Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Tuesday 27 May 2008

I had a busy day yesterday as I finally managed to record my 15 June show after last week’s debacle. Although it took two trips to the studio before I could actually get in, due to problems with the lock.

The show went smoothly and I managed to copy my other shows on to my new 4GB Flash Drive so I can practice my editing. It’s great having access to the net while doing the show because it means I can flesh out my own notes, usually gathered form the sleeve notes.

When I got home I cut the grass at the front and back of the house, while the GLW painted our bedroom.

Gaz gave me a belated birthday present of two cracking CDs, namely the Trojan Tribute To Bob Marley Box Set and the Eels b-sides and rarities compilation, “Useless Trinkets”.

I’ve spent a couple of hours everyday this past week ripping my CDs to my PC, starting with all the stuff I play on my radio show. This is mainly so I can search them better, especially for themed shows or my Connect 3 feature.

For one week only, to accommodate the meaningless England-USA friendly, The Apprentice is on tonight. If you’re a fan of the show I strongly recommend you check out Andrew Collins’ weekly reviews and the Lego Apprentice firings on YouTube.

If Orange’s new Pay As You Go requires a £10 a month minimum subscription then doesn’t that just make it a contract? Talking of Orange, I’m still waiting to hear from them as regards the promise of receiving three months of itemised bills so I could investigate what I was being charged. I was particularly concerned with a possible reverse-charged text message. I was also promised 100 free texts for the inconvenience and they never told me when I would get them. It was only when I got a text message telling me that the 100 free texts had finished that I found out I had them all along! The letters were written on 9 February, 20 March and 7 May and I’ve heard hee-haw from Orange in that time. I even copied the last letter to OFCOM. What an easy way to lose a customer who has been with them since he got his first mobile. It’s not as if I don’t have other companies to choose from. I shall take my business elsewhere.

In the wake of Sir Terry Wig-on’s denouncement of the Eurovision Song Contest I find it interesting the luminaries they dragged out to back him up – Bruce Forsyth, Simon Cowell and Max Clifford. What on earth have any of those got to do with Eurovision?

I got home tonight to find the new Mojo (this month's free CD is punk from 1977) and another one of those bloody leaflets from a company claiming to collect old clothes for Eastern Europeans. This time the company are called Second-Hand Ltd (no doubt they're related to Ambertop, European Supplies, Lunetex, Kraslava and the numerous other companies who come and go within a short space of time). They appear to be based in Alloa. HERE is a good site for information on these companies and their various nom-de-plumes.

Over the years they changed their leaflets to say that they're commercial companies but they give the impression that they're charities. The only Eastern European families helped by these collections are the families of the people who own these companies. They sell the stuff for profit. If you have any old clothes, shoes etc then please give them to well-known, reputable charities and not these scamsters. A quick check of the internet and you'll find loads of complaints from people, as well as local Trading Standards.

I e-mailed ITV last night to ask them why ITV's competitions on Mr & Mrs, Real Deal and Loose Women etc all have free route of entry (via the web) yet Scottish Television's Watch to Win and Scotsport's Dream Ticket didn't. They replied as follows: "Please note that there has been a change in the way ITV competitions are run, due to the new Gambling Commission laws. It is now a legal requirement to provide a free route of entry, which is 4 day web entry, (this is for 4 working days after the programme is shown). Please note that STV are a separate company to ITV, so you will need to contact them directly with any queries regarding their competitions."

So I e-mailed STV to ask them and I'll let you know what they say. I brought this subject up before with STV's Scotsport but they just fobbed me off. I noticed that The Gadget Show on Five doesn't offer a NPN (No Purchase Necessary) route either, even if they are giving away £15k worth of gadgets. Scotsport recently asked what Rangers' nickname was and gave the choices of (a) Teddy Bears, (b) The Lions or (c) The Jags. Okay, some people, who aren't into football might not know that but the only people to watch Scotsport are Scottish football fans and they'd need shooting if they didn't know the answer was (a).

Friday, May 23, 2008


Sunday 18 May

We had another competition win yesterday. This time it was £25 of Sodexho vouchers, which could be used at places like Comet, Waterstone’s etc. I don’t even know where I won it from although I suspect it’ll have something to do with our works canteen, which is run by Sodexho (or Sodexo as they’re know known). I always enter any prize draws or competitions they have lying around.

Tonight’s radio show was my Eurovision special and it went swimmingly. Throughout the show I counted down my personal Top 10 Eurovision tracks, which I’ve listed below. They'll also be available for download for a limited time. Feel free to let me know what you think of my selections.

10 Gina G – Ooh Aah…Just A Little Bit (UK 1996)
9 The New Seekers – Beg, Steal or Borrow (UK 1972)
8 Secret Garden – Nocturne (Norway 1995)
7 Teach-Inn – Ding Dinge Dong (Holland 1975)
6 Beth – Dime (Spain 2003)
5 Dana International – Diva (Israel 1998)
4 Severine – Un Banc, Un Arbre, Une Rue (Monaco 1971)
3 F.L.Y. – Hello From Mars (Latvia 2003)
2 Brainstorm – My Star (Latvia 2000)
1 France Gall – Poupee de Cire, Poupee de Son (France 1965)

Monday 19 May

What a day off! After dropping off The Flickster at nursery and the GLW at the station, I drove to Kirkcaldy to record a show for a few weeks time, when I’m off to see Teenage Fanclub. I finished the show but there was a 20-second bit in the middle that was really crappy, when I cued up the wrong record, and I wanted to edit it out. I did everything that Colin had shown me last night and I thought that was that. It was only when I was recording a couple of “dry beds” for trailers that I spotted that the show I had just done was only 24 minutes long. I couldn’t believe it – somehow I’d managed to delete ¾ of my show!!! It was so deflated. I could’ve stayed and done it again but I was emotionally drained.

I drove home and consoled myself with some comfort food before lifting myself up again and heading into Dunfermline to get my haircut. After my first three choices were all closed or shut permanently I found another one. I also got a prescription from Boots, although I had to wait behind a man who reeked of piss.

As has become the norm now the mail didn’t arrive until early afternoon. Confirmation had at last come through from Travelodge about our weekend in Dundee. We won a weekend for four via the Sportsword crossword in the Sunday Express and we decided on somewhere where we could get a train to but was close enough that Flick wouldn’t get bored on the train. She’ll be excited at having a bridge to go over.

I managed to sell the football boots I’d won a wee while ago. Someone in Ireland got them for a bargain price of £33, plus £8 postage. I tried to sell them through the Free Ads in the (De)Press but we never got one phone call – tasteless swines.

Tuesday 20 May

Watched the first semi-final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest and, as ever, it was a mixed bunch. The GLW and I had our score sheets (downloaded from the BBC) and we marked the acts on Song, Performance, Dance Routine and Outfit. We scored each category out of 10 and, as if to underline the poor quality of this semi, my highest scorer got 24. The GLW and I both scored The Netherlands highly but unbelievably they didn’t make it through to the final. Dustin the Turkey, the puppet representing Ireland, was the only act I heard getting booed, which I found strange considering some of the other “comedy” records played.

Wednesday 21 May

Watched the first 90 minutes of the Champions League final before the GLW came in and we watched The Apprentice via Sky+. I wanted Manchester United to win because they only really have one player that I hate (Rio Ferdinand) whereas Chelsea have Drogba (always holding his face looking for imaginary blood from an imaginary elbow), Ashley “I Can’t Live on £50k a week” Cole, Carvalho (the archetypal sleekit Portuguese defender) and England’s John Terry (to give him his full name).

After The Apprentice, where we were shocked to see posh Raif given his marching orders, we caught the end of the penalty shoot out. Man Utd had just gone 6-5 up and up stepped the enigma that is Nicolas Anelka in the torrential Moscow rain. Edwin van der Sar palmed away the poor effort at a height goalkeepers love and the cup was heading to Old Trafford. Whilst my schadenfreude-o-meter went into overdrive at the sight of England’s John Terry in tears, I was interested to see Anelka looking like he just didn’t care. He comes across as nothing but a football mercenary, going from one big money transfer to another, with his agent/brother pocketing nice tidy sums each time.

Thursday 22 May 2008

I heard today that Tom Waits is playing the Edinburgh Playhouse and tickets are £95!! That's outrageous, how can they justify that?

My mate, who works for a leading software company, is getting me Adobe Audition for a mere fraction of its full price so I can practice editing my radio show. Good lad.

Watched the second Eurovision semi tonight (two semis in one week!!) and it was definitely better than Tuesday's. I correctly predicted 7 of the 10 finalists and the GLW got 6. As I mentioned before the UK has the draw of death as no-one has ever won going second. Add to that the fact that everyone hates us and the song is only just okay, I predict a finish of 14th which, under the circumstances, would be respectable. I think Sweden will win with host country Serbia and Russia going close and turkey is my outside bet. But hey, what do I know, I've never won a Eurovision bet at the bookies.

Oh, by the way, did I tell you I managed to secure an interview with top (female) snooker and pool referee Michaela Tabb? If you have any questions for her by all means let me know. I'm also looking for an mp3 of Half Man Half Biscuit's "The Len Ganley Stance" if anyone has it! With the assistance of Dave, Gaz and Joe I've put together a killer list of snooker/pool related tunes to play.

Sent off Top 5 Hospital Radio Stations to David Lee at The Scotsman for the Recommends section. Obviously I put Kirkcaldy VRN at the top but Perth are the other big Scottish station.

Friday 23 May

Thank f*** the weekend is here. Some stupid idiot tried to run my down on George Street when I was walking across the zebra crossing. If I hadn't been paying attention I'd have been listening to hospital radio myself. I reported the driver, who seemed to be in a world of her own. Even when I slapped the side of her car as she went past there was no reaction from her. I've said it before and I'll say it again - people get right on my tits!

Last night I sent my first ever letter(e-mail) to the Metro letters page. There'd been some discussion, which I hadn't seen, about the easy questions STV uses for their Watch to Win competitions. I made the point that these competitions, because they are effectively lotteries down to the lack of skill (i.e. the questions/answers are insultingly easy) they are illegal. The National Lottery is the only recognised lottery in the UK. (I think the Euromillions comes under some other jurisdiction). I have e-mailed STV in the past on this subject but they're not interested, such is their arrogance. The ISP (Institute of Sales Promotions) agrees with me but their e-mail to STV was ignored. That was in 2005 before the current spate of phone-in scandals. It might come back to bite them on the backside - here's hoping.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Wednesday 14 May 2008

Just don't get me started on Glasgow Rangers Football Club...

Thursday 15 May 2008

Took the day off because I have a couple of radio shows to record in advance due to clashes with events I already have tickets for. I'm going to record one today and one on Monday. The two events I'm going to are Dr.Doolittle at the King's Theatre and Teenage Fanclub at Oran Mor in June.

Dropped off The Flickster and the GLW and drove over to the studio. The great thing about recording in advance is that if you make a mess of the intor you can just start again. I ended up staying there for three hours because I spent an hour trying to edit out 6 blank seconds at the start and a crap bit at the end. I didn't manage it so I'll give the Programme Controller Colin a call for advice.

The show I recorded was a Girls Special with almost all of the tracks coming from the One Kiss Leads To Another box set.

Friday 16 May 2008

Back to work for one day and the usual ennui ensued. At least I had a gig to look forward to. The Vaselines have reformed and are supporting Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and The Pearlfishers' David Scott at the Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline. You can read about it HERE.

I should congratulate the Carnegie Hall because my mate Phil, who bought the tickets, wasn't charged for using a credit card and wasn't charged a booking fee. Well done.

Saturday 17 May 2008

After a late night, I had a lie in today. I watched the FA Cup final although I wished I'd spent the time more constructively because it was pretty dull.

Found out today that Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes are playing a gig in Glasgow in September! It's a Monday night and I'd probably have to take the next day off but boy would it be worth it.

Tomorrow night I'm doing my Eurovision special on VRN and on Monday I'm recording one for mid-June. I may pencil in a haircut and, if the weather's okay, a trim of the back lawn. A man's work is never done.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Monday 12 May 2008

WMESB™: The D7 due at The Paddock at 0643 didn't show up until 0658, trailing behind the bus it should have been 15 minutes in front of! In fact my mate Phil and three others got off the later D7 at my stop so they could get on the "earlier" bus behind (so they could go directly to the Ferrytoll). We also had to tell the driver which way to go when he got to Rosyth Crossroads.

Then, after getting off the D7 at the Ferrytoll, we got on the 0710 X54. When I showed the driver my ticket and said, "Transfer" he tried to grab it off me. I resisted and pointed out that it had already been stamped on the D7. He said that that's not how the ticket works! I told him he was wrong and my fellow passengers getting on the bus agreed.

I noticed in a recent edition of the Dunfermline (De)Press that someone was fined £400 for assaulting a driver by pushing him after an argument over a ticket, an argument that the passenger was apparently correct in. Whilst I would never condone assaulting a driver, it really is no wonder that passengers get frustrated when drivers don't know the simplest aspects of their job; like where they're going or how the tickets work. In a time when every passenger is vital to Stagecoach getting the basics wrong is not the best way to keep passengers. My wife and I have already decided to get a second car, one we can ill afford, because the stress of travelling by public transport in Fife is affecting my health. Having no direct service from the biggest housing expansion in Europe, which is advertised as a commuter belt, to Edinburgh only serves to exasperate this.

I haven’t had a good bus rant for a while but that would coincide with me not having actually been on one but surely that’s just a coincidence.

Had a busy few days with a hospital radio presenters meeting last Wednesday, a quiz night at The Pleasance on Friday and my radio show yesterday. It’s also a busy week coming up too. I’ve got two shows to prepare and record in advance, as well as my live Eurovision special next weekend, I’m off to the Scotsman tonight for a book launch*, I’m doing another quiz night on Thursday and I might be going to see Norman Blake in Dunfermline on Friday. (*The Scotsman’s Recommends column, for which I regularly contribute, has been made into a book and I’ve been invited along. I’m not even sure if I’m in it but it’s a good opportunity to meet the publisher and put forward a couple of ideas Dave and I have for books. Nothing ventured, nothing gained…)

Last night’s radio show started off rather shakily, due in no small part to the studio being like a furnace. It didn’t help that I forgot my script, which I hadn’t written! I trust my listeners found my bumbling ineptitude endearing. I had a couple of calls from listeners during the show, although one was from a guy who calls every week and asks for the same record. The problem with that is that (a) that’s what the weekly Request shows are for (they’re from Mon to Fri 8 - 10 pm) and (b) we’re not supposed to play records for people who are not actually in the hospital. My show is prepared in advance and whilst I build in enough flexibility so that I can pop in a request now and again I prefer to stick with what I’ve prepared. Here’s last night’s set list:

Scott Walker – Jackie
The Quik – Bert’s Apple Crumble (show theme**)
Mama Cass – Make Your Own Kind of Music
The Marvelettes – I Just Can’t Let Him Down
Petula Clark – I Know A Place
The Lovin’ Spoonful – Jug Band Music
The Birds – Leaving Here
Jamie Carter – The Boy With The Way (Connect 3)
Jefferson Airplane – Somebody To Love (Connect 3)
The Velvelettes – A Bird In The Hand (Is Worth Two In The Bush) (Connect 3)
Florence Ballard – Love Ain’t Love
Billie Davis – Tell Him
The Animals – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (Birthday: Eric Burdon)
Helen Shapiro – You Must Be Reading My Mind
Chantal Goya – Il Court Les Filles (Foreign Language)
Twinkle – The Boy Of My Dreams
Vashti – Some Things Stick In Your Mind
Margie Day – Tell Me In The Sunlight
Zoot Money – Zoot’s Suit
Julie Grant – Somebody Tell Me
John Mayall – Looking Back
The O’Jays – Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette)
The Mamas and the Papas – Trip, Stumble and Fall
Marianne Faithfull – Is This What I Get For Loving You?
The Lambrettas – Go Steady (Under The Influence)
The Lambrettas – Poison Ivy (Under The Influence)
The Soul Survivors – Can’t Stand To Be In Love With You
Betty Everett – Getting Mighty Crowded
Jimmy Powell – Sugar Babe Parts 1 and 2
Tony Clarke – The Entertainer
Major Lance – The Monkey Time (Connect 3)
Jackie Wilson – The Who Who Song (Connect 3)
The Gates of Eden – Hey Now (Connect 3)
Lulu – Lies (Two of a Kind)
Lulu – The Mighty Quinn (Two of a Kind)
The Marvelettes – I’ll Keep Holding On

(** I was rather shocked to hear MY theme tune being used for a trailer on CBeebies of all places!!)

Next week is my Eurovision special, during which I’ll countdown my Top 10 Eurovision songs of all-time. Not for me the likes of Abba or Bucks Fizz!

Tuesday 13 May 2008

Drinking on an empty head, especially on a school night, isn’t big and it certainly isn’t clever. My heid, not to mention the rest of me, has felt like a burst couch all day.

As regular readers will know I contribute to The Scotsman's Wednesday Recommends pull-out. My entries are mostly music related but I did a meal for two for my Top 5 Constructed Languages. Recommends has now been made into a book but, not surprisingly, it's aimed more as a guide for visitors and tourists. So my Top 5 Horse Films didn't make it. I was invited along to the book launch last night at The Scotsman building on Holyrood Road.

Dave came with me as we had the idea to approach the publishers of Recommends with a view to getting our own Jocknroll book published/commissioned. We pressed some flesh, got some business cards and drank free wine and ate free pies, which were lovely. I met David Lee, who edited the book, and he mentioned me in his speech, which made up for not being in the book.

After the book launch we went to another couple of pubs before I called it a night. It's bad enough travelling home at night, without doing it on a school night, especially when I've been drinking and haven't a clue when the buses or trains are.

One of the PR people I'd met earlier in the night walked with me towards the station and we chatted and it was then that I got the biggest shock I've had for a long time. She asked me where I worked and when I told her she replied, "Oh, you might know my dad". Her dad only turns out to be the guy who screwed me over for a job where I currently work. I'd scored the highest at interview but he didn't want me. I've mentioned this previously, which might confirm that I'm still not over the way I was treated.

Anyway, I'm pleased to say that his daughter is absolutely charming and I had to tell her to stop apologising for her father. Dave and I met loads of other nice people too, include Claire, Simon and a girl whose name I'm ashamed to forget but I think it began with an L (I was trying to teach her The Slosh at one point).

I'm recording a show on Thursday for broadcast on the 25th and after my Eurovision special on Sunday, I'm recording one on Monday for 15th June, when I'm off to see Teenage Fanclub do their Acoustic Chestnut show.

I found out today that Philip, a friend, would like to go to see Norman Blake in Dunfermline on Friday. I said I'd go if he goes. it's a date. Then found out another gigging mate, John, is also going. should be a good night. There's even a rumour of an appearance by The Vaselines.

I got some Amazon vouchers for my birthday and 5 of the 6 CDs turned up today. I got Kim Weston's "Greatest Hits and Rare Classics", Jackie Leven's live album "For Peace Comes Dropping Slow", The Very Best of Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders (for my show), The Best of Bardot and Jackie Lee's "End of a Rainbow: A Pye Anthology". I'm still awaiting "The Girls Are At It Again", another girl singers compilation. I also bought another girlie compilation yesterday in FOPP on the way to the book launch called "Go Girls - With The Girls From Red Bird". I've already got about half of the tracks but at £6 I couldn't resist it.

The quiz night on Thursday night that I was hosting has been postponed, which I don't mind because I have a lot on just now. Chop, chop, busy, busy, work, work, bang, bang...

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Sunday 4 May 2008

Another year older and certainly none the wiser. I hit 41 yesterday and boy do I feel it.

The Flickster woke me up early to give me my presents. I got the "Early Doors" 2 DVD set, a Christopher Brookmyre book, a book called "I Before E" (about mnemonics), a Northern Soul compilation CD, a racing cars (Dirt Track McQueen from the film "Cars") and my favourite present, a badge that says "As Seen On TV".

After a lazy morning we headed off to Frankie and Benny's for lunch. Normally, I'm not keen on these places but we'd won a family meal for four (to the value of £50) in the Dunfermline Press crossword so it seemed churlish to miss out on a free lunch. As it turned out, it was very good. We ate £47.50 worth of food so we kicked the arse out of it and as the Flickster wasn't really eating much we thought that was a good 2-person effort. We didn't bother with any dinner!

After an afternoon kip, we headed off the second part of my birthday adventure. This time it was to Rothes Hall in Glenrothes to see comedian and resident Mock The Week panellist Frankie Boyle. He was supported by the Reverend Obadiah Steppenwolf III, who started off well but got a bit patchy. Some people, including the GLW, had heard some of Frankie's set before but I hadn't and I loved every minute of it. I especially liked the way he went straight for the hecklers, especially the ones who couldn't string two words together.

This afternoon it's back to the radio station, which I'm really looking forward to. The show is all prepared and should be a goodie but then again I would say that.

I'm also back to work tomorrow after enduring four and a half weeks of illness. I still don't feel 100% but needs must.

The family and I have spent the last week in a cabin in Strathyre, near Callender. Last year it was blazing sunshine, this time it was rain and more rain. We managed to get to the Blair Drummond Safari Park (saving £12 on admission price due to various vouchers), the Toy Museum, Aberfoyle and Kilmahog to see Hamish the Highland Cow. Memo to self: never have an argument with your nearest and dearest when you're holidaying in the middle of nowhere and it's pissing down with rain. I must have walked for 8 miles, there and back, and my hips are still sore.

Last week my mate Gaz and I went to Glasgow to see I Am Kloot at the ABC2 (Billy Bragg was in ABC1). It was my birthday present for him. We had a bite to eat at a noodle bar then a couple of drinks at The Cellars, which, as the name suggests, in a basement bar on Sauchiehall Street. A studenty place but friendlier than some of the bars on that street, which were full of Celtic fans celebrating their Old Firm win over Rangers earlier in the day.

The gig itself was great. I didn't think much of the support act, a solo singer by the name of Ferraby Lionheart, but I Am Kloot were amazing. There's an intensity to their songs that has you transfixed and the mixture of new songs (from new album "Moolah Rouge") and old favourites went down a storm. We felt emotionally drained after it. I can't believe that I first saw then in 2001, supporting The Webb Brothers. John, the lead singer, stayed behind to sign posters and CDs. Gaz and I both bought the new album and got it signed.

The Recommends section of The Scotsman is now a book and as a regular contributor I've been invited to the book launch. Dave and I are going to see if we can get a word with the publisher with a view to writing a book together. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

In one morning on BBC Television recently I heard The Icicle Works on "Homes Under The Hammer" and the instrumental part of I Am Kloot's "Over My Shoulder" on another.

The GLW was reading Piers Morgan's "Do You Know Who I Am?" on holiday and I made the mistake of picking it up when she'd finished with it. I'm now hooked on it. Yeah, it's trashy but kind of addictive.

What I'm listening to :
1. I Am Kloot - Moolah Rouge CD (Skinny Dog)
2. The Collings and Herrin Podcats (free from iTunes)
3. Birdsong (the radio station - it's sooooo relaxing)
4. John Carter - Measure for Measure: The John Carter Anthology (RPM)
5. The Very Best of Herman's Hermits (EMI)
6. Various - Mojo Presents The New Dictionary of Blues and Soul

Better crack on as I have two quiz nights to complete and a mountain of other paperwork to get through before I leave for the radio station. I've also got some telly to catch up on and some crosswords and competitions to finish off. Never a dull moment...