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.