Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Tuesday 26 February

WMESB™: The D7 was on time and I got the X57 but it was the grumpy driver so I had no chance of getting off at the Learmonth Hotel.

Thankfully I’m back in my own office today.

Last night’s telly consisted of Brainbox Challenge, Mastermind, University Challenge and Damages. The GLW watched “The Palace”, which is “so bad, it’s good”. I’ll take her word for it.

Still no sign of the three outstanding competition prizes yet, which is a worry. Most of the time I’ll have a prize before I know I’ve won it or where it’s come from. I never normally have to wait more than 28 days, at the most.

A horrendous journey home tonight as only cars were allowed over the Forth Road bridge. Tricia was almost involved in a road rage incident. Someone who had tried to cut in earlier tried it again and she refused to budge. the guy in question tried to go back into the other lane to overtake us but our liane suddenly sped up and we lost him.

Monday 25 February

WMESB™: Never a dull moment on Stagecoach! This morning I get my usual D7 to the Ferrytoll. Now the D7 then changes into a 53 to Dalgety Bay and one little old man gets on. However, this morning I was surprised to see a whole line of people queuing to get on. As I walk along this queue I turn round to see the sign on the side of the bus, which reads “53 Edinburgh”. Somewhat confused I join the end of the queue and wait to get back on the bus I’d just got off. When I get back on I say to the driver that I’m slightly confused because this bus normally turns into a Dalgety Bay bus. He says, no, the route is right. “Fair enough” and I sit down. At this point I start wondering if this will be a new direct service from the my house to Edinburgh and compose a congratulatory e-mail to the Operations Manager in my head.

Any euphoria is short-lived because the bus leaves the Ferrytoll and just as I think it’s on its way to Edinburgh it goes all the way round the roundabout and comes back into the Park and Ride. The driver then stops the bus, gets out of his seat and announces that this bus doesn’t go to Edinburgh. I resist the temptation to sing the “Told You So” song as a light and get on the waiting X57.

The sorry doesn’t end there because I see that the X57 driver is the grumpy one I’ve crossed swords with before. I also see the girl from my work, who also gets off at the Learmonth too. My money’s on him not stopping for her and I’m proved right. She’s confused by this and no wonder. Maybe the bus isn’t supposed to stop there but it has for the last few weeks. She walks back to work form the West End and I get a bus. I try and see her coming into work so I can explain the long-standing problems with the bus but I miss her.

The rest of the day is spent in a Review Panel. Over a hundred people have applied for promotion and they’re looking to half that before inviting successful candidates for interview. My job, such as it is, is to distribute the papers to the three pairs of assessors and then, well, that’s it! Thankfully, I only have a day of it.

“Brainbox Challenge” starts on BBC 2 tonight. I don’t know when I’m on but it’ll be fascinating to see all the people I met when I was there, especially Hannah, Ben and Jenna, who were all really friendly.

Sent off another Top 5 for the Recommends section of The Scotsman. It relates to Mother’s Day but I’ll say no more than that. I have a few others in the pipeline. I’ve also sent off my application to present a show on Kirkcaldy VRN, a hospital radio station, which also broadcasts to Kirkcaldy.

Sunday 24 February

After a great sleep, I join the others who are already up. Dave and I take the girls for a walk to get some fresh air and the Sunday papers. All manner of twisting roads, stairs and paths take us to Colinton village. Not used to walking so far I’m knackered when I get back and I have shin splints. The Flickster is unphased and has another shot on the trampoline. Where do kids get their energy?

The rest of the morning is spent doing the crosswords together and eating cake. Life doesn’t get any better. Dave and I then have another wee jam. I say, “jam”, it’s more of Dave showing me something and me trying to learn it! Dave kindly lends me a little amp and a tuner.

We say our goodbyes, after a wonderfully relaxing weekend and head home. It almost felt like a holiday, even though we only went over the bridge.

Saturday 23 February

What a day. I bump into so many people that I know. Before I even get on the D7 I meet Martin who I know from Edinburgh. He’s now in Dunfermline and not far from me. We exchange tales of our kids before I head into Edinburgh. I get off the bus and before I can decide where I’m going to get my hair cut I bump into Julie, a regular visitor to out house and an ex-colleague of the GLW’s. She recommends a barber down the bottom of Broughton Street and head off purposefully. My £1 a minute haircut takes 8 minutes then I head off to Easter Road to meet Dave, my co-conspirator in the Jock n Roll website.

As I wait for Dave yet another person I know and haven’t spoken to since I worked with him says hello. It’s a small world and I wouldn’t like to paint it. Dave and I head off to the guitar shop to get me a lead before adjourning to Robbies for a small libation or two. Not unsurprisingly, we bump into someone else we know, Kev.

At 2.30 we head off to the game. It’s pay at the gate (£21) and we settle into our seats in the East Terrace. No sooner has the game begun than Hibs take the lead. Three minutes later and the lead is doubled. Any thoughts that this may prove to be a rout are worn away soon enough as the following 85 minutes are absolute dross.

Happy enough with the win we leave the ground, only to walk right past Malcolm Ross, who had featured on “Caledonia Dreaming” last night. Pity we didn’t get a chance to speak to him about the programme. I wonder what he thought.

It was back to Dave’s for food and board games, after our daughters had been put to bed. Miracle of miracles: not only did I win at Trivial Pursuit but I beat the GLW in front of witnesses! It’s not often I beat her so I’m going to gloat as long as possible! We also played a good game called “Chronology”.

Friday 22 February

It’s already been discussed elsewhere but I’ll repeat how disappointed with this programme. What was supposed to be about Postcard Records and its influence turned into a party political broadcast on behalf of SNP/Independence. With the exception of The Go-Betweens, who only released one single on the label, Postcard Records was essentially Orange Juice, Josef K and Aztec Camera. OJ and JK were featured heavily in the first 15 minutes but Aztec Camera merited only the briefest mention in the commentary by Edith Bowman.

The documentary then drifted off into a revisionist look at the political “influence” of the Artists for independence movement fronted by Elaine C Smith, Pat Kane and Ricky Ross. The GLW was politically active around this time and she doesn’t recall this “movement” having as much influence as intimated in the programme. It might have meant something in Glasgow but nobody else in Scotland would listen to the ramblings of Rab C Nesbitt’s “wife”. This part of the show took up too much time and distracted from the apparent aim of the show. There were no interviews with Alan Horne or Roddy Frame and Malcolm Ross, who played in all three Postcard records, wasn’t given much time.

This was a wasted opportunity and resulted in a mess of a programme. Was it about Postcard Records or was it a history of Scottish rock and pop? Either way, it failed spectacularly and was a ramshackle hotchpotch of a programme

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Tuesday 19 February

WMESB™: Another day, another late bus and another stupid driver who doesn’t know what the number 4 looks like. I ask him to punch 4 and he punches 5, the muppet. The D7 used to be sharp enough to sometimes catch the 55; now it struggles to catch the X57, which is still continuing to stop at the Learmonth Hotel. The Operations Manager is going to look at the registration of the X57 so as to make it a permanent stop on the route.

Work wasn’t particularly exciting today and I took the opportunity to tidy up some paperwork and do some filing. I wrote to Orange to get a copy of my itemised mobile phone bill because I’ve started to receive reverse-billed text messages. I received a text from TalentText on Friday afternoon asking me if I wanted to audition for the next Harry Potter movie. I was to text STAR to 60999. I knew immediately it was a scam so I put “60999 text scam” into Google and I found that the number has been used a lot for various expensive scams. I found a website for a company called Talent Text and sent them a strongly worded e-mail informing them I would take legal action if I received any more of these texts and would be looking for recompense. So far, they haven’t responded.

I got the 29 to George Street after work, alighted and then attempted to cross the pedestrian crossing at the junction with Hanover Street. I let one set of cars go and then step on to the crossing. A car in the second lane decided he didn’t want to stop at the crossing and tried to drive straight over it. He got stuck in traffic and he was half-parked on the crossing. I slapped the back of his car to show my annoyance at him failing to stop. As I got across I turned round to give him “daggers”. He proceeded to give me the middle finger. As I turned to approach his car he drove off, only to get stuck on the roundabout as he turned towards Hanover Street. I crossed the next at the top of Hanover Street and he passed me again. This time it was his female companion who using the abusive gestures towards me. I was fuming all the way home, mainly because I didn’t get their registration plate. I did however send off a two-line letter to the letters page of the Evening News expressing my anger at these two morons.

Things got worse. On the way to the Ferrytoll the X54, after a game of ‘after you, no, after you’, allows the D7 to go into the Ferrytoll first. This is the D7 I connect with and tell the X54 driver this. He peeps his horn at the D7 driver but he doesn’t hear. I tried to make a run for it but the D7 driver decides not to stop to see if anyone on the buses behind wants to transfer to his bus and he speeds off. My fury is doubled, nah trebled, and I spend the next 15 minutes marching up and down angrily. The complaint e-mail is written in my head as I fume even more.

I managed to calm down by stuffing my face with some comfort food, namely boiled eggs and toast. I feel better.

The rest of the evening is spent writing some more stuff for The Scotsman and I even sent an e-mail to Ian Hunter (he of Mott the Hoople fame) and Max from Splodgenessabounds. The chances of an immediate response from Ian were crushed when I noticed from his website he was actually in Edinburgh playing at Cabaret Voltaire. Max Splodge answers my query, via Stretch from his website, and he’ll feature in one of my forthcoming pieces.

“The Silver Shadow” (name changed so that quiz show producers don’t think he’s a pro even though he isn’t), who I went on Sudo-Q with, has another audition on Friday. I had a form for the same show but I’ve been so busy with writing articles and quizzes that I haven’t got round to it. He gave me a heads up on a show he’d been on and what happens at the audition so I know what to expect because I also have a form for it. I MUST fill it in tonight. I need the GLW to complete her form for “Are You Smarter Than a Ten Year Old?” too because I think she’d be good on it.

I watched “Watchdog” on iPlayer before heading downstairs for “Shameless”.

Wednesday 20 February

WMESB™: The driver punched the right ticket – hurrah! The bus was on time – hurrah! That’s as good as it got. A man, for reasons best known to himself, decides to leave a massive gap at the front of the queue at the Ferrytoll and then can’t understand why everyone overtakes him to get on the X57, which he also gets on. Then he commits another cardinal sin. He sits down and then places something on the adjacent seat so no one else can sit there. Normally I would target that seat deliberately but after all the hassles of the last two days I didn’t want the stress.

I calm down with “Meet The Eels” on the CD player (the £8 one from Tesco!!) and I’m chilled by the time I get to work.

My Mojo prizes still haven’t turned up yet and I’m getting a little bit cheesed off about it.

Iamkloot, one of my favourite current bands, are playing in Glasgow on Sunday 27 April so I’m going to take the opportunity to enjoy my second cross-country gig trip. Gaz is up for coming too so I’ll have company. No idea what the parking situation is like near the ABC. I might just bite the bullet and use a car park. I believe it’s only £2 maximum on a Sunday. My experiences of driving in Glasgow haven’t been great so far, so god knows how we’ll get on. We’re off work the week after, in the run up to my birthday, so it won’t matter if I have a late night.

I flick between the Brits, the Celtic v Barcelona game and Crimewatch. I wonder for about two seconds how my predictions for the Brits went and then I realised that I couldn't give a Falkirk. If the Celtic game had been a boxing match it would have been stopped. Barcelona were merciless but having said that two of their goals came directly from Celtic errors and were therefore preventable. Then again, I don't support them so what do I care? In fact, I'd have been better off avoiding the Brits and the football and concentrating on some writing. I can watch Crimewatch on iPlayer.

I'll do an hour's work and then have a shave. Promise.

Monday, February 18, 2008


WMESB™: This morning's D7 was so late that it came along in tandem with the next D7. Had to check it was the one that goes the direct route, rather than the long way. On the way home I entered another stupid driver. I got on and said, "Number 2, please" and handed the ticket to him in such a way that he could easily slot it into his punch machine. "I can only do one on this ticket", he says. I look at him as if to say "what the fuck are you on about?". I wonder if he's misunderstood me so I explain that my ticket only gets punched once because my journey in split in two and I transfer at the Ferrytoll. It dawns on me that he thinks I'm trying to pay for one of the two old dears getting on behind me. I point out that the ticket is only for me. He then gets a bit of an attitude because I look at him as he's a moron, which he is. You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Four crosswords posted today - Scotsman Crossbar, Express Crusader (including the word Epicurean, which is the name of an album by The Orchids), Express Big Monday Crossword (because it's big, it comes out on a Monday, it's a crossword and it's in the Express) and the Bare Bones from the Mail on Sunday. Finger's crossed.

There's a programme called "Caledonia Dreaming" on BBC 4 on Friday about the Postcard Records label. Essential viewing for indie kids everywhere.

I get an e-mail from Mojo to say my prize is finally on its way. I haven't had this much trouble getting a prize since I won a load of stuff from The Big Issue over a period of months and then spent the next 18 months chasing them for them. (I even won a John and Norma Major jigsaw!) I haven't bought it since as a point of principle.

Over the weekend I wrote a lot of questions for two quiz nights I'm doing in May. Both are paying gigs, which is nice. On Sunday, I wasn't in the mood at first but then I went and got the papers and did all the comps and crosswords. For some reason the Express have binned the NPN (No Purchase Necessary) routes for their magazine comps. Must ask them why.

The GLW's Amazon order finally arrived and I got my Valentine's Day present, which was "Meet the Eels - Essential Eels", the CD with the free DVD of videos.

I received an application form for "Goldenballs". Between the GLW and I we have three quiz show forms to complete. A job for tomorrow night methinks. We've thought about the "Postcode Lottery" show, fronted by Carol Smillie, but we don't know three brainy neighbours. Actually, we don't know many of our neighbours. Maybe we should hold trials and the three brainiest (obviously the GLW and I are gimmes) will join us. The problem is that we've never seen the show because it clashes with University Challenge.

I can't believe that Dave, friend and co-founder of Jock 'n' Roll, tried to phone us during University Challenge tonight. That's bad enough but it was the first of the semi-finals. We ignored it and rang him back straight after it. He told me he been on a train from leeds and got chatting to a guy who in the band End Games, had played on "Sons and Facsination" and got off his head with The Associates.

The shortlist has been announced for the UK Eurovision entry and once again my head is in my hands. Another ensemble of Z-list wannabes and reality show rejects has made the final six. I'm only surprised that Lisa Scott-Lee isn't one of them. The "name" amongst the list is Michelle Gayle and she'll be up against two girls groups; The Revelations and LoveShy, Andy Abrahams, an X-Factor runner-up, and Rob McVeigh and Simona Armstrong, two also-rans from the hideous BBC Joseph and Maria shows. Sadly, the show will have the same strung out formula as so many other shit shows seem to have just now. The show, called "Eurovision: Your Decision" goes out in two parts on 1 March. Of course, I'll be watching it but I'll be on pills of some description!

* The Flickster gets "bits and bobs" and "bits and pieces" confused and comes up with the title of today's entry. God bless her.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Tuesday 12 February 2008

WMESB™: The X57 stopped at the Learmonth Hotel by mistake this morning so I got off there and saved myself £1 and 20 minutes.

I forgot to mention yesterday that we won £25, a runners-up prize, in the Sunday Express Skeleton crossword. It was in the GLW’s name but I fill them all in. That’ll go towards the Sky+ fund.

You would think it’d be easy to order Sky+ but it isn’t. It’s £99 for the box if you order online, as opposed to the normal £149, but I can’t seem to be able to get it without being taken to page offering other services/products. What’s more, new customers, when they purchase it along with other services, get installation for £30, while loyal customers like me would have to fork out £60 just for the installation of the Sky+ box. I think I’d rather do without than pay £159. I may have to phone them. In the end I decided to ask for advice from a website forum that knows about such things.

I’ve also finally sent off to do my Pass Plus course. Uptake in Fife is so poor that Fife Council, in conjunction with Fife Constabulary, only charges £35, a 75% reduction. Anything that can reduce our car insurance is worth doing.

So that’s the TV, telephone, Broadband and car insurance sorted. I’m also going to get back on the prize draw trail, which was reasonably profitable, and try and do a pub quiz in Dunfermline on a Monday night. There’s supposed to be a new pub opening up near Tesco and it’d be nice to get one there, within walking distance of home. Maybe I should try for a quiz on a Tuesday night because, quite frankly, the telly’s gash. I only watch “Shameless”, which isn’t as good as it was but is still better than most things.


Wednesday 13 February 2008

WMESB™: The X57 again stopped where it shouldn’t and I took advantage.

I had a couple more pieces in the Recommends section of The Scotsman today. One was “Best Valentine’s Day Events” and the other was for “Musical Valentines”.

The Evening News are at it again. Yet again a positive story is turned into another pathetic piece of snidy anti-gay propaganda and what the “magic circle” references, tagged on to either end of the story, have got to do with the flag story is beyond me. What’s interesting is that they haven’t actually spoken to any current members of staff because if they did they’d find a lot of support for it. But they don’t make good press. The ex-member of staff quoted must have got in touch with the paper him/herself to stir it up. Bitter or what? And for someone to walk out because of the flag on “religious grounds” is nothing more pathetic piece of attention-seeking. Whoever you are, give yourself a bloody good shake. This is 2008 and we live in a modern multi-cultural society, get over it. If you don’t like it, foxtrot oscar!

That story almost annoys me as much as this one from the same paper. “McMillan told police officers he did not think it was particularly loud” – what, so he turned it up! Twice!! When they crushed his car they should have put him in it. Scum like this really get me wound up. Their sole purpose in life is to upset people and they don’t care about the consequences. Whatever he gets sentenced to it, it won’t be enough. Let this be a lesson to other anti-social scumbags.
(Paul puts away his soap box and walks off, mumbling inaudibly to himself...)

Competition news: My prize still hasn't arrived from Mojo and that's been about 6/7 weeks now. However, I have won another prize from a football website. I've won a pair of Nike football boots, some training cones, a water bottle and a rucksack. Maybe this'll encourage me to get my fitness sorted out. I've had a persistent groin problem which just won't go away. A physio gave me some exercises to do but I've now lost the sheet.
Was it any coincidence that in Tesco tonight the chocolate, champagnes and Valentine's cards section was in the same aisle as, and directly opposite, the condoms?
Every year I do a quiz night for the GLW's office and on the back of that I've been offered another one today. The problem is that it's a charity quiz and whilst it may be for a good cause, I'm loathe to do it for nothing. I put a lot of work into my quiz nights and I've said I'll do it for half my normal (corporate) fee. My agent (the GLW) has left the ball in their court. You do one for nothing and they all want it for free. No more Mr Nice Guy! I've got a mortgage to pay and a wife to keep in shoes.
It surely isn't a coincidence but tonight BT called us and offered to take £2 a month off our Broadband bill. How on earth did they know we were thinking of changing? The GLW played a straight bat and said if we needed to speak to them, we'd give them a call. (Obviously at the weekend, when it's free!)

Monday, February 11, 2008


Monday 11 February 2008

WMESB™: Another driver this morning who doesn’t know how to count. I handed over my ticket and said, “Number 7, please”. I even handed it to him in the right way so he could pop it straight under his punch. Simple? No. He looks at my ticket, turns it around and punched number 8!! How hard can it be to check the numbers on a 12-journey ticket? I say 7, he checks 7, he punches 7, simple. At the Ferrytoll I let an X57 and X58 go but got fed up waiting and went for an X54. Getting these buses instead of a 55 or 53 means I have to pay £1 to get a bus back to Comely Bank but the stress of waiting at the Park and Ride is too much.

My colleague who regularly gives me a lift home is out of the office this afternoon so I’ll have to endure a toll-free delay-ridden journey home on the bus tonight. Sometimes I don’t mind getting the bus home; a time to collect thoughts and become even more disenchanted, but most days I hate it. The queuing, the sullen drivers, the wait at the soulless Ferrytoll for a connection (usually having just missed one by 30 seconds) and the stupidity of other passengers are just a few of the reasons I dread the trip home. Sure, a lot of people have to go through this but I feel that it’s sucking the very life out of me. The 9 to 5 (8 to 4 in my case) bit in the middle is bad enough without spending 2 ½ hours a day to and from it.

There was a piece in yesterday’s Independent about people getting sacked for having compromising photos or making comments about their employer on their blogs or on social networking sites like Bebo, MySpace and Facebook. Everyone I work with knows I hate what I do and having been screwed over by my employer on a number of occasions I’ve every right to feel bitter and aggrieved.

In 2003 I applied for a job within another department. I thought the interview went well and I was disappointed to find out I hadn’t got it but I philosophical. Someone, I forget whom, then tipped me the wink that the result was “dodgy”. I immediately asked for feedback. I found out that I had scored 147 at interview, ahead of the other two candidates, who both scored 144. By all the rules laid down in the recruitment Policy the job should have been mine. It seems that the manager in question decided that he just didn’t want me and decided on an it’s-my-department-and-I’ll-do-what-I-want stance.

Within minutes of the starting the feedback interview it descended into a farce. I kept asking poignant questions and he wouldn’t give me straight answers. I asked to see the scores, which I was legally entitled to, but the manager concerned refused. Eventually, I took out two grievances but these took their toll on my health and by the time I had to face the second highest person in the organisation, who just happened to be a friend of the manager who didn’t want me, I had lost the will to fight on. I should have taken it further because I was right and what I was enduring was just plain wrong, and illegal, but I was mentally and physically exhausted.

The irony of the situation is that one of the reasons cited for me not getting the job was that I was too ambitious yet the girl who was given the job lasted less than years before leaving. The manager in question also left for a cosy 18-hour £30k a year job working from home as a “consultant”. Rather interestingly, the news of this cushy number made the press and I suspect the information came from a disgruntled member of his own team. It probably isn’t healthy but I’ve kept the press cutting just to remind me what a thoroughly obnoxious individual he is.

After that debacle my health continued to suffer. I applied and got a job in a different department but I knew almost immediately that it was a mistake. I lasted a couple of months before an incident with another member of staff resulted in me taking seven months off sick with anxiety, stress and depression. This individual made a racist remark and when I asked her not to say it again she repeated it! At the time both of my senior members of staff were on holiday and when they came back they weren’t interesting in disciplining her.

The tale of woe continues. Upon my eventual return to work I was placed in a department that had no work for me to do. For nine months, in a room on my own, I did nothing but crosswords and puzzles. And that’s my employer’s idea of rehabilitation – putting me in something akin to solitary confinement. I constantly asked for work; I even went to other departments. I was told that when we moved to a new building that things would be different. Wrong! At one point my compassionate manager suggested that “you don’t need a manager, you need a social worker”!! I complained to Personnel and got a face-to-face apology.

Eventually I was redeployed to the post I currently hold. At first it was like I had a new lease of life. I was busy and enjoying myself. I lightened the mood in an office that was having staffing problems. Four members of this small office weren’t getting on with each other. Two years on and all four have gone to pastures new (I liked two of them and didn’t like the other two). Unfortunately the job now has more troughs than peaks and I’m back to twiddling my thumbs. My new colleagues and I are now helping out other departments because we’re quiet work-wise. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told that, “You’re wasted here”! I need to be in a more creative environment, one where I can use my skills and talents so I can fulfil my potential. At the moment I feel that the very life is being sucked out of me and my motivation is draining away. The knock-on effect is that I have no motivation at home and I’m losing interest in all the hobbies that normally bring my some contentment. All the projects I’ve started have been fallen by the wayside and I seem to spend my time on the PC player iPool. I need to be jumped started with a new challenge (and a big fuck-off pair of spark plugs), but something that pays the bills to keep the GLW happy.

Therefore, I make no apologies if my employer feels that I may be having a go at them because, in this democratic society we live in, I am entitled to my opinion and I will fight for that right.

I didn’t bother about the weekend crosswords yesterday because I used a black cloud of depression as an excuse to take it out on my study by clearing out loads of shit. I filled the whole paper bin and took some stuff up to the recycling centre. It was a job well done although I’m still not entirely happy with the room. At least now I can see the carpet. I do, however, still have a big pile of paperwork to sort and file – a good excuse to go stationery shopping.

That reminds me. After work on Friday I accompanied a colleague into Clinton Cards on Princes Street. Coming down the stairs I spotted a row of signs showing which sections were where within the shop. Sadly, and rather worryingly for a card shop, one of the signs read “Social Stationary”. That’s right, stationery with an A!!! I took a photo on my phone (when I learn how to upload it I will) before spotting the same mistake on another similar sign on the way out!! Unbelievable. (I’ve now e-mailed them).

I missed my mate Mark on "Goldenballs" again. Watched "University Challenge", then "Mastermind" (on tape and fast forwarded through the dull specialist subjects, which, in tonight's case, was all of them) and later on it's "Damages". Until then I'm off to the newly gutted study to listen to Jackie Leven and update the Jock 'n' Roll website.

Haste ye back!

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Friday 8 February 2008

WMESB™: Thanks to a late D7, driven by an ex-Yellow Taxibus driver, I missed the 55, which was also running late. I ran for it but it went. I decided I couldn’t be arsed waiting for the next one or the 53 so I got on the X57. The driver, who I had crossed swords with before, made a point of reminding me that it doesn’t stop at the Learmonth Hotel. I heard him but I ignored him. I took my seat behind him by which time he’d got of his seat to repeat what he’d said. “Yeah, I know”, I said firmly as I continued unravelling my mp3 headphones.

Little does he know that the only reason it doesn’t stop there is because I withdrew my request for it to do so. I could’ve been selfish and got it to stop there but realistically it would only have been for me. For the benefit of others, I declined the opportunity to have my own stop. I could’ve explained this to this driver but I suspect that he’d have been too stupid to understand and that, more than likely, I would’ve made some witty retort that would’ve got me thrown on the bus.

It seems that the Operations Manager from Stagecoach tried to call me at work when I was off and no one bothered to pass on the message! He called back to tell me that the D3/D4 will be changing route to accommodate the new Health Centre on Linburn Road as well as other new houses. As a result, they won’t come within 100 yards of the Masterton Roundabout. I don’t get the D3/D4 often enough now to complain about walking a few more yards but I suspect some people, those most in need of exercise, will whinge about it. He was telling me that he does, from time to time, take a bus out, which surprised me because he once said that he couldn’t travel by bus because he gets motion sickness! He even told me that he drives his car to Tesco, which is literally the other side of the roundabout from where he lives. Unbelievable. He also said that he parks as close to the front door as possible, including, if necessary, the hatched area you’re not supposed to park on. He’s no better than a murderer – bring back hanging! I may drive the short walk to Tesco but at least I park at the far end so I have a decent walk to the front door.

This week's Dunfermline (De) Press isn't as "interesting" as last week's although the Fife Free Press has a small item about a couple sentenced to probabtion for committing incest. Mind you it was only a sister and half-brother so I suppose it's only half incest.


Banks 'cancel good payers' cards'
Eggs acts over 'risky' customers

Once again money lenders are moving the goalposts. The campaign against high bank charges has galvanised them to find other ways of making money out of customers, which is all they seem to care about. Lenders don't seem to realise the knock-on effect towards their other products. Is someone who has had their Egg card cancelled going to use that company or their affiliates again? No. In the long run the lenders will lose custom. Customers have never been more savvy about their finances.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Thursday 7 February 2008

WMESB™: A big queue at the Ferrytoll meant only one thing – the 55 was late. Thankfully the X57 and X54 turned up first and everyone in front of me, bar a dithering couple, got on them. I pounced and walked all the way round to the 55, which snuck in behind the first two.

It was back to work today after two days of flu-like symptoms. I was floored but I slept it off and am back fighting fit. Well, as fit as I ever was.

Last night’s video tape de-cluttering went very well. While watching England beat the Swiss I had hundreds of blank videos spread out on the living room floor. The video sleeves were removed and recycled whilst the videos themselves will be taken to the local recycling place. A job well done methinks. I saved about a dozen tapes but otherwise I was ruthless. I’ve no doubt that I’ll have thrown out some wee gems but sometimes you have to bite the bullet. We needed the space. If I had the time or the technology I’d have gone through them and saved stuff of interest but I haven’t. So there.

I got a lift home tonight and during the journey I spotted the Head of Finance on his mobile phone when we overtook him. A wind up e-mail tomorrow methinks. Actually, I spotted a number of people doing likewise tonight. I took the old videos, and an old telly, to the recycling centre. On the way there a woman behind me at the top of Linburn Road was blethering away on her phone. I wagged my finger at her but then I got so distracted I stalled! Then on the way home I was tailgated all the way up Halbeath Road by another twat on his phone. Knob.

(After stopping off at Tesco for some messages (that's Scots for "shopping") and the Dunfermline(De)Press, I then had to return when I realised that I had somehow managed to lose the GKLW's deodorant!)

Reluctantly I sat through "Waterloo Road", one of the GLW's favourites, so I could (a) finish my tea (pasta and coronation chicken - yummy!) and (b) sit back and enjoy the return of Gene Hunt. "Ashes To Ashes" certainly didn't disappoint and I was great looking for cultural references from my own youth for a change. Tab, Sony Walkman, Adam and the Ants; all there and more. Roll on next week.

Fire up the Quattro!!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Wednesday 6 February 2008

As George in Flick's favourite "Peppa Pig" would say, "I'm not very well". I've had two days off work and apart from a trip each day to collect the car I've been moping about the house feeling rather sorry for myself.

I hate to say I told you so but this story from the BBC backs up what I said on 31 January and 25 January about Stagecoach and bus fares. They're saving money by not paying the bridge toll but they won't pass it on to passengers because the Scottish Government have frozen Fuel Duty Rebate/Bus Service Operators' Grant/whatever you want to call it and it'll cost the bus industry £7.5m in 18 months. My heart bleeds purple piss for them.

What gets me is how price hikes, sorry "reviews" are now an annual occurrence. We all remember when football teams used to bring out a new strip every three or four years and then the money-grabbers decided to change it (and the away/third/cup/testimonial kits) every season. Now it seems that bus fares are going the same way. Stagecoach may blame the Government for the apparently going against their own green claims but they have a part to play themselves. I wonder how long it'll be before Stagecoach goes into property management.

When I'm ill I like nothing better than to cuddle up on the settee and watch "Diagnosis Murder". Okay, so it's no "Morse" or "Poirot" but I don't have to think about it. Only I didn't get to indulge myself today because it was a bloody repeat!! I have myself all psyched up. I had the hankies, the hot drink, the remote control; all within arms reach, but what do I get, a bloody repeat! Still, at least I have my health...just.

On my £1.20 ten-minute bus trip to pick up the car this lunchtime I saw a sight I hadn't seen in quite a while. I saw someone using a telephone box and, no, they weren't peeing in it of skinning up in it, they were actually using the phone. I thought everyone had a mobile phone. Even some tramps have got mobiles, and it's usually better than mine! The BBC Online has a piece on this very subject in today's Magazine section.

Whilst still on the subject of phones, I really must thank David Hepworth for introducing me, and no doubt many others, to "Don't Hang Up". The premises of this radio show was quite simple. The presenter would call a phone box somewhere in the world and record the conversations with whoever picked up the phone. The one linked on David's blog is brilliant, albeit dark, and I recommend it to everyone. Only nine of them were made and "Speechification" has two of them.

The GLW calls the National Lottery a "stupidity tax" and I can't argue with that but with this week's Euro-Millions set for a "Superdraw" jackpot of £95m who can resist a wee shot. I often while away bus journeys wondering just what I would do with that sort of money. Obviously, that sort of money is too much money and I would share some of it out between friends and family. I know who my friends are and thier loyalty would be rewarded. I'd probably want a big house, somewhere in Edinburgh, a decent car and a nice long holiday. Oh, the joy of never having to work again.

The GLW are continuing our de-cluttering of the house. Tonight, before I settle down to watch the England match, I'm going to bag up all those videos that have sat at the back of the shelves in the study gathering dust (Blank ones, not pre-recorded). I've no doubt there are many gems held within them but we haven't looked at them in years and any films that we want can easily be purchased cheaply enough. They've gotta go.

Monday, February 04, 2008


Monday 4 February 2008

WMESB™: No problems and I even managed to catch the 55, which I usually just miss.

I’m back in my normal office this week after spending a week in Recruitment. We’re up to date and there’s bugger all to do so we’re being loaned out to Training and Recruitment to give them a hand.

Watched “Later” over the weekend and was impressed enough with Radiohead to want their new album. Cat Power and Mary J Blige left me rather cold though.

Crossword Watch: The Scotsman has the Sports Crossbar and the Express has two crosswords on a Monday. I’ll have them knocked out and in the post by lunchtime. Winning the crossword prize in the local papers is one thing but it’d be nice to win a “biggie”. Anything over £500 would be welcome. That reminds me, I really must do a blog about all the competition prizes I’ve won and the game shows I’ve done. The only problem with the latter is that the information is then out in the open and any production assistant worth their salt can find it and then, almost certainly, rule me out for being some sort of “professional”. I’m by no means a quizzing pro, I just love doing quiz and game shows. I get a kick out of it. Any prize, whether big or small, is a bonus. I think I make a good contestant because I enjoy myself, am not bothered by the cameras and I help to lighten the mood for more nervous contestants.

I see that the Scottish Government are investing money in teaching newcomers how to speak English. I do hope Charlie Nicholas takes up the offer.

Today’s Top 10 doing the e-mail rounds was Top 10 Favourite Albums EVER. My list, in no particular order, went as follows:

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
Marc and the Mambas – Torment and Toreros
Radiohead – OK Computer
Ella Washington – He Called Me Baby
The Smiths – The Smiths
Aztec Camera – High Land, Hard Rain
Teenage Fanclub – Grand Prix
Nirvana – Unplugged
Belle and Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
Scott Walker – Scott 4

Of course, the list would be different tomorrow but off the top of my head I'll stick with those.

A nice surprise when I got home was the arrival of the new Mojo magazine. The covermount CD, "a treasury of British indie rock", is called "Beloved" and features a picture of Diana Dors. This ties in with the cover stars, The Smiths. You may have heard of them. The magazine runs down their 50 Greatest UK Indie Records (singles or albums) of All-Time. While every issue of Q his dominated by lists, Mojo only does them now and again and are, as a result, more interesting. I read the list to the GLW and it was like we were swapping football cardsat school...got..got..got on tape, got, why haven't we got that?... (note to self: really must get "Pillows and Prayers")

I won't spoil the Top 50 but the tracklist for the CD is as follows:

1. The House of Love - Real Animal
2. Felt - Penelope Tree
3. The Las - Son of a Gun (Liz Kershaw session 31/5/88)
4. The Monochrome Set - He's Frank (Slight Return)
5. The Loft - Up The Hill and Down The Slope
6. The Blue Aeroplanes - Jacket Hangs
7. The Sound - Total Recall
8. Orange Juice- Simple Thrilled Honey
9. McCarthy - Keep An Open Mind, Or Else
10. Jane - It's A Fine Day
11. The Wild Swans - The Revolutionary Spirit
12. The Teardrop Explodes - Reward (Mike Read session 16/10/80)
13. The Gist - Love At First Sight
14. Wah! Heat - 7 Minutes To Midnight
15. Half Man Half Biscuit - God Gave Us Life

A girl/lady/what you will on "Mastermind" did the "Life and Music of Kurt Cobain2 and I surprised myself by getting about 8, which isn't bad for someone else's specialist subject. She was leading at half way but her bottle crashed during the General Knowledge round and she lost out by a couple of points.

Why the Beeb have put "Watchdog" up against "Mastermind" is beyond me but the BBC iPlayer has resolved that problem, thankfully. I really must investigate Sky+

I'm going through an Icicle Works-Wah-Care-Wild Swans phase just now. If that doesn't cheer me up then nothing will.

Right, I'm off to watch "Watchdog" on iPlayer, finish off the Herculis crossword from the Telegraph, watch "Damages" (I'm hooked) and make a start, without reference to the internet, on the Mojo crossword. I might even get my last prize before I win it again. I say, might!

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Sunday 3 February 2008

Another two days off and I don't seem to achieved much. Sure, all the recycling's done and the comps and crosswords were completed in record time but I don't feel much has been done. There's always next weekend.

No sooner had I posted my Five Things I Hate and Will Never Like list and who should pop up on the telly but Lisa Scott-Lee. Is it just me or is she the most desperate despicable kind of minor celebrity imaginable.

Apparently the production assistants for "Duel" were phoning prospective victims, sorry, contestants on Friday for this Tuesday's Edinburgh audition. As I haven't heard anything I'll assume I've not been picked. I'm disappointed but it's not the first rejection and I don't suppose it'll be the last. Saturday's edition of "Duel" wasn't exactly great telly, with not one penny won by any contestant. "In It To Win It" wasn't much better with only £30,000 in the cash fund at the end, which, for you stat fans is the joint second lowest ever. One consolation for the Beeb was that they won the ratings war. Okay, technically they weren't in direct opposition but "In It To Win It" was the second most watched show of the night with 7.7 million, a 34% share, whilst "Duel" floundered with 12% and only 2.8 million watchers.

I believe there will be a slight change in the format next week with winners now being forced to stay on until they either lose or win the jackpot. (Currently, after two wins they can opt to take 10% of the jackpot or £10,000 (depending on which chip they choose) or go on. So far afer three shows the two contestants who have had the option have taken the money and ran). Sadly, I'm not sure that'll make much difference.

The dumbing down of the British quiz show means there will be more shows like this where contestants will appear to be thicker and thicker and the viewers, like me, will get angrier and angrier and, ultimately, switch off. I actually think "Duel" is one of those shows where a better level of quizzer would add to the battle.

During one of the breaks on "Duel" there was an advert for a Renault Twingo. Is that not the most stupid name for a car you can ever imagine? It sounds like it should be covered in chocolate with a light wafer filling. "Oh, I'm off to the Bingo in my Renault Twingo"..."I've run over a Dingo in my Renault Twingo"

Random thoughts:

(a) Just how do you decide you want to be a pole vaulter?
(b) Scottish Rugby, why?
(c) The Five ThirtyShow is a load of pish. Discuss.

Friday, February 01, 2008


Friday 1 February 2008

WMESB™: Today’s driver thought about selling me the wrong ticket (I saw him go right to the bottom of the menu on his screen) but then he issued me with the one I asked for (“Mega 8 on your machine”), the correct one. I had my e-mail from the Operations Manager up my sleeve just in case. In a way I was quite disappointed because I was waiting for the fight!

Copying a subject from another Blog (Thanks Five-Centres), Dave, Joe and I discussed “Five Things We Used To Like But Now Hate”, “Five Things We Used To Hate But Now Like” and “Five Things We Hate and Would NEVER Like” to ease the boredom of the day.

Here are my choices:

Five things I used to like, but now hate:

Nigella Lawson (I like some meat on the bones but she’s just let herself go)
Embrace (Does every song have to be “anthemic”?)
Public transport (Fun as a child, nightmare as an adult)
My Space/Facebook/Bebo (a total waste of my time)
The Bee Gees (their attitude, not their music)

Five things I used to hate, but now like:

Black pudding/corn beef/meat in general (not big on beef though)
Diana Ross (only in her capacity as lead singer with The Supremes)
New Tricks (if only for Dennis Waterman’s comedy teeth)
Gardening (well, cutting the lawn)
Disney films (the corporation is evil but the old films are classics)

Never liked and never will like:

Ian Wright (arrogance and stupidity is a bad mix)
Liver (just vile)
Rugby Union (for people who don’t like sport)
Rosyth (makes Dunfermline look like Barcelona)
Brussel Sprouts (evil)

Well done to Rosean Carlin for getting a result against her (now former) property management company Ross and Liddell. The story is here and featured on BBC Scotland's “Scotland’s Property Nightmare” programme earlier in the year. A quick look on the www.factorcharges.info site made me laugh. When you go to the link of Recommended Factors you get…well, I won’t spoil the surprise. See for yourself HERE. I’m already had a rant about property management companies, including the one serving my area (see entry on Thursday 10 January) so I won’t go over it again but it is definitely the latest “licence to print money”. Advice: If you’re buying a house, find out if there’s a factor. There might be good ones out there but my experience is that most of them are not.

I’ve decided not to give up on my bus shelter just yet. (There were three brass monkeys there this morning crying their eyes out). Four Fife councillors cover my area but unfortunately they’re from three different parties and they don’t seem to talk to each other. You find that the minority party is the one that puts the effort in to help you and the others don’t care because they have the power. Anyway, I’ve written to one, copied the others in and we’ll see what action, if any, is taken. Watch this space, that’s right, the one where my bus shelter should be.

Every Friday is “Fat Friday”. It’s always fish and chips in the canteen and the low fat, light, fat free food is binned. I still have fruit and water but it’s the fish and chips, with tartare sauce (what’s actually in tartare sauce? It’s like mayonnaise with bits, isn't it?) that sets me up for the weekend. What with the numerous puzzles and crosswords in the Express (only reason I buy it) and the quiz one of our bosses sends us at 11am I’m surprised I have time for any work. Only joking…or am I?

Have you ever read such a pointless, muck-raking story as this from today's Edinburgh Evening News? Take away the gay and police elements of the story and what have you got? Exactly, brussel sprout. And I thought it was only the Daily Ranger who hated Lothian and Borders Police. What's also interesting is that the online version of this story has changed a number of times since it was first published today, with more quotes from Chief Inspector Lyle himself being added, and the Comments section was removed very early on. This was possibly down to the homophobic nature of some of the comments posted. I have to say that I know David and as far as I'm concerned what he does in his private life is his business. He's not doing anything illegal and it doesn't affect his ability to do his job.

Wednesday 30 January 2008

I found out yesterday that Fife Council has turned down my request for a bus shelter. I’ll just have to continue freezing my nads off as the wind tunnel that is Aberdour Road bites through my weary bones.

Following on from our discussion about our Top 10 Opening and Closing album Tracks, we moved on to our Best Ever Gigs.

Dave went for:

“1. Radiohead - Glastonbury 1997 by a mile
2. American Music Club - Venue 1992
3. Go Betweens Glasgow 1997
4. REM/10,000 maniacs Hammersmith Odeon 1987
5. New Order - Glasgow 1985 (encores were Blue Monday and Love will tear us apart!)
6. Smiths - Caley Palais 1984
7. That Petrol Emotion- Venue 1987
8. Sonic Youth/Mudhoney/ My Bloody valentine- Strathclyde Uni 1989
9. Afghan Whigs - Venue 1994
10. Buffalo Tom - Queen's Hall 1995

Saw the Pogues loads and they were always good and there was one at Barrowlands with both Strummer and Kirsty Maccoll.

Now top 5 worst gigs...

1. Felt- Venue 1987 (saw them 6 months before and they were great then but boy they sucked that night)
2. New Order - Playhouse 1985 (the night before 5 above on the best list).
3. Rose of Avalanche - Venue 1987 (Martin had no one to go with)
4. Seahorses - Glastonbury 1997
5. Weather Prophets Venue 1987

Weirdest gig ever was Nico at the Venue in 1987

1987 was the peak of my gig going career. I had a summer job and was at the Venue most weekends, which is why 6 out of 16 are from then.

And yes I did see 1000 Violins yes and they would be Top 20. Remember one night at the Venue the DJ played Consolation Prize just before they came on. '1000 Violins will play for you...' ”

I plumped for a Top 12, in no particular order, of:

Aztec Camera/The Go-Betweens – Caley Palais 1984 (highest stage in the world)
Primal Scream/Teenage Fanclub – Moray House 1986 (Stuart Cant lost money promoting this gig. Six months later they were both huge!)
The Pixies – Queen’s Hall 1988 (loudest gig ever!)
Echo and the Bunnymen/Benny Profane/KLF – Bootle, Liverpool 1990 (The KLF were in an ice cream van. I only went down to see Benny Profane. Mac wasn’t with the Bunnymen then.)
Ride – Venue 1990
The Orchids/Paintbomb! – Blue Blanket 1993 (first and last venture into rock promotion)
The Smiths – Whole Scottish tour of 7 dates, including Shetland 1985 (best 10 days gigging ever)
The Woodentops – 1986 (won tickets from Cut magazine)
The Smiths/Pete Shelley – Brixton Academy 1986 (The Smiths last ever gig)
Eugenius/The Delgados/The Kaisers – Edinburgh 1996 (great triple bill)
The Webb Brothers/I Am Kloot – The Venue, Edinburgh 2001
The Proclaimers/The Rezillos/Mull Historical Society – Princes Street Gardens 2001(Hogmanay gig that was fabulous)
The Wedding Present – Liquid Rooms 2007 (So many faces from the past in the crowd)

Not put in any 1000 Violins or Popguns but I loved each and every one of their gigs. Saw the Violins about 19 times, the most of any band.

Worst Gigs:
The Crows/Lixx – The Venue 1988 (I accompanied a friend and I hated it)
The Neighbourhood – Newcastle 1988 (A Violins gig was cancelled and Roger and I ended up at the Riverside watching a sub-Simply Red band. Then spent 6 hours in the bus station talking nonsense)
Gerry Sadowitz/Andrew Berry – Manchester 1989 (went on my own, sat on my own, got pished on my own, threw up and got the bus back home. Nookie Brown, never again)
Television Personalities – Moray House 1989 (Awful sound that seem to go on for ever)
REM/Cranberries/Belly – Murrayfield 1995 (Awful sound and full of part-time REM fans who only knew half the hits, although REM were pretty good)

1993 was my biggest year for gigs (23) and 1992/2006 were my worst with only 2 gigs. In 1992 I was in the Navy and I only saw BMX Bandits and Action Painting that year. And even then I only saw Action Painting! (who were in the transition from Sarah Records outfit to NWONW wannabes) because they played at Kelly’s Hotel in Gosport, which was just round the corner from HMS Dolphin. By the way, I can recommend Room 4 at Kelly's as it has a mirrored four-poster bed, but that’s another story - what goes on tour, stays on tour! As for 2006, when I saw Roddy Frame and Maria McKee (not together) I was just an old fart with a child and responsibilities! By the way, Happy Birthday for yesterday Roddy!