but I'm reminded of a cruise liner. When you look into the building the floors each step back on the previous one. There are "soft" areas everywhere with plenty of meetings going on. As usual time in reception at auditions time is spent wondering who else is there for the show and today was no exception. I was pretty sure that one curly-haired girl was but i couldn't figure out who else. There was a woman with a couple of kids in tow but I didn't think it could be her.

A young lady approaches us and asks if anyone is here for Brainbox. I get up , along with the curly-haired girl and the woman with the two kids. As we get thelift up to the 2nd floor the curly-haired girl says she thinks she's seen me before but when she mentions "In It To Win It" I know she has the wrong person because I've never auditioned for that show, although it's not for the want of trying. It turns out that the woman with the kids, who I must say were remarkably well-behaved, have driven for four hours from Elgin to do the audition. That's what I call dedication.

We're all escorted into a little room and given a wee briefing. We have to do a test paper of some logic puzzles. The puzzles vary between word, number and logic puzzles. I only find one of them hard but I still managed 15 out of 25. The rest were, to be honest, a doddle. After the tests are over we're sent out to one of the numerous "soft" areas and we wait to be called back in one by one. (While I wait outside I notice that one of the open plan offices has a shed in the middle of it, a red one of that. I'm desperate to ask someone why it's there but I resist). The Elgin woman is called in first and then "Curly", whose name I either don't hear or completely forget. It turns out that she's from Dalgety Bay which is about 10 minutes from where I live. She tries to claim that Dalgety Bay is part of Dunfermline but I'm having none of it. To be honest, if I lived in Dalgety Bay I wouldn't want to associated with Dunfermline.

I'm not convinced that my interview went too well but you just never know what type of contestant they're looking for. I thanked them for their time, got the lift back down to the reception, handed in my pass and tried to remember where I had parked the car. The aisles of the car park are named after chemical elements and I knew mine was somewhere in the Be for Beryllium section. If I had thought my stress was over for the day I was sadly mistaken.

I set SatNav to go "Home" but it took me about half an hour to get from the Science Centre to the motorway. I got lost in the Govan/Ibrox area and I felt very uncomfortable. At one point the SatNav sent me up a one-way street the wrong way. I only realised when I saw two lines of traffic coming towards me! I eventually got onto the motorway and it was relatively pain free after that. I pick up my daughter from pre-school and my wife from the train station, however the journey is rather fractious as my wife thinks it's appropriate to criticise my driving. This prays on my mind for the rest of the week.
That night I managed to escape the media by going to see The Wedding Present play at The Liquid Room in Edinburgh. the gig was part of a tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the "George best" album, which they played in order in the middle of the set. The music was fantastic but the scary thing was just how many people I saw that I knew. So many blasts from the past: Big Dave (works on Radio Scotland's "Off The Ball"), Karen (ex-National Galleries and still has a Louise Brooks bob), Paul (the only man I know who DJ'd an Indian wedding), Graham (Jock 'n' Roll Dave's brother), Al, Kevin (who owns Avalanche records), Steve, (my sister-in-law's brother-in-law) and Stuart, who I used to go to One Thousand Violins gigs with. Ironically, it was while we were waiting outside to speak to Stuart that we spotted everyone else. As it turns out I never did see Stuart.

Thursday 25 October: : My good lady was off to Manchester with her pal so I dropped them both off at Waverley train station for their 0720 train. I got to work at 0645 - I don't start until 0800 but if you're not early you end up parked miles away.

I gave my first proper lifts since I passed my test. I took Lisa and Louise home. Lisa lives in Rosyth (but not for much longer) and Louise was staying with her boyfriend not far from where I live. I got very down on myself because I wanted to impress them that I could drive but a few stalls dented my confidence and I was a bit of a nervous wreck afterwards. I particularly bad stall got me rather annoyed with myself and I kept having to apologise to Louise, who is learning to drive just now. I feel like crying when I get home.

I try and cheer myself up with a Prawn and Onion Balti (homemade I stress) before I do the BBC Birmingham interview. Nicole phones to ask if they can do the interview early. Sure. The interview goes on for about 7 minutes but I get the feeling that the interviewer is rather distracted towards the end of it. Then I remember that he's an Everton fan and they're playing Larissa in the UEFA Cup on channel Five. It could've been funnier and lighter but his questions didn't really lead it that way, which was a shame.

I tape Grey's Anatomy for my wife but I end up watching it anyway. I'm still depressed when I go to bed.

Friday 26 October: I'm up early and into work early again. I manage to get through to the "Beat It" competition on Forth One's Breakfast Show. They play one beat from a record and you have to say what it is. I guess at "House of Fun" by Madness but it, along with everyone else's guesses, is wrong.

Saturday 27 October:
Local Fife councillor Mike Rumney has asked a representative of Stagecoach to attend at his monthly surgery at the new local library. We round up as many disgruntled DEX Stagecoach passengers as we can find (not easy considering the lack of publicity given to our problems by the local papers) and prepare to do battle.

The main thing that came out of the meeting was no matter how many objections are made to Stagecoach plans nothing can be done to change them because they're a "commercial entity". The process is that they contact fife Council to make them aware of any changes to routes and when they rubber-stamp it Stagecoach then give the requisite notice to the Traffic Commissioner (between 8 and 11 weeks depending on who you ask).

The irony is that Fife Council and Stagecoach want everyone to "go green" by leaving their cars behind and using public transport. But Stagecoach then blow their green credentials out of the water by boasting of 29 new buses in Fife, at a cost of £4.5m (£400m according to the ever-accurate Dunfermline Press). Their carbon footprint must be the equivalent of Sideshow Bob's feet.
This has just added to my depression. I'm looking at taking a half hour walk to Rosyth, my nearest train station, and getting the train from there. Anything to avoid Stagecoach services. It looks like I'll have to either change my hours at work, which will mean working later and getting home later, or get a job somewhere closer to home. I can't get access to the car because Kirsty needs it to take our daughter to pre-school.

Sunday 28 October: The depression hasn't lifted and I can't bear the thought of spending time "in company". It's my mother-in-law's birthday today but as much as I like her I can't face pretending to be happy when I'm obviously not.

Notwithstanding the general depression washing over me, I hate my job because it doesn't push me (I've lost count of the number of people who say to me "you're wasted here") and I can't use my creative skills and now I can't even get a direct service to the job I hate. There are other problems but they're way too personal for this forum.

My plan is to walk to Rosyth station and get a train from there. Sod Stagecoach. Less Fuss By Bus, my arse!

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