Tuesday, February 24, 2009


In these financially stretched times people are looking at ways in which to make money or get something for nothing.

Since time immemorial, my favoured way of getting ‘owt for nowt’ has been crosswords, competitions and free prize draws. While I have dabbled in slogan competitions, with limited success it has to be said, I prefer to take my chances in the first-out-of-the-hat/waste paper basket/receptacle of choice (delete as applicable) arena.

While family responsibilities and the damned inconvenience that is work have taken up most of my time, I still keep my hand in. The explosion of the information super dual carriageway that is the Interweb has seen infinite comping opportunities. While the barely-read, hardly-entered comps of local and free newspapers are still a favourite the Internet is the place to go for all manner of gratis booty and all for sending an e-mail or filling in an online form.

Over the years Mrs Cat and I have won many, many prizes (probably in the thousands) and even our daughter has received the reward many compers long for – the LWE. The receipt from your postie of a Long White Envelope is often met with an anticipatory thought of “ooh…I wonder…”. While the LWE is still much sought after, I tend to receive more CJBs (Chunky Jiffy Bags) these days, usually containing a CD, DVD or book.

In the early days of comping it wasn’t so easy to get rid of the unwanted runners-up prizes but now eBay has turned the worst of prizes, even that John and Norma Major jigsaw*, into a money-maker.

(* The Big Issue used to make it easy to enter all the comps on one page by putting all your postcards in one envelope and I was a very regular winner, including the aforementioned jigsaw. Often I would win more than one prize in an issue. I no longer have this jigsaw; it went to a charity shop).

Here are some of our family competition win highlights:

1996: Damien Hirst Beck's bottle and t-shirt (x 2), 48 cans of Hooch (from 85 prizes)
1997: Chance to take penalty kicks against John Leslie at Easter Road during Hibs-Rangers (from 46 prizes)
1998: £500 sports vouchers (from loads of prizes)
1999: Case of sherry/cooler/apron/towels (from 52 prizes)
2000: Fridge freezer/£200/Hi Fi** (from 33 prizes)
2001: Rough Trade 25th anniversary goodies, DVD player (from loads of prizes)
2002: £2000** (from 13 prizes, a barren year)
2003: Weekend break, portable TV (from 29 prizes)
2004: Loads of little prizes (30)
2005: 10 Billy Connolly DVDs (from 23 prizes)
2006: £300 Sony Centre vouchers (from 28 prizes)
2007: Bowie/Marley/Presley books, signed electric guitar (from 13 prizes)
2008: Travelodge Weekend for 4 (from 14 prizes)

**TV game show wins

Okay so no cars, big holidays or huge cash amounts, let alone that van load of stuff they give away on The Gadget Show but they keep coming, although competition, so to speak, is more fierce.

I have to confess that one of my first comp wins was for tickets (and a signed album) for what turned out to be my first ‘proper’ gig. While the “cool” people will wax lyrical on seeing T-Rex at Manchester Free Trade Hall or David Bowie at Murrayfield, my first live musical experience was courtesy of play-pause-play jazz-funk specialists Shakatak. Of course, if anyone asks I substitute the truth with my second gig, Aztec Camera at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall in December 83 supported by Hurrah and Tempa.

From relative soft drug of comps, crosswords and free prize draws I made the natural progression to the hard stuff of game/quiz shows and I’ll share my thoughts and experiences on that subject in the near future. Don’t do Countdown kids; it really screws you up.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Sadly, I was unable to do my radio show on Sunday due to a bout of vomiting and diarrhoea that Linda Blair would've been proud of. I lay the blame firmly on the KFC I had on Friday night, which woke me up at 4.30 on Sunday morning sweating like Michelle McManus in a cake shop. I didn't learn my lesson from the last KFC I had, which had the same effect. Next time, I'll have fish and chips.

Thanks to the BBC and the print media for spoiling the result of tonight's University Challenge final. By featuring high-scoring Gail Trimble, the captain of Corpus Christi, in today's papers and on the 6 o'clock news the result is rather inevitable. They didn't actually give the result out as such but I'm thinking if she'd crashed and burned in the final there wouldn't have been so much coverage. Thank you BBC for spoiling the outcome of one of my few weekly pleasures.

While I admire her intellect on academic subjects she would still struggle to get into my pub quiz team. Could she name the four Banana Splits or the England international footballer whose first four caps were under four different managers? I very much doubt it. As for her being the "thinking man's crumpet", well, she's not that good looking. Does being intelligent automatically make a woman sexy? In fact, I think she's quite plain, not ugly, just plain. She reminds me of a bespectacled Melissa Gilbert in "Little House on the Prairie". All she needs is the pigtails and the Amish get up.

We had the same hysteria in 2007 when Daisy Christodoulou led Warwick University to victory. Was she intelligent? Yes. Was she attractive? Maybe. Would we have the same press coverage if a man was so dominant? I doubt it.

Friday, February 20, 2009


It seems that since I joined Twitter I’ve stopped Blogging, well almost. Although the more I think about it I know that’s it simply because I’ve been so busy. I’ve attended two one-day courses this week; one to do with Dreamweaver, which I’m using to upgrade the Jocknroll website, and one for work to do with my employer’s new Intranet/Content Management site. Both were interesting in their own ways and I look forward to utilising what I’ve learned.

It seems to be feast or famine with me when it comes to Blogging. I had a ‘rich vein of form’ recently but I’ve only posted my radio show track lists since then. Mind you, I’ve been replying to entries by Clair, Modern Gutnish and Avenues and Alleyways who are never anything less than interesting.

I’ve had some more Recommends in The Scotsman:
- Best Slosh Songs
- Best Unfinished Scottish Things
- Best Scottish Lurve Song

I’m still having issues with the ILA and my learning provider (I’ve lost £200 in funding thanks to a cock-up), the BPI (no reply yet regarding my Brits observations), E.ON (no reply to two e-mails) and Orange (still getting messages that I was told would stop) and when any of them get back to me I’ll let you know what they say.

I enjoyed a Twittering menage-a-twit during The Brits with Jim Gellatly and Joe McAlinden on Wednesday. Rather ironically, I didn’t actual watch it and instead chose to comment on their observations.

More work is required on the Jocknroll website and I’m looking to join up with Amazon Affiliates. Yeah, selling my soul a bit but I’m not greedy. I just want to make enough to pay for the running of the site and to maybe get some Jocknroll t-shirts and badges made. I’ve added a whole load of new album sleeves this week and I’m now looking into things like Keywords, Descriptions and Google Analytics. (The site does have some text embedded to do with Analytics already but I can’t access the information. You won’t be surprised to know that I’ve e-mailed them for help.)

I need to think about what direction I want the site to go in. Any ideas? Maybe we should run another poll. I need to add more Artist links, as well as checking all the links on the Links page to ensure that they’re still extant. I hate going on to other websites and finding out-of-date links.

Does anyone know the best way to get up to date Scottish Music News on to the website? RSS perhaps. Or even General Music News in which I can weed out the non-Scottish stuff.

I’d appreciate any comments on the Jocknroll website from my Blogging Buddies. I can take it on the chin(s), whatever your observations are.

Does anyone know how I can link the headlines from my Jocknroll Blog entries to the main website, maybe like a news ticker-tape? I’m also looking at adding a new Contacts page on the Jocknoll website with Blogger and Twitter widgets embedded. Does anyone know how, and if, I can do this? Questions, questions, so many questions.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


It's 1610 and I'm at the studio for my hospital radio show. I'll be twittering throughout it to let you know what I'm playing. Join me at Twitter from 1700 (until 1900) for my lurve special. If you're expecting Mariah Carey or The Bangles, you'll be mightily disappointed.

Twitter is the best way to know WHAT I'm playing WHEN I'm playing it, mainly because I'm not allowed to tell you what I'm playing before I play it. Some radio regulation.


The Cat
The Cat on "Where The Action Is" Kirkcaldy VRN 1287 AM - Sunday 15 February 2009

Here was tonight's fine playlist:

The Ronettes - Baby I Love You (Philles 1964) RIP Estelle Bennett
The Quik - Bert's Apple Crumble (Decca 1967) (show theme)
The Valentines - Get Yourself Together (Sound Stage 7)
Brian Poole & The Tremeloes - Do You Love Me (Decca 1963)
The Sweethearts - No More Tears (Kent 1966)
The Morning Glories - Love-In (Warners 1967)
The Moody Blues - Love and Beauty (Decca 1967)
The Goodnight Kisses - Devil In The Dark (Atco 1964)
The Turtles - Guide for the Married Man (White Whale 1967) (Connect 3)
The Knack - (The Man from the) Marriage Guidance & Advice Bureau (Piccadilly 1968) (Connect 3)
The Delicates - I Want To Get Married (Challenge 1965) (Connect 3)
Peter London - I'm Your Lovin' Man (Unreleased 1965)
Love Affair - Everlasting Love (CBS 1968)
The Kinks - I Need You (Pye 1965) (Birthday: Mick Avory, drummer, 15/2/44)
The Monkees - Love To Love (unreleased 1967)
The Bobby Fuller Four - My True Love (Mustang 1966)
John Leyton - John C'est L'Amour (Son This Is She) (HMV 1961) (Foreign Language)
The Belles - Cupid's Got A Hold On Me (Unreleased 1966)
Dave Clark Five - First Love (Piccadilly 1962) (Half-Time Instrumental)
The Action - Love Is All (Unreleased 1967/1968)
The New Breed - Friends and Lovers Forever (Decca 1965)
Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers - I'm In Love With You (Parlophone 1961)
Felice Taylor - Captured By Your Love (Kent 1968)
The Athenians - I Got Love If You Want It (Waverley 1964)
George Chakiris - Heart of a Teenage Girl (Triumph 1960)
BMX Bandits - Love Makes The World Go Round (Creation 1996) (Under The Influence)
Billy Fury - When Will You Say I Love You (Decca 1963)
Barbara Ruskin - Light of Love (Piccadilly 1966)
Reparata and the Delrons - Why Do Lovers Break Each Others Hearts? (Unreleased 19??)
Dickie Valentine - Venus (Chancellor 1959) (Connect 3)
April Stevens - Lovin' Valentine (Atco 1965) (Connect 3)
Chet Baker - My Funny Valentine (? 1962) (Connect 3)
The Looking Glass - Silver and Sunshine (How Wonderful Is Our Love) (Valiant 1967)
The Puppets - Three Boys Lookin' For Love (Pye 1964)
Love - The Daily Planet (Elektra 1967) (Two of a Kind)
Love - You Set The Scene (Elektra 1967) (Two of a Kind)
The Quik - Bert's Apple Crumble (Decca 1967) (show theme)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Wasn't last night's telly great?

First there was a welcome repeat of "The High Life" on BBC4. It was the episode where Sebastian and Steve enter the Song for Europe competition with their lyrical masterpiece "Pif Paf Pof". "Oh, dearie me!"

This was followed by "Early Doors", which seemed to have slipped under the radar for many people. Think The Royle Family but set in a pub with Roddy Frame doing "Small World" for the theme tune. Excellent. "Crime Can't Crack Itself!"

The second series of the much talked about "Mad Men" ensued at 10. So glad it's back!

"Shameless" on Channel 4 clashed with "Mad Men" so we Sky+ it. This is followed by another comedy that everybody I work with doesn't watch, "The Big Bang Theory".

There's even a website where you can buy some of the stuff the Big Bang Theory characters wear. It's at www.sheldonsshirts.com My favourite character is Howard Wolowitz, who looks like he was in the Lovin' Spoonful. Testify!

What's on tonight? Fuckin' "Waterloo Road"! Thankfully "Damages" is back on Sunday.

Letter to the DePress:

“Last night (Monday 9th Feb) I witnessed two cars, each parked across TWO spaces within the car park at the Woodmill Road side of the Dunfermline Town train station car park. Not only that but one of them was parked across two of the extra-wide spaces set aside for the disabled. They didn't have a blue badge. Is there no end to people's stupidity and selfishness?

What's the point in having parking restrictions if they're not enforced?”


Found out last week that my job has been devalued and I’m dropping two pay points under the new scheme. Along the corridor, people in a similar role have gone up two pay points. And, just to rub salt further into the gaping wounds, we’re now being asked to do some of their work because their department has staffing issues. This is also despite them having access to a further nine members of staff within their own department. Is it any wonder I’m so depressed? It is yet another kick in the teeth from an employer who really must hate me. If I get demoted any lower I’ll be serving bacon rolls in the canteen next week (actually it would probably give me more job satisfaction.)



Whilst I would nominate my home town of Dunfermline, I sometimes think that people get the town centre they deserve. Who would get your vote?

"Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.

Ludwig van Beethoven

The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival would like YOU to suggest songs that inspire hope. We are looking for songs that inspire, uplift, provoke thought and stir the heart; songs which have offered you hope and encouragement in moments of feeling down as well as songs that encourage self-empowerment.

The songs YOU suggest, from sad songs, to love songs, songs about relationships and life, songs to empower, anti-war songs and environment songs, will be collated by the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival along with some of Scotland's finest musicians. The collection of songs you suggest will be used to inform the Music like a Vitamin strand of the festival in October 2009, and will possibly be performed at one of the festival gigs.

Here are some suggestions to stir your thoughts:

Lou Reed: Perfect Day
Bob Marley/Joe Strummer: Redemption Song
The Clash: London Calling
David Bowie: Heroes
The Smiths: There is a Light and It Never Goes Out
Johnny Cash: Jackson
John Martyn: Over the Hill
Arcade Fire: Intervention
The Ramones: I Wanna Be Sedated
The Undertones: My Perfect Cousin/Teenage Kicks
Elvis Costello: Good Year for the Roses
Bruce Springstein: I’m on Fire
Metallica: Nothing Else Matters
Guns and Roses: Sweet Child O' Mine
Beatles: Hey Jude
Elvis: I Just Can’t Help Believing

Please email your suggestions to mhfest@gmail.com, naming song and artist or visit us at: Mental Health Festival website or www.myspace.com/artsandfilmfestival

Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (1 – 22 October 2009)

Pamela Clarke
Marketing Lead
Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

The Mental Health Foundation
Merchants House | 30 George Square, Glasgow G2 1EG
0141 572 1662 | 07966 312 013

The Cat sent in these suggestions:

The Beach Boys – Forever (LOVE – My wedding/first dance song!)
"If every word I said could make you laugh, I’d talk forever"

Smokey Robinson and The Miracles – Tears of a Clown (SADNESS OF A SPURNED LOVER)
"If there’s a smile on my face, it’s only there trying to fool the public"

Verdelle Smith (also covered by Caroline Munro/Young Idea or the original Italian version by Adriano Celentano) – Tar and Cement (ECOLOGY)
"I looked for the meadows, there wasn't a trace,
six lanes of highway had taken their place,
where were the lilacs and all that they meant,
nothing but acres of tar and cement."

Jackie Lee – The Town I Live In (BOREDOM OF SUBURBIA)
"The town I live in has 27 churches"

The Foundations – Now That I’ve Found You
Brian Wilson – Love and Mercy
Elvis Costello – I Want You
Prokofiev – Romeo and Juliet
Billy Bragg – The Milkman of Human Kindness
Roddy Frame – Reason for Living
The Isley Brothers - Harvest for the World (anti-war)
Buffy Sainte-Marie - Universal Soldier (anti-war)
Pete Seeger – Where Have All The Flowers Gone? (anti-war)
Edwin Starr – War (anti-war)
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On? (anti-war)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


The ticket above is a reminder, to me at least, of a lost age. Along with the (virtual) disappearance of Woolworths, cassettes and Top of the Pops, the day when you could put a cheque for £6 in an envelope, post it to a tiny record shop in a little town and, within a week, receive a ticket from them for that prized gig are long gone. Or at least on their way out.

The news that Ticketmaster and Live Nation are planning a merger/monopoly will, for me at least, see the end of me going to "big" gigs. Not that I was ever really a fan of them in the first place. Who wants to stand a mile from the stage, listening to a distance hiss masquerading as music, in a field with pissed up arseholes who only want to hear "the hits" (what, you saw REM at Murrayfield too?).

With more add-ons than Facebook, Ticketmaster have always got right up my nose. Fees for "admin" (that's printing them off and putting them in an envelope), fees for postage (with a tidy bet over for profit) and fees for putting the MDs children through school. Apparently there's the facility whereby you can print them off at home but they still charge YOU. More neck than a bag of giraffes.

Remember when it was all about the ticket price? The ticket above, from The Smiths' 7-date Scottish tour of 1985, cost me £6. Okay, £6 and a stamped-addressed envelope, but, to all intents and purposes, £6. Now it seems there is no limit to the number and amount of charges adding on to the face value. Ticketmaster doesn't stop there though. They recently apologised to Bruce Springsteen (read all the comments too) and his fans after people wishing to buy tickets were redirected to a site, TicketsNow, which sold tickets at even more extortionate rates.

With the exception of the Edinburgh and Glasgow gigs, when I bought the tickets in person in the capital, all my tickets for The Smiths tour of 1985 were bought by sending a cheque and an SAE. I saw Norman Blake and Davie Scott, ably supported by the reformed Vaselines, and it cost £10. There was no booking fee, no admin fee, no building facility fee and no credit card fee. Well done to the Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline.

It guess it won't be long before this becomes a major problem in Britain and by the time anything is done to stop it it'll be too late. Please support your local venues and your local bands and give them your money rather than some monopolistic behemoth of a company whose watchword is greed.

The Cat

Further reading HERE.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Cat on "Where The Action Is" Kirkcaldy VRN 1287 AM - Sunday 8 February 2009

Here was tonight's fine playlist:

John Martyn - May You Never (Island 1973)
The Quik - Bert's Apple Crumble (Decca 1967) (show theme)
Shelley Fabares - The Things We Did Last Summer (Colpix 1962)
Tammy St. John - Life and Soul of the Party (Pye 1966)
The Pan Pipers - Stop (Pye 1969)
Joey Vine - Out of Towner (Immediate 1965)
Petula Clark - Reach Out I'll Be There (Pye 1967)
Del Shannon - Keep Searching (Follow The Sun) (Stateside 1964)
The Left Banke - Pretty Ballerina (Smash 1966) (Connect 3)
Elton John - Tiny Dancer (DJM 1972) (Connect 3)
The Action - Land of a Thousand Dances (Parlophone 1965) (Connect 3)
Sandra Barry - Question (Pye 1965)
The Royal Playboys - Arabia (Dode 19??)
The Union Gap featuring Gary Puckett - Lady Willpower (Birthday: Paul Wheatbread, drummer, 8/2/46)
Les Variations - She'll Know I'm Sorry (Immediate 1965)
Jackie Trent - Take Me Away (Pye 1967)
Adriano Celentano - Il Ragazzo Della Via Gluck ("Tar and Cement") (label and year unknown) (Foreign Language)
Mally Page - I'm Tired Just Looking At You (Pye 1965)
The Tornados - The Ice Cream Man (Decca 1963) (Half-Time Instrumental)
The Parliaments - Time (Revilot 1968)
The Factotums - Can't Go Home Anymore My Love (Immediate 1966)
The Kinks - She's Got Everything (Pye 1968)
Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth (Atco 1967) RIP Dewey Martin
The Poets - Baby Don't You Do It (Immediate 1966)
The Spectres - (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet (Piccadilly 1967)
Primal Scream - Movin' On Up (Creation 1992) (Under The Influence)
Dickey Lee - She Wants To Be Bobby's Girl (Label and year unknown)
Tony Jackson Group - Fortune Teller (Pye 1965)
Peter's Faces - Suzi Q (Piccadilly 1965)
Bobby Bare - Detroit City (RCA 1963) (Connect 3)
Tony Rivers & The Castaways - The Girl from Salt Lake City (Immediate 1966) (Connect 3)
The Shangri-las - The Train from Kansas City (Red Bird 1965) (Connect 3)
October Country - October Country (Epic 1968)
Del Capris - Hey Little Way Out Girl (Label and year unknown)
The Clique - You've Been Unfair (Pye 1965) (Two of a Kind)
The Clique - Time Time Time(Pye 1965) (Two of a Kind)
Fifth Dimension - Puppet Man (Bell 1970)
Julie Rogers - Long After Tonight Is All Over (Pye 1974)
The Quik - Bert's Apple Crumble (Decca 1967) (show theme)

Saturday, February 07, 2009


When e-mails began to replace letters as the communication tool of choice it was felt that the quicker missive would get answered just as fast. Sadly, it seems that the reverse is happening.

People and companies who can’t be bothered to reply to even the most basic of e-mailed correspondence are increasingly frustrating me. In some cases these e-mails are being deleted without being read. One company in the latter category is RyanAir and now I can add the BBC to that ever-growing list.

Last year I had an interview with the BBC in Glasgow. I chased them up for more than a month to get feedback. It was bad enough not getting the job without having salt rubbed into the wounds. Two weeks ago I received four Read Receipts on my PC from the Beeb, except that these e-mails hadn’t even been read. My original e-mails were sent last August and now they were deleted without being read.

I e-mailed a Radio 2 this week for some basic information for a piece I’m putting together for The Scotsman’s Recommends section. There wasn’t even a “we’ll get back to you” type of reply.

A simple enquiry to Ryan Air as to whether a service that was scheduled to begin was going ahead was deleted without being read. A subsequent e-mail asking why was, you won’t be surprised to learn, deleted without being read.

Since December I have had a similar problem with the ILA (Independent Learning Account) Scotland. In the first week of December I sent them an e-mail asking for confirmation that I could put some money from my 2008 Account (£200) towards my 2009 course. I had read somewhere (I can’t find it now) that I could as long as the course was booked within 2008 and the course took place within the first 6 weeks of 2009. The reply to the e-mail was to ask me to phone their Helpline!

This week I tried again and I was told that, “Due to data protection and for security purposes, you will have to contact our freephone helpline again for that information.”

My reply was swift:

“You can't be serious!

"Due to data protection and security purposes"? In what way is answering a very simple query by e-mail breaching data protection and security? Thousands, nay, millions of companies manage to answer questions by e-mail every day. This is a joke. My course starts on Monday and I can't get a simple answer to a simple question by e-mail. My tutor has asked me to get confirmation of my entitlement IN WRITING. If this lack of communication of behalf of the ILA causes any problems with my course I shall be making a complaint.


Health and Safety? Data Protection? Nanny State? The world has gone completely hatstand.

As regular readers will recall I sent a missive to the PR company for the Brits to ask some questions and make a few comments. I was told that it had been forwarded on to someone at the BPI. Again, I’m still waiting.

I e-mailed E.ON twice recently and I’m still awaiting an answer to both questions - one was aksing when they were going to bring the prices down and the other was to request a change of tarriff.

I just think it’s rude, very very rude.

As this point I should give some praise to Orange because they got back to very quickly after I e-mailed them recently. Unfortunately when it came to dealing with the two issues I had called them about they were as useful as a trapdoor on a canoe. I keep receiving messages from Orange themselves about Data Services and then a follow-up about installing these data services. I’m a bit dense about the inner workings of my phone and no matter whether I replied Yes or No or simply ignored them they continue to come. The person who called me from Orange listened to my problems and put me through to someone on the Indian sub-continent whose first job seemed to be to sell me a Raccoon package. If I wanted a Raccoon package, I’d have asked for one. He said the messages would stop and they haven’t.

I also pointed out a problem I had with the phone in that since May 2008 I have no record on my phone of All Calls, Answered Calls, Dialled Calls and, most importantly Missed Calls. Again, I was told this would be sorted and again it hasn’t been. I’m loath to leave Orange because I get £5 for every time I top up with £50 but this is the second time they’ve cocked up. I won’t bore you the details of the previous problem but I did 100 free texts out of them.

I’m still waiting to hear from the Dunfermline Press as to why my recent comment was deleted. Someone printed something similar and it wasn’t removed.

Isn’t it ironic how poor communications companies are at communicating? It’s good to talk (but only if we can sell you something first!)